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Message from the president -June 2023

Parliamentarians doing the nation’s business have now risen for their summer break. Most MPs and Senators have left the capital and will spend the coming months in their hometowns, with family, friends and voters.

This summer will likely feature a government ‘reset.’ In a bid to put a politically bruising spring behind him, many are speculating that the Prime Minister will ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament, then shuffle his cabinet, and aim for a fresh start with a Throne Speech in the Fall.

While that would clear the legislative decks of some problematic legislation (including a few Bills that would have impacts on RAC members), the most egregious made it through to Royal Assent late last week.

Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, became law and, with it, a measure to resurrect extended regulated interswitching to a 160km radius in the Prairie provinces for an 18-month ‘pilot.’

On your behalf, we fought back efforts by armies of lobbyists to extend the radius to 500km, across Canada, and make it permanent. We also earned the attention and even admiration of several Parliamentarians who remarked on the fact-based nature of our advocacy and supporting campaigns.

Sometimes in Ottawa, what doesn’t make it into a law qualifies as the win. That was the case here – with the potential for this latest iteration of interswitching to be even worse.

Our advocacy efforts to limit the negative impacts of this legislation now switch toward the implementation phase and rate calculations by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The next 90 days will be busy on that front and others. Team RAC will be working on your behalf throughout the summer.

While this week has seen St-Jean Baptiste / Fête Nationale celebrations in Québec and while Canada Day festivities are planned for tomorrow from coast to coast to coast, we must also acknowledge two looming and sombre milestone anniversaries.

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Chinese Immigration Act (dubbed the Chinese Exclusion Act), which banned Chinese nationals from Canada – including the 17,000 Chinese workers who helped build the transcontinental railway. (Commemorative events are being held in Toronto.)

And July 6th marks the 10th anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, which claimed 47 lives.

All of Canada and every Canadian railroader stands in solidarity with the people of Lac-Mégantic and those who lost loved ones in the tragedy. Their memories are etched on our collective soul.

For every railway and every railroader, safety is job one.

Canada’s Class 1 railways have the best safety records in North America – a record that has only improved in the last decade.

Some of the programs that contribute to an ever-more engrained safety culture are profiled below.

I encourage you to read and reflect on the countless ways – big and small – that Canadian railroaders are moving Canada forward with safety at the heart of everything we do.