Man will 'never ever surrender' fight for daily Atlantic Canada train service

Moncton Times Transcript
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Via Rail case returns to court Dec. 12

A New Brunswick man has filed an injunction against Via Rail in an effort to have six-days-a-week rail service returned to Atlantic Canada.

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."

Organizations: Via Rail, Canada Transport, Moncton Times NDP Supreme Court

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Quebec, Atlantic Canada Atholville Halifax Montreal

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Recent comments

  • SIMENAD
    November 20, 2012 - 09:39

    Via is not a public service, it is a crown corporation, big difference

    • To Simenad
      November 20, 2012 - 11:27

      I am wondering about who the directors are at Via Rail. It has been a crown corp for a long time, but I was led to believe that both CN and Via Rail were controlled by a New Hampshire (possibly) or other USA company. What would they care about Maritime Canada?

  • chris
    November 19, 2012 - 22:01

    Let Via rail sell itself complety to a proper company and let them operate the rails properly. charging ppl a proper fare that will allow them to operate, maintain and grow. you gotta get gov'mt out of operations like that. charging proper fares from ppl is the only way for this to be viable longterm. otherwise you'll have nothing but ever growing taxes.

    • fair is fair
      November 20, 2012 - 17:40

      Every single inch of our highways and roads should be private too. I say we sell them all to U.S. investors and they can then put tolls on them to recoup the maintenance and operating cost. Private enterprise all the way!

  • PEI Train Girl
    November 19, 2012 - 20:00

    Hope he has better luck than the Islanders had when CN decided they would remove trains from PEI, despite that being part of the agreement to entice PEI to become a province of Canada. Cuts to VIA Rail are as inevitable as train tracks being pulled up in PEI and made into walking trails that are being taken over by machinery like snowmobiles and dirt bikes.

  • Mike Sorota
    November 19, 2012 - 19:07

    where's all the money supposed to come from?

  • james macdonald
    November 19, 2012 - 15:38

    Good on this chap! I agree 100% and wish him all the best. I'm sick and tired of government bureaucrats doing the dirty work of our politicians, cutting our frontline public services, while at the same time the politicians jack up their exorbitant salaries and pensions and other entitlements. Public services such as transportation have been cut so much in Atlantic Canada over the last few decades. In addition to these cuts to VIA Rail, I'm equally disgusted at how ferry companies and other public service providers have to resort to ''begging'' in order to keep operating. This is wrong and it has to stop. Best wishes Mr. Jules!