NDP calls for Commons committee to sit this summer on rail safety - Macleans.ca

NDP calls for Commons committee to sit this summer on rail safety

Meetings wouldn’t scrutizine details of Lac-Megantic disaster


OTTAWA – The NDP is proposing the House of Commons transport committee reconvene this summer to discuss rail safety, possibly holding a forum in Lac-Megantic, Que.

MP Olivia Chow, a vice-chair of the committee, says all four NDP members on the committee have said they’re prepared to meet.

She’s hoping for consensus from all committee members, including Conservative chair Larry Miller, who has been travelling outside the country. He wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The Toronto MP says she doesn’t want the committee to scrutinize details of the Lac-Megantic accident, but rather focus on the larger issue of Canadian safety regulations.

Daniel Paille, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, has also sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper requesting a special Commons committee meeting to examine rail safety, particularly the movement of dangerous goods in urban settings.

Chow says the Ottawa meetings should be held no sooner than August. And the New Democrat says she wants to get a sense from local officials first whether a forum in Lac-Megantic would be useful for the community.

“Eventually the community will need some kind of forum where they could get the answers to their questions and get the rules and regulations clarified,” said Chow.

“When that time would be, I don’t know, but certainly not now.”

Chow says potential witnesses could include the auditor general, and officials from Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board.

“I would ask the Transportation Safety Board to explain the various recommendations they’ve had in the past, and then ask Transport Canada why they’re not doing them,” said Chow.

In a 2011 report, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, inside the auditor general’s office, pointed to long-standing weaknesses in the government’s oversight of the transportation of dangerous goods.

Transport Canada was supposed to address all the recommendations by April this year, but has not yet met all of its commitments.

The Transportation Safety Board has been calling for mandatory voice recorders aboard trains for a decade, including last year after a Via Rail passenger train jumped the track in Burlington, Ont., killing three.

The TSB also recommended at the time the implementation of automatic braking systems, to avoid runaway trains.

David McGuinty, a Liberal vice-chair of the transport committee, did not respond to a request for comment.


NDP calls for Commons committee to sit this summer on rail safety

  1. mere grandstanding by the NDP, especially after Mulcair’s dumb remarks…better to wait until we find out what really caused this tragic event…more rules are useless if people don’t follow them…and what if this was sabotage

    • Absolutely sickening give the families of the victims in Quebec a chance to mourn

      • Huh? Knowing what caused this accident and making railways safer won’t prevent anyone from mourning. The NDP is suggesting that politicians should do what they get paid for and cancel their vacations because of this disaster. How is any of this mourning-prevention?

    • You’re right. What logic! Let’s remove all speeding limits from our highways since people just speed anyway! Go Harper go!

  2. And Harper had to be there to announce and promote the east/west pipeline and the safety of pipelines over trains, just one more lie, to use a disaster to support big oil.

    Bad news for Enbridge, TransCanada and all the other companies working
    to build controversial pipelines across North America: Pipelines spill
    three times as much oil over comparative distances as rail, the
    International Energy Agency (IEA) says.