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Message from the President – May 2023

May is typically a month of celebration and of looking forward. Spring weather has typically set in, planting (on farms and in gardens) is usually well underway or finished, and people start to turn their attentions to the coming summer.

This May was anything but carefree for too many people in too many places.

For Western Canadians, people in northwestern British Columbia and central-western Alberta in particular, hot and dry conditions led to an early start to active wildfire season. Thousands of people had their homes and livelihoods threatened. Hundreds of thousands more were affected by hazy, smoky air conditions.

Railroaders responded in customary fashion – by pitching in to help their communities. While CN adjusted its operations in the Jasper to Edmonton corridor with the collaboration of the Fire Chief, CN also brought in Poseidon, a water train to assist in the firefighting effort from the tracks. To everyone on the fires’ frontlines, we salute you.

In central and eastern Canada, the problem was not fire – but water. (Fires came later – since the start of June, Quebec and Nova Scotia have been dealing with their share of forest fires.)

Flooding impacted parts of Ontario and Quebec. In Charlevoix, where tourist train upgrades are underway, people were keeping a watchful eye on structures of all kinds.  Homes and businesses in communities were sandbagger.  A couple of major spring storms caused sporadic service disruptions. But railroaders persevered, again in customary fashion.

So, May 2023 was a month of extremes. But railroaders rose to the occasion, adapted, and did what was needed to keep people and goods moving.

Your RAC team in Ottawa – buoyed by that same spirit and taking those same characteristics to heart – have been pounding the pavement to get problematic parts of the federal budget taken out or, at minimum, made better.

Extended regulated interswitching. Additional labour regulations. New cybersecurity regulations and more. These are all live files…and they’ve required some metaphoric firefighting in recent months.

We’ve run our best ground game and mounted supporting advocacy campaigns that have been noticed. Our key audiences are better informed about our issues. They are more aware of the contributions railways big and small make to national supply chains. People are more attuned to the need for more collaboration and more investment. And we are working to get action on all these fronts (and more).

We keep working to help Canadian railways keep working. All of it, in service of this great and vast country, the people who call it home. Stay safe through June and beyond.