OTTAWA – Greens in parliament are calling for laws to present VIA Rail a correct mandate to deliver secure, reliable, low-carbon, reasonably priced passenger transportation across Canada.
Within the House of Commons this week, Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) tabled private member’s bill C-236, the VIA Rail Canada Act. If passed, the laws will put Canada’s national rail carrier on the same footing to Amtrak within the US, which operates under a statute that mandates it provide passenger rail across the country. In Canada, VIA Rail operates as a Crown Corporation with none mandate.
“I really like traveling by rail,” said Ms. May. “I do know that many Canadians in additional distant and rural areas depend on the train, despite the poor level of service. But as a VIA fan, I note all recent investments have gone to the Windsor-Quebec corridor.
“I fear that VIA might dump and privatize the continental routes – Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal to Halifax. With no bus service nearly in all places in Canada, we want to guard our national passenger rail service.”
Green Party interim Leader Amita Kuttner identified that the demands of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls for reliable and reasonably priced ground transportation haven’t been met.
“VIA goes through many areas where it’s the only option for Indigenous people aside from hitch-hiking,” said Dr. Kuttner. “But even then the service is infrequent – two to a few trains per week in lots of places. We’d like to speculate in modernizing passenger rail transport to make it secure, low-carbon and convenient. “
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