October 18, 2014 - No. 37

Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council
Oversees Destruction of Public Authority

Current Phase of Canada's Annexation into United States of North American Monopolies

Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council
Oversees Destruction of Public Authority

Current Phase of Canada's Annexation into United States of North American Monopolies

Early in October, regulators from Canada and the U.S. met in Washington, DC to begin implementing the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council's (RCC) Joint Forward Plan. The Plan, released in August jointly by the Harper and Obama governments, is to "harmonize" the functioning of regulatory departments and agencies in both countries, "set[ting] the stage for fundamental changes in the way [they] work together, making it easier for businesses to operate in both countries." The RCC was formed in 2011 when Canada and the U.S. signed the Beyond the Border Joint Declaration.

The harmonization and integration of societies on the basis of upholding public right and the right of the people to decide the affairs that affect their lives would be a positive human-centred development which would contribute greatly to boosting the well-being of the peoples. However, these activities are part of the arrangements to annex Canada into the United States of North American Monopolies that began taking shape during the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, followed by the signing of the Beyond the Border Plan Declaration by the Harper government. This is diametrically opposed to the historical basis on which Canada was formed as a nation-state against U.S. annexationist designs and "manifest destiny."

These arrangements are part of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive and usurpation of decision-making power by governments in service of private interests, in which Canada's sovereignty has been eroded at an increasing pace, with its institutions, laws and regulations, that are supposed to uphold the public authority and the public interest, being undermined or eliminated altogether. This includes integrating Canada's military and civilian security agencies directly into the command structure of the U.S. military apparatus, to bolster U.S. imperialism and its striving to dominate the world.

The financial oligarchy refuses to recognize Canada as an independent nation state, treating it as a jurisdiction within an entity they call "North America." They move production from one jurisdiction to another to attack wages and working conditions and extract concessions or to blackmail governments for a friendlier business climate and "financial incentives." All of this places working people more and more in slave-labour conditions. This same nation-wrecking and subjugation to imperialism is taking place in the U.S. and Mexico as well.

For the working class and people of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. as well as those of Quebec, Puerto Rico and the First Nations, these developments are a direct attack on their right to decide their own affairs, way of life and future.

The times are calling for the working class and people to oppose the destruction of the Canadian nation state by putting forward their own nation-building project. The aim of this resistance is to affirm public right by depriving the monopolies of their ability to deprive us of what belongs to us by right. Blocking the monopolies from acting with impunity is crucial at this time.

TML Weekly is providing information on recent developments relating to the manner in which the governments of Canada and the U.S. are putting these new arrangements in place.

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October Meeting of Regulators and Monopolies

On October 7-8, a meeting was held in Washington, DC to begin the process of implementing the Regulator Cooperation Council's Joint Forward Plan. On the first day, some 70 regulators from Canada met with 134 of their counterparts from the U.S. to begin the task of "bringing the two regulatory systems into greater sync." Those expected at the meeting represented about 90 per cent of the regulators responsible for goods that cross the border -- from food to automobiles. On the second day, 200 representatives of the monopolies and their associations in various industries met with regulators to provide further "input" as to which regulations they wanted changed.

The approach of bringing together regulators across ministries is new, states a report in Maclean's Magazine. Until now, the process has been driven from the RCC secretariat inside the Canadian Treasury Board Secretariat and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This reveals the manner in which monopoly interests have taken over the executive powers of government for their own interests and are now seeking to use these powers to broaden the scope of their control by destroying public authorities across the board.

The report states: "The goal is to fundamentally change the relationships between regulators in both countries -- to make the alignment of rules and procedures the default, rather than the exception -- and to end the 'tyranny of small differences' that raise costs."

The report continues: "Until now, progress has been ad hoc and tentative: some veterinary drugs have been approved through joint testing, and the two countries have collaborated on vehicle emissions standards, for example. One high ranking official in the office of the regulatory cooperation council secretariat in the Treasury Board says 'that's about to change as the regulatory agencies meet and design a work plan for the coming year.'" He said the goal is not for one country to move to the other's standards but to update the standards together, or adopt international standards simultaneously, with the unstated aim of upholding monopoly right. Whether the standards are U.S., Canadian or "international" the issue for the working people is by whom are they set and whose interests are upheld.

The report presents Canada's interests as synonymous with those of the U.S. and in this way asserts that there is no need for independent Canadian decision making. "These [regulatory] systems have developed and evolved independently over decades, and both are highly successful. But because we often have different or duplicative approaches to targeting the same outcomes, unnecessary and duplicative requirements have developed. The RCC [Regulatory Cooperation Council] is an effort to bring the systems into closer alignment," the report said.

(With files from Maclean's)

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New Plan for Regulatory Alignment

On August 29, the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) set out its new Joint Forward Plan to implement the second phase of regulatory cooperation between Canadian and U.S. regulatory bodies. The main feature of the plan is to systematize the integration of the decision-making regulatory bodies of Canada and the U.S. in a manner that serves monopoly right. This is what the monopolies and their representatives in government refer to as the "tyranny of small differences." These differences in regulations across borders that increase costs/lower their profits, are their main preoccupation, not the aim of upholding the public interest and the needs of Canadians which such regulations are supposed to serve.

A government news release describes the plan in this manner:

"The Joint Forward Plan builds on the RCC Joint Action Plan launched in December 2011 by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama. The initial RCC Joint Action Plan focussed on several initiatives that reduced unnecessary regulatory differences, fostered new approaches and served as a template for future efforts between Canada and the United States.

"The new Joint Forward Plan will deepen Canada-U.S. regulatory cooperation through new bi-national processes and partnerships. This approach will institutionalize joint planning and collaboration between Canadian and U.S. regulatory agencies.

"This includes broad new commitments in 24 areas of regulatory business, moving from a focus on individual initiatives toward an approach where regulators not only address current issues but also make the broad changes necessary to prevent misalignments from happening in the future.

"The Joint Forward Plan will result in reducing the burden on business thereby boosting North American trade and competitiveness."

The plan is said to be based on submissions solicited by the RCC in both countries on how the RCC should improve its operation. Those submitting were mainly representatives of the monopolies, or the monopolies themselves in almost every sector of the economy, as well as a number of think tanks and industry analysts.[1] In almost all cases those submitting views congratulated the RCC on its work to date but raised the need to systematize regulatory integration so that going forward no costs for the monopolies are introduced with differing regulations across jurisdictions and to eliminate those differences that exist. A report from the RCC summarizes the input received:

"Nearly 90 per cent of the responses received were supportive of efforts to advance Canada-U.S. regulatory cooperation. Key themes included the importance of institutionalizing Canada-U.S. regulatory cooperation to make it a permanent fixture between our regulatory systems, and the importance of stakeholder engagement and their role. Stakeholders also identified many additional areas where regulators should work together to secure alignment in the next phase of work."

In an article concerning the RCC's work to implement the Joint Forward Plan, Kelly Johnston, Vice-President of Campbell Soup expressed the interests of the monopolies whose operations are integrated on both sides of the border. She said the level of alignment in new food labelling requirements the two countries have been working on has been "impressive." However "[...] the big prize will be a ‘seamless' inspection system where food items are inspected once in North America -- eliminating duplicate inspections and allowing more food products to cross the border without being stopped," said Johnston. "We're obviously not there yet, but that's where the RCC is headed."

The question of why inspections are carried out is sidelined, as is Canada and all Canadians. The only concern is how to ensure that the monopolies can operate as easily and freely as possible.

Areas to Be Institutionalized

The Forward Plan outlines the institutionalization to be carried out by "Establishing department-level bi-national processes to strengthen regulatory partnership; Establishing department-to-department commitments and work plans; and Addressing cross-cutting issues."

With respect to "Department Level Bi-National Processes for Deeper Regulatory Partnership" the document states: "Partnerships will be established between regulatory departments and agencies with similar mandates. Each will be adapted to the practical realities between these organizations."

Regarding "Department-to-Department Commitments and Work Plans," it notes, "The Joint Forward Plan identifies key areas of work that will be addressed by the first of a series of annual technical work plans. Work will continue in areas such as marine safety and security, pharmaceuticals, food safety, plant and animal health, and crop protection products. In addition, new areas of work including, for example, energy efficiency, toy safety , medical devices, chemicals management and the use of natural gas in transportation will be launched under the Joint Forward Plan."

Some examples of "commitments" are cited:

"Natural Resources Canada will work with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) on the development of work plans related to energy efficiency standards, standards for the use of natural gas in transportation, and explosives classification. Work in the areas of marine safety and security, locomotive emissions, connected vehicles, transportation of dangerous goods, motor vehicle safety standards and rail safety will be undertaken by Transport Canada working with its counterparts in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Work plans across six sectors will be developed by Health Canada with its U.S. counterparts in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The regulatory issues covered include pharmaceutical and biological products, over-the-counter products, medical devices, veterinary drugs, workplace chemicals and crop protection products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) work will focus on meat inspection/certification, plant health, animal health and food safety. The CFIA will partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the development and implementation of work plans in these areas. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will develop a work plan with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce."

The document describes what is meant by "cross-cutting issues":

"In the course of implementing the initial RCC Joint Action Plan, it has become clear that certain laws and/or policies in both governments can present challenges to international regulatory cooperation, regardless of sector. These cross-cutting issues include areas such as sharing information and funding." This is to say that privacy and other laws and regulations which do not currently permit the sharing of information because they are based on Canada and the U.S. being separate countries, represent "challenges" to these arrangements and are being singled out for removal.

Funding for these arrangements would usually approved through budgetary and other arrangements, in most cases requiring the approval of legislative bodies. However, omnibus budget bills is one way in which such funding can be hidden from scrutiny.

Areas Targeted for Institutionalizing Regulatory Alignment

The new Forward Plan singles out various areas in which new permanent arrangements are to be established. The following are excerpts concerning a number of those areas:

"Rail Safety Standards: Transport Canada and the Federal Railroad Administration have established a bilateral process for the development of rail safety requirements. They will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to facilitate the exchange of information on rail related safety research and regulatory actions.

"Marine Transportation Security Regulations: Transport Canada (TC) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) have jointly developed Guidelines Respecting Marine Security Regulatory Development Collaboration to facilitate bi-lateral regulatory collaboration thereby ensuring ongoing regulatory alignment for policies, bulletins and regulations development. The two departments have developed joint regulatory priority lists and completed a comparative study of Canadian and U.S. regulations so that regulatory differences can be identified and prioritized for possible legislative amendments or other cooperation work. TC has proposed amendments to the Marine Transportation Security Regulations to align the definition of Certain Dangerous Cargoes between Canada and the United States and provide authority to allow TC to enter into Alternative Security Arrangements with the USCG.

"Regulatory Oversight Regime on the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway: Transport Canada and U.S. Coast Guard completed a Port State Control pilot project that involved 10 joint ship inspections to test the feasibility and benefits of mutual recognition of examinations, joint inspections and sharing of inspection results. Lessons learned during the pilot project will lead to recommendations for a course of action that eliminates unnecessary duplication of inspections, screening and reporting regimes. The two departments are developing possible approaches for mutual recognition of regulatory oversight regimes to reduce the number of inspections conducted on lakers while maintaining the same level of safety.

"Dangerous Goods Means of Containment: Transport Canada and the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are moving their transportation of dangerous goods regulations into closer alignment. Regulatory amendments were made to align new and revised standards pertaining to the selection, design and manufacture of means of containment used in the transportation of dangerous goods, mutual recognition of United Nations standard pressure receptacles, recognition of inspection under U.S. requirements for highway tanks and a closer alignment of placarding requirements. A Memorandum of Cooperation was also signed between United States and Canadian officials regarding the safe transportation of dangerous goods that solidifies international collaboration, information sharing, and policy and enforcement coordination.

"Unmanned Aircraft Systems [aka unmanned drones -- TML Ed. Note]: Transport Canada (TC) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed Rulemaking Cooperation Guidelines to promote cooperation in the early stages of the rulemaking process, which will help ensure alignment of Canadian and U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) programs as both countries prepare to propose new UAS regulations. The FAA provided and discussed with TC the release of their UAS Roadmap and a Comprehensive Plan on the UAS Path Forward. TC and the FAA have coordinated on efforts to address the increase in illegal UAS operations."


1. A full list of the submissions to the RCC from those who agreed to have them made public can be found here.

(With files from Maclean's)

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Presence of U.S. Security Agents on Canadian Soil Made Permanent

The following reports from the Beyond the Border Action Plan website provide an update on the implementation of the security perimeter arrangement between Canada and the U.S. which places U.S. military and security forces on Canadian soil and in control of Canadian security agencies. They reveal how U.S. troops on Canadian soil implementing Canadian law is also moving from pilot project to permanent arrangement behind the backs of Canadians:

- "On April 7, 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ‘J' Division, met in Eastport, Maine, to formally sign the Eastern Region International Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, (also known as Shiprider), regional standard operating procedures. These operations provide a cooperative approach to combatting cross-border crime on shared Canada -- U.S. waterways, consistent with the Beyond the Border vision. The Shiprider program removes the international maritime boundary as a barrier to law enforcement by enabling seamless and continuous enforcement and security operations across the Canada-U.S. border."

- "On February 24, 2014, Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Steven Blaney, Canada's Minister of National Defence, Robert Nicholson, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senator for New York and U.S. Congressman for Western New York officially launched Phase II of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York. The pilot will operate for up to one year, during which time Canada and the U.S. are using the pilot to test the concept of conducting U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) primary inspection of U.S.-bound truck cargo in Canada in order to better manage their shared border and improve economic opportunities for both countries. To date, testing of the pre-inspection impact on border wait times under the Peace Bridge pilot has been running smoothly and feedback from involved partners and stakeholders has been positive. Phase I of the pre-inspection pilot, which was conducted at the Pacific Highway crossing adjacent to Surrey, BC, concluded in January 2014."

It is important to note that Canadian security agents are not being placed on U.S. soil to conduct pre-clearance inspections there. It is clear this is not a mutual arrangement.

One of the targets of pre-clearance arrangements when the Beyond the Border Action Plan was first launched was to place U.S. security officials in or just outside major Canadian manufacturing plants. The reason given was to pre-clear goods so they would not require inspection at the border. By extension this would mean that U.S. national interests and national security would include these facilities and the workers' resistance and organizing would be criminalized in the name of protecting U.S. national security. This raises the importance of opposing the placement of U.S. forces on Canadian soil no matter what the pretext.

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Regulation and Non-Regulation of Economic Activity

Canada-Europe Trade Agreement Aims to
End All Restrictions on Monopoly Right

Action against CETA at London City Hall, September 25, 2014. Protestors hold up signs
showing the many municipalities that are taking a stand against CETA. (M. Roy/The Indignants)

One aspect of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU)[1] which has major implications for the future of the Canadian people is the regulation or non-regulation of economic activity by governments. Chapter 14 of CETA deals with domestic regulations, while Chapter 26 deals with regulatory cooperation between Canada and the EU, the first time such a chapter has appeared in any Canadian free trade agreement. The fact that all of Harper's free trade agreements are created to serve the interests of the monopolies and not the Canadian people, is blatantly demonstrated in both these chapters. It should be noted that any disputes about regulations and any other matters that occur after CETA is ratified are to be sorted out by corporate legal tribunals which are to operate in secret.

Chapter 14, Domestic Regulations, applies to "cross border services" and to economic activity in the territory of the "other Party" to the agreement. In regard to an EU monopoly pursuing economic activity in Canada, CETA states that Canada's domestic regulations must be based on criteria which "preclude competent authorities from exercising their power in an arbitrary manner"-- in other words, which prevent national sovereign bodies from restricting monopoly right. Further the criteria for domestic regulations must be both "objective" -- no doubt from the standpoint of the monopolies -- and "established in advance" -- suggesting that new regulations can not be implemented. To better expedite the foreign monopolies' economic penetration there must be a "prompt review" of applications, "simple procedures" to follow and no undue complications or delays, with final decisions reached within a "reasonable period of time." No reference is made to the rights of workers, the rights of indigenous peoples or care of the environment as legitimate factors to consider.

Chapter 26 of CETA, Regulatory Cooperation, starts by making clear that, like domestic regulations, regulatory cooperation must serve the interests of the monopolies. Chapter 26 states that the aim of such cooperation is to "prevent and eliminate unnecessary barriers to trade and investment," "enhance the climate for competitiveness" and support so-called public policy objectives. Simply put, these are the aims of governments like the Harper dictatorship that shamelessly champions the monopolies. Another aspect of regulatory cooperation is to identify "alternative instruments" for regulation, which in the neoliberal world means "self-regulation" by the monopolies -- leaving the fox to mind the henhouse. Any Canada-EU consultation on regulatory cooperation is to be "non-public," that is, carried out in secret. It eventually becomes clear in Chapter 26 that the real goal is not just regulatory cooperation but regulatory "convergence" and "harmonization." Both sides are to engage in a mutual race to the bottom until the monopolies have totally unrestricted free reign to better plunder the economies of both Canada and the EU.

CETA shows once again that the political rule and concentrated expression of free trade is the exercise of monopoly right over public right in all matters and domains, with private monopoly interests supplanting the public authority and civil service within the political institutions. The attack on domestic regulations and the aim of converging Canada's regulations with those of its more powerful European partners exemplify this, just as the same is being achieved through free trade agreements with the United States. All important political matters are decided behind closed doors by those private monopoly interests directly involved in taking the decisions which affect the public authority. The rights of all, especially the working class, are under extreme pressure. All forms of civil and labour rule and rights once considered important to maintaining the stability of the society are rapidly being abolished in the rush to establish Canada as a vassal within a United States of North American Monopolies.

In order to establish a self-reliant economy with manufacturing as its foundation so as to guarantee the well-being of the people under all circumstances, all free trade agreements must be annulled, including CETA, with instead equal trade for mutual benefit with all nations big or small, recognizing the inalienable right of the Canadian people and First Nations to ownership and control of all their natural resources and the inalienable right of the Canadian people to control all decision-making that affects the socialized economy and the social and natural environment; and all military agreements with the U.S. and participation in its foreign wars must be ended. Finally, it requires the empowerment of the sovereign people within modern renewed political institutions that guarantee the right of the people to govern themselves and their own affairs.


1. One year ago, on October 18, 2013, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and EU President José Manuel Barroso announced the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU). CETA still has to be ratified by all 28 EU member states, as well as each of Canada's provinces, a process expected to take two years or longer. The plan for CETA was initially hatched after a joint EU-Canada study released in 2008 and negotiations officially began in May 2009. As with all of Harper's free trade agreements, the negotiations have been deliberately kept secret from the Canadian people. However, on August 13, a 521-page copy of the final draft of CETA, dated August 5 at Brussels, was leaked to the public.

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Broad Opposition to Neo-Liberal Free Trade

Opposition to Canada-EU Trade Agreement Continues

Following the spirited September 26 action on Parliament Hill against the Canada-EU Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA), organized by the Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition, marine industry workers have followed through on their vow to make sure that people across the country are mobilized to stop CETA, by seeing to it that people are properly informed about the dangers of the CETA, its attack on the regulations that protect this vital Canadian industry, workers' rights, public services and the public authority. In Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, workers have been leafleting on sidewalks and at metro stations, going door-to-door, as well as calling, emailing and visiting MPs and government ministers.

St. Catharines; Justice Minister Rob Nicholson's Office, Niagara Falls

Montreal; Quebec City; Vancouver

Minister of International Trade Ed Fast's Office, Abbotsford

European Day of Action Against CETA, TTPI and TiSA

On October 11, protests took place across Europe demanding an end to the negotiations on three major trade agreements: the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-Canada CETA deal, and the trade in services deal (TiSA) being negotiated by 23 members of the World Trade Organization. Actions took place in 22 countries across Europe, with marches, rallies and other public events held in more than 1,000 locations. Europeans are greatly concerned about how these agreements will supercede the public authority and the people's right to decide their affairs.

Reporting on the significance of the actions, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) points out, "The TTIP is designed to aid the free flow of finance capital, and ride roughshod over countries' sovereignty and negate the public authority of those countries in favour of the rule of international finance capital. [... I]t is a neo-liberal arrangement for the unfettered dictate of the monopolies. Not least, it would open up public services, including schools and hospitals, to privatisation under the direction of the health monopolies, particularly those of the United States, under the guise of 'harmonisation' of regulations. In particular, it would aim to make irreversible this privatisation, which is not to say that the state would be by-passed. In fact, the role of the state as the agent of the monopolies would be enhanced by means of TTIP.

"Under TTIP, the monopolies would be empowered by means of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to sue publicly-owned bodies if they thought there was an 'indirect expropriation' of future profits. [...]

"The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is planned to liberalise the trade of services such as banking and transport between 23 parties [including the EU and Canada], initiated by the U.S."

United Kingdom


London; Cheltham























(Photos: SIU Canada, Stop TTIP, Occupy London, J. Kivi, M. Niesewandt, P. Jager, Bi Both Ends, W. Grootkoerkamp, H. Hanry, Diagonal Periodica, J. Sian, Academia Cidada, E. Forenza)

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The Need for Regulations that
Uphold Security of Social and Natural Environment and Workers' Safety

Saskatchewan Train Crash Again Shows Urgent Need to Restrict Monopoly Right

Tank car carrying petroleum distillates that was breached and caught fire during the
October 7, 2014 derailment in Wadena, Saskatchewan.

On October 7, another major CN train derailment occurred in Canada, this time about 20 kilometres west of Wadena, Saskatchewan. There were 100 cars in the train and 26 left the tracks and caught on fire, burning for several hours. Six of the derailed cars contained hazardous materials, including two which contained petroleum distillates. The railcars that split open and burned were Class 111, the same outdated kind that were involved in the massive Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec on July 6, 2013.[1] About 50 people were evacuated from Clair, a small community about one kilometre from the Wadena crash, while others were evacuated from farm homes in the area.

Information on train derailments is concealed or distorted by railways and the federal government. A continuously updated research paper entitled CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents by the website Railroaded provides 300 examples and notes that there are literally thousands more CN examples, not to mention those involving other railroads in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere.[2]

Here are just five examples from the study: "In November 2012, 5,700 litres of diesel fuel spilled onto the track and into the Squamish Estuary, British Columbia.... In December 2009, propane, benzene and plastic pellets were spilled near Spy Hill, Saskatchewan, igniting and burning 34 rail cars for 6 days.... In June 2006, 233,000 litres of hydrocarbons spilled, 7 per cent of which ended up in the Riviere du Loup, Quebec.... In August 2005, 1.3 million litres of heavy bunker C fuel oil and 700,000 litres of pole treating oil spilled into Wabamun Lake, Alberta, killing hundreds of birds, fish and other wildlife.... About 2.7 million litres of hydrocarbons spilled and caught fire near Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec in December 1999, burning rail cars for more than 4 days."

According to the Railroaded study, some specific causes of the continuing derailments are deteriorating track infrastructure, track warp, deteriorating rail cars, and too long-too heavy trains, all of which are responsibilities of the railways and the federal government. It states, "Many CN derailments, spills and other accidents have involved breaches of federal rail safety and environmental legislation, provincial environmental protection legislation, Canadian Rail Operating Rules, and CN's own safety and environmental policies." Another cause is extreme fatigue of engineers due to scheduling, as verified by recent research by Transport Canada (TC) which found high levels of exhaustion among workers driving freight trains. The TC research report cited seven Transportation Safety Board (TSB) accidents within the last five years where shift irregularity contributed "to the fatigue of the crew" but the rail monopolies dismiss the well-documented findings as "biased."

Protest against rail companies lax standards and callous disregard for safety,
shortly after a CP Rail train derailment in Calgary, September 2013.

Both the number of rail accidents and the profits of the rail monopolies are on an upward trend, due mainly to increased use of railways for transporting crude oil and other petroleum-related cargos. CN and CP reported first quarter profits in 2014 of $254 million and $623 million, increases of 17 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, over the same quarter last year. According to Statistics Canada, railways in Canada moved approximately 237,000 carloads of fuel oils, crude petroleum and liquid petroleum gas in 2013, including into the U.S. However, this is small compared to the major surge of Alberta oilsands bitumen and conventional oil on the horizon. The Financial Post reports that a total of 850,000 barrels per day of rail shipping capacity is under construction in Alberta, more than the amount that the Keystone XL pipeline would carry. It is estimated that by the end of 2014, trains will be carrying 550,000 barrels daily.

The privatization of the railways and self-regulation by the industry over the affairs which concern the society have resulted in crimes against the people, with Lac-Mégantic as the most blatant example. The federal government, responsible for regulating the railway industry, should be charged with criminal negligence. The assault on the human factor has been profound, especially the constant reduction of the number of workers and government personnel responsible for safety, and secret deals with the railways to allow them to operate at sub-standard safety levels. All these actions by the government to favour the monopolies at the expense of the public interest are the main factors causing the continuing rail disasters. For years workers have been rightly declaring that the federal and other governments' refusal to enforce regulations and hold the rail monopolies to account is what permits them to act with impunity time and time again.

The Wadena derailment shows once again that the power to take decisions that affect society has been usurped by private monopolies such as CN. It puts the society in danger and is also destructive for the natural environment. It shows that Canadians must fight to make sure regulations conform to the standards necessary to guarantee the safety of the society, the natural environment and the workers who perform the jobs.


1. The Railroader study can be found here.

2. For more on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, see TML Daily, July 11, 2013 - No. 84 and TML Daily, July 4, 2014 - No. 63.

(Photos: TSB Canada, G.C. Carra)

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Transportation Safety Board's Report on
Lac-Mégantic Tragedy

Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, July 6, 2013

On August 19, the Office for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued the report from its investigation into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. Created by an Act of Parliament in 1990, the TSB is defined as an independent agency whose mandate is to advance safety in the marine, pipeline, rail and air modes of transportation. The 191-page report on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy examines the events that took place on July 5 and 6, 2013, presents its views on the causes and contributing factors that led to the disaster and discusses present and future measures taken to prevent another such event.[1]

Confirmation of Certain Facts

Without presenting an exhaustive summary, it can be said that the report confirms some of the most disturbing facts related to the disaster.

First, it confirms that the train's lead locomotive was defective, which explains the fire that occurred just over an hour before the disaster. The locomotive had mechanical problems, the engine was leaking oil and it was spewing excessive amounts of black and white smoke. Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA), the rail company responsible for the train, had been informed of the problems but had taken no action to address them and kept the locomotive in service. The report also confirms that on the evening of July 5, 2013, the train was parked in Nantes and left unattended on a main track with an incline that led to Lac-Mégantic's downtown area. According to the report, it was common practice for MMA to park a train on the main track, rather than the siding track which is equipped with a derail that will engage and stop the train should it start to move on its own.

The train was operated by a single locomotive engineer. When he parked the train for the night, he applied seven hand brakes as well as the independent air brakes of five cars and the remote control equipment car. This was also common practice with MMA. The engineer left the engine of the lead locomotive running to power the compressor for the air brake system. However, the oil leak started a fire and extinguishing it required that the engine be shut down. The emergency team made up of firefighters and the MMA representative called to the scene (who, according to the report, had not been trained by MMA on how to secure a train) left after the fire was extinguished, without restarting the engine. Without an air supply, the air brakes were gradually released and the train, restrained by only seven hand brakes, started to roll down the grade where 63 of the 72 tanker cars derailed in downtown Lac-Mégantic, bringing death and destruction.

Recovery continues in downtown Lac-Mégantic, July 23, 2014,
more than a year after the disaster.

The TSB reports that given the load of the train, it would have taken between 15 to 20 hand brakes to safely immobilize it. The TSB found that Transport Canada's Canadian Rail Operating Rules leave it up to railway companies to decide how many brakes they have to apply to stop their trains, limiting itself to asking that companies apply a "sufficient" number of brakes. Official MMA policy was to secure 10 per cent of the cars plus two, which would have meant nine or 10 hand brakes, but the report found that it was common practice to apply fewer hand brakes than required and offset that by engaging the air brakes on the locomotive. Note that over the years rail companies have abandoned the practice of applying all the air brakes in their trains (on both locomotives and railcars) in the name of "saving time." Governments have allowed them to do so with impunity.

The TSB also reported that the crude oil transported by the train was mislabelled as containing a less volatile and less flammable product, meaning the tanker cars were even more inadequate than what was indicated.

Railway Companies Hold Decision-Making Power

The report also presents many facts that illustrate how Transport Canada refuses to play its role as a public authority responsible for ensuring transportation safety. The report lays out how Transport Canada does not consider its role that of enforcing safety regulations but merely verifying that companies produce reports on their safety management and make suggestions as needed. Since 2001, Transport Canada has required that railway companies produce safety management systems (SMS) in which they themselves define their own security program. Transport Canada reviews some of these reports (it does not have the resources to check them all), makes suggestions and issues notices of non-compliance to companies, but it does not enforce the application of security measures. In the case of MMA, the report mentions that the company had been given multiple notices of non-compliance over the years but no punitive action was taken against it. In fact, according to the report, MMA established its SMS in 2002 but had not implemented it until 2010 and then only after a Transport Canada audit.

The report further discusses the 2012 decision by MMA to operate its trains in Canada with only one person on board. It is not simply that Transport Canada allowed MMA to do so, as the media has reported. In fact, MMA simply informed Transport Canada of its unilateral decision and went ahead and did it. Transport Canada claims it did not have the authority to approve or reject such matters but could only put pressure on the company to take measures to mitigate risks.

Causes and Factors of the Tragedy and Recommendations

In terms of the causes and contributing factors of this tragedy, and the risks that lead to such tragedies, the report cites dozens of issues including how the train was parked, leaving hazardous materials unattended on a main track, poor immobilization of the train due to the small number of hand brakes applied, the condition of the lead locomotive, poor safety culture within MMA and the overall failure of Transport Canada to ensure that adequate security measures are taken by companies.

The TSB discusses measures taken since the disaster and measures needed to improve rail safety and prevent disasters like Lac-Mégantic and then lays out its own recommendations.

One recommendation is to the effect that Transport Canada and its U.S. counterpart, the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration, require all Class 111 tanker cars for the transport of flammable liquids conform to standards of protection that will significantly reduce the risk of spills when these cars are involved in accidents. Another recommendation calls on Transport Canada to force the rail companies transporting hazardous materials to plan their routes and make periodic risk assessments; another requests that Transport Canada require emergency plans when transporting large amounts of liquid hydrocarbons. There are also recommendations for a more secure immobilization system for trains carrying dangerous goods, that trains should not be left unattended on the main track and that Transport Canada review the regulation that currently simply prescribes that a sufficient number of brakes be applied to stop the train.

The TSB expressed partial satisfaction with the measures taken by Transport Canada and the railway companies since the derailment.

Transport Canada's Response

Through Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, Transport Canada immediately responded to the TSB report in a brief statement. The Minister made no reference to the criticisms of Transport Canada made in the report. The Minister continues to give the self-serving position that upholds monopoly right that the disaster was caused by non-compliance with rules on braking and that the proof is the criminal charges brought against the three MMA employees. It presents some of the steps taken by Transport Canada since the Lac-Mégantic disaster as evidence that the government has addressed the problem -- that trains carrying hazardous materials will now be operated by at least two people, or that these trains should not be left unattended on a main track. It refuses to address the fundamental issue that the government has abandoned decision-making regarding the rail industry to private interests at the expense of public safety so that even existing laws and regulations are not enforced.


1. To view the full report, click here.

(Photo: Support Lac-Mégantic, Ville Lac-Mégantic)

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Key Moments in Privatization and Deregulation of Canadian Railway Industry

1985: The deregulatory policy "Freedom to Move" was introduced by the federal government. This policy change separated economic and safety legislation and eliminated barriers to structural transformation in the rail industry. With this change, the national railways were restructured by closing lines and transferring thousands of kilometres of track to local interest companies.

The period from 1984 to 1989 was used to adjust some current laws and to introduce new ones to bring Canadian law in line with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Canada (1987) and the future North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico (1994). Railroads were particularly affected.

1987: The Government of Canada enacted the National Transportation Act, which deregulated prices and the restructuring of railways. The argument given was that Canadian railways could not compete with American companies, which were able to abandon unprofitable routes and set their own rates under the Staggers Rail Act of 1980.

1989: The Railway Safety Act (RSA) came into force. This was a time of dramatic change in rail transportation in Canada marked by privatization and restructuring of the industry and government deregulation. The RSA, developed in a spirit of collaboration between the private sector and the government, changed the approach to safety from a prescriptive regulatory one to one which gave railroads the role of determining the safety of their own operations.

1995: CN, a Crown corporation, was privatized. Between 1990 and 2006 nearly 10,000 km of railway lines were abandoned, in almost equal amounts by each of CN and Canadian Pacific. CN and CP now operate about 74 per cent of the rail network in Canada, compared to 90 per cent in the 1990s. There are forty short-line companies operating more than 16,000 km of track. VIA Rail continues to dominate the passenger sector of rail service, carrying 95 per cent of intercity rail passengers.

1996: The federal government passed the Canada Transportation Act (TAC 1996) shortly after privatizing CN. It codified and revised the National Transportation Act of 1987 to bring Canadian regulations more in line with the American regulations in the Staggers Rail Act. It simplified the process of sale and abandonment of railway lines, so that railway companies were no longer required to demonstrate that the sale or abandonment of unprofitable lines served the public interest and the sale or abandonment of unprofitable lines would be decided by commercial interests. In addition, the new regulations reduced the waiting period for approval of short-line railway sales to operators from about two years to just a few weeks. The TAC 1996 also reduced Transport Canada's power to intervene in decisions about routes, employment and company policies.

1999: Further changes were made to the RSA, including regulatory reforms that introduced the rail companies' obligation to adopt safety management systems (SMS) that they themselves developed. New roles were devolved to industry and government: railway companies develop and adopt an SMS; the ministry checks the company's SMS based on its results rather than by performing detailed inspections based on safety norms. The rationale presented was that railway companies must manage conflicting priorities: safety is a priority to be balanced against cost-effectiveness, technology, investment returns, etc. Therefore it is up to companies to develop safety programs and the ministry's role is that of auditor of company reports. Even in its role as auditor of these reports, Transport Canada verifies only a part of them. MMA was able to operate for eight years without even having implemented an SMS.

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