Rail Tragedy Strikes (Anytown) Canada, Real Strategy Needed

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The heartless and cruel tragedy in Lac Megantic, Quebec reflects the complete failure of all Canadian stakeholders to understand that the time has come to reduce and/or eliminate rail traffic from the centre of our towns.

What happened in this peaceful town can happen anywhere in Canada given the following:

  1. Most Canadian (and North American) towns have at least one train going through their towns
  2. Rail traffic devoted to oil and chemical transport is increasing, not decreasing
  3. There is no municipal, provincial, state, county, national or international plan to improve the livelihood of all North Americans because that would come at the expense of rail transporters

We no longer live in an age when trains are the lifeblood of our society.  Trains used to come through towns before towns got bigger.  They actually bordered towns, but towns (mostly through bad planning and refusal to seek intensification) grew around them.  Trains used to deliver goods to thousands of stops, to millions of consumers.

This is no longer the case.  They now use their economic and political leverage to ensure an ever-lasting ‘path of least resistance’ mentality.

Lac Megantic reflects a shameful misdirection when it comes to the transport of all dangerous commodities in North America.

Thomas Mulcair is correct in asking for more insight into whether or not there are regulatory and safety monitoring concerns.  How dare the Conservatives and their media attack dogs suggest that this is political grand-standing.  This is gutless and cowardly beyond reproach and they should be ashamed by their response.  More importantly, they should cringe when their liar leader is posing for pictures for the media the instant they can get close enough.

Asking the Right Questions

Unfortunately, the first question most people are waking up asking this morning is “why aren’t we transporting more of this stuff by pipeline?” (provoked mostly by our moronic media that are falling for the PR from Big Oil which is asking for massive pipelines to dot our landscapes).

I beg to suggest that this is the wrong question.

The right questions should be “why are we transporting so many toxic materials across the country and continent?” and “what’s the strategy for minimizing this, regardless of form of transportation?”

Unfortunately, we won’t ask those question in any serious way because for most of our politicians, one tragedy (and the prospect of many more) does not outweigh the financial cost of doing the right thing and making an investment in the future rather than preserving a poorly planned past.

The right thing would be to develop and invest in a national (or international) renewable energy program that would drastically reduce our demand for Tar Sands products and oils from fracking (in the case of Lac Megantic, the oil was from North Dakota, where fracking is a massive overnight business).

Next, we need to ask why more processing isn’t happening at source, again minimizing the volume of hazardous materials that are transported across the continent.

Finally, it would be appropriate thing to sit down with our rail carriers and demand that they provide a coherent plan for reducing the volume of rail traffic that sails through our towns EVERY SINGLE DAY.

If they don’t, they’re done.  They forfeit any right to transport materials within a certain distance of Canadians.

It’s that easy.

Get started.  The first political party that latches on to these ideas – be they municipal, provincial or national – definitely get my vote.

If our politicians don’t leverage these events to get better living conditions for all Canadians, expect more tragedies to occur.  Rail volume is increasing, regulation has decreased, and age is wearing through the safety of all hardware.

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