Mr. Speaker, this bill is very similar to one introduced earlier this session by the hon. member for London—Fanshawe. It carries some of the same characteristics, but it is different.
I have been working on it for some time, because VIA Rail lacks the legislative framework, a context within which we can ensure VIA Rail, as a crown corporation, is governed by the laws of Canada, with a mandate to expand passenger rail service, to modernize passenger rail service, and to ensure that our key routes as they now exist are protected.
While it shares much with C-370, in the name of the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, which I also support but I do not see this as competition in any way, it does contain other elements. Ideally, one would love to see these two bills brought together as one and brought forward by the hon. Minister of Transport, so it would have a good chance of passage.
I commend the bill to the House. I urge that we consider it at its next opportunity for second reading and debate. VIA Rail is a key part of our national identity. Passenger rail service is a key part of any national transportation plan, as is modernizing that service, ensuring we have service from coast to coast to coast, as we should have once the service to Hudson Bay is repaired. We have had passenger rail service in our country since our first prime minister established the national dream.
This private member’s bill attempts to assure that this national dream endures.