Port reform is a global initiative that reflects the swing of national economies and international lending agencies to the neo-liberal right. Similar to steps being taken elsewhere, Canada began a national port reform process in 1993 that culminated in the implementation of the Canada Marine Act in 1999. This paper considers North American port reform from the Canadian and US perspectives. It provides an overview of the concepts of port privatisation and structural adjustment programmes, the development of port policy in both Canada and the US, and discusses the effectiveness of contemporary Canadian port reform. The research approach taken was to review the process of Canadian port reform and compare it to the US approach that has evolved over time. The paper concludes that despite the lack of contemporary reform in US ports, they remain efficient, effective and competitive (both domestically and internationally with Canadian ports). The Canadian port reform process is a step in the right direction by making major ports more commercial, but more needs to be done to free these facilities from the strictures and constraints of the federal government.