March 5, 2014

What is the real reason?

Since the federal government won’t invest in the 44 mile rail line between Bathurst and Miramichi it will be abandoned. In question period in the House of Commons, all we hear are lies from the government. This is an attempt to find the real reason why the government won’t fulfill its obligations.

March 5, 2014

Honourable Lisa Raitt

Minister of Transport

Dear Minister,

What is the real reason that this government refuses to help save a vital passenger rail link to the Maritimes. One reason too often given is that “VIA is an independent corporation from the Canadian government, and as such it takes its own decisions”. I find that hard to believe. With the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government gives VIA, the fact that the government does not know where it is going would be irresponsible. Another reason given is that people are not utilizing the service. Nothing could be further from the truth. VIA Rail’s own figures for the Christmas holidays is that 7,500 passengers were carried. I took a trip last weekend to Halifax on the Ocean during March Break. The train was full, sold out. You were obviously misinformed. In northern New Brunswick people use this service to go to points west and to points east. As people got off the train from Montreal as many people got on the train to go east. Another reason given for your lack of action, was that “there is a bus service between Moncton and Campbellton that provides daily service.” Yet, Maritime Bus is struggling with this run. It appears that most people prefer to spend 6 hrs on a train that runs only 3 days a week, then take a 4 hour 40 min bus ride that runs daily. A long bus ride is not for everyone. People with reduce mobility, families with young children, the elderly can’t take the bus. Other people, including students, prefer the comfort and convenience of the train.

You said the decision that was made to abandon the track between Bathurst and Miramichi was “a business decision made by a private company”. Yes, of course, it was made by a private company that is in the freight business. CN is not in the passenger business, it is the government owned VIA Rail’s responsibility to provide passenger rail service to Canadians. The statement “If there is passenger and freight service on that line, I am sure somebody will step up and take advantage of the opportunity.” is just plain silly to suggest the private sector would be interested in running passenger trains. And finally “The government does not own freight rail infrastructure” That is not true. VIA Rail owns the Alexandria Subdivision from Ottawa to Coteau, QC. CN has the freight rights and operates freight trains on this VIA Rail line.

Minister Raitt, what is the real reason that your government is refusing its obligation to provide basic transportation needs to Maritimers and people in eastern Quebec. Do you hate passenger trains? Have you ever ridden in one? Maybe its because this government does not care for people who are not rich. Maybe the Conservatives have already written off some Conservative ridings in the Maritimes in the next election. Perhaps this government is far removed from the people who live in the regions and are unaware of the hardships that their policies cause. What is the real reason that you refuse to contribute the $10 million over 15 years to provide mobility to the people of eastern Quebec and the Maritimes. I await your answer.

Yours truly,

Barry Brake
Montreal, QC

The Gaspé Spec