Letter: Trudeau Government Shows Incompetence with ACR Train

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letter to the editor

It is now evident that Trudeau’s government is on par with previous ones in disrespecting Northern Ontario. The decision of Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, to withdraw an available $5.3 million over 3 years to re-start the Algoma Central Railway (ACR) passenger train, shows that voters in large urban centres remain the Liberals’ first priority.

Despite the hard work of community stakeholders to return passenger rail between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, despite the legitimate access needs of residents, traditional First Nations peoples, and tourist businesses along the line, and despite the leadership of Missanabie Cree First Nation to provide train service, the federal government has dismissed those voices, claiming the ACR line does not classify as “remote” enough.

Garneau’s decision reflects a high level of incompetence with this file. One would think that a former astronaut would have a better grasp of geography and climate. Trains are the safest form of travel, particularly across the rugged North in the winter, and are the last way to travel when other modes are stopped by weather. Further, Garneau is incorrect that there is highway access for “most” communities along the ACR. Some of the road systems he refers to are actually private logging roads that can be dangerous and have access arbitrarily ended by their owners.

A second level of Garneau’s incompetence relates to the economy. A 2015 BDO Canada study found that the ACR generates between $28 and $38 million in regional economic activity a year. For less than $2 million per year for three years, the government’s revoking of funding has not only hurt local businesses but given up further streams of tax revenue that could be re-invested. Such shortsightedness in financial circles would see the one who made that decision fired. Unfortunately, we lack that immediate option.

Some $850 million has been allocated by Trudeau for Toronto transit and the North is rebuffed when asking for a fraction of that – of what is actually our money. While businesses along the ACR are forced to cancel visits by tourists, Trudeau has invited Prince William and family to come to Canada, an invitation that when made by Canada means we have to pay the cost of travel and security (estimated at several million). A millionaire PM gets time with one of the world’s richest families, we pay for it, and apparently there is no money for the ACR train.

If you agree that the government’s decision on the ACR was wrong and unfair, contact the Prime Minister, your local MP, and the Minister of Transport. I have faith in the ACR group to eventually restore rail service but they shouldn’t be made to work this hard by such a government.

Chad Beharriell

Iron Bridge, ON

6 COMMENTS

  1. Why shouldn’t the government subsidize the ACR? All other passenger services in Canada including the heavily used GO Transit in the Toronto regions is supported hugely by both governments. Another example of the North being left out when it comes to transportation issues.

  2. CN has great pull with every government in office. CN does NOT want any passenger service on their lines and has not for some time. If they had their way, the Canyon tour would go under so only freight can run on their tracks. I can guarantee they have used their pull to encourage this decision. After all, how many times have they been under investigation and got off with minor fines. They have dragged out the passenger rail talks, tried to award the train to companies they knew would fail and created the basis for this decision. The condition of the funding was continuous running of the train-they stopped it thanks to the choice of Railmark whom had the worse track record of all companies bidding. Only solution is for that line to be purchased away from CN and leased back to them

  3. The ACR tour train loses money EVERY YEAR. How is the government flushing more of our tax dollars down the drain going to help Northern Ontario ?

  4. Trudeau’s liberal government, in its 1st 100 days in office, gave individuals and God knows who else, outside this Country, who never paid a stitch of taxes in this Country, 4 BILLION dollars of your money. Seriously !!! And now, this liberal government doesn’t have any of your tax dollars to give to you, for this vital, very important service. With this trudeau and wynne government finding a million ways to waste your tax dollars, all I can say is good luck to all of us Canadians who foot the bill.
    It’s clear to me that this trudeau government is simply paving the way for the next federal election with your tax dollars. Look at the special interest groups that trudeau panders to and it’s clear; you foot the bill, trudeau takes his selfies and garners all the praise. Seriously folks; who are the real fools here who thought trudeau was the best thing since sliced bread. I just hope Canadians who supported him wake up and see the true fabric of this very unqualified, superficial and very poor excuse for a politician. Seriously !!! Just my thoughts and I sincerely hope I’m wrong about this character. Have a great week end folks.

  5. No idea where BDO came up with those outlandish figures for income generated, but the fact remains that the railway always was a HUGE MONEY LOSING VENTURE, MANY MILLIONS in the hole every year.
    It’s not feasible to run it for the benefit of a few unless they want to start injecting some serious money themselves. The millionaire, Mr. Errington is on the top of this list and should be paying $500,000 per year if he wants the customers that make him a rich man to be delivered to his place of business by train.
    No one in their right mind would touch this money pit with a ten foot pole.

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