Letter: Calling Out The Prime Minister On Train Service in Algoma

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To the Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada:

It has become exhausting facing the mounting challenges on our family owned remote tourist business after the ACR passenger train service was cancelled. When the Federal Government and CN did this it compromised our Northern identity. Railmark’s attempted take-over of the service was a total disaster – they didn’t have their act together.

Unnecessary chaos resulted and most of our guests vanished. Since the 70’s when my parents bought the lodge we always did rail freight shipments. Since the 2015 cancellation, this ideal service was also cancelled by CN. Necessary upkeep became a scramble and projects halted. We became a skeleton staff – tasks weren’t done on time, as well, or at all as we juggled new and old jobs. Dropping standards or having to work harder to stay afloat due to no train is not cool! Federal mail is now history too. Add increasingly unreliable phones, internet issues, etc. and operating remotely is nearly impossible. A business is supposed to profitably and efficiently deliver a product, but this can’t happen amidst Government indecision, poor policy, and lost transportation. Livelihoods Canadians love are becoming more of a fantasy than a reality. If this “de-limbing” of the business community goes on much longer, the hopes I had for the reinstatement of remote train-in fishing, hunting and wilderness experiences built for over 40 years will be yet another “Northern Ontario vanishing act”.

Our MP Carol Hughes has kept the train issue in the forefront. I’d like to publically ask Prime Minister Trudeau if you are considering Carol Hughes’ constituents and how much Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing has suffered economically without passenger AND rail freight service? Where do your Liberals stand on the Missanabie Cree First Nation Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban train service resumption plan? Many have rallied around this First Nation initiative, confident they’ve got what it takes – so why not give them a go? Trains are environmentally friendly, safe and certain. With a scheduled service outfitters could have something to build on again. At a Sault Ste. Marie event a few years ago, I met previous Conservative Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and reminded her of a long letter I sent her on the issue. She seemed completely unaware of it. This was disappointing due to her position, how detailed the letter was (I had help writing it) and because she had staff that should have been informing her on this before she even came up to meet the “train freaks”. Uncaring politicians, not going the extra mile should not be in Northern Ontario.

As you know I contacted MP Terry Sheehan, then yourself during the election as he hadn’t responded. I get it – a Prime Minister is busy, I’m not Mr. Sheehan’s constituent, and you were likely both swamped with the election (and hopefully reviewing the Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban plan). BUT Sault Ste. Marie just re-elected Mr. Sheehan and Canada has chosen your party; yet Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst remains dead as a doormat on the passenger situation. Encountering a wilderness environment by rail is worth preserving, but we need Federal and Provincial politicians to make the big ticket decisions that we can’t make for ourselves, and in so doing, make this region awesome again. Who will give a hoot (ahem… toot) enough to do something? That person truly would be, in my books, “Honourable”.

Cindy Lebrun

Tatnall Camp

Wawa, Ontario

4 COMMENTS

  1. We need passenger and freight rail services, we need connectivity to grow our economy and draw tourism dollars. The rail infrastructure exists north and east of Sault Ste. Marie. The service north ended in 2015, and now the track to the east is expected to be closed. We need legislation that will stop rail infrstructure from bein remove. If rail companies abandon track, it needs to come back to Canada and be held in trust. Rails day will come again, how about a proactive government. After all, it was all crown land once. I don’t want to drive our dangerous winter roads, give us the passenger and freight rail services we need and deserve in the north.

  2. It can’t be explained in any simpler terms than it’s not feasible to run such a business that hemorrhages huge money for the benefit of a few.

  3. If there only was a train that ran from here to Union Station in Toronto. Imagine the commerce potentials the tourism boost, the savings of wear and tear on our highways, the decrease of travel fatalities, etc

    Its original purpose was the construction of a transcontinental railway, a promise to British Columbia upon its entry into Confederation. The railway — completed in 1885 — connected Eastern Canada to BC and played an important role in the development of the nation.

    I guess Northern Ontario doesn’t count.

Comments are closed.