Why Are We Organizing A Community Movement To Maintain Our Railway
First - It is a moral responsibility.
We must prevent Genesee Wyoming from taking up the steel tracks and selling them. We see the railway as part of public infrastructure necessary for job creation in the future. With unemployment over 15% and one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada, job creation is a moral necessity.
Second- It is a question of justice.
Rail America bought the rail-line for around three million dollars and then sold it to Genesee Wyoming who now want to sell the Cape Breton portion of the steel rails for $15 to $20 million and run only the Pt Hawkesbury–Truro part. That would leave Cape Breton without rail service. The federal government, with tax payers money, built this railway over a century ago. Sysco, with tax payers money, built the steel rails. I consider the rail system to be a publicly funded asset and it is unjust to allow a foreign company to make a windfall profit from it.
Third- There have been too many fire-sales of publicly financed assets in Cape Breton.
Sysco. Instead of trying to salvage part of the steel plant for smaller businesses, it was sold to an Indian company for a very small fraction of its worth.
Auto parts in North Sydney. Instead of holding on till the economy improved after 2008, the provincial government sold valuable high tech equipment to a company in Asia for an undisclosed amount.
These are just a few samples. When the rope company went bankrupt in 1992, we organized a community group to prevent the tax payer subsidized machinery from being moved to Louisiana. Local investors took over and East Coast Rope and Poly steel now employ over 50 people. If the community did nothing, these jobs would not exist.
Fourth- The province has the power to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to tear up the rails. In my experience, politicians listen to public opinion.
In the early 1970’s the provincial and federal government started the centralization policy.
We had the beginning of a coast guard facility at the Pt. Edward naval base. Government wanted to move it to Cornwall Ontario. We organized a large community movement and influenced the government to keep it in Cape Breton close to the ocean.
Around that time, the province decided to build trade schools. They wanted to build the first one in Halifax..we organized a movement and influenced them to build it in Cape Breton because the mines were closing. This was NSEIT, forerunner of Marconi..
Cape Breton University
When the old Xavier College was being limited to one year of courses, we started a community movement to have our own university. It was opposed by the other universities including Senator Hicks of Dalhousie who spoke out publicly against it. We organized a community movement and we succeeded.
Don’t assume that the government will do what is best for us. If we want to keep a railroad, join our Railroad society and let the government know that we are very determined to keep a railroad service in Cape Breton.
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