By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
The second part of my conversation with Romeo Saganash. In this segment we talk about #IdleNoMore, Theresa Spence, Shawn Atleo, the blockades and the chance for progress. The first part of our conversation is here.
Obviously you’ve been preoccupied with other things, but have you had a chance to watch Idle No More? Have you talked to people? What’s your sense of what’s happened these last few weeks?
Well, anyone who thought that this would never happen must have been somewhere else, in a sense, because this was bound to happen. I know a lot of people tend to say that Idle No More is just an aboriginal thing, which is really not the case because a lot of things that we talk about should be of direct concern to all Canadians. Whether it’s the environment, navigable waters, you name it. The dismantling, and it’s not just me as an NDPer that is speaking, but the dismantling of the environment, the dismantling of the economy and natural resources in this country, the dismantling of human rights in this country, the government of the day is presently dismantling the very foundation of what Canada is. And obviously I have a problem with that.
So that is what I’m seeing. I haven’t been completely isolated, I’ve been following this and the people that talk to me, whether in my riding or Montreal or elsewhere here, all point to the same things. The hunting association in Val D’Or has the same preoccupations as the aboriginal peoples that are protesting in the streets. And in many regions, a lot of non-aboriginal people have joined those marches. We need to continue to fight something that is wrong here. And it’s not just about aboriginal rights or treaty rights, it’s about a lot of other things as well. Continue…
By David Newland - Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:15 AM - 0 Comments
When the last train rolls out of a Canadian town it leaves an echo that never fades
If a train stops running through the hinterland, does anybody hear?
The Ontario government has just announced the end of the line for the Northlander. The Ontario Northland train that runs between Toronto and Cochrane, Ontario, will cease service at the end of September.
What’s the word for that? Disappointing doesn’t cut it. Short-sighted is accurate, but insufficient. Regrettable is an understatement, too.
You’d think as a nation once united by the railway, we would have coined a term to cover the loss, the heartache, the sense of isolation, betrayal and rejection that comes from losing a railway line.
The only expression that comes close is “they’ve killed another train.”
Time and time again, we’ve seen passenger service reduced to little more than a quaint memory in many parts of the country.
Try taking a train into Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, where trains ran for over a hundred years. Historic apple barns and railways stations still line the route, now devoid of rails.
Old timers will rave about seeing the Lake Superior Shore from a passenger train running along the CP line through northern Ontario. But you can forget it: VIA travels only on the more northerly, less picturesque CN route.
Ever dreamed of taking a train through the Rocky Mountains? Many people do. You can catch the VIA train between Vancouver and Jasper—but you go through some of the best parts at night, again by the more northerly route. The southern route, with its historic spiral tunnels on the old CP rail line, means paying “land cruise” fares for the tourist train, the Rocky Mountaineer.
In Saskatoon, you can still catch the train, eastbound or westbound—but it doesn’t go through town every day. Regina gets off worse: the train’s long gone, and the beautiful Beaux-Arts station has been converted to a casino. In Edmonton and Ottawa, the train leaves from the far edge of town. You can catch a train from Sudbury to White River, but not from Toronto, or Winnipeg to Sudbury – unless you count the whistle stop in Capreol, half an hour’s drive from downtown Sudbury.
If you want to ride between Vancouver and Halifax you’ll have to endure long stopovers in Toronto, and again in Montreal, and you’ll miss Quebec City entirely. Not to mention Calgary, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Fredericton, and dozens of other important Canadian cities with proud railway heritage currently unserved by our national passenger rail service.
And forget about getting a passenger train in Newfoundland, or Cape Breton, or Prince Edward Island. They’re trying to save the passenger train on Vancouver Island, but you won’t hear its whistle again for a while, if ever.
Did you know there are only 19 Via rail routes in the entire country? And none of them goes to Cochrane, Ontario, or any of the stops between there and Toronto. Which means the loss of the Northlander is going to hit that much harder.
Cochrane, Ontario, is Tim Horton’s home town. It may not have the romance of the Rocky Mountains or the Superior Shore. But it’s the gateway to Ontario’s northern coast: the Polar Bear Express leaves from Cochrane to Moosonee, portal to James Bay.
Consider the impact on the coastal communities of Moose Factory, Moosonee, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat (in which few people have cars, and which are not served by permanent roads) of losing this rail link to the provincial capital.
Not to mention all the towns along the line: Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Kirkland Lake, New Liskeard, Englehart, Swastika, Matheson, Porquis Junction. There’s so much history in those towns—from Gravenhurst, birthplace of Norman Bethune, to Cobalt, the town that built Bay Street—that it hurts just to reel off the names.
Sure, they’re going to replace the train with buses. And there will be figures and studies and stats to show how it all makes economic sense.
But everyone who’s ever lived in a place that’s lost its rail service knows none of that will ever fill the loss.
When the last train rolls out of your town it leaves an echo that never fades.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 7:17 PM - 7 Comments
The Scene. Charlie Angus is either the best kind of politician or the worst kind of politician. Or possibly both.
He’s either a man deeply committed to his constituents or a man determined to make a spectacle of himself. Or possibly—having realized that the former sometimes requires you to do the latter—both.
The NDP member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay was once part of a punk-rock band and regularly dresses as if he wishes he still were. Today it was a black suit, navy blue shirt and silver tie. In full rhetorical flight, his voice is often a high-pitched twang—owing perhaps to both his punk roots and his current gig as the frontman of Grievous Angels, an alt-country band.
In the House he has become a restless advocate for Aboriginal issues and for much of the last year he has pestered the government to build a new school in Attawapiskat, a remote community located near James Bay in Northern Ontario. Students there have been taught in portables for the past eight years, their previous school closed in 2000 on account of a diesel fuel leak underneath the building.
This week, Angus announced a new development in the case—a series of government documents that, he claimed, seem to imply political considerations in the management of such school projects. Continue…