President's Message

November 2021 President’s Message

The deadly flooding events in British Columbia are – first and foremost – human tragedies.

I know railroaders from across Canada join me in reserving space in our hearts and minds for all British Columbians – especially for those who have lost lives, homes, and livelihoods.

These events are the most recent reminders of how everything can change in an instant.

And the harrowing stories that have emerged from these incidents – while difficult to hear – have brought out some of the very best of Canadian grit, resilience, and ingenuity. RAC members – chief among them CP and CN – accomplished some truly incredible feats of engineering and logistical coordination in the wake of these floods to restore service on key lines within days rather than weeks or months.

Moreover, it was great to see other members step up, work together, and help wherever they can. VIA Rail collaborated with CN to provide exceptional assistance by helping evacuees get to safety and receive the medical care they needed. They also were able to drop off materials for on-site crew in order to help them get the job done. Fellow members Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited (SRY) and BNSF Railway Company also worked together. SRY was able to collaborate with BNSF to quickly arrange detours on their infrastructure within southern BC while SRY repaired track outages on their line. The high level of cooperation helped to avoid service disruptions and maintained the continuity of the supply chain under challenging circumstances.

While those involved are too humble to accept public accolades, all Canadians owe them a debt of gratitude.

Canada as a country had much at stake in their service restoration efforts.

Our economic recovery is in no small measure riding on ensuring goods can get where they need to be in timely ways.

Global supply chain pressures were already realities before these floods.

But the impacts of these infrastructure and service disruptions that followed were immediately felt and risked compounding an already serious situation.

So…thank you, from all of us, to everyone involved in getting trains running again.

Thank you as well for your efforts to keep goods moving, and for adjusting your operations as your clients (businesses consumers rely on) consider important shifts in their models (from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’ inventories, as one observer speculated recently).

All this drives home for the public and policymakers the importance of rail to Canada’s economy and way of life.

The RAC team is making that case actively as Parliament has now resumed post-election. Our team is busily educating new and returning MPs, and preparing for the return of committees, and pre-budget submissions.

We are working on your behalf as you work on behalf of all Canadians. And it is a true honour. Thank you for all that you do – day in, day out and in every corner of our country.