Corporate crime and failure of oversight

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.

Categories: Deregulation

7 replies »

  1. A one man crew operating a heavily laden oil train on a a class 2 railway, was and is a disaster waiting to happen. Leaving a heavily loaded tank train, parked on a grade untended was/is a disaster waiting to happen.

    The owner and senior management of the MM&A as well as Transport Canada have blood on their hands from a now 35 and perhaps 50 people.

    But hell, what a few people or so incarcerated to guarantee a big profit for major corporations. It is the Canadian way under Herr Harper.


  2. An interesting development today, the people of Lac Megantic have gotten lawyers to pursue a class action lawsuit against the railway and all others involved. The lawyer stated they did not wish to wait for answers and want something to happen.
    I'm sure this was unexpected to the good folks at the transportation safety inspections and government as well after saying it would be at least many months or years for answers. I guess these people logically believed,as they should, our government would be demanding answers but alas that wasn't the case.


  3. I'm really looking forward to the skewed logic used by Transport Canada to allow one man crews. The putz that came to town to explain his company said it is a 'distraction' to have more than one person on board. Imagine being alone on the job with no one around to see what you are or are not doing? Logic and common sense is missing in the Conservative mind and only a government willing to do any bidding a corporation asks can allow something like this happen. Mulcair has it correct and was only attacked by the Lieberals and Cons because they are defending this corporate status quo.


  4. Fraser Institute is quick to complain about red tape and regulation, but we have to remember that it was the collective corporate misdeeds and general bad behaviour of the Institutes sponsors that gave rise to the need for regulation in the first place.


  5. Issues such as what happened in Quebec is of little conquence to the corporate and political elite. If rule changes endanger any one, it isn't a problem as long as it enables them to increase profits. while making these decisions, they most certainly take into account lawsuits should anything go sideways.

    What needs to happen now is to ensure the financial repercussions of the murders of all those people in Quebec and the destruction of the town costs the government and the rail line so much money, it will be cheaper to do it correctly next time.

    The feds will try to put as much distance between themselves and this disaster as possible. Don't expect to see any of them around. Now that the lawsuits have started people should not expect financial compensation for their looses. If they are offered any compensation it will include somethign which requires them to drop all lawsuits.

    stevie slime and his railroad friends have done a great deservice to not only those in the town but Quebec and Canada. All in the name of making a few more dollars. There will be an election in the next couple of years. when you go to the polls, remember this rail accident.


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