Annual report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021

Message from the Chair

June 30, 2021

 

Pursuant to Article 41 of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, I am pleased to present the annual report outlining the activities, highlights and successes of the Tribunal for fiscal year 2020 - 2021, a year marked by unprecedented circumstances. Having taken over my new role on January 1 of this year, I am particularly honoured to share with you, on behalf of the Tribunal Members and its Secretariat, the accomplishments of an organization with a long-standing tradition of excellence in serving Canada’s economic interests in compliance with the rule of law.

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT), along with all public institutions, was faced with the need to adjust rapidly to the new realities brought on by the pandemic. Taking stock, I am pleased to find that the Tribunal was able to carry on its mission of supporting international and Canadian rules governing trade. This would not have been possible but for the professionalism of the Members of the Tribunal and of all Secretariat employees – may each and every one of them find the expression of my heartfelt gratitude for the exceptional efforts they deployed over the last fifteen months.

The transition to a virtual work environment was greatly facilitated due to a certain number of initiatives put in place by the Tribunal in recent years. Among these, the gradual implementation of an electronic registry system started in March 2019, a priority initiative of my predecessor, Mr. Jean Bédard, was of vital assistance in adjusting to the new teleworking requirement. Mr. Bédard recognized that this element was key to achieving easier access to justice. Due to his informed leadership, the implementation of the electronic registry system was accelerated to ensure efficient continuity of operations.

As such, the cooperation of parties in Tribunal cases was exemplary. I would like to commend the members of the Tribunal’s Consultative Committee, under the leadership of its president, Mr. Lawrence Herman, for their support; their wise counsel proved to be indispensable throughout this adjustment period. Faced with the impossibility of holding in-person hearings, the Tribunal quickly adapted to new practices and procedures to meet file processing deadlines. The Tribunal therefore held 14 virtual hearings during the fiscal year. By comparison, it held 35 in-person hearings and held no virtual hearings during fiscal year 2019 - 2020.

This report shows that the Tribunal’s workload is maintained and even continues to grow year over year. As an illustration of this, the last fiscal year was marked by an unprecedented number of procurement complaints – 102 in 2020 - 2021, compared to 72 in 2019 - 2020. The large number of complaints filed by individuals and small and medium businesses speaks volumes about the Tribunal’s reputation gained over the years when it comes to facilitated access to remedial action. The pages that follow contain summaries of a few of the Tribunal’s procurement decisions. It should be noted that a memorandum of understanding between the Tribunal and the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman, signed and entered into force on October 1, 2020, whose mandate complements the Tribunal’s procurement mandate, has allowed a better screening of complaints received under this mandate.

The trade remedies mandate remains without a doubt the Tribunal’s best-known activity. Again, the Tribunal conducted many important inquiries during the past year with regard to injury caused to the Canadian industry due to dumping or subsidizing abroad. It should be noted that, increasingly, the Tribunal is called upon to examine new complaints from a broad range of industries – as demonstrated by inquiries into wheat gluten, upholstered seating or plywood panels.

Concerning appeals of tariff-related decisions, the Tribunal performance remained remarkable as all decisions were issued within 120 days following a hearing.

During the year, the Tribunal said goodbye to two long-time “family” members. Ms. Rose Ann Ritcey, Vice-Chairperson of the Tribunal, retired in 2020 following a successful career in the public service, first at the Department of Finance, then at the Tribunal’s Secretariat. She had been a member of the Tribunal since 2015.

I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to my predecessor, Mr. Jean Bédard, whose tenure ended on January 1 of this year. Mr. Bédard did an exceptional job first as member, since 2014, then as Chairperson of the Tribunal, starting in 2016. His efficient leadership, marked by great civility and thoroughness, is still an inspiration for the members of the Tribunal and of the Secretariat. He was able to steer the CITT to greater heights through numerous initiatives, notably the implementation of the electronic registry system mentioned above, the maintenance of a solid work relationship with the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada and the establishment of long-lasting relationships with the Tribunal’s counterparts worldwide. He will always be an example for us as we strive to maintain the reputation of excellence that he built for the CITT.

Sincerely,

Frédéric Seppey
Chairperson
Canadian International Trade Tribunal