moved for leave to introduce Bill C-251, An Act to continue VIA Rail Canada Inc. under the name VIA Rail Canada and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time I have risen at first reading to present this private member's bill, and I will continue to try. I would be so grateful if government members would see fit to make this a government bill.
Unlike the United States, our national public rail system has no statutory foundation. To explain how significant that is, in the United States, Amtrak has its own legislation that requires it to provide passenger rail service to Americans. VIA Rail exists as a Crown corporation, but it has no statutory mandate that requires it to provide transportation services by rail, passenger rail service to Canadians.
It is particularly important that we do so at a time when so many private sector bus companies have withdrawn service from remote areas of Canada. The legislation lists, in a schedule, all the existing routes that VIA Rail services and ensure that they not be suspended or abandoned.
We need passenger rail service. We need to know that it extends from coast to coast. Ideally, we need to invest to ensure it continues to do so for all Canadians now and into the future.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)