VIA Rail train operating along the Ocean route from Montreal to Halifax. VIA has suspended the route indefinitely due to COVID-10 (Source: Radio-Canada)

COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on the world’s transportation economy. Globally, actors in air and ocean transport are scaling back their operations. In some cases, companies have gone so far as to send their ships to be scrapped for their steel and iron-ore. In Canada, Greyhound and WestJet have suspended their services at both national and regional levels. The decline in use of Canadian public transit has corresponded with a rise in first-time automobile purchases, thus reinforcing the car’s position as Canada’s most popular mode of intercity travel.

Similarly, VIA Rail has been hit hard by the pandemic. The…


A new democratic index might tell us which systems produce better democracies.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip sitting in the Senate Chamber along with Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in October 1977 (Source: Canadian Press, via CBC)

There has been a resurgence in the debate over whether Canada should remain a constitutional monarchy under the Crown or instead embrace an alternative system of government. The republican movement (i.e. advocating for the end of the monarchy rather than for conservativism in the US) has gained some momentum in Canada as a result of prolific scandals relating to Oprah Winfrey’s recent interview with Duchess of Sussex and the toxic workplace allegations facing former Governor General Julie Payette. …


Ottawa cannot deliver Pharmacare if the provinces and territories are not partners in drug negotiations. Canada’s premiers have a solution for this problem.

Canadian First Ministers’ Meeting in 2016. Photo from the Prime Minister’s Office.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of collaboration between Canada’s provinces and territories. At a national stage, provincial and territorial governments have been instrumental in in implementing pan-Canadian responses such sectoral bailouts and the rollout of Canada’s COVID Alert App. At a regional level, cooperation has allowed for interprovincial policies that balance public safety with economic mobility, such as the Atlantic Bubble.

These initiatives have shown how Canadian federalism is strengthened when subnational actors work together. As Canada…


The UK Government has campaigned for privatized passenger rail since the 90s. The Tories are now delivering a long overdue concession speech.

Interior shot of a London Overground commuter train. The Overground network wraps around the central core of the British capital and extends to distant suburbs. Photo courtesy of TFL

If you were to visit London, it is almost certain that you will take the Underground at some point during your trip. London’s legendary transit system links commuters from Heathrow Airport to virtually every major tourist attraction. Although the Underground’s logo and “mind the gap” slogan have become as synonymous for London as the Queen and Buckingham Palace, the metro system is only one piece of Transport for London’s (TFL) massive rail network.

In the South London borough of Croydon, a small network of trams connect areas underserved by the tube. To the east, TFL operates the Docklands Light Railway…


Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Photo retrieved from CBC Ottawa.

Electoral boundary redistributions can be contentious, even when administered by independent commissions. In addition to the tense nature of deciding where to draw lines around communities, these debates are often defined by a more profound philosophical question: just how many lines should be drawn in the first place?

There is no consensus on how many seats a legislature should have. Supporters of larger assemblies argue that additional seats promote direct democracy by having fewer voters per district. The downside of larger assemblies is that they require additional resources to administer elections and pay MLA salaries.

On the other side of…


View of the Confederation Bridge from Borden, PEI. From The Guardian.

COVID-19 has taken a wicked toll on our way of life, our economy, and (most peculiarly) our perceptions of time. It is hard to believe that we have spent more than half a year at a distance from the things that we take for granted such as house parties, movie theatres, public transit, and family gatherings. Sacrificing these things feels costly in the short run, but it has helped flatten the curve in a number of jurisdictions and given researchers time to develop vaccine candidates.

Six months ago yesterday, my partner and I began sheltering with her family in rural…


Published in Nouvelle on September 8, 2020

PEI Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison

In Short: Although PEI will face the same challenges of other provinces in addressing the likely oncoming second wave of COVID-19, the Island’s response over the past six months has set a shining example for the rest of Canada.

Whenever someone from mainland Canada is asked what they know about Prince Edward Island, there is a tendency to revert to stereotypes like potatoes, Anne of Green Gables, dirt shirts, and Cows Ice Cream. That probably would have been my response If I were asked a few years ago. …


Figure 1. Cartoon describing Canadian passenger rail service (Credit: David Collier).

March 2021 edit: Dissertation can be found here.

The madness is over! Last Thursday, I officially submitted my master’s dissertation for my degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). In December, I will formally be awarded an MSc in Public Policy and Administration.

In addition to finishing all my coursework, it is so satisfying to find such clear (and statistically significant!) answers to my questions on the factors that drive high-speed rail (HSR) activity in the OECD. …


As some of you know, I have been writing my masters dissertation on why Canada lacks high-speed rail passenger service. I am hoping to answer this question by drawing on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to observe whether potential explanations of the Canadian experience occur in other developed nations.

My working hypothesis is that high-speed rail development is hindered by the ownership of passenger rail infrastructure by private freight-oriented companies. …


Published in Nouvelle on June 30, 2020

Reginar photography/Unsplash

In Short: Over the coming months, policymakers will have to consider how to support precarious industries to stimulate Canada’s economic recovery. High-speed rail offers affordable, rapid, and sustainable transportation to help boost the tourism and hospitality sector.

COVID-19 has encouraged Canadians to think about how society can improve once the pandemic subsides. Policies like universal basic income, fossil fuel divestment, and law enforcement overhaul have moved off the back burner and have become serious proposals for the “new normal” in Canada. …

Matthew Pelletier

MSc graduate from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) | Interests include Canadian and UK politics, transit, and health policy

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