Lac-mégantic: we need to learn from this tragedy, say New Democrats
In order to restore the trust between railway companies and the people, there needs to be better collaboration with municipal authorities
New Democrat MPs from the Eastern Townships and the Montérégie have proposed four concrete measures that the federal government must put into place in the short term in order to ensure railway safety and to restore the trust between the people and the companies whose infrastructures pass through the many cities and villages of the region.
“We are still searching for answers concerning the exact causes of the train crash, but there are a few things that the federal government can do right now to improve railway safety,” said MP Jean Rousseau (Compton-Stanstead).
New Democrats are calling on the federal government to force companies to inform municipalities of the transport of hazardous materials on their land. “The public needs to
know,” said Pierre-Luc Dusseault. “If any problem occurs, municipal authorities are the first to intervene. They must be able to do so fully informed.”
The MPs are also asking the federal government to immediately suspend the exemption granted to the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Corporation allowing it to operate a train with only one conductor. “This company is still running trains on Eastern Township railways that go through downtown areas, like in Farnham. The residents just can’t trust the company without this basic measure being put into place,” said MP Pierre Jacob (Brome-Missisquoi).
New Democrats are also calling for the gradual withdrawal of the DOT-111 train cars used in the transport of hazardous materials and for the adoption of a deadline for their complete elimination, as well as the publication of all audits of MMA operations. “If it is shown that these safety measures are inadequate, the government must immediately suspend the company’s license,” said Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean).
It was under Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives that, in 1989, Canada began deregulating railway transport. This trend was continued with the liberal government who accelerated this step by modifying the Railway Safety Act in 1999, a move which was never called into question by subsequent federal governments.