Message from the Chairperson
June 23, 2020
It is my pleasure to present the Annual Report for the Canadian International Trade Tribunal for the period of April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020. The first week of that period saw the release of the Tribunal’s landmark Safeguard Inquiry Report regarding Certain Steel Goods.
The last two weeks of the period were marked by the beginning of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tribunal had to adapt rapidly to this unprecedented environment. The Tribunal’s records are entirely electronic since the implementation of the new CITT Rules in 2018. We are now a paperless tribunal. At the outset of the lockdown, the Tribunal also expanded its pilot project for a registry system that allows the parties to a proceeding to access and retrieve documents. These new systems, implemented over the past two years, enabled the Tribunal to continue its operations almost seamlessly. However, this would not have been possible without the dedication of the staff of the Tribunal’s Secretariat, who had to adapt to the new reality of working remotely.
The Tribunal’s decisions have a significant impact on the economic activity of our country. The trade remedy measures in place in Canada affect approximately $2 billion in imports and $10 billion in domestic shipments. 34,000 jobs in the domestic industries are directly benefiting from these measures. The value of the federal procurements reviewed by the Tribunal varies significantly from year to year. While this year it was around $550 million, that amount was in excess of $15 billion the year before. The CITT also hears appeals from decisions of the CBSA under the Customs Act and plays an important role in the administration of the Customs Tariff.
These numbers illustrate the important role played by the CITT as an independent institution. Parliament has entrusted the Tribunal with the responsibility of adjudicating in substantial disputes between the Government of Canada and Canadians as well as businesses large and small. The vast majority of the decisions made by the Tribunal last year involved such disputes. Parties who come before the CITT can expect that their case will be heard in a fair and transparent manner by independent adjudicators who are part of an independent quasi-judicial tribunal. The administrative changes introduced by the Government in 2014 to have a separate organization provide support services for the Tribunal did not alter the Tribunal’s role as an independent institution.
The CITT is committed to providing easy access to the parties that come before it. This is one of the main characteristics of administrative justice. In many instances, the complainants in procurement matters are self-represented. Most of the procurement cases are resolved without the need for an oral hearing. While protecting procedural fairness, the Tribunal’s Rules provide, across all its mandates, for processes that are simple and easy to access.
Parties that come before the Tribunal can also expect a timely resolution of their matter. In most trade remedy cases and in procurement matters, the Tribunal is bound by statutory deadlines. In matters that are not subject to those deadlines, the Tribunal has set internal standards, and parties can expect to receive a decision within 120 days after all the evidence has been provided to the Tribunal. A party to an appeal under the Customs Act can generally expect to have its case heard within six to nine months.
As an investigative agency in trade remedy cases, the CITT has a global reputation for excellence. The staff of the Tribunal’s Secretariat and the Members of the CITT take pride in keeping this reputation intact and ensuring that we continue to be a centre of excellence. Across all our mandates, we strive to improve our processes and procedures to ensure that they are the best in class. The Members of the Tribunal are dedicated to rendering fair, impartial and transparent decisions that uphold the rule-based international trade system and the rule of law.
While the Tribunal is an independent institution, it is also accountable. The annual report plays a key role in its accountability to Parliament and to Canadians. The pages that follow provide details of the Tribunal’s activities over the past year. You will find how we fulfilled our mandates during that period when we marked the CITT’s 30th anniversary.
Finally, on behalf of the Tribunal, I want to thank the staff of the Tribunal’s Secretariat for its professionalism and dedication. I also want to thank the members of the Tribunal’s Advisory Committee for representing our stakeholders and providing us with an invaluable feedback which allows us to keep improving the way in which we serve Canadians.
Jean Bédard, Q.C.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal