The Canadian Pilot

Message from the President

Young at 50!
Every birthday or milestone commemorating an important event brings with it the opportunity not only to celebrate the achievement, but to take stock, pondering what has happened so far, and what the future holds.

The Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and with that comes an inevitable reflection on its journey, as well as on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. This reflection is, in our case, certainly aided by a truly-impressive array of studies, taking the form of reviews, inquiries, commissions, hearings, and analysis of how pilotage is delivered and whether change is needed.

Of course, the Bernier Royal Commission on pilotage, which began in 1962, concluded in 1968, and culminated in the passage of the Pilotage Act in 1972, set something of a gold standard in terms of both length and depth of study, not only of pilotage but of any subject.

Since then, government policy makers and stakeholders have been engaged in an almost uninterrupted and continuous series of pilotage examinations, ranging from those focused on specific questions, to those of the broadest and most general nature.

Wide consultations resulted in the Marler Report of 1973, which formed the basis for the pilotage regulations governing the service, complemented by findings of the Desjardins report in 1974. These reports were quickly followed by another comprehensive review of pilotage completed by the Department of Transport in 1976. In 1990, the Gauthier Commission of Inquiry made recommendations dealing with pilotage exemptions in the Great Lakes Region. In the same year, following the Exxon Valdez spill, the Report of the Public Review Panel on Tanker Safety (also known as the Brander-Smith Report) included an examination of pilotage issues.

For three years beginning in 1995, both the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Transportation and Transport Canada held extensive hearings and consultations on pilotage which led to amendments to the Pilotage Act, included in the 1998 Canada Marine Act.

Scrutiny of pilotage continued in 1999 through the Ministerial Review of Outstanding Pilotage Issues, conducted by the Canadian Transportation Agency. 21 recommendations on various subjects resulted from the Review, all of which were implemented. Among these, one of the most significant was the development of a risk assessment methodology specifically tailored by Transport Canada to assess any significant change contemplated to pilotage practices – the “Pilotage Risk Management Methodology (PRMM). Over 20 such PRMM reviews have now been completed since 2002, along with just as many other reviews using other types of methodologies.

As a matter of course, pilotage issues were included in the 2001 and 2015 statutory reviews of the Canada Transportation Act as well as a similar review of the Canada Marine 2003.

In 2007, Transport Canada undertook national consultations on certain aspects of the pilotage policy framework, which led to the consideration by Parliament of amendments to the Pilotage Act although, in the end, no such amendments were deemed appropriate. Pilotage was again examined in 2013, this time in the context of the Government of Canada’s Tanker Safety Review which affirmed the importance of pilotage in ensuring the safe marine transportation of petroleum products.

This lengthy list of inquiries into virtually every aspect of pilotage over the last four decades is not exhaustive, in that during the same time, any number of reviews were undertaken in conjunction with other public policy initiatives in related areas (e.g., the negotiations of free-trade agreements such as CETA), and industry preoccupations.

Aside from specific findings, I think there are two overarching conclusions that we can draw from these many and various examinations of pilotage. First, the pilotage framework put in place with the Pilotage Act of 1972 remains remarkably relevant, robust and resilient. The few amendments that have been made to the Act actually only serve to illustrate the point that, in virtually every important area, the Act effectively provides for the introduction of new and modern rules, procedures and practices, in response to changing circumstances. The shipping world has obviously undergone radical changes over the last decades and the sustained excellence of Canadian pilotage in terms of safety, efficiency and cost-competitiveness is a clear demonstration that practices and procedures have kept pace with changing times, and have proven to be innovative and open to new technology.

Second, despite the significant amount of time and energy devoted to examining and re-examining pilotage matters, these reviews have had real value. There is certainly a connection between the excellent performance of the system and all these reviews. They have led to a greater understanding of the complications and difficulties inherent to pilotage, and as a consequence of this, there is greater appreciation that the system does, in fact, do what is intended: ensure safe and efficient navigation, and promote a culture of continuous improvement, which only bodes well for the future.

On the occasion of the CMPA’s 50th birthday, I take great pride in the work of all Canadian pilots and in the Association’s role and contributions to a pilotage system that serves the interest of the Canadian public so well and is held in such high regard worldwide.

Simon Pelletier

A Look Back...

IMPA President Welcomes New IMO Secretary-General

The President of the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association and of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA), Capt. Simon Pelletier, was delighted to welcome on board the HQS Wellington, in London, where IMPA is based, the International Maritime Organization’s newly appointed Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim, last March on the occasion of IMPA’s annual cocktail reception.

Effective TSB-CMPA Collaboration

The International Maritime Pilots’ Association and the Marine Accidents International Investigators Forum (MAIFF) recently completed a collaborative effort to develop a poster as well as other communication materials to promote the value of an effective pilot-bridge team relationship during pilotage assignments. The poster has now widely been disseminated to the global merchant fleet. In Canada, the CMPA worked closely with the Transportation Safety Board – which played a key role in the initiative – to ensure appropriate dissemination of the poster.

Strong Pilot Participation in Le Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie

This year, the strong legs and big hearts of an impressive team of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots participated in « Le Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie », a 1,000 km ultra-endurance cycling challenge that was created to encourage young people to adopt healthy life habits and which has become the largest health-related event to ever be organized in Québec. Here, Germain Thibault, Executive Director of the Grand Défi, Marc André Fortin, Bernard Cayer, Yves Pelletier (who are all Lower St. Lawrence Pilots), Pierre Lavoie himself, along with Benoit Nayet and Daniel Ouimet (who are also Lower St. Lawrence Pilots), and Serge Fortin (owner of Juneau et Frères à Québec), enjoy a well-deserved moment of celebration upon successful completion of the event.

The Backdrop

Unrest in the maritime sector

The origins of the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association are intertwined with the situation of Canada’s maritime sector in the mid-20th century. After the Second World War, the country’s prosperity was mirrored by the growth of Canadian shipping companies. Sailors and dockworkers did not, however, always feel that their employers’ profits were fairly reflected in their compensation. Conflict between unions and shipping companies over pay and working conditions was the result. At the same time, turf wars between unions intensified. The situation was further complicated by the era’s fear of communist infiltration of organized labour.

Labour leader Hal Banks leading longshoremen off a vessel in the Great Lakes Region.

Too often, the result was strikes, intimidation, beatings and gangsterism, with ships stranded in ports, unable to be loaded or unloaded, or suddenly without crews. Attempts to calm the growing chaos by encouraging the emergence of international unions under the leadership of the American Federation of Labour and of its counterpart, the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada were not only unsuccessful but also led to even greater turmoil. Finally, the situation became too chaotic and harmful to the economy to ignore and, in 1962, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker created a commission of inquiry led by British Columbia Court of Appeal Justice, Thomas G. Norris.

While Justice Norris did his work, the situation continued to deteriorate, with an escalation in violence fuelled by competing interests among unions and between unions and shipping companies. Justice Norris’ report, submitted in July 1963 to the new Prime Minister, Lester Pearson, recommended that the government appoint trustees to reorganize and oversee maritime unions. Legislation to do just that was enacted in October of the same year. Despite vociferous opposition from American-sponsored unions, the government held firm and order was gradually restored.

Pilotage at a crossroads

Excerpt from the Globe and Mail, 02 November, 1962.

As Canada’s post-war economic expansion fuelled growth in the maritime sector, the country’s waterways and ports were busier than ever, and so were marine pilots. But, all was not well. Although the violence and corruption that had become evident in other parts of the maritime sector were absent from pilotage, there was unrest on the part of pilots, resulting from dissatisfaction with the work environment, and concern on the part of shipping companies about service levels. Work stoppages or threats of them were not uncommon.

Perhaps borrowing a page from its response to the troubles in the maritime sector as a whole, in 1962, the government decided to launch an inquiry into pilotage, this time in the form of a Royal Commission. As was the case with the Commission of Inquiry that Prime Minister Diefenbaker established under Justice Thomas Norris, the recommendations of the pilotage inquiry resulted in legislation, albeit nearly one decade later, rather than one year later.

Establishment of the CMPA

The work of the Royal Commission on Pilotage eventually included the submission of briefs by interested parties, some of which advocated changes that would have compromised the independence and professionalism of pilotage in Canada. For their part, pilots at the time were fragmented in their representation, which was organized along local or regional lines, and lacked a single national voice that spoke authoritatively for the profession as a whole.

A new organization was needed and it was created 50 years ago. In 1966, the CMPA, under the leadership of its first president, Capt. Michel Dussault, began its drive to become the national association representing all licensed Canadian pilots.

For a time, the CMPA co-existed with other organizations representing pilots, these being of a more regional nature than the national association. The CMPA was relentless in its representations, not only before the Royal Commission but also in front of decision-makers, and in its efforts to describe in a compelling way the value of an independent and professional pilotage service that acted – above all – in the public interest.

Before long, the effectiveness of the single, strong voice on behalf of pilotage that the CMPA achieved became clear to pilots across the country who expressed confidence in the new organization by joining it. The CMPA established itself as a truly national organization.

By 1972, when Capt. Dussault retired from his position as founding president of the CMPA, the organization had become the united and recognized national voice of pilots on matters of public policy and other issues affecting the professional status of pilots.

The CMPA and marine stakeholders

Pilotage is essential for the safe and efficient transit of vessels in Canadian waters. That said, pilotage is only one of many factors that contribute to the country’s enviable marine transportation system. If the good work that pilots do is to be maximized, collaboration with other stakeholders in the sector is essential.

For years, the CMPA has participated in a consultative arrangement with the Shipping Federation of Canada that provides for information sharing and discussions on possible areas of collaboration. A similar approach has been applied from time to time with other shipping organizations, such as the BC Chamber of Shipping and the Canadian Shipowners Association. Of a more specific nature has been pilots’ collaboration with other players on Canada’s e-Navigation initiative. Under the leadership of the Canadian Coast Guard, industry representatives regularly meet to discuss e-Nav technologies, to identify those best suited to the Canadian context, and to map out an implementation strategy.

The CMPA is also a member of various other organizations including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce where it is an active participant on its transportation and infrastructure committee. In particular, pilots have helped identify the need for public investment in maritime capital projects.

The CMPA and Government

Since its inception, the CMPA has had as one of its objectives to be a trusted adviser to the government of Canada. The Association, after all, came into being in response to a need for a credible, national pilot voice at a time when the Bernier Royal Commission was re-examining pilotage policy.

Since that time, the CMPA has remained engaged with government legislators and policy-makers, ensuring that the complicated and often technical and obscure world of pilotage is reflected in a practical way in the relevant legislation, governance structure, regulations and directives that apply to it. The Association makes a practice of meeting with MPs individually and reviewing not only national policy issues but also, where applicable, practical questions about how pilotage works in their area.

There has certainly been no shortage of opportunities for the CMPA to discuss pilotage policy. Ever since the Bernier Commission reported its findings in 1968, pilotage has remained a subject of intense public scrutiny. To make sure its input is not only credible and constructive, but also responds to what can be the real concerns of other stakeholders, pilots make sure not only to stay in touch with their partners in the sector, but also to participate with them in consultative forums and information sharing activities.

Among these is the Canadian Marine Advisory Committee, led by Transport Canada, which meets on a regular basis, as well as requests from parliamentary committees to provide information and to appear as expert witnesses at hearings, and national reviews, such as the Review of the Canada Transportation Act, examining in depth marine transportation issues for which pilotage is an important component.

Closer to the day-to-day operations of pilotage, there have been over 40 risk assessments and other review processes undertaken over the last 15 years about operating requirements and procedures in different locations across Canada, many of them conducted under the auspices of Transport Canada’s Pilotage Risk Management Methodology. In each case, the CMPA and local pilot groups have been active participants and had important roles in ensuring the maintenance of safe and efficient practices.

CMPA Vice-President, Atlantic Region, Capt. Andrew Rae, with Members of Parliament Peter Stiffer, Michael Savage, and Marlene Jennings, in 2009.

The role of the Canadian Merchant Service Guild

An account of the CMPA’s establishment would be incomplete without taking note of the important role the Canadian Merchant Service Guild played. The Guild, which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1919, represents the interests of the majority of ships’ officers across Canada. It is also the long-time representative of those marine pilots holding collective agreements with pilotage authorities as well as the agency through which all marine pilots are provided with legal services related to liability issues.

Happily, when the CMPA was being formed in 1966, the leadership of the Guild understood the need for a national association that focused exclusively on pilotage matters, and provided the institutional framework and support that was essential for success. Today, while the CMPA now takes care most of its own representational, administrative, and technical needs, it still relies on the Guild for some governance, legal and business-related matters.

The CMPA Today

Once the new Pilotage Act of 1972 was enacted along the lines of the Bernier Royal Commission, the Association truly came into its own, playing its role as a constructive player in the marine transportation sector, not only concerned with the interests of its members, and the integrity of pilotage, but in the overall safety, efficiency and success of Canada as a major maritime trading nation.

There are approximately 400 full-time licensed pilots in Canada, all of whom are members of the Association. Like the pilotage system itself, marine pilots organize themselves along regional lines, with representatives from the Atlantic, Laurentian, Great Lakes and Pacific regions meeting regularly to determine strategic direction. Annual meetings of the Association review financial affairs, take decisions on matters related to governance and elect CMPA officers, including the President who holds a three-year term.

Over the years, the CMPA has developed strong relationships with government, other maritime sector stakeholders, and a number of international bodies relevant to pilotage. In all of these cases, the CMPA plays more than simply a representational role; in addition to that, it has gained a reputation for subject-matter expertise and for providing constructive input for the development of policies and the management of issues.

Within the profession itself, the leadership role of the CMPA is noteworthy. Not only do Canadian pilots traditionally have a disproportionately large presence at the biennial Congress of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association but, over the years, they have also been playing a leadership role on IMPA’s executive, with past CMPA President Capt. Michel Pouliot having also served as IMPA President from 1990-2002, and with current CMPA President Capt. Simon Pelletier, also serving as IMPA President since 2014.

In the final analysis, the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association has been successful because it has remained focused on two objectives. The first is to contribute to a safe marine transportation system. The second is to strive for the highest possible professional standards for pilots. Because of this, CMPA members appreciate the value of the organization, and maritime sector partners have come to hold it in high regard.

Mr. Michael Grey, Lloyd’s List, IMO Secretary-General, Admiral Efthimios Mitropoulos, CMPA President, Michel Pouliot, and the President of the Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots (CPBSL), Capt. Simon Pelletier (who is currently CMPA President) in 2005 during the official opening of the CPBSL’s Marine Simulation and Resource Centre in Quebec City.

The CMPA and the International Scene

Pilotage is an international phenomenon, practiced virtually everywhere in the world. This means there is much to learn from others, and important information to share. Because of this, the CMPA is very active on the international scene, especially as a member of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA), and as a regular participant in the relevant proceedings of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Pilots from some 50 countries around the world are members of IMPA, an organization that upholds the professional independence status of pilots and acts on their behalf at many international organizations. The high level of Canadian involvement at IMPA is well illustrated by the fact that over the last 25 years, Canadian pilots have served on the association’s executive some three quarters of the time.

IMO is the UN agency responsible for promoting regulations and standards to ensure safe international shipping. As such, the agency includes not only national governments but also shipping industry representatives, pilots, and many other stakeholder groups. The CMPA works closely with the Government of Canada and often participates at IMO proceedings as a member of Canada’s delegation.

In addition to membership in the International Association of Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), the CMPA works closely with a number of other pilot organizations around the world. Of course, American pilot organizations are at the top of this list. The CMPA not only cooperates closely with the American Pilots’ Association, but enjoys close collaboration at the regional level with both Pacific and Atlantic coast pilots.

5th Triennial CMPA Congress

The 5th triennial CMPA Congress, to be held in Montreal over 4 days in mid-February, combines thought-provoking presentations with challenging discussion and some very enjoyable social events. It’s not too much to say that there is something for everyone interested in the marine sector, and the dates for the meeting should be marked in your calendar! Further information and registration is available at Below is a glimpse at the preliminary program of the event, as it stood at the beginning of August.

Opening Ceremony (9:15-10:30)
Keynote Address (11:00-12:00)
Session I: (13:30-14:30) – Global Trends and their Impact on Canada

This session will discuss global emerging economic and political developments and what they mean for Canada.

Session II: (15:00-16:00): Shipping, Pilotage and Canada’s Economy

This session will examine the contribution that marine industry activities make to Canada’s economy.

Session III: (09:00-10:00) – Meeting the Challenges of Winter Navigation

This session will provide an overview of the challenges facing winter navigation and the strategies and practices to successfully meet those challenges.

Session IV: (10:30-12:00) – Recent Developments in Shipping and Pilotage

This session will provide an overview of recent developments of interest for pilotage and the shipping community.

Session V: (13:30-14:30) – Change and Constancy in Maritime Transportation

This session will discuss the “game-changers” in the maritime sector – the factors that currently are having the most significant impact on shipping, along with those that contribute to enduring success.

Session VI: (15:00-16:15) – Performance Excellence in the Shipping Industry

This session will discuss the strategies for ongoing success of some key industry players.

Session VII: (8:45-10:00) – Pilotage Authorities and Service Delivery

This session will discuss how Canadian Pilotage Authorities maintain, year after year, a virtually perfect record in terms of safety and efficiency.

Session VIII: (10:30-12:00) – Pilotage Around the World

This session will provide an overview of recent pilotage developments in other jurisdictions around the world.

Chair: Capt. Simon Pelletier, President, Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association, President, International Maritime Pilots’ Association, and 5th CMPA Congress Chair

Meeting of the CMPA Technical
Committee (14:00-16:00)


CMPA Submission to Minister Garneau

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has asked Canadians interested in the future of the transportation system to participate in a discussion on how best to improve a system that helps keep the country competitive, prosperous and safe. Minister Garneau’s call for input is well timed, in that it can expand upon the December 2015 Report of the Canada Transportation Act Review Panel.

The CMPA welcomed this invitation to share its perspective and to offer suggestions concerning the transportation system, and it presented a detailed submission on the performance of the pilotage system. The submission is available at

An Expanded Role for the CMPA Technical Committee

Technology plays an important role in the life of marine pilots. Pilots are often early adopters of technological innovations and sometimes even develop such innovations themselves, as was the case with portable pilot units (“PPUs”). Technology, combined with pilots’ expert knowledge of local navigational conditions and experience allow them to safely and efficiently conduct ever-larger vessels on waterways that essentially remain the same. In recognition of the technological expertise of pilots, and of the need to facilitate the exchange of information and the sharing of experiences among pilots, the CMPA Board of Directors formally endorsed, at its 2016 annual meeting, the idea of a technical forum being made available for CMPA Members on a secure site which will be accessed from the CMPA website.

The Board also supported the possibility of holding Technical Committee meetings open to all CMPA Members on the margins of meetings of the CMPA Board of Directors or of other comparable CMPA meetings. The Chair of the Committee, Capt. Bernard Boissonneault, is leading these initiatives.

New CMPA Website

The Association has a new web site with a fresh design, more information available, and a dramatically improved accessibility for mobile devices and tablets. Among some of the interesting additions to the site are the regional videos that present the main characteristics and some of the current issues of interest to pilotage in Canada’s four pilotage regions: Atlantic, Laurentian, Great Lakes and Pacific. Take a look for yourself at!

As part of the activities underlining the Association’s 50th anniversary, and in light of the fact that marine navigation and pilotage in Canada is under the federal jurisdiction, it was appropriate to mark the occasion by hosting a reception on May 4th in the parliamentary precinct in Ottawa. The event provided an opportunity to bring together many of the people in both the Parliament of Canada and the Government with whom the Association works on a regular basis. The Association was able to host the event in the newly renovated Macdonald Building through the kind auspices of the Member of Parliament for Lac Saint-Louis, Francis Scarpaleggia, who has shown continued leadership on such issues as the conservation and management of Canada’s water resources.

One of the ways by which the CMPA decided to mark its 50th birthday was to produce a short video that captures something of the time, the reason, and the personalities that were involved in the creation of the Association. Two of these personalities attended the reception, Capt. Louis-Michel Dussault, who was the founding President in 1966, and Capt. Michel Pouliot who has been President for more than 26 years (1983-2009). The video, which was shown for the first time during the formal proceedings of the evening, is a testimony to the ongoing commitment of marine pilots to contribute to the safety and efficiency of marine transportation. It can be viewed at

Through the years, Bloc Québécois Members of Parliament have, on many occasions, expressed support for a well regulated pilotage regime that safeguards the professional independence of pilots. CMPA President, Capt. Simon Pelletier, was very happy to welcome, from left to right, MPs Louis Plamondon, Monique Pauzé, Gabriel Sainte-Marie, Rhéal Fortin, Luc Thériault, Mario Beaulieu, Marilène Gill, and Michel Boudrias.

The McDonald Room.

Liberal MP, Francis Scarpaleggia, who has a long-time interest in issues related to water and safe marine transportation, graciously accepted to act as Parliamentary Host.

Capt. Roy Haakonson, CMPA Vice-President, Pacific Region and President of the British Columbia Coast Pilots, MP, Sheila Malcolmson, Mr. Jamie Smith, Manager, Strategies and Performance, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Mr. Paul Devries, General manager, British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.

CMPA President, Capt. Simon Pelletier, with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport Kate Young, who represented the Government of Canada during the evening’s proceedings.

A trio of fiery Atlantic pilots: Capt. Evan MacDonald, Chairman of the Cape Breton Pilots, Capt. Ian Swann, Chairman of the Halifax Pilots, and Capt. Jacob Hoyles, Chairman of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pilots!

Capt. Naim Nazha, Executive Director, Navigation Safety and Environmental Programs, Transport Canada, and Capt. Simon Mercier, President of the Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots.

Capt. Randy Smigel and Capt. Mike Armstrong, two Fraser River pilots, with Ms. Lorraine Cunningham, Chair of the Pacific Pilotage Authority.

Capt. France Chevarie, President of the St. Lawrence Seaway Pilots (Saint-Lambert-Cornwall) and Mr. Michael Broad, President of the Shipping Federation of Canada.

Mr. Robert Turner, Manager, Navigation Safety and Radio Communications, Transport Canada and Capt. Mike Burgess, CMPA Vice-President, Great Lakes Region.

From Your Vantage Point

This issue’s Vantage Point is courtesy of Capt. Mike Armstrong, from the Fraser River pilotage district. It was taken on board the containership London Express inbound to Fraser Surrey Docks. At 295m of length, it was the largest ship to enter the Fraser River, something that is now a regular occurrence following the work done by Fraser River pilots and their industry partners to accommodate this class of vessels. It is seen here as it was meeting the vehicles carrier Sunlight Ace in restricted waters.

The photograph on the left is courtesy of Capt. Martin Mangan, from the Upper St. Lawrence pilotage district, and shows the tanker Chem Norma approaching the Snell Lock. The photograph in the middle is courtesy of a Halifax pilot, Capt. Andrew Rae, and shows container ships coming and going, in very close proximity, at the Ceres container terminal in Halifax. The photograph on the right is courtesy of Capt. Louis Rhéaume, a Lower St. Lawrence pilot, and shows the pilot boat departing the Queen Elizabeth II.

Marine pilots operate around the clock, coast to coast, at times in fair weather and in spectacular surroundings and, at other times, in conditions that are extremely challenging. We welcome all photographs that convey the experience of pilots and highlight the nature of their work.