Greens Denounce Threat of Extreme Cuts to VIA Rail

The Main Estimates for 2013-14 tabled this week by the President of the Treasury Board, Minister Tony Clement, forecast a drastic budget cut for VIA Rail Canada.

The numbers [p. 386] show VIA Rail’s budget going from $475,651,000 in 2012/2013 to a dismal $187,783,000 in 2013/2014. This would represent a 60% budget cut.

“At a time when forward-thinking governments around the world are making strong new investments in passenger rail as the backbone of a sustainable transportation system, these possible cuts to VIA Rail are particularly short-sighted and appalling,” said Chris Turner, Mass Transit and Transportation Critic for the Green Party.

“Passenger rail is a vital component of Canada’s transportation infrastructure and it has been neglected for far too long. Once again, Harper’s Conservatives have shown themselves willing to sell off Canada’s future for its own short-term political goals,” added Turner.

“The estimates are not the final word on VIA Rail’s budget next year, so I’ll continue pressing for an increase of VIA’s budget. I recently sent a letter to VIA Rail’s CEO regarding the recent cuts to service and changes to policy that appear designed to drive away their customer base. Crippling VIA Rail in order to better privatize it would be textbook Harper,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands.