I have been and continue to be very much concerned about the disaster at Lac Mégantic, Que.
I cannot help but draw a comparison between Lac Mégantic, ourselves and the rest of Canada. The common denominator in that comparison is our federal government, which appears to be completely blindfolded by the excellent lobbying practices of the Canadian railways.
My research on this topic started at a concise article in Wikipedia titled Lac Mégantic Derailment.
In this article, it is pointed out the many failures of the federal government and its agencies like the Transport Canada and the National Transportation Safety Board in protecting the people of Canada from things like Lac Mégantic. After reading this article, which goes out of its way to be factual, you soon begin to understand that the railway lobby is one of the most powerful forces in Canadian politics. It is certain that the rail lobbyists have the prime minister’s ear much more closely than the Canadian electorate. One could not be faulted into thinking that the PM doesn’t trust the electorate — why, you only need to look at the PM’s appointment of the PC candidate in Brandon-Souris as corroboration of this fact.
Specifically for Brandon and western Manitoba, one only has to look about a city block to the south of our regional health centre, where you can watch the CN assembling oil tank trains with the same explosive crude oil in them as was in the train in Lac Mégantic. The tank cars are mainly the same construction as the ones in Lac Mégantic.
The Wikipedia article describes these same cars as the ones which “have a very high incidence of tank failures during accidents” and are of “inadequate design.” These same cars represent 80 per cent of the Canadian tank car fleet. Yet CN is working with these cars in very close quarters to our hospital. If the mess at Lac Mégantic were to accidentally happen this close to our hospital, I am having troubles understanding how we would cope.
My hope is that our very capable city council will lead in establishing a lobbying group that will lead our efforts for change in our rail system by:
1) Forcing CN to move their assemble yards five or six miles south of Brandon;
2) Reducing rail speed within three miles of Brandon’s city limits to 10 km/h and assessing heavy fines of $1,000 for every km/h over that speed limit;
3) Our federal government takes immediate steps to re-establish the effectiveness of our existing government bodies so that their oversight becomes effective; and
4) We establish a mechanism to educate the citizens of western Manitoba about the story of Lac Mégantic.
Because that mess could have happened HERE!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 26, 2013