While Via Rail is not a federal railway, because it owns no track and makes no money, it continues on today without legislation.
The other two railways, CN and CP, are private companies with charters and qualify to be Class One railways by the revenue they make. We are talking $500 million and up to stay in the club, called the American Association of Railways. Via is not a member.
The problem here is three Supreme Court judges were assigned as arbitrators, one for each railway. More were assigned as jurisdictional trade arbitrators, and the railway employees were prisoners committing no crime. This was now a dictatorship, not a majority government, but it seems they did not know the difference. Many early retired railway employees are suffering a financial setback due to health concerns and a forced low pension after being ordered to leave early. Justice has not been done, but the judges' bias toward their bosses in Parliament has. They were assigned and paid by the federal government, which owns Via Rail lock, stock and barrel. Those in the federal passenger rail industry serving the public for years are doing time on a forced low pension, not by some private shareholder company, but rather by Canadians who pay into it through taxes every working day. Most got nothing in return.
For many of us, having being forced out by a B.C. Supreme Court judge just for having too much seniority and making the age cut was the most insulting thing, not to mention medical benefits eroding and dental benefits being obliterated.
This is the punishment handed out to innocent railway workers working day in and day out, and not going on strike.
This fall VIA will have cut more than 7,000 miles of passenger line since 1995. The reason is not enough federal funding by either the Liberals or Conservatives.
This is the dictatorship taking away jobs, not by layoff, not by merger, not by sale, but by passing laws against one segment of workers that kept the rails running and food on people's tables. Now, for many of us, we do not have food on our own.
The railways roll on with louder horns, trying to blame the motorist for any accident at a crossing, yet if it's not at a crossing, the railways do not report it because it's their track.
A freight freeway to hell, and the passenger trains that pay to lease the line lose any financial gain to the taxpayer through fees.
We fight to find a solution outside the box, in ill health from no federal legislation on raw sewage draining from cars in the shop on workers and down the track through Burnaby. Here many workers were penalized for not working in raw sewage and the judges never addressed the issue.
The City of Burnaby was the only city in Canada along the Via Rail lines that stopped Via cold in its tracks for dumping raw sewage on the foreshore of Burnaby Lake Regional Park in 2006. The public suffered unknown medical problems from the birds eating it and spreading parasites and pathogens from around the world.
The Via Rail Pensioners' Association has been left dangling by unions and the company.
We all knew the truth of this grave situation, and those reports were given to the City of Burnaby asking for the federal government to pay for the dredging of Burnaby Lake. We made them public. Ottawa refused to pay anything for damages or compensation to the general public also.
The railway brought the country together last century and we cannot let it rip us apart this century. B.C. could become part of the United States officially as the railways and Ottawa broke the Terms of Union by not running a federal railway on Vancouver Island to Esquimalt.
The U.S. election is near, and we border them. The first B.C. railway to be incorporated by statute was in 1862, from New Westminster to Port Moody, the same year Abraham Lincoln approved U.S. railways to build from the West Coast. New Westminster was earlier than any CPR agreement signed by Ottawa and B.C. England, of which B.C was a colony, gave permission for B.C. to pass the statute.
In 1872 the Terms of Union were signed, and we were united as a country by rail. When the CPR Act came later, it was written in Port Moody. The first train arrived there in 1884, more than 20 years later.
Neither Lincoln nor the next few governments passed railway law because repairing damage from the Civil War was the priority. Today the railways still escape the law and hold hands with the government hoping neither will damage the economy through either's negligence.
It is like history never moved, and the federal servants working for them are in slavery from past working practices. We wish there were more cities like Burnaby looking after the health of Canadians.
Bryan Vogler, Burnaby
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