With the death toll at
35 42 47 and rising, Quebec’s Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster is not just tragedy, it is corporate crime. At the root is eagerness of big business to take ever greater risks in an interminable search for higher profits. The facilitators are captive governments that consider stringent safety regulations to be unacceptable interference with enterprise. To sell this position, Canada’s largest corporations invest generously in think tanks and private public-interest groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Gerry Angevine, Fraser Institute senior economist, issued a press release that said government agencies appear to be oblivious to the commercial and economic costs of regulatory procedures. Yet the evidence is clear that Canada’s Conservative Party is committed to reducing independent review and oversight, preferring instead to tolerate open season on citizens put at risk.
The equation of a disaster: what went wrong in Lac-Mégantic, Brent Jang, Globe and Mail:
“MM&A [Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd.] received approval last year from Transport Canada to operate with a one-employee crew. In the 1970s in North America, some freight trains had as many as five employees for each shift. The engineer would focus on operating the locomotive. Others on board were the conductor, an engineer’s assistant (called a fireman) and two brakemen – one for the front and the other for the rear. At the end of the train, there used to be a caboose, which served as spartan shelter, but the caboose was phased out in the 1980s. Crew sizes gradually shrank over decades.