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NDP launches "save rail" campaign
Published: August 10th 2011
Source: The North Renfrew Times
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Local NDP candidate Brian Dougherty has launched an online campaign as part of his effort to raise a public outcry to prevent the removal of the Ottawa Valley's only rail line.

While people are enjoying vacations and summer weather, CP Rail is at work beginning the process of ripping up the train tracks through the Ottawa Valley, to the dismay of local residents, he said.

"It is unfathomable in this era of environmental concern for the provincial government to stand idly by while this critical transportation infrastructure is destroyed," said Dougherty, the Ontario NDP candidate in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.

"They should be building infrastructure, not destroying it."

Dougherty, who was nominated provincial NDP candidate in June, points to the provincial $30 million invested to save the CP rail in Northern Ontario as a precedent.

"While we see investment in our neighbouring ridings to the North, South East and West, we watch our infrastructure get ripped out of the ground," he said.

Alternatively, Dougherty is calling for the provincial, federal and municipal governments to come to the table to develop a regional transportation strategy that connects the Valley with Ottawa, Ontario and the world.

"The CP Rail line provides the perfect basis for a commuter rail to and from the city for residents and tourists, while offering local farmers and manufacturers a sustainable transportation alternative as the price of gas continues to skyrocket," said Dougherty.

The Counties of Renfrew and Lanark called on both the provincial and federal governments to come to the table and play a key role in saving this economic asset.

Resolutions were followed by a rally and press conference by municipal leaders on Parliament Hill, calling for a moratorium on rail line discontinuance to allow all stakeholders to have a coherent dialogue on the future of the rail line.

"The responding silence has been deafening," said Dougherty.

"It is just another example of the McGuinty government's blatant disregard for rural Ontarians, while funneling money to the big cities for urban projects."

Dougherty is calling on residents throughout the Valley to speak up and make their voices heard through a Facebook campaign, Save the Railway.

To participate, residents take a picture of themselves standing on the tracks, post it on Facebook at Brian Dougherty ONDP and spread the word.

Residents are also encouraged to post pictures of local rail activity, to monitor the removal operations.

"This is a way for residents to get involved and speak up before it is too late," said Dougherty.

"If social media can transform governments, surely it can rally common sense."

Despite the imminent threat to the rail line, Dougherty said he remains an active optimist.

"As long as the rails are still in the ground, we are not going to give up trying to save them for future generations," he said.

"After all, this is our home, and if we want our kids and grandkids to say the same, we have to plan and invest in our future."

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