Letter to the Editor. CN Rail Failing as Community Partner

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As today’s politicians move lock-step to appease big business, it’s worth remembering not all benefits must slide toward corporations. CN Rail is a company forgetting that.

Examples abound that CN views those impeding maximum profit as nuisance, regardless of legal right or argument. Carry this point forward – CN Rail recently made the highest quarterly profit in its 99-year history at $1.13 billion.

CN regularly delays its financial obligations while stacking income. Currently, it refuses to honor a 1906 agreement to maintain “perpetual” rail, vehicle and foot traffic over a bridge between Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation. CN claims it need only provide for their trains. Residents are left with a 10km detour between communities as CN lawyers push the case onto the Supreme Court.

For VIA Rail passengers using CN’s network, the freight railroad treats them as lesser than the Chinese plastic it hauls. Continual shunting onto sidings means the trans-continental Canadian train has been over 40 hours late between Vancouver and Toronto in 2018.

Worse, VIA’s management has capitulated to CN and will reduce The Canadian’s summer schedule next year from three times a week to two. The ability of citizens and tourists to travel across Canada, which subsidized CN’s rail lines, is diminished. Going from Northern Ontario by train for contract work down south, the safest form of winter travel is rail and I have lived those CN delays.

Elsewhere, CN Rail obstructs re-starting passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, on the former Algoma Central route. After the last passenger run in July 2015, the company refused to let remote property owners access their land by rail so as to winterize structures. Getting the picture that CN is a failed community partner?

We can respond to CN Rail in a way to take more money from such a railroad than an outlaw like Jesse James ever could – stock divestment. CN shareholders are condoning and profiting from the cases above – you can either direct CN to be a better community partner or take your money away. Corporations exist by our grace, not the other way around.

Chad Beharriell. Iron Bridge, ON



  1. There are close to 500 private camps along the former ACR that have limited or no access except by rail. The Federal Government is sitting its fat prat and insists that these areas are not remote. What a laugh. And to think that thousands of tourists are not able to enjoy the vista of Algoma Country by train is appalling. We need a change of government me thinks.

    • A bunch of retirees who got their camps cheap or inherited them and now they expect us to provide them with a publicly-funded, ultra-expensive Uber on rails. I think not.

      We should take care of the isolated First Nations needs and forget the rest of them. Improving the roads to their palatial summer homes is the best we can and should do for them.

      And that is exactly what I’ve written as a sidebar to the upcoming All Aboard Northern Ontario Northeast Lynx plan to restore a sustainable Ontario Northland service linking Toronto, North Bay and Cochrane … and other points eventually in Northern Ontario.

      These other faux advocates need to be dialed out.

      • Mr. Gormick…in an effort to publicize your own personal efforts, while simultaneously denigrating anyone else doing advocacy work, you unfortunately missed the point of my editorial. My letter is a critique of CN Rail’s corporate approach & role as a community member. Their approach, unless changed, will deter any re-starting of the passenger service between Toronto and North Bay you discuss.

        Groups like CAPT and NEORN are dedicating countless volunteer hours and personal funds to educate and advocate for enhanced passenger rail in Northern Ontario. I am not a board member of either group, but know many of them and your disrespect toward them, labelling them “faux advocates”, is disappointing.

        In the end, you are not from Northern Ontario, and while I respect the years of rail experience you have, you are perhaps not the most qualified to understand how relationships and advocacy are built in the North. My family has been in the Iron Bridge area since the 1880s and one thing I learned growing up is that in the North, “we are all in this together”.

        I wish you well in your rail advocacy work for southern Ontario.

        Chad Beharriell, MA
        Iron Bridge, ON

        • These faux advocates have accomplished nothing and they’ve consistently tried to block the efforts of All Aboard Northern Ontario’s founder and team leader, Eric Boutilier. They are uninformed, spiteful and just in it for their own imaginary glory. Oh, look at me!

          Until the advocacy movement — which is completely disjointed and awash in bitter jealousies — engages with those who have worked in railroading, the media, politics and related public service to craft a practical and affordable rail plan, it will go nowhere. That’s exactly where this alphabet soup of faux advocates has gone: nowhere.

          All Aboard Northern Ontario, All Aboard St. Marys and the group in Gaspesie are the only ones with any public, media and political credibility. And if you’re looking for an act lacking any class, Chad, just listen to the archives CBC Radio Ottawa show on which the leader of the group from the Soo butted in on Eric Boutilier to promote their Loony Loop concept, which is nothing but a drawing on the back of a cocktail napkin devised by people who don’t know the first thing about railroading, travel demand and public finance.

          You might want to ask one member of this kooky coalition how his deteriorating group can speak honestly on the public’s behalf when they’re taking free VIA tickets in exchange for an endorsement of that Crown corporation’s overblown and utterly impractical multi-billion-dollar rail plan for the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal route.

  2. Since Bill Gates is the majority stock holder it seems they want to make him very happy with record profits at the expense of everybody else.

  3. We are seeing more of it every day. What you ask? Corporate greed. They want only the most profitable trains running which of course are hauling freight. They want nothing to do with passenger trains as they are a huge money loser, even with subsidies they don’t want the bother of them. Only the government can fix this.

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