March 4th, 2014

Olivia Chow introduces bill to protect Via Rail

NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow has presented a plan for the future of Via Rail with a new private members’ bill to preserve this essential service.

“Via Rail has no clearly delineated rights, powers, obligations or mandated targets. Without legislative protection, it has suffered years of neglect and devastating service cuts,” said Chow. “It’s time to secure Via Rail’s role and responsibilities through a federal law.”

Chow’s Via Rail Protection bill lays out a clear mandate and government structure that has long been the feature of other Crown corporations. The bill would free the railway’s board from patronage appointments and give it a larger say in determining its funding needs.

“This bill lays out a network that serves Canadians and would prevent arbitrary cuts that leave small towns isolated,” said Chow. “By strengthening Via Rail’s position vis-à-vis CN and CP, delays for passenger trains would also be reduced.”

“Via Rail’s counterpart in the US, Amtrak, has been operating under federal legislation for decades,” said Chow. “I’m calling on the federal government to fix the legislative gap here in Canada by supporting my bill.”