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Jim Goss
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The death of Ontario passenger railway service? April 28-29

The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains is banking on an economic impact study to save passenger rail service in Northern Ontario. A BDO Canada LLP report on the rail service will be released on April 17 (next Thursday). 

“With just slightly more than two weeks away from the last scheduled northbound ACR passenger rail service to Hearst, stakeholders are anxiously awaiting a response from the federal Transport Minister to their request to continue funding the service for another year. The one-year continuation would provide stakeholders and community officials a real chance at developing a long-term plan that would ensure the viability of the passenger rail service and show the federal government about the real socio-economic impact the service has on Northern Ontario,” the Sault Star reported on April 9. 

CAPT hopes the BDO report will give Minister Lisa Raitt the ammunition she needs to fight for Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District. 

Email the Minister and tell her what you think:
Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt 
lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca.
Please cc: your letters to the following:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
Mr. Bryan Hayes, MP Sault Ste. Marie” bryan.hayes@parl.gc.ca
Ms. Carol Hughes, MP Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing carol.hughes@parl.gc.ca
info@captrains.ca

CAPT News

ACR Stakeholders Meeting: April 17:
Night Train: uplifting event
Media Train Event: April 28 & 29
Donate a car for tax receipt
Recent media stories
 
ACR Stakeholders Meeting: April 17: 1:00 pm in Sault Ste. Marie Civic Centre Council Chambers

Everyone is invited to an important ACR Stakeholders Meeting on Thurs. April 17 at 1:00 pm in the Sault Ste. Marie Civic Centre Council Chambers.  The Draft Report of the  Economic Impact Assessment of the cancellation of funding for the ACR passenger train service will be presented.  Please pass the word around to all of your contacts who are trying to save the passenger train and encourage them to attend.  BDO Canada LLP who did the analysis will be at the meeting to present and answer questions.

Night Train: uplifting event

For those who were not able to attend, we are delighted to report that NIGHT TRAIN, an evening of music inspired by trains at the Water Tower Pub, was a huge success. We thank Rusty McCarthy (who organized the event) and several other musicians who lifted our spirits and supported our efforts to keep working hard to save the Algoma passenger train. 

The house was full of people who see the crucial value of the passenger train for the regional economy and our overall well-being. Many thanks to the generous donations and sales of CAPT calendars and t-shirts  that so many people made.  Those contributions will be used for the big media train event on April 28-29. 
 
Media Train Event: April 28 & 29: A Celebration or a Protest?

Unless we hear otherwise, the last run of the passenger train is to be northbound from the Sault on April 28 and southbound from Hearst on April 29.  CAPT is encouraging as many people as possible to ride that train and is organizing this as a major media train event. There will be musicians entertaining us and we are inviting media reporters to ride with us to see the wide variety of people and places that this incredible train serves and to witness firsthand how important it is to our regional economy.  

Some people will be staying overnight at their camps or resorts along the line, others will be going to Searchmont, Hawk Junction, Dubreuilville, Oba or Hearst to stay overnight and return by train the next day.  Pass the word around so we can pack the train for an impressive celebration (if good news is received by then) or to protest (if the decision to cancel funding is not reversed by then).
 
Donate a car to save the passenger train:

Go the CAPT website—www.captrains.ca---to find out how to donate an old vehicle in exchange for a tax receipt.  This is a creative way to support our cause.  100% of your donation supports our efforts to save the Algoma passenger train and you get a charitable tax receipt from Transport Action Canada. Eco-friendly vehicle recyclers pick up your car, just click the CharityCar.ca link on the CAPT website and fill out the form or phone the toll free number.
 
Recent Media Stories
Consultants report shows train an asset
http://www.saultstar.com/2014/04/09/consultants-report-shows-train-an-asset

Transforming the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission
http://www.wawa-news.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20102:transforming-the-ontario-northland-transportation-commission--transformation-de-la-commission-de-transport-ontario-northland-&catid=41:news&Itemid=201

Time for Minister to get on board with ACR
http://www.wawa-news.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20112:time-for-minister-to-get-on-board-with-acr-working-group-hughes-il-est-temps-que-la-ministre-ecoute-le-groupe-dintervenants-dacr&catid=122:editorials&Itemid=157

ONTC announcement a 'stop gap' measure
http://www.wawa-news.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20114:ontc-announcement-a-stop-gap-measure-ndp&catid=122:editorials&Itemid=157
 
ACR survey nets considerable response
http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=71263
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Passenger railway news : Soo Night Train, Island Corridor Foundation 
Vancouver Island passenger railway service

On April 3: Island Corridor Foundation commented "Boards of all three organizations still have to approve the agreement and finalize funding before work can begin on fixing tracks and bridges. Repairs are expected to take at least nine months.” The ICF comment was linked to  a media report headlined: "Islanders and Via Rail at odds over whether there’s a deal” The Apr. 2 story by Lindsay Kines and Bill Cleverley from the Times Colonist 
is at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/islanders-and-via-rail-at-odds-over-whether-there-s-a-deal-1.940302

The ICF also reports on a Statement from James Lunney Conservative MP, Nanaimo-Alberni.  "On Wednesday, April 2, 2014 the Island Corridor Foundation announced a tentative agreement had been reached with Via Rail to reinstate passenger rail service on Vancouver Island.” http://www.jameslunneymp.ca/english/?p=3008

April 26, 2014 : Transport Action Toronto : AGM 

You are cordially invited to the 2014 TRANSPORT ACTION ONTARIO ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
(Combined with Transport Action Canada AGM)
Saturday, April 26, 2014. Metro Hall. 55 John Street (at King) Toronto, rooms 308/9
Transport Action AGMs: 10 a.m.–noon
Lunch: Members and guests are welcome to join us at the Aroma Restaurant, 121 King St. West, 2nd floor, across from Metro Hall.
Afternoon Public Forum: 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Union Station Revitalization: Its Progress to Date.
Speaker: Michael Wolczyk, V-P Capital Infrastructure (Acting) GO Transit (Metrolinx)
Tour of Union Station construction will follow presentation. 
https://plus.google.com/107410133753245160111/posts/

News from the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT)

1. Save ACR passenger rail service : Working Group Update

- BDO is close to completion of its economic impact analysis. Bravo to so many of you who filled out the survey for the study.  There was an excellent participation rate.

- Letters for a meeting with Minister Lisa Raitt continue to be sent to her.

e-mail addresses for saving the train letters
Posted on March 21, 2014 by admin

”Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt” lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca.
Please cc: your letters to the following:
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper,” stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
“Mr. Bryan Hayes, MP Sault Ste. Marie” bryan.hayes@parl.gc.ca
“Ms. Carol Hughes, MP Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing” carol.hughes@parl.gc.ca
“SSM Economic Development Corporation” i nfo@ssmedc.ca
“SSM Chamber of Commerce Ontario” info@ssmcoc.com
“Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains” info@captrains.ca
Visit the website www.algomapasssengerrail.com

2. Reminder: Night Train: Wed. April 9 at 8:00 pm Water Tower Pub, Sault Set Marie

Please pass the word around to your contacts to attend the special benefit evening of train music to support our efforts to save the ACR passenger train. 

3. Media coverage:
• Time to build rails again at Essar Steel Algoma http://www.saultthisweek.com/2014/04/01/time-to-build-rails-again-at-essar-steel-Algoma
• Carol Hughes Discusses ACR in the House of Commons, 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (Refer to Adjournment Proceedings) http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2&DocId=6499461
• Climate Change a threat to security, food and humankind- IPCC report http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-threat-food-security-humankind
• UN report on climate change rings alarm on warming polar regions http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/03/30/un_report_on_climate_change_rings_alarm_on_warming_polar_regions.html

4.  Reduced 2014 CAPT calendar price: $5 

Since we are into April, the 2014, the 2014 calendars are now $5. They are still for sale at the Art Gallery of Algoma and Shabby Motley 356 Queen Street East. Sault Ste Marie. P6A1Z1. Tel: 705-575-9276 or we can mail them to you and you can send us a cheque. 

Cheques can be made payable to Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains care of:
Linda Savory Gordon
Algoma University
1520 Queen Street East
Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2G4

http://captrains.ca/

Railway safety “third party” double talk

The Toronto Star today reports, ”Transport Canada said MMA (the Lac-Mégantic disaster shortline railway company) “informed Transport Canada of its intention to use one-man crews.” The regulator then met with MMA, which “demonstrated that its use of one-man crews would meet the safety standards in place.” “It’s important to understand that this is not a permission-granting exercise,” wrote Transport Canada spokesperson Brooke Williams.

“I think Transport Canada is hung up on semantics, i.e. the difference between ‘approved’ and ‘didn’t disapprove’ after MMA complied with requirements they provided,” (MMA owner) Burkhardt said.

The Toronto Star’s Wendy Gillis wrote, “E. Wayne Benedict, a long-time rail employee who is now a Calgary-based labour lawyer, said Transport Canada can technically say it did not “allow” the use of one-man crews because of the setup of the rail regulation regime, which uses what’s called safety management systems (SMS). “This goes back to the fundamental problem with the railway safety regulatory regime,” Benedict said, because it allows companies to set their own safety rules, which they can then claim is proprietary information. “The whole system is, in my opinion, pretty flawed,” he said. 
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/04/04/lacmgantic_disaster_railways_oneman_crew_documents_kept_secret.htm
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Rail service to move forward on Vancouver Island
April 02, 2014 12:49 from Ryan Price, CFAX
http://www.cfax1070.com/News/Top-Stories/Rail-service-to-move-forward-on-Vancouver-Island

There's a tentative deal between VIA Rail and the Island Corridor Foundation http://www.islandrail.ca/ to bring train service back to Vancouver Island.

The E and N Rail line links Victoria to Courtenay, but the tracks are in bad shape and service has been suspended since 2011.

Today's tentative deal for service means promised funding from municipal, provincial and federal governments can now be spent to fix the tracks. There's $20-million dollars available.

The ICF says the tracks need 9-months worth of work, once a contract is awarded. There no time line yet for when that might happen.

The new route will be more commuter-friendly. The train will leave Nanaimo in the morning bound for Victoria. Then will travel to Courtenay. It will travel back to Victoria to pick up afternoon commuters before ending the day in Nanaimo.

Where the main stops will be along the line are no yet known.

The ICF says VIA Rail will provide the trains and Southern Rail will operate the track. No VIA representatives were at today's announcement in Nanaimo.

http://metronews.ca/news/victoria/991311/passenger-rail-returning-to-vancouver-island/
Passenger rail returning to Vancouver Island
Metro, Luke Simcoe

CC BY-SA 3.0/Alasdair McLellanA portion of the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (formerly the E&N line) is seen near Chemainus, B.C.
After a three-year absence, passenger rail may be returning to Vancouver Island.

According to the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), a tentative deal has been brokered between Southern Railway and VIA Rail to restore commuter service on the old E&N line.

VIA suspended the once-daily passenger train in 2011, citing the poor condition of the tracks.

ICF co-chair Mary Ashley said Monday that Southern has agreed to handle the operation of the line — including service, marketing and maintenance — while VIA will provide the train itself.

The new deal includes $20.9 million for upgrading tracks and bridges along the route.

The new service will operate out of Nanaimo, the ICF said, allowing for an early morning train to Victoria.

“It’s a great day,” Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan told the media following the announcement.

The history of the E&N railway — which originally referred to “Esquimalt and Nanaimo” — dates back to the 1870s, when the federal government promised to build the line if B.C. joined Confederation.

Map by Transport Action B.C.
http://transportactionbc.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/vancouver-island-railway-study-released/

Vancouver Island passenger rail announcement coming today
Mayors say they are in the dark about Island Corridor Foundation's news on the Southern Railway route
CBC News Posted: Apr 02, 2014 6:54 AM PT Last Updated: Apr 02, 2014 6:59 AM PT

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-island-passenger-rail-announcement-coming-today-1.2595095
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Transport Action in the News 
Halifax Chronicle-Herald, It's a sin, frankly, that this government continues to allow passenger service to deteriorate to Atlantic Canada
"A modest $10-million dollar investment by the Government of Canada will be sufficient to make the needed upgrades to the line and preserve the service for the next 15 years,” Transport Action Atlantic's acting president, Ted Bartlett, said in the release.
The Chronicle-Herald, Mar 24 2014
http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1195362-local-mps-take-train-in-bid-to-preserve-via-rail-service
Globe and Mail, Advocates, opponents of expanded Toronto Island airport to land at City Hall
On Monday, advocacy group Transport Action Ontario – which includes in its list of supporters former city planner Paul Bedford and former president of the Conference Board of Canada Anne Golden – released a report maintaining that allowing jets would require blocking off about three times as much of the harbour to boaters as is currently excluded.
Globe and Mail, Mar 25 2014.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/advocates-opponents-of-expanded-toronto-island-airport-to-land-at-city-hall/article17655165/
National Post, Claims that jets at Toronto island airport would make harbour off-limits to boats 'not factual,' Porter CEO says
The group Transport Action Ontario contends that jets require a shallower approach..
National Post, Mar 25 2014
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/24/claims-that-jets-at-toronto-island-airport-would-make-sections-off-limits-to-boats-not-factual-porter-ceo-says/
York Guardian, Extending Billy Bishop runways for jet aircraft could have additional impacts, group warns
The study, by Transport Action Ontario, applies Transport Canada standards 
York Guardian - Mar 24 2014 - 4 hours ago
Miramichi Leader, MPs board train to save rail line
Ted Bartlett, vice-president of the Transport Action Atlantic advocacy group the only goal is to save the 70 kilometres.
Miramichi Leader - Mar 21 2014
Toronto Star, Follow the U.S. lead on rail safety, Hazardous train freight shouldn't be kept secret, expert says, March 15
Karl Junkin, Senior Researcher, Transport Action Ontario, Toronto (408 words)
Toronto Star, Mar 20 2014
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2014/03/20/follow_us_lead_on_rail_safety.html
The Tribune, Whistlestop tour stops in city
The Tribune (Campbellton, NB) - Mar 7 2014
Vancouver Courier, Letter: Translink needs to get up to speed on bus usage
It is important that TransLink addresses its network inefficiencies, especially when they impede greater benefits for most of the transit users, and reduce the transit value of our tax dollars. Patrick Rault vice-president Transport Action B.C. 
Vancouver Courier - Mar 7 2014
Times & Transcript, Rail closure could coincide with Ocean anniversary
Bathurst Northern Light - Mar 4 2014 - 2 similar
Metro rally held to support passenger rail
Byline: Craig Babstock Times & Transcript, Page: A1
Times & Transcript (Moncton) - Mon Mar 3 2014 - 1 similar
The Sault Star, First step to save train service
Harry Gow, of Transport Action Canada, addressed each community and demonstrated how the federal government is reducing funding of passenger rail
The Sault Star - Wed Feb 26 2014
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Media Release, Robert Bateman joins campaign to save Northern Ontario passenger rail service  

March 1, 2014

(Sault Ste. Marie) The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) today released the following Feb. 19 letter by Robert Bateman  to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

The Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P.                                                        
Minister of Transport
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A0A6

Dear Minister:

As an artist and environmentalist I was horrified to hear about the potential closing of the Algoma Central Railway passenger service.

As an artist I consider the geographical area through which the train travels as a Canadian art history heritage area.  The train is the way that Group of Seven painters traveled into the Canadian wilderness and creatively displayed those landscapes through their art.  Their paintings of scenes along the Algoma Central Railway (ACR) have become Canadian cultural icons. I understand that art historian Michael Burtch and wildlife adventurers Joanie and Gary McGuffin have been conducting extensive, unique research along the ACR and have located over 80 sites of paintings made by various Group of Seven artists.  This research is new to the field of Canadian art history and when their book and film are published will draw many tourists to the ACR tourism corridor.  This will be a major boon to the tourist operators whose businesses are accessed only by this special train.

As an environmentalist I support public investment in train-based tourism and train travel in general as it is a way to reduce pollution and climate change and their destructive effects on the planet. Enhancing the Northern Ontario wilderness trains as eco-tourism rail corridors is a way for Northern Ontario to diversify its economy and lead to sustainability of its local communities in an environmentally respectful way . The Algoma Central Railway educates tourists about our fragile ecosystems as it travels through areas such as the world's largest game preserve-the Chapleau Game Preserve.

I support the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT)'s request to the Federal government to reverse its decision to terminate the special funding for the ACR passenger train and treat it as essential infrastructure for the development of a rail tourism corridor through Ontario wilderness.

Sincerely

Robert Bateman

cc      Bryan Hayes, M.P.
         Carol Hughes, M.P.
         Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT)
         Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN)

End of letter

Background

On January 27, 2014, CN announced the termination of passenger service on the Algoma Central Railway from Sault Saint Marie to Hearst, as the Federal government had ended the subsidy that pays for the passenger service.  As a result CN announced that service would end on March 31, 2014 (subsequently extended to April 29, 2014). 

The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of individuals, businesses, First Nations, municipalities and other interests who recognize the significant economic, social, cultural, historical and environmental value of passenger rail servicing and interconnecting the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ontario's Algoma District to each other, Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. 

For more info: 

Linda Savory Gordon               
705 943 0971  
linda.savory-gordon@algomau.ca
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"Canada’s experiment with creating its own digital currency appears to be over. The Royal Canadian Mint said Friday it’s halting development of its fledgling MintChip digital currency program and is now looking to sell the business," reported David George-Cosh for Dow Jones on Apr. 4.
#paymentsystems  
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“The government has had years to get this right - which makes today’s unveiling all the more disappointing”, says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “This reads like the digital strategy for the last 5 years - not for the 5 years ahead. This whole strategy suffers from an appalling lack of ambition - Canadians deserve so much better than just warmed-up leftovers from previous government announcements. Although there are some positive proposals here, all in all Canada will still be left playing catch-up with the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to Internet access and affordability.”
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For immediate release
Consumers Need to be Wary of International Online Transactions
New PIAC report, “Shopping for Consumer Protection: Current Jurisdictional Issues”

(OTTAWA) Canadian online consumers have no clear recourse when encountering a problem involving international retailers, according to a report released today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) entitled, “Shopping for Consumer Protection: Current Jurisdictional Issues.” The report recommends governmental bodies consider providing recommended venues for online dispute resolution (ODR) to provide predictability in the marketplace for both consumers and vendors.

The report examined challenges facing consumers when experiencing online shopping disputes with retailers based outside of Canada. “The murky world of trans-border consumer disputes remains a haunted house for consumers, with methods to legally resolve disputes remaining unclear,” noted John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel. Lawford concluded, “Currently consumers purchasing goods from jurisdictions outside of Canada have a limited number of avenues available to them should a dispute arise with an online retailer.”

While the report revealed that 72% of 1,001 Canadian consumers surveyed have never experienced a problem purchasing online, it found when Canadians did encounter a problem, ¾ of the time the retailer was foreign-based. In addition, 78% of Canadian consumers surveyed were not confident they could resolve a dispute with a foreign-based online retailer, versus 10% if the retailer is based in their home province. Other survey results found in the report include:

• 27% of Canadian consumers surveyed buy online at least once a month
• 74% of Canadian consumers surveyed look at products online at least once a month
• While 62% of Canadian consumers surveyed always look to ensure the retailer’s payment system is secure, only 20% always review the retailer’s compliant handling process.
• 45% of Canadian consumers surveyed do not know which laws should apply if they encounter a problem with an online retailer located outside of Canada.

The report recommends consumer protection agencies and organizations continue making consumers aware of potential hazards when purchasing from online retailers outside of Canada. Current government awareness programs dealing with online privacy should appear alongside this information to provide consumers with greater clarity before a consumer commits to an ecommerce purchase. Other recommendations include the provision of consumer assistance resources by provincial consumer protection agencies and consumer complaint bodies at all levels of government.

The report also calls for online retailers to use complaint, feedback and dispute information to update and enhance their own operations. “Clearly setting out policies and practices to address dispute resolution is essential to improving the online shopping experience for both consumers and retailers,” said Jonathan Bishop, PIAC’s Research Analyst.

The report and the French edition of the report are available for download at this post on PIAC’s website:  
http://www.piac.ca/consumers/consumers_need_to_be_wary_of_international_online_transactions/
shortened url: http://is.gd/ZxP5B5

PIAC received funding from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations to prepare the report. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of Industry Canada or the Government of Canada.

For more information please contact:
John Lawford
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002×25
Mobile (613)447-8125
lawford@piac.ca
www.piac.ca

Jonathan Bishop
Research & Parliamentary Analyst
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002×23
jbishop@piac.ca 
www.piac.ca
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You are cordially invited to the 2014
TRANSPORT ACTION ONTARIO ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
(Combined with Transport Action Canada AGM)
 
Saturday, April 26, 2014.  Metro Hall.  55 John Street (at King) Toronto, rooms 308/9
 
PROGRAM:
Transport Action AGMs: 10 a.m.–noon
 
Lunch: Members and guests are welcome to join us at the Aroma Restaurant, 121 King St. West, 2nd floor, across from Metro Hall.
 
Afternoon Public Forum: 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Union Station Revitalization: Its Progress to Date.
Speaker: Michael Wolczyk, V-P Capital Infrastructure (Acting) GO Transit (Metrolinx)
 
Tour of Union Station construction will follow presentation. 
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Train service in northern Ontario?
Yes!  Support the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains #cdnpoli #onpoli
http://captrains.ca/
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