July 11, 2013 - No. 84
Crime in Lac-Mégantic
• Crime in Lac-Mégantic -
Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec
• Some Facts
• The Issue of the Air Brakes and Rail Safety
- Interview, Brian Stevens,
National Representative, Canadian Auto Workers
• The Irving Oil Connection - Nathan
• Criminal Neglect Against Railworkers and
People in Lac-Mégantic - Jack East
• Never Again Lac-Mégantic! -
Crime in Lac-Mégantic
The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) expresses
its outrage at the crime committed in Lac-Mégantic as a result
of the utter disregard for the well-being of the people in transporting
crude oil through the region, especially through populated areas.
We send our condolences to the families of
Lac-Mégantic and Quebec who lost family members and extend our
sincere sympathies to the injured and to the entire community which has
lost its possessions and its entire historical heritage.
It is a crime of gigantic proportions for which those
responsible must be held to account.
Aid from across
Quebec and beyond arrives.
The Lac-Mégantic tragedy raises a number of
questions, including how safe is the transport of potentially dangerous
material by railways across Quebec and Canada. But above all it brings
attention to the issue of the control that these private monopolies
in this case, a railway monopoly -- over the people's
lives, and their total impunity despite the potential to endanger
public safety. One blogger,
struck by grief and anger, wrote that the people of
Lac-Mégantic should not have to pay one penny to rebuild the
city and their lives.
government is duty-bound to defend public right and hold the monopolies
endangering people's lives.
Instead, Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel stated in the most
nonchalant way in an July 9 Radio-Canada interview that "accidents
happen." He then raised the fact that there
has been a rapid increase in rail transport of hazardous products, as
to say that such tragedies are to be expected. The fact that technology
and social consciousness can prevent such accidents is ignored.
This way of speaking is unacceptable. The government must explain its
relaxation of safety
regulations and complacency
in enforcement in light of this increasing traffic.
The time has come to put an end to this. The people
reject the logic of the monopolies that they are "collateral damage"
in the race for profits. These companies contribute
nothing to the life of the regions or the communities and disappear
from the scene when disaster strikes. It seems they are only interested
in saving face and avoiding insurance claims. The
monopolies and governments are quick to criminalize workers for
defending their rights. Now
it is the workers who must be quick and uncompromising to force these
monopolies to be accountable and take
the necessary measures. They must not be given the
power of life and death over the workers and people!
Some of the facts of the case follow:
- The official number of people missing and considered
to have died in the explosions and fires according to the
Sûreté du Québec is 50. As of July 11, 24 bodies
had been found of which only one has been positively identified. See www.supportlacmegantic.com.
- Two thousand of
inhabitants were evacuated over the weekend. The Red Cross set up a
post and shelter in the local high school where people affected by the
crash and explosions can find help. On Monday, July 8, some of those
had to evacuate their homes
were able to return and others are returning as municipal authorities
confirm that their areas have been secured. Measures to provide shelter
and help for all those who cannot go back to their homes or whose homes
have been destroyed by the explosions and fires are continuing.
- The approximately 50 companies and plants in
Lac-Mégantic had been closed since the beginning of the tragedy
for safety reasons, notably because of the damaged sewer system. They
were able to resume business on July 11.
Click to enlarge.
- The oil spill in the lake at Lac-Mégantic and
the Chaudière River as a result of the derailment is considered
serious but under control. Measures have been taken to prevent the oil
from contaminating the drinking water, including
setting up floating barriers. Authorities in Saint-Georges, 80 km
downstream from Lac-Mégantic, have decided to draw the city's
drinking water from a nearby lake instead of the Chaudière River
as a temporary measure. Several other
downstream municipalities between Lac-Mégantic and the St.
River have been forced to take similar measures.
The city of Lévis across from Quebec City, at the
confluence of the Chaudière and St. Lawrence Rivers, has built a
temporary pipe to draw its drinking water from other sources.
- Help has arrived from all regions of Quebec, Canada
and the northern United States, including firemen, volunteers,
as well as people offering psychological and financial support.
Chronology of Events
- On Friday, July 5, the train from the Montreal,
Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), with five engines and 72 cars, each
car containing 100 tons of crude oil, stopped for the night at 11 pm in
Nantes (population 1,136). The engineer went to a hotel after his
shift, as he was supposed to do. It is not yet clear what the company's
responsibility is in terms of attending to the train during the
transition period between shifts. Around 11:30 pm a fire broke out in
one of the engines. A representative of MMA was informed about the fire
in Nantes around 11:50 pm and two company employees joined the
firefighters who were there since 11:42 pm. Shortly after midnight the
fire had been extinguished. Nantes Fire Chief Patrick Lambert said that
a Sûreté du Québec officer was with the
firefighters during their intervention and they had followed protocol.
In an RDI interview, Lambert reiterated that the officer responsible
for the intervention had contacted MMA and that two company employees
working in the Lac-Mégantic area were at the scene and had
confirmed that all was secure before the firefighters left. Lambert
also confirmed that it was the firefighters who had shut down the
engine. "This is the protocol and it is the MMA protocol," he stated,
adding that "The protocols are established by the railway companies
themselves." The reason for the fire in the engine has yet to be
- At 1:00 am, shortly after the
departure of the firefighters and MMA employees, the train
started down the slope leading from Nantes to Lac-Mégantic,
gathering speed. The train hurtled out of control at speeds of up to
100 km/hour. When it hit the curve near Lac-Mégantic it was
going way too fast and several cars exploded at 1:14 am.
- The president of MMA's parent company Rail World Inc.,
Ed Burkhardt, said in a July 8 CBC interview that when the firefighters
put out the fire in the engine, this "caused the airbrakes to slowly
lose pressure," which is why the train did not begin to move the minute
the fire was extinguished. "Pressure was lost slowly for about an hour
up to the point where the train started to roll on its own," he said.
When questioned he had to admit that the two company employees had
confirmed that the train had been secured before the firefighters left.
He then proceeded to slander them saying that "they should have
been aware" that shutting down the engine would free the brakes.
- According to Doug Finnson, vice-president of the
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, a train has four different systems of
brakes. Only one is useful when the convoy is stopped and left
unattended, namely the hand brake, he said in an interview with La
Presse. "There is one such brake
on each car and on each engine," he explained. "It is set
manually. It has nothing to do with the engine's compressor. It is
the only brake that you can depend on when the train is stopped, and it
is the one that's used when the train is left unattended."
- In Canada, the main rail transporters such as CN and
a crew of two. The trains that MMA uses to transport oil to
New Brunswick are operated by a single engineer. The company
was granted authorization by Transport Canada in 2012 to operate its
trains in Canada with one engineer.
The reason given by Transport Canada was that the
company uses state-of-the-art technology which allows it to
conduct the engines from a distance. Only two railway companies
have been granted such an exemption. Daniel Roy, Director of United
Steelworkers District 5 (Quebec) explained
in an interview with La Presse that personnel reduction on
the trains was the subject of disagreement between MMA and the union
during the last round of collective bargaining and that finally the
federal authorities approved MMA's request. But according to
Transport Canada, the government based
its decision on a study carried out by MMA itself. "The railroad
companies must demonstrate to Transport Canada that they will be in
compliance with the present regulations," explains the person
responsible for railway security at Transport Canada, Luc Bourdon. "In
the case of MMA, the company did in fact supply
the analysis that allowed us to establish that they were in
compliance." Daniel Roy points out, "If there are two people, when
the train is stopped, one person can go rest while the other stays
onboard. [...] Beyond any doubt, if another person had been on board
knew the system, who would have been on shift, none of this would have
happened." According to a former MMA
employee who was interviewed by Radio-Canada, the tests to check
if a train is completely motionless require two people -- one
who activates the motor to "stretch" the train and another who looks at
of the cars holds up. If at the
first movement of the engine the cars touch one another, then the
brakes are not working.
- The MMA train was carrying crude oil to the
Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. The Irving refinery
is the largest in Canada, producing more than 300,000
barrels (48,000 cubic metres) of oil products per day. The crude oil
came from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota,
where it is extracted by a method called "fracking." This involves
injecting a mixture of water and toxic chemicals at high pressure deep
into the ground to release the oil from shale rock,
polluting the air, water and surrounding communities.
- Transportation of hazardous cargo through populated
areas is on the increase, including crude oil and diesel. In Canada,
there has been a 25-fold increase in the transport of oil products by
train since 2008. Existing pipelines are saturated because of a rapid
increase in oil production in recent years due in part
to fracking in North Dakota. The railways have become the default
solution to transport the oil.
- A Scotia Bank report on train cargo says some 300,000
barrels of oil per day are transported by train throughout North
A CIBC report indicates that CN is looking at the prospects of
profiting from the increased need for the transport of oil without
making the necessary improvements to its
equipment beforehand. It seeks to double its transport of crude oil and
coal in the coming years.
- On June 11, MMA was responsible for spilling
13,000 litres of diesel into the environment as a result of the
derailment of one of its trains in Frontenac, a few kilometres away
- In May 2012, a 64-car CP train derailed near
Saskatoon, pouring 575 barrels of crude oil into the environment. It
was the third such spill in one month in that province.
Rail blockade in
Fairfield, Maine, June 29, 2013, against the transport of crude oil
through populated regions.
- Protests in the U.S. against the transport of
hazardous material through populated areas have included a campaign of
rail blockades. On June 29, the environmental organization 350 Maine
organized the blockade of a Pan Am train passing through the town of
Fairfield, Maine, with roughly 70,000 barrels of crude
oil headed for the Irving Refinery in Saint John.
- The train and rail line involved in the
Lac-Mégantic disaster are owned by MMA, which is based in
Hermon, Maine, which is in turn owned by Rail World Inc. MMA runs an
kilometre railway that crosses Quebec, Vermont and Maine. The company
has 170 employees and a fleet of 26 engines.
- Rail World Inc., which created MMA in 2002, is "a
railway management, consulting and investment corporation specializing
in privatizations and restructurings" in the United States, Canada,
Estonia and Poland. Its purpose is "to promote rail industry
privatization by bringing together government bodies wishing
to sell their stakes with investment capital and management skills."
- In Canada, grandfathered clauses within federal
regulations allow companies to use old trains that are not on par with
today's standards, according to Stephen Guilbeault of the environmental
Equiterre. "There has been a wave of deregulation in that sector, as in
many others, and the federal government has
been very complicit in letting companies dictate the rules of the
game," Guilbeault said.
The Issue of the Air Brakes and Rail Safety
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is
carrying out an investigation into the cause of the tragedy in
Lac-Mégantic. Meanwhile, executives from Montreal, Maine
& Atlantic Railway (MMA) have said they believe the train's
air brakes failed while it was parked in the neighbouring town
of Nantes after firemen shut down the engine to put out a fire that
erupted on Friday night. TML spoke with Brian Stevens,
national representative of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW)
with 35 years of experience in train inspections, to shed light on the
role played by air brakes on freight
trains and the regulations that govern their use.
issue has been raised of the air brakes. They
have been identified as a factor in the train starting to move on its
own, downhill from Nantes to Lac-Mégantic. Can you explain what
could have happened?
What it sounds like, and this is not unusual in this
day and age, is that typically when they park a train, typically what
they have been doing is they just set the brakes on the locomotive and
don't set the air brakes up on the cars. Then they do what they call
the hand brakes, which
are big mechanical brakes. It sounds to me that the practice at the MMA
is that they put what they call the independent brake on the locomotive
and then do the hand brakes on 10 cars.
It seems to me that it is reasonable that when the fire
department showed up to put out the fire, they probably pressed the
button right on the side of the locomotive, this big red button that
says Emergency Shut Off. I suspect that when the firemen showed up they
pushed the button, just to shut off the fuel so
it would not continue to feed the fire. The engine would shut down in a
few minutes or even a few seconds.
What I suspect happened, and the Transportation Safety
Board is going to do its investigation; likely what happened is once
the engine shut down and the air compressor shut down, there was no air
feeding continuously into the brakes. It sounds like the air brakes
At some point, something caused the train to start
moving. It could have been the force of the train itself, if it was on
a slope. I don't know if it was windy that day. It could be anything. A
train is designed not to run on its own, and that is why this is just
so bizarre and it is tragic really. The hand brakes are
not designed to really stop the train. They are just designed to hold
it. A hand brake is not for 72 cars; it is just for that one car that
it is designed to hold.
Historically what used to happen is that the train would
come to a rail yard or it would stop at a siding and they would put the
air brakes on all 72 cars. They would do what they call an emergency
application. It did not mean that there was an emergency. It is the
application that puts full brake pressure. The
only way then that the brakes can come off is when the engine is
running, and the air compressor is running, and they can do what we
call pumping up the train. It pushes air through the train to help it
take the brakes off. But that is not what the industry is doing now.
There is a change in the practices. They only
put the brakes on the engine and rely on the hand brakes. That is
probably a contributing factor. If the air brakes had been on all 72
cars, the likelihood is that the train may not have moved even if the
engine was shut off. If the brakes are on all 72 cars, unless somebody
comes along and releases those brakes in
one way or another the train is not going to move.
They used to do that but in the railway industry there
is a desire to speed up the trains, what they call the velocity of the
cars, getting trains moving again. On a 72 car train, it might take
5-10 minutes to release the air brakes. So the new crew comes on at
7:00 am; they would have to release the brakes, which
means that the air compressor would have to pump air in all those
chambers to release the brakes of the train. It might have taken 5-10
minutes to do that. But the industry sees that as money lost. According
to them, this is 10 minutes during which that train could have been
moving instead of being stopped. That
regrettably happens at all of the major railways.
At all the railways across the country, there is this
desire to increase what they call train velocity as part of their
operating ratio to satisfy their shareholders. They want to keep the
trains moving and get them back moving again as quickly as they can if
they stop. If it takes 10 minutes to release the brakes, that
is 10 minutes that the train should be running instead of just sitting
there. It sounds that the air brakes were not on those 72 cars. And
that is not simply MMA. CN, CP, everybody does that.
The fire department, and again the TSB will do their
investigation. The fire department did not do anything unusual; they
shut off the fuel line and put the fire out. I heard that the fire
chief said that there was a broken fuel line. These [engines] are
mostly metal and the only thing that is going to burn on them
is the fuel. The fire chief said that they had to shut the engine off
because there was a fuel leak.
Transport Canada in railway
safety and problems in the work of Transport Canada. What is the issue
according to you?
of the problem
is that while institutionally we have a very good robust Railway
Safety Act, we have a good regulatory framework; but what we have
is that the railway industry itself, they police themselves.
Transport Canada has a role to play and I think that it
has a larger role to play. They need to have more inspectors out in the
field; they need to be stopping trains in the middle of their run and
make an inspection from one end to the other. The railway inspectors,
and in CAW we have workers whose job is to
inspect the train, should have sufficient time without pressure to get
the cars back moving again.
But again, this is a runaway train and that is something
that is not supposed to happen. Technology can also play a role. If we
had what they call Positive Train Control, the PTC, like they
have in some railways in the U.S. and in other countries, when that
train started moving unattended, it would
have sent a signal to somebody and they could have remotely stopped
that train. The railway industry in Canada has been pushing back saying
it is too costly to implement PTC. They say that the American
experience is a hit and miss, sometimes it works, sometimes it does
not, but the status quo, which is to do
nothing, is dangerous as we see in that situation here. Other countries
are implementing PTC, but in Canada the railway industry does not see
shareholders' value in this.
In the regulatory framework, there is something called Safety
System (SMS). The SMS really says that the railway
industry is going to tell the regulators what to do. And they have a
very strong lobby group called the Railway Association of Canada,
Transport Canada that even
though a rule says such and such, this rule does not really apply to
them. They will say that this rule is there for safety purposes, but
they do not see that it is going to harm public perception or safety if
they are exempted.
According to the industry, safety is to make sure that
the rail car mechanic is wearing his hard hat, that the diesel mechanic
is wearing safety boots, that the track inspectors wear safety glasses.
What we should be looking at is what are the safety appliances on these
cars, if they need to be repaired let's repair
them at the nearest point. Give the mechanics enough time to inspect
Transport Canada inspectors do go out in the field but
not in the same way that we see in Ontario or Quebec where [highway]
inspectors will do safety blitzes. They will pull over tractor trailers
and other vehicles to make sure that they are all safe. They don't do a
similar thing in the railway industry.
At Transport Canada, they like to say that they have the
same amount of inspectors that they had five years ago. That is
probably very good but their role is different; they are not in the
field the same way as they used to be. They should be out in the field
supporting those individuals who do an inspection on the
train. Those workers should be allowed to make sure that the trains are
inspected, as they should be. They should be given enough time to do
the inspection and if there are any defects, they should be properly
repaired before the train gets on its way. The Safety Management System
on paper works great but nobody
Transport Canada is just a kind of overseer. The
railways take care of their own audits, and then they just report the
findings of their audits to Transport Canada. Every once in a while,
Transport Canada likes to report and say that safety audits are fine.
We have to look into the construction of the cars. It
sounds to me that the cars that were not constructed the same way as
propane cars are constructed. The railway [car] that crashed in
Lac-Mégantic tomorrow could carry water, canola oil; it is made
for general use. We should be looking
into the construction of the cars, since the transportation of crude
oil by train is on the increase. Crude oil should be carried in cars
that are double-hulled, very similar to ocean going vessels, so that if
there is a catastrophic event like a rail derailment there is no
leakage of the fuel.
and the railways should not be allowed to exempt themselves from the
rules. That is something that they are doing all the time. Only this
year I think I have seen eight or nine exemption requests to Transport
there are more and more. The regulatory regime is very good but the
railways constantly lobby and petition Transport Canada. They argue
that such and such a rule should not apply to them because they had
only one incident in one hundred years. But as you see in
Lac-Mégantic, maybe we have had only one incident
of this type in a hundred years, and yet, a whole community is
devastated. They will never be able to forget this tragedy even in a
hundred years from now.
The Irving Oil Connection
The criminal disaster inflicted by the greed of the oil
and railway monopolies last week on the people of Lac-Mégantic
was the product of many hands. The media reportage initially focussed
blame for the so-called runaway train on a single allegedly lax train
engineer employed by U.S.-based
rail company Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA). There is, meanwhile,
no shortage of Canadian corporate
moguls whose hands are steeped in the blood of the people of
Lac-Mégantic. The Irving family of New Brunswick, owners of the
refinery at Saint John to which that runaway cargo was destined, is
Protestor holds up
sign during the belated visit to Lac-Mégantic of the President
of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Ed Burkhardt, July 10, 2013.
Continuous shipment by rail of crude oil pumped to the
surface in the Bakken fields of northern North Dakota to the 350,000
barrel-per-day refining facility at Saint John officially began about a
year ago -- May 2012. The average trainload is more than 100 cars,
although many shipments are longer. The route
has been in continuous service, operating day and night non-stop, since
The rail line routing itself is instructive. Existing
railways are used, completely bypassing any need to resort to new
pipeline construction which would require public legal proceedings to
approve new rights-of-way. These rail lines pass through dozens of
former industrial towns -- now dead or dying -- stretching
west to east more than 3,200 kilometres from Chicago to Rotterdam
Junction in upper New York State. That is where it connects with the
MMA-owned lines that have been in the news since the
Lac-Mégantic disaster. The easternmost extension of the
lines in northern and central Maine terminate at
Brownville Junction, Maine.
There has been no investment to upgrade any of the rail
lines involved to meet the standards necessary to ensure the safest
possible transit of such loads of a cargo so obviously rich in
potential to seriously pollute groundwater and surface streams in the
event of an accident. On the contrary, the rail companies
themselves, starting with the giant BNSF (owned by the American
plutocrat Warren Buffett) which controls the traffic
into Chicago, have
milked billions in "incentives" from the state governments along these
routes to "help the industrial regeneration of depressed areas" and
ensure maximum profits no matter how
much has to be spent on short-term maintenance and railbed
reconstruction over railways that had long since fallen into general
Eventually coming eastward from upper New York State to
the last leg through central Maine and southwestern New Brunswick, the
parlous state of these rail lines worsens sharply. The railbeds of this
portion of the route are some of the oldest still in use in North
America, originally constructed
in the 1890s. The last portion of this route runs from Brownsville,
to the Irving refinery at tidewater in Saint John. The largest portion
of these lines is owned and maintained by the Irvings' New Brunswick
Southern Railway (NBSR) subsidiary. NBSR's holdings are comprised
mostly of Canadian Pacific Railway
(CPR) track that fell into disuse after the CPR eliminated daily
passenger service between Saint John and Montreal in the early 1980s.
Conducting the same kind of bribery of public officials for which BNSF
is notorious in state capitols across the northern tier of U.S.
Midwestern states, the Irvings certainly cannot
be accused of narrow nationalism. They loot the state treasury in
Augusta, Maine just as thoroughly as they loot the federal government
Ottawa and the provincial government in Fredericton.
The capacity and efficiencies of the Canaport dedicated
oil cargo handling facility at tidewater in Saint John are for the time
being higher than anything their nearest competition on the U.S.
Eastern Seaboard -- at Searsport, Main or Everett, Massachusetts --
have been able
to offer the moguls of Big Oil and Big Rail. Canaport
was originally built about 40 years ago by the Irvings exclusively for
their refinery. It has a dedicated state-of-the-art two-kilometre-long
rail connection to the refinery, and has been massively and regularly
upgraded thanks to the generosity of Canadian taxpayers.
All this is part and parcel of the economic "renewal" of
the Harper dictatorship, much-ballyhooed in those Action Plan ads still
appearing on Canadian television. The logic of Harper's "renewal"
dictates that the people of Lac-Mégantic must die so that the
second-wealthiest family in Canada (the Thomsons are
first) may continue to live in the manner to which they have become
Criminal Neglect Against Railworkers and
As a qualified yet blacklisted CNR Canadian
yard-foreman/conductor, it is outrageous indeed what the management of
the railway has done to the community of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.
The former CNR taught that safety is the first rule and consideration
of the railway. This so-called accident proves the point
the Canadian Railway Unions have been making all along. Safety has gone
out the window with the austerity implemented since the sixties.
Five people per freight crew is the minimum crew size
required to cover the safety codes. That is because a train has two
sides to it, and a front and a back, which must be covered by four rail
workers: two in a caboose in the back of the train, and two, an
engineer and a second engineer in the front to look after
the movement of the train. In addition, there must be a switchman in
the head end of the engine to look after switches should the
Centralized Traffic Control fail. That is fundamental to the movement
and safety of trains.
The feet on the ground cannot be replaced by
robo-machines operated from long external distances, as machines run by
an external power source sometimes fail and, quite frequently, cause
accidents and damage to the communities that are within the scope of
Especially after the U.S. imperialist takeover of the
Canadian railways, companies have been using austerity programs to
implement automation to replace the social responsibility and
consciousness that a properly comprised crew contributes to railway
safety. It is entirely reckless behaviour on the part of the
management on Canadian railways to implement the new rules of the
foreign owners of the CNR, BCR, CPR and others. More than 140,000
railworkers lost their jobs, many blacklisted for fighting back.
The austerity programs of the railways do not work for
the safety of the organized working classes or the communities they
live in. The present situation is unsustainable and shows the reckless
abandonment of governments at all levels who permit the monopoly
capitalist owners to risk the lives and property
of the Canadian and Quebec people.
Let me illustrate the failure to respect union and
company safety laws here. Each train initiates in a rail yard.
During the sixties, there were thousands of car knockers, a
special safety feature. This was a group of men (in those days women
were not allowed to work in the running trades) who would tie the train
together dutifully, knocking at each wheel with
steel hammers to check the brakes and condition of the steel wheels
etc., while also tying together the air hoses connecting the train's
The car knockers had the power to spot good
and bad per car, checking the manual braking systems as well as the
engine-controlled air brakes that are applied the full length of
the train. Bad brakes or other failures on a wagon or boxcar were
either fixed or the railcar was removed from the
train and replaced with one that worked fully, safety-wise.
The jobs of those car knockers are all
finished. There is literally no one checking the mechanical safety of
each and every constituent part of the train anymore, as car
knockers did. Does that sound like progress? No, because it was
not replaced with better mechanisms of control.
Clearly, in Lac-Mégantic, the cars on the tracks
left at the top of a hill did not have the necessary brakes applied so
the train could be safely secured. It cannot roll down a hill if the
brakes are applied and working properly. Attempts to blame firemen or
others who are not experienced in securing a train is
The necessity to apply proper regulations on Canada's
railways has gone out the window with the U.S. imperialist purchase of
Canada's railways. Neglect and disallowing of the naturally evolved
railway rules, while maximizing private profits for the paper shuffling
stockholders, is the only consideration in the
Governments facilitating this destruction must be held
Never Again Lac-Mégantic!
"With all our hearts, we
are with you"
It is with profound sadness and anger that the Quebec
working class has learned of the terrible tragedy that has struck
Lac-Mégantic. Although investigations involving the
transportation, police and fire departments and other civil services to
determine the causes of the tragedy have just begun, the working class
instinctively knows what are the real causes. The concerted anti-social
offensive that the biggest monopolies, the financial oligarchy and
their political representatives are forcing upon society can only lead
to a permanent state of crime and anarchy. The working class is well
aware that the railways, just like all sectors
of transportation, whether air, sea or land, have been subjected to
this offensive and to the destructive logic of the monopolies who
control them. Railway workers at the two biggest railway monopolies in
Canada have fought to defend their rights and those of the people by
demanding that the most modern standards be upheld in this dangerous
The Harper government, anxious to meet the demands of
financial oligarchy, has imposed working
conditions by means of back-to-work legislation, blocking the workers'
capacity to decide the safety of their working conditions. But this is
only one aspect of the overall situation. The monopolies' neo-liberal
offensive has led to the
overall deregulation of the railway sector throughout the world and
Rail World Inc. has made the most of it. Privatization, the flourishing
of "low cost" railway companies, the speculative frenzy on oil
production, the anarchic development of this production,
lack of adequate material and cars, reduction of safety standards and
procedures, lack of personnel training, anti-worker restructuring, the
elimination of mandatory operational procedures for transport
companies, to name just a few, reveal the total lack of responsibility
on the part of these monopolies and their
The tragedy of Lac-Mégantic is the direct
consequence of this lack of responsibility and of the anti-social
offensive against modern society. The working class must define its own
path and never accept this state of anarchy. It must defend society
against those who shun responsibility and who are in positions
of authority today. The tragedy of Lac-Mégantic is now a painful
part of our history and must remind us of our duty to take up this
Never again Lac-Mégantic!
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