Train derailment carrying crude oil sparks fires, prompts evacuations

New Democrats reacted with shock and concern to the overnight derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, of a train carrying crude oil, and the subsequent explosions and fires affecting this community.

“Our thoughts are with the victims, families and all those affected by this serious accident,” said Jean Rousseau, NDP MP for Compton-Stanstead. “We thank emergency personnel already on the ground helping under difficult circumstances. Everyone's focus right now is on keeping people safe and the difficult task of containment.”

NDP Transport critic Olivia Chow said we will have to wait for the results of the investigation into this latest serious rail safety incident to know its cause, but we do already know more can be done for rail safety in Canada.

“First priority is helping victims and containing this disaster. But this tragedy reminds us that after that, we must finally address problems with rail safety in Canada," said Chow. “A primary responsibility of any government is keeping its citizens safe, but Conservatives have recklessly cut public safety – from food inspection, to search and rescue to transportation safety.”

New Democrats pointed out that for rail safety, the federal government cut funding from $36.9 million in 2012-13 to $33.8 million in the 2013-14 Estimates. And they still haven’t made safety systems like an emergency breaking system (Positive Train Control) and voice recorders mandatory in Canada.

"Unfortunately, Conservatives continue to rely on self-regulation,” said Chow. “The federal government needs to act now, so families can trust that the trains they are riding, and the trains riding through their communities, are as safe as they can be.”