So are you suggesting that VIA build brand new passenger-only railways at 160 km/h standards, then at some time in the future build a second passenger-only line for 300 km/h? I somehow feel like this is much more of a waste than simply building our new rural lines for 250-320 km/h in the first place.
Well no, what I'm suggesting is that VIA should focus on building ridership. VIA's ridership has stalled or is declining even though driving levels are higher and more people are living in Southern Ontario and Quebec. It means VIA is becoming less and less relevant as a travel mode. Before we invest in expensive HSR, we should first build up existing service by having more frequent trains running on the existing tracks. Look at the London-Toronto route, there are less than a handful of trains each day. If this was Sweden, there would be hourly or every other-hourly service between cities. The problem is that we need to re-think of VIA as just a train service and make it more like a core inter-city trunk with support from each town/city of easy public transit connections.
Take London for example, the station is in a central area, but the station still feels desolate. It doesn't feel like a busy intermodal hub. This is more of an urban planning/development issue where smaller towns should try to revitalize and urbanize their cores with a focus on the train station rather than building out and building those awful Smart-Centres which sucks all life out of small towns.
If we have to build new track, then by all means make it supportive of faster speeds such as 250-320km/hr.