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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Letters about railways and terrorism (Part 2)

Here is the second letter I have written in response to the foiled VIA plot, this one is addressed to Jim Flaherty (my local MP) and Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety).

Dear Minister Flaherty and Minister Toews,

I am writing to you in reference to the recently foiled plot to destroy a VIA passenger train in southern Ontario.  Like most people, I was shocked to hear the news and relieved that the attack has been prevented.

However, I am worried that perfectly law-abiding railway enthusiasts may now become suspects in future investigations.  Many of the world's media outlets have latched onto one sentence from the RCMP's press conference, which explained that the suspects were investigated as they had  “watched trains and railways in the greater Toronto area.”  I have watched and photographed trains in the GTA for the better part of a decade and I am now concerned that my perfectly innocent hobby will be under intense scrutiny.  Canada is home to thousands of railfans who provide extra eyes and ears to the security of Canada's railways.  While watching trains, enthusiasts (myself included) have called authorities on many occasions to report security concerns.  Rather than a threat, we are an asset to the safety of Canadians.

I hope that the government can strike a reasonable balance between protecting the country and allowing railfans to pursue their favourite hobby.

In this era so full of fear, it is important to consider how best to balance the desire for people to be protected, with their right to live as they please.

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