" To critics of Stephen Harper’s government, it was evidence of the costs of deregulation; to pipeline advocates, proof that we should be moving oil underground rather than by rail; to some environmentalists, yet another sign that we need to slow down resource development until we better know how to manage it. Link
In any crisis, disaster or life-changing event, their inevitable first reaction is to ask how exactly all this affects THEM and their political party and how they can limit the damage or press the advantage.
How many politicians in deep political trouble, long for a headline grabbing story to wrest away the attention of the public and shift the spotlight to something or someone other than themselves.
Politician to self; "Oh boy, maybe a plane will crash or a train derail with lots of death. Anything to take the heat off!"
And so the disaster in Lac Megantic is another lesson in realpolitik, a case study if you will, in using a tragic event and the deaths of so many people to further a political goal or injure a political opponent.
By the way politicians aren't the only cynical bastards that seek to benefit from such disasters.
The media just salivates at the thought of a good disaster, a surefire formula to goose ratings.
It's nothing less than sickening....
As the investigation unfolds, all indications are that human error was to blame. The fact that the train involved suffered a fire on one of the locomotives just an hour before, is just too big a coincidence to accept as non-contributory.
Obviously the train was incorrectly secured, the company blaming the fireman, the firemen the company.
More often than not, major rail and air accidents are a combination of unfortunate and cascading events, piled on top of each other ultimately leading to disaster.
The fact that both brake systems failed in an inopportune moment on an inopportune location led to a fantastic tragedy.
It happens, and although tragic, these types of accidents and loss of life will occur again, hopefully not too often.
Watching the television coverage of the Asiana air disaster in San Francisco, it appears likely that human error was the cause of the accident, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that more than one error was committed by more than one crew member and that perhaps there might have been a mitigating technical glitch. Again a story of cascading events.
It's hard to believe that only one pilot made a mistake and that the other had no responsibility.
There isn't much a government can do to regulate human error, it is part of our human experience and that is why the law demands two pilots in a commercial airliner, a sage precaution that precludes what would probably be a vastly increased number of accidents. It is called redundancy and that is why trains have multiple layers of brakes.
Why all the brakes failed is hard to chalk up to technical problems, the more likely scenario is that the first set of air brakes were damaged in the locomotive fire and that human error in setting the manual brakes occurred.
The nature of the accidents in San Francisco and in Lac Megantic point clearly to human error, although an investigation will obviously determine the actual cause.
But interestingly, in San Francisco, there are few or no voices complaining about weak federal regulations, lack of inspections, poor equipment or runway maintenance.
With human error the likely culprit of the accident, it would be unwise and irresponsible to cast aspersions wildly and without basis in fact.
But such is not the case in the Lac Megantic disaster, as politicians and the media have been lightning quick to find fault, either with the federal government, inspectors, rules and regulations and even the rolling stock.
'Uncle Tom' Mulcair
"Mulcair, who visited Lac-Megantic following the derailment, said the accident was “another case where government is cutting in the wrong area.”
“We are seeing more and more petroleum products being transported by rail, and there are attendant dangers involved in that. And at the same time, the Conservative government is cutting transport safety in Canada, cutting back the budgets in that area,” said Mulcair, who pointed to decreased transportation checks on petroleum at a time when production was increasing.
“When we have a discussion about these things in the coming months or years let’s remember this day. We are watching a magnificent little village being burned to the ground by toxic products that were being transported through it,” Mulcair said. Link
He then blasted everyone in sight for not flying flags at half mast until he was reminded that not all the bodies have been found yet.
In another story;
"Within hours of the accident, NDP leader Tom Mulcair had already blamed cuts to Transport Canada, saying the increase in transporting dangerous goods via rail was accompanied by less regulation and inspectors..
...NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus cited funding and environmental assessment cuts in his criticism and defended Mulcair's initial assessment, saying Mulcair was only asking "honest" questions." LinkIn another story;
"I think most Canadians would be surprised to hear that rail companies are left to inspect themselves and Transport Canada goes over the paperwork," says Olivia Chow, NDP transportation critic.
"Shouldn't there be spot-checks by the government to see whether what is on paper is actually what's happening in the field?" Link
There it is, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP all trying to make political points on the back of the dead in Lac Megantic!
Of all the quotes, this one by Thomas Mulcair turns my stomach. A cleverly crafted political message wrapped up in crocodile tears and mock concern;
"My thoughts and prayers are with those families — that's our first priority today — but there's still lots of questions and those same families deserve answers to those questions," Mulcair, who represents the Quebec riding of Outremont, said Sunday.