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December 17th, 2022

NDP calls out Liberals’ plan to privatize VIA Rail and put profits ahead of the interests of passengers

OTTAWA – Today, NDP Transport Critic Taylor Bachrach (Skeena—Bulkley Valley) and Tax Fairness and Inequality Critic Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski) called out the Liberals for pushing forward their plan to privatize the passenger rail service between Toronto and Quebec City which will make life more expensive for Canadian commuters. The Liberals appointed former SNC Lavalin Lawyer, Robert Prichard, to an arm's length subsidiary of Via Rail whose job will be to prioritize the interests of wealthy CEOs involved in building the passenger line between Quebec City and Toronto.

“Canada is fortunate to have VIA Rail, a Crown Corporation with a proven track record that Canadians depend on to travel across the country,” said Bachrach. “Instead of building on this proud legacy, the Liberals seem intent on handing over VIA’s busiest corridor and the bulk of its passenger revenue to private interests —putting profits ahead of the interests of passengers. This is wrong. The Liberals are making decisions on transit based on the interests of the rich and powerful, not everyday Canadians. People deserve better.”

This $55 million joint project between VIA RAIL and Canada’s Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to privatize rail services that millions of Canadians depend on, will worsen services, and increase prices for passengers. The NDP has consistently fought against these types of mixed private-public partnerships. Earlier this year, Ashton tabled a bill that would have blocked the CIB from encouraging the privatization of infrastructure that communities depend on — but Conservatives and Liberals rejected it.

“The Liberals made this announcement just days after Parliament rose for the holidays, showing they’d be happier avoiding accountability on appointing Mr. Prichard who is known as 'the poster boy for corporate Canada,'” said Ashton. “The Liberals are sending a clear message that they care more about helping rich CEOs line their pockets over ensuring reliable, greener, and more affordable transporation services for Canadians. My message to the Prime Minister and the entire Liberal caucus is hands off VIA Rail!”