Finally, transit infrastructure has made it into the federal election news cycle. NDP leader Jack Layton was in Quebec today, where he told an audience that he supports federal funding for high-speed rail along the Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor corridor. Ontario and Quebec have had this on their wish lists for some time. The Liberals have put it in their platform, Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest both support it, and now an ascendant NDP is getting behind it as well. Apparently the only one who isn’t a fan is Stephen Harper.
This is one of those ideas that has already been studied so many times, it’s hard to imagine what’s holding it up, except for a sudden love for the profit margins of Porter Air, Greyhound and Megabus. The last really thorough government study, from 1992 to 1995, found that the infrastructure would cost between $9.5 and $10.5 billion (presumably, this figure is much higher now). There was supposed to be an update to that study in 2010 but, just like a Via train, it’s been delayed. Meanwhile, Torontonians who want to take a weekend trip to Montreal have a few good options, but we’re left wistfully dreaming of the downtown-to-downtown train ride in two and a half hours.
Of course, with Alberta’s rise in the country’s economy, there’s a possibility for a grand bargain here: the other route that’s been studied as a high-speed rail line is Calgary-Red Deer-Edmonton. It would be a hell of a sales job, but maybe it’s possible to convince Harper that while he’d prefer zero high-speed lines and the NDP are only angling for one, what the country really needs is two.
• Layton smacks separatist talk, says Duceppe and Harper driving unity ‘wedges’ [Canadian Press]