Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 3:10 pm

VIA Update: No Pelletier Appeal, Tracks Reopened

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VIA Rail logo The government of Canada will not appeal a federal court ruling ordering it to reinstate Jean Pelletier as chairman of VIA Rail. Back in March 2004, Pelletier was fired by then-Prime Minister Paul Martin over comments he made about former VIA employee (and Olympic gold medallist) Myriam Bédard. (I blogged about it at the time: here and here.)

Things got weird after that: in November 2005 a federal court ruled that Pelletier was, essentially, wrongfully fired in that he was fired for cause without being able to present a defence. The Martin government responded by firing him again, this time with notice. (It could be argued that Pelletier was a casualty in the internecine Liberal party feud between the camps of Martin and his predecessor, Jean Chrétien, whom Pelletier served as chief of staff.)

Meanwhile, as Pelletier’s several court cases wound their way through the system, Bédard’s credibility evaporated due to her bizarre allegations in front of a parliamentary committee and her subsequent disappearance and arrest, by U.S. marshals, for violating a child custody arrangement (see this Washington Post story).

And, of course, the government changed parties about a year ago, after the January 2006 federal election. It’s unclear what’s going to happen next.

In other VIA Rail news, service resumed this morning on its Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal trains after yesterday’s derailment: CBC News, Toronto Star. It was a 32-car derailment of a 142-car CN freight train; spilled materials included “plywood, recycled wastepaper and molasses, as well as a light petroleum product used for cutting metal, which threatened to leak into nearby Cataraqui Creek,” according to the Star.

And CTV News has more on the accident near Guelph on Sunday.

Previously: VIA Rail Accident Roundup.

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