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Integrated Transportation policy

This plank has been given primary approval by Assembly. Please do not make any substantive changes without consulting Jeff Brownridge or Raymond Dartsch, Subcommittee Co-Chairs first.


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Issue


The transportation of passengers and freight in Canada significantly impacts the Federal budget, national energy consumption, land usage, air pollution, environmental destruction and the economy. The right transportation services need to be matched with the right transportation needs taking into account the goals of conserving energy, preserving people’s health and minimizing the impact on the environment. The viability of transportation systems that best meet these goals is impacted by direct and indirect governmental subsidies.

Position


A Green Party government will increase financial support to the transport industry sectors that score the highest on green transportation goals and reduce financial support to parts of the transportation industry that score lowest, in order to ensure the viability of the most efficient means of transportation.

In responding to the growth needs of transportation in Canada, public funds will be preferably allocated to the railway infrastructures since rail transport scores higher on green transportation policy goals for medium distances, carrying both passenger and freight and long distances when carrying freight. Mass transit in urban areas, for short distance passenger transportation will also be supported.

A Green Party government will use a portion of the Federal excise tax on fuel, to fund transportation projects that will improve the efficiency of transportation in Canada while reducing energy consumption and pollution, based on their adherence to green transportation goals.

A Green Party government will develop recommendations to improve intermodal transportation and work in partnership with the industry and provincial administrations to improve the efficiency of a well integrated rail, truck, marine and aviation based transportation system.

As a consumer of transportation, the federal government, comprised of its departments, agencies, crown corporations, and suppliers to these organizations, will leverage its market power to support green transportation policy goals. The federal government will mandate the use of rail transportation in preference to air for travel of its employees, delivery of mail and freight where possible. The federal government will encourage mass transit use among its employees and will favour alternative technology vehicles for its own use when such alternatives are available at an affordable cost.

The federal government will encourage industry and government partners, provincial, municipal and private sector, to adopt similar measures through directed tax incentives and other means.


Argument


Some sectors of the Canadian air, road, rail and marine transportation systems are enjoying public financial support such as: tax breaks, subsidies, direct and indirect infrastructure funding, government benefit programs and/or government loans. The government needs to re-evaluate such support based on a new set of transportation policy goals.

The air and marine industry are the two sectors most regulated by the Federal government. Mass transit and highways are largely under provincial jurisdictions and the number one issue facing the rail industry is a provincial matter as well: the rail bed land tax. However, the Federal government through transfers, funding programs, infrastructure grants, and tax treatment has become a major influence on the shape of all aspect of transport for Canadians.

In Canada, highway travel dominates both passenger and freight transport. In addition, highways are mostly owned, maintained and constructed using federal and provincial funding. Even though it is inefficient to ship intermodal freight (freight in standardized containers designed to be moved by ship, air, rail or truck) from one end of Canada to the other by truck, it is often more viable due to indirect subsidies that benefit the trucking industry.

Historically some of the transportation infrastructure across the country has been developed and maintained by public funds (roads, airports, ports), while others have been left to private industry. In cases where infrastructure, such as railways, are not funded publicly, it creates an imbalance in the viability of that industry. In order to more accurately reflect real transportation costs using full cost accounting principles, a Green government will restore this imbalance by reallocating public funds that currently go to transportation infrastructure based on its green transportation policy goals. There must be a recognition of the need to balance the historical investment in certain transportation systems. The result will be a decline in direct funding for roads and an increase in direct funding for rail, mass transit and possibly ports.

In order to optimize the use of efficient and safe transportation, the Federal government will develop recommendations to improve intermodal transportation, both for passengers and freight. Integrating all transportation modalities is necessary to make it more convenient and feasible to opt for the most optimal combinations.

The infrastructure for intermodal transportation largely exists already throughout Canada although some major improvements are needed. Several ports in Canada have invested hundreds of millions of dollars recently to upgrade their handling of containers. Vancouver is a notable example of this. Rail service does exist at all major ports and the railways are very good at transporting the containers. While cities such as Montreal and Toronto have some good intermodal yards, areas where containers are transported from train to truck, extensive capital needs to be developed to improve these terminals, and build new ones, throughout Canada.


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