Via Rail case returns to court Dec. 12
A New Brunswick man says he will "never ever surrender" his fight to have Via Rail return full service to the Maritimes and eastern Quebec.
Widler Jules, who has filed an injunction against the passenger rail service company in a Quebec court, also said he is hoping he can come to an agreement with Via Rail before the case returns to court on Dec. 12.
Jules, who lives in Atholville, N.B., and works as a consultant in strategic management and public affairs, is fighting against cuts Via Rail recently put in place to dial back their Ocean service — running from Halifax to Montreal — from six to three days a week.
He says he's confident in his case because public services shouldn't be run like private companies with a constant eye on the bottom line.
"Via Rail can't operate like a private company," he told the Moncton Times and Transcript. "If it was all about money they would have to shut down the hospitals, because the hospital doesn't make any money. They would have to shut down the nursing home, even the court, they don't make any money.
"It's not in the public interest to cut services and that's why I'm confident to convince the judge."
Jules' case against Via Rail centres around non-compliance with obligations under the Canadian constitution as well as violations under the Canada Transport Act.
"Basically (Via Rail) have to manage carefully the taxpayers' money but in the Canada Transport Act it says that they also have to look out for other things, like the economic development for the region," he said. "They have to improve the regional economic development, so I asked the court how they can fulfill that mandate if they cut services and especially in the Maritimes."
Mylene Belanger, senior adviser of media relations for Via Rail, told the Times and Transcript that Jules' motion is currently being reviewed. The company will not comment on the case until its position is filed with the court.
Jules ran unsuccessfully as an NDP candidate in New Brunswick in the most recent provincial and federal elections.
Jules said he has spoken with a lawyer from Via Rail and he is optimistic the company will want to work out a mutual agreement before Dec. 12. If not, he plans to keep up the pressure.
"Trust me, if they want to fight they will have a good fight. Money at this time won't be a problem," he said. "I will never ever surrender. That fight will go up to the Supreme Court if it has to."