August 2022


Canadian Sense

I won’t ask my Canadian readers to defend Canada, but I’ve always been under the impression that the country is imminently sensible, filled with diverse, intelligent, and friendly people (save for Quebec).

For me, whenever I hear about insane US policies, I presume that they are not adopted by Canada because Canadian policy makers look at American behavior and laugh.

So I was a bit surprised Thursday afternoon at the first question the agent asked me when I walked up to the VIA Rail ticket counter at Toronto’s Union Station to buy a ticket for a journey next week.

“What’s your name?”

I expressed surprise at this—and I asked why.

“In case there’s an accident, we want to know who’s on the train. You need to tell the airlines your name.”

“What,” I replied, “That’s preposterous! I ride trains all over Europe and they never ask me my name before I get on the train.”

“We want to be able to notify the next of kin.”

“What?!” I seemed unable to start my replies with any other remark. “Are Canadian trains that dangerous?!”

“No, but accidents do happen,” he continued, “It makes sense that we ask names.”

I just checked—VIA Rail is headquartered in Montreal—the only part of Canada that might look at US most demented policies and say, “Wow, what good ideas!”

13 comments to Canadian Sense

  • Didn’t I tell you? We call it Vile Rail! I hope you get to where you’re going safely. 🙂

    BTW, did they check ID? You could have said your name was Mike Hunt or something. How would they know?

  • Reko

    Vive le Québec libre! Vive la francophonie!

  • Mais bien sûr. De quelle année reviens-tu, Reko, 1971?

    • Reko

      Freedom, dignity, and self-determination of a people never go out of style.

      The PEOPLE
      will never be DEFEATED!

      The PEOPLE
      will never be DEFEATED!

  • @Ian: I let the guy read the credit card I was using to pay. If I was paying cash, I might have tried the Mike Hunt option.

    @Reko/Ian: I will stay out of the francophonie debate. I’m in favor of allowing people to speak whatever language they want to speak, but I think its immensely stupid that French language signs are required in Vancouver where official signs in Chinese would probably be more useful.

  • Reko

    Adam: Is your pseudonym “Mike Hunt” or “Juan Kerr”?

  • J

    I’m still a bit puzzled. If you gave your name, how would they be able to notify your next of kin if you gave either no address or your German address?

  • Andrew

    I work for Via, but you can thank Transport Canada for making us ask you name. Personally, I don’t care what name you give me 🙂 Name and phone number does come in handy when you leave stuff behind on the train though. Being regulated by Transport Canada we do get sucked into the regulations covering air lines though.

  • @Reko: Mike Hunt, for sure.

    @J: I have no idea. Quite frankly airlines don’t have an address for me, unless I’m a member of their frequent flier program.

    @Andrew: Thanks for telling me who to blame. Do the 1 litre liquids rule from flying applly as well?

  • Andrew

    1 litre referring to the amount of shampoo you can bring on board or the amount of booze you can have in your bag? Either way we don’t care, unless the booze comes out of the bag of course 🙂

    • I actually meant what the US TSA calls 3-1-1, but is actually 100-1-1 (100ml bottles max, 1 litre bag, 1 per person…

      Either way, its good to know I can bring lunch with me on the train.