moved for leave to introduce Bill C-236, An Act to continue VIA Rail Canada Inc. under the name VIA Rail Canada and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Mr. Speaker, as the title of the bill is uninspiring, let me take a few moments to share why this bill is so important.
The United States has its national railway system, Amtrak, which operates under a statute that makes it a priority and in fact gives a mandate to passenger rail to operate across the country, providing good service from coast to coast in the United States. In Canada, VIA Rail has operated as a Crown corporation with no legislation at all. Previous MPs, including Olivia Chow and Irene Mathyssen, have tried to bring forward bills that would give VIA Rail the proper mandate.
Right now, VIA Rail operates at a very high level of success in the Windsor-to-Quebec corridor. In the rest of Canada, we essentially have an antique railway that would make a third world country somewhat ashamed of the service. It is terribly sad, because we have a wonderful railway with beautiful scenery, and it can be affordable for Canadians coast to coast. We have terrific workers, working hard as VIA Rail employees and members of Unifor.
We need to give VIA Rail a legislated mandate so that parts of it cannot be carved up and given away to private tourism enterprises. As a modern, industrialized, low-carbon country, we need to meet the expectations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We urgently need better bus service as well. We urgently need VIA Rail to provide passenger rail service, reliably and affordably, coast to coast.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)