07 AUGUST 2013
Green Party Leader David Coon wants the New Brunswick government to invest in the CN railway line running from Moncton through Campbellton to avoid the body blow to economy of northern New Brunswick that would come with its abandonment. CN says it will discontinue service by March 2014 unless it governments step forward with $50 million to repair its aging tracks. A wide variety of businesses, including saw mills, blueberry growers and the Port of Belledune depend on the railroad.
"The railway is so essential to our economy, that it was one of the key conditions of New Brunswick joining Canada in confederation, and as a result was entrenched in the constitution," said Coon." It would be a disaster for current businesses operating in Miramichi, the Acadian peninsula, Bathurst and the Chaleur region to lose this vital transportation link to the rest of the world. And it would hobble efforts to build a new green economy in northern New Brunswick," Coon said.
The Green Party leader wants the Alward government to buy into the rail line to ensure that rail services are not only maintained, but restored to more reasonable levels.
"This rail line was part of the Intercolonial Railway of Canada, one of our country's first Crown Corporations, and it was known as the People's Railway - even after it was folded into the CNR," said the Green Party leader. "It's time to bring some public ownership back into our rail infrastructure to meet our economic and environmental goals," said Coon. "Investing in infrastructure is one of the few effective ways governments have of actually contributing to economic development, and in this case it is green infrastructure."
The Canadian National Railway was privatized in 1995. Bill Gates now owns ten percent of the Montreal-based railroad. Denis Losier, former CEO of the Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Company, is the only member of the CN board from New Brunswick. Robert Pace, CEO of the Halifax-based Pace Group is the only other Maritime board member. CN bought back the rail line, along with lines in the Gaspé, from the Québec Railway Corporation for $49.8 million in 2008 after selling it in 1997.