Harper defends government’s rail safety record amid latest burning derailment

Accident rates are very low, says the PM


OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is defending his Conservative government’s record on rail safety in light of yet another railway fire fuelled by shipments of crude oil.

What is being called a controlled burn has been raging for more than 18 hours in northwestern New Brunswick after 17 cars on a CN Rail train — including some carrying propane and some with crude oil —derailed late Tuesday.

It’s at least the third such serious incident on North American rails since last July’s deadly derailment in Lac-Megantic, Que., that claimed 47 lives.

Harper, speaking to reporters in Inuvik, N.W.T., says the government has “vastly” increased rail safety and rail inspections.

Critics says the government has been asleep at the switch as rail shipments of crude oil have exponentially increased over the last few years.

The prime minister says the government will look at any recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board related to the latest incident, and “will take whatever further steps are necessary.”

Harper concluded by saying Canadian railway accident rates are very low, in fact at the lowest rate in the history of domestic rail lines.


Harper defends government’s rail safety record amid latest burning derailment

  1. Harper is the most DERAILED Canadian…no wonder!!!

  2. Harper says so little and does even less.

    Fact is Ottawa gets paid big union bucks and platinum pensions and does very little for it. Why have they not updated laws? Too much lobby money?

    Yep, we have the big Ottawa bloat that back room money bought and we and out grand kids debt pays for.

    • Right on! Those big union civil servants should be doing more!

      • Huh, what “big union civil servants” ?
        Haven’t you heard, even all those Jobs have been “outsourced” ‘fer cheap !
        It’s all part of Harper’s Big budget-cut plans, ain’t it just grand ?

    • Railroad companies are responsible for safe operation of their railways. The government’s role is to regulate safety with legislation and policy, and it’s the job of civil servants to follow the legislation and policy.

      If the government fails to improve legislation or create a policy of stricter enforcement, then what is it that civil servants, well compensated, unionized or otherwise, are supposed to do? Take it upon themselves to ban the use of Dot-111 rail cars for transporting crude? Ban the transport by rail of crude altogether?

      If you’re looking for someone to blame, I would think that the smaller government people in the PMO who are loathe to ever regulate industry for any reason and the rail and oil companies who both lobby vociferously and continuously against regulation are better candidates for blame than unions or civil servants.

  3. The government and the rail industry constantly crow about the fact that the accident rate is something like .01% of all rail traffic. What they don’t acknowledge, however, is that, with the staggering increase in the volume of hazardous/explosive material now being shipped by rail, that .01% seems to translate into about one potentially catastrophic incident a month somewhere on the system.

    For communities along the line, it’s like participating in a reverse perverse lottery.

    • That is why we need more pipelines.

      • That may work for oil, but what about other hazardous materials? The problem isn’t so much the cargo as the infrastructure. Track and tanker upgrades are needed, regardless of whether or not oil continues to be transported by rail.

        • Except that it’s been demonstrated our railways are very safe. The best way to decrease the number of rail accidents when rail is pretty much as safe as it gets, is to reduce the number of trains on the tracks at any given moment. The best way to reduce rail volume, is to transport oil by pipelines.

          • “Pretty much as safe as it gets”? See the controversy over the use of antique Dot-111 cars (the newer ones are safer (though not great); the older ones contine to carry dangerous cargo – and not just oil.
            See also the poor maintenance of some rail lines (notably the one running through Lac-Megantic).
            The accident rate may be low, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Alternate transportation of oil will help, but in and of itself won’t prevent something like the 1979 derailment in Mississauga [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_Mississauga_train_derailment], or worse.

      • Is that you, Chuck?

      • Think about it. ALL these horrible “rail” disaters, and only recently, just in time for Harper to push his pipelines everywhere.
        I’m ok with these pipekines, as long as they have enough “safety-valves” everywhere..
        But, Harper didn’t have to go all “De-Railed” on us, by murdering all these Canadians, just to prove his point.
        The rcmp may be utterly useless, these days, but somebody has to CSI-Investigate all this very closely.

    • So the accident rate is low, and you’re only problem is with the number of trains running?

      A very simple way to lower the number of trains running would be if we could pipe our bitumen around instead of using rail to transport it. That would lead to a massive reduction in rail traffic, less environmental damage, less carbon emissions, and a safer and more prosperous country.

      So why can’t you get yourself to support any pipelines?

      • My comment made no mention of pipelines at all. Nor did I say I had a “problem with the number of trains running” (you seem to have a habit of distorting others’ viewpoints in order to “refute” them).

        I merely pointed out that the statistic frequently recited by the rail industry and the government doesn’t reflect a realistic appreciation of the frequency of mishaps involving toxic/hazardous materials.

        Again, pointing out your tendency to distort others’ viewpoints, where have I ever indicated I don’t “support any pipelines”?

        Do you have a problem with processing/comprehension or do you just delight in being willfully obtuse?

  4. Pipelines are safer. Moving crude to the US by train is unnecessary.

    • Fine, we’ll put one through YOUR yard.

      • Good one.

        • Leaving aside the little fact that pipelines don’t actually go through anyone’s yard, yeah, it’s an awesome comment.

  5. Meanwhile Minister Raitt busies herself announcing Olympic hockey picks.

    • What are thousands of civil servants doing?

    • She’s so busy today she couldn’t make it to PnP in person but is tweeting that she is watching the programme. I guess derailments aren’t sexy enough for her.

  6. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is defending his Conservative government’s record on …”
    We’ve heard that before. This time it’s on rail safety. Most of the time it’s on economy.

    “The prime minister says the government will look at any recommendations
    by [insert Board or Committee or…], and
    “will take whatever further steps are necessary.”
    We’ve heard that one too.

    • That’s why we need a Liberal government. Because if we had a Liberal government in power, it would never defend its own record. Liberal governments never ever do that. Only evil Conservative governments defend their own record. Yet another one of the atrocities that only Conservative governments commit.

      • Liberal, Conservative, NDP, doesn’t matter, yes, they all tend to do it, that’s the nature of governments, but the Conservatives under Harper seem to do it with a dazzling regularity. We need an open and honest government, a government that can put forward its accomplishments with pride and at the same time that has the balls to acknowledge its errors and shortcomings, face them in an open manner and try to rectify them. So far the Conservatives have been very upfront with the former, but very lacking and deflective with the latter. Would the Liberals do better once in power? I hope so, I expect so, but I don’t hold ny breath on that, politicians being what they are,