We're finally talking about high-speed rail again in this country, comparing it to the National Dream of old. This country exists because of the grand vision and commitment to the idea of Canada of men like John. A. MacDonald, George Stephen and Sir Sanford Fleming. Today, building a efficient national passenger rail system would be far less difficult than it was in the mid 1860s, 70s and 80s. The technology to whisk people across Canada on rail already exists... some of it right here in Canada with Bombardier. Yet what is missing today is the political will to build anything great in this country... to work selflessly for a great good. Today's political leaders are more concerned about the next election than about the viability of this country into the next century.
Our recent governments are obsessed with allowing the private sector run the country. We deregulate everything so profit is possible. We sell off assets to balance books. It was not too long ago this country had its own railway company in Canadian National Railways. That company was owned by Canadians and operated to facilitate Canadian business and passenger service. Granted, the passenger service was let to deteriorate to a point where it became unfeasible, but CN Rail Freight was always a profit-making railway, no matter what is said about privatisation.
Building a high-speed rail system in Canada, linking more conventional rail lines across the country will be a huge project. It will take the sort of national will we have not seen for decades to move it forward... the national will of the country and leaders with 'cojones' and more concern for Canada than the political success of their own Parties. Catching up with much of the rest of the world (even China) in terms of passenger rail service is a worthy goal. Canada must begin pursuing it in earnest.
It will be difficult... but not as difficult as it was the first time to push rail lines over the Canadian Shield and through the Rockies. The heavy lifting has already been done by Canadians before us. What is left for us is simply keeping faith with those Fathers of Confederation and finding the will and fortitude to complete the task in the 21st Century. Imagine how much easier the task would be if Canadians still owned Canadian National? Selling it at a bargain-basement price was short-sighted. Yet, the task of recreating our National Dream is still worth doing. Now is the time to look farther than the next election and work as a country to get this job done.