Letter to Premier McGuinty on diesel trains

October 30, 2012

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

Re: Funding the electrification of the Air Rail Link between Pearson Airport and Union Station

Dear Premier McGuinty,

As you are well aware, Metrolinx is in the process of constructing an Air Rail Link between Pearson Airport and Union Station.

As you are well aware, at a Metrolinx meeting on June 27, 2012, at which members of Green 13 were present, a representative of Metrolinx stated that indeed electrification of the ARL could be done in time for the Pan Am games. In addition, it was explicitly stated that the decision rests entirely in your hands.

As you are well aware, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Press Release number 213, June 2012).

Thus it is a significant health concern. You and your government have the power to demonstrate true leadership, by putting in place clean, rapid transit, rather than jeopardizing the health of the 300,000 residents who live in this corridor, including 28,000 school children, by exposing us to known carcinogens. Members of Green 13 were also present at a public meeting at Toronto City Hall when Dr.David McKeown said of this project “ We shouldn’t have to have public transit at the expense of public health.”

Your government has the opportunity to be celebrated as the government who actually electrified the rail system, and not the government who knowingly brought increased carcinogenic diesel exhaust into a world class city.

On October 16, 2012, Mark Jacobson of Stanford University was here, speaking in Toronto. When asked his opinion about the proposed diesel trains for this corridor, he was incredulous. Even Tier 4 emissions would contain particulate, and this is unacceptable. Mark Jacobson is a world-renowned expert on black soot. His analysis shows that soot is second only to carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. He also found that soot emissions kill more than 1.5 million people prematurely worldwide each year and afflict millions more with respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and asthma. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/july/soot-emissions-ice-072810.html

We urge you to exercise the political will to protect the health of citizens of Ontario who depend on government to look after our public good, and fund the electrification of the ARL now.

We look forward to your timely response.


Rita Bijons, Chair, Green 13 
Paul Mero, Vice-Chair, Green 13

cc: Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Transportation
      Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO Metrolinx
      Honourable Jim Bradley, Minister of the Environment
      Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health