Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to rise and speak in support of this bill.
It always takes a tragedy to focus our attention on safety. I and my colleagues from across the aisle and on this side extend our sympathies to the communities and the families of those who lost their loved ones in a very tragic accident, which all of us watched in our living rooms over and over again. For many of the commuters who were on their way home and got tossed around, their families at home suffered a great deal of anxiety, as well as the ones who actually on site.
It always takes a tragedy to draw our attention to the fact that we need to attend to modernizing our regulations to be current with the systems today. It was thus in 2000. It was in the early 2000s, after a spate of unfortunate accidents that led to tragic consequences, that the House first started to look at reviewing the Railway Safety Act. It has been going through various iterations, but here we are in 2012 and the legislation has still not passed through the House. I am not blaming anybody. I am just saying these are the kinds of things that happen.
I will reiterate a comment I have heard from many people that train travel is one of the safest ways to travel. We are not saying there is an inordinate number of accidents that lead to fatalities. We are saying that even one, two, three or four are too many. We want to prevent that by modernizing and bringing our regulations up to date to match the new technologies that exist today.
Our pioneers had great vision and they built the railways right across this great country. Why? Because they saw the need to connect us from coast to coast.
Even today I would like to see the government invest significant dollars in railway infrastructure, because railways do provide a safe way of transportation, and the least environmentally harmful.
Ever since I was a little girl I have been in love with trains. Whether it was due to the early books I read or some of the adventures I had the pleasure to go on, I think there is nothing on this planet that beats railway travel. I have had the pleasure of travelling through most of Europe and India by train, following the writing of Theroux of the great railway journey, and it was truly amazing.
I am looking forward to the day that I will have time to travel across this great country by rail. The best form of a holiday I could imagine would be to travel across Canada and see our beautiful landscape and diverse geography, sitting on a beautiful train. Therefore, I think it is critical that we ensure our trains are safe, notwithstanding the fact that we need more trains, especially passenger trains to give Canadians that opportunity, though I am sure we need more commercial trains as well.
Also, as we look at our environment, the price of gas and many other things, improved railway travel between cities and across this great nation would be a great asset to this country. If we are looking at train travel, one of the key things we have to do is make sure our railways are regulated in such a way that it is a safe way to travel.
As I said previously, railroad travel is one of the safest ways to travel. The Burlington tragedy reminded us that we need to modernize and upgrade our regulations. That is what the bill purports to do. It does not fix everything. I am sure there will be amendments to try to improve safety from all sides when it gets to committee. When it comes to the safety of Canadians or the tourists who visit our great land, I just cannot imagine putting a price on that kind of safety. I hope that there will be very little resistance, and all sides of the House will make sure that this legislation passes.
The recent tragedy also showed us that employers have a responsibility to provide safety to their workers. Health and safety issues are very critical. As a result, we have to ensure that workers who work on our railroads have all the protection they need.
The regulation changes we are looking for are more protection for passengers and more protection for the workers, who of course devote very privileged hundreds of hours on the train. I think trains are so wonderful.
I encourage all my colleagues in the House to take some time to explore our beautiful country by getting on a train with their families. They should leave their BlackBerrys aside and just enjoy our geography. They should look out, as they travel through the Rockies, and see Banff in all its glory, and as they go through the prairies, look into field after field of very rich agricultural land.
I wish that in my riding of Newton—North Delta we actually had passenger railroad service. If we had it, I would certainly get on those trains often. I am a great fan of railroad travel.
This piece of legislation has been through this House before. It has been through the Senate. It has received good support wherever it has gone. I think it is time to act on it. The bill was first introduced in June 2010 after various studies at committees, which started in 2006. We studied regulations and safety for four years. Then the bill was introduced. It went through various iterations, did not make it through the timelines for whatever reason. Now we have a wonderful opportunity to act to ensure safety for workers and passengers.
The bill at the Senate stage, where people came to bear witness, was supported by the unions that have workers on the railroad service. It was supported by the National Legislative Director of the Teamsters. It was supported by Carla White-Taylor, director of the Rail Safety Secretariat.
There is significant support for the bill. I hope we can get it through this House fairly quickly, through the committee stage where, I am sure, after all we are parliamentarians, there will be some tweaking. I am sure we will all be open to tweakings, because we all get along so well at committee stage.
This is an opportunity for us where we have a common goal. I agree with my colleague across the way because he is from Burlington and he saw the impact of that tragedy. We could only empathize with it and send our sympathies from afar. He lives there, so he is just as committed to ensuring safety regulations for the railroad as we are on this side of the House.
This is one of those cases where we can act in a non-partisan way for the good of all who love to travel by railroad. There is no better way to travel.
Mr. Speaker, could you please give me leave to split my time with my colleague--