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Jul 22, 2020

CP Rail will 'in the toughest of times do better than most': CEO

We will 'in the toughest of times do better than most': CP Rail CEO

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The chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. is striking an optimistic tone for the future of his company even though uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

“I’m not unrealistic about my expectations,” Keith Creel, president and CEO of CP Rail, told BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman in a television interview Wednesday. “I feel that [in] Canada, overall, they’ve done a phenomenal job managing the COVID impact. I think we’re going to be fine in Canada.”

“In the U.S. obviously there’s some challenges, there’s some hotspots. That could, if they don’t turn around, have an adverse impact,” Creel added. “If it happens, I’ll say this: We’re going to respond, just like we responded in the second quarter. We can adjust our resources in lockstep with the demand.”

Creel said he believes a vaccine will become available at the end of the year or in the first part of 2021 at which point “things will progressively get better.”

CP, which beat expectations even though its net income decreased 12.3 per cent to $635 million in its latest quarter, is forecasting adjusted earnings growth in 2020.

Creel acknowledged the unprecedented and challenging nature of the pandemic, and expressed gratitude for his employees.

“Certainly there was no playbook for this,” he said. “When you face challenging times, especially at CP, you rise to that occasion. And that’s exactly what that team has done.”

Creel acknowledged some challenges the Calgary-based company has faced since its turnaround began in 2012, without touting the nearly 400-per-cent surge in the company’s share price since then.

“You can read the history of our company. We’ve driven a tremendous amount of change – rapid change – since we started to turn this company around back in 2012,” he said. “Rest assured we didn’t get it all right. It’s been a matter of public record. We broke a lot of eggs, for a lack of a better term, [and] certainly created some tension between our employees and management.”

“But I can tell you one of the most proud things from this whole pandemic that has occurred – above and beyond our response – it’s the way that our company has come together internally. It’s the way the employees out on the ground, the men and the women, move these trains.”

Creel is optimistic that if a second wave of the virus does emerge, CP Rail is equipped to manage it.

“The company will still in the toughest of times do better than most,” Creel said. “We’re going to become stronger as a result of it. We’ll navigate that if that’s the storm we have to face.”

With files from The Canadian Press