Archive for November, 2011

Railways blame the victims, again

November 22, 2011

by Jack Locke

As Canada’s Senate debates the minutiae of Bill S-4, “An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act…,” it did not take long this morning for the railway industry to deny responsibility for safety.

“Highest level of safety can only be accomplished through one thing – Stop the train.
That’s the way you get the highest level of safety. You simply stop the trains. You can’t stop the trains,” suggested Cliff MacKay, president and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada.

No one was suggesting that the government should stop the trains, but if that’s what the industry believes is the only way to achieve the highest level of safety, maybe the government should? Or maybe the rail industry must take ownership for safety?

Under the current Railway Safety Act, it is the responsibility of railways to ensure safe operations.

“To recognize the responsibility of railway companies in ensuring the safety of their operations,” is currently a stated objective in the Railway Safety Act, but it’s been targeted for deletion.

MacKay’s testimony struck another nasty, sour point when he told the senators what is being done to reduce railway fatalities. He told the committee that Operation Lifesaver was doing significant work on raising awareness about the dangers of his industry. Operation Lifesaver is a “partnership initiative of the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada.”

Operation Lifesaver works “around issues of trespass — which is also very dangerous as we saw, unfortunately, not too long ago in Montreal where we had 3 young people killed…” said MacKay.

Once again, the railway industry is attributing blame on the victims, rather than looking in their own mirror.

The VIA Rail train that killed Dylan Ford, Ricardo Conesa, and Mitchell Bracken-Guenet on October 31, 2010 was possibly speeding, did not have an oscillating headlight, was travelling at an unscheduled time, and did not apply its brakes until after striking the youths. And, by legal definition, the three boys were not trespassing.

Yet, once again the railway industry fails to acknowledge its roll in the deaths. Shame, shame, shame.

And VIA Rail has not been forthcoming on this incident either. They refused to disclose documents related to the deaths when I requested access to the documents.

According to MacKay, VIA trains are particularly dangerous because of the speed they sometimes travel.

“VIA travels… sometimes up to 140 (kilometres per hour) plus,” said MacKay.

Without proper safeguards in place to ensure the safety of Canadians, maybe we should Stop the Trains? Or at the very least, ensure that railways take responsibility for safety.

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The Lesson I’ve Learned From Osama

November 5, 2011

by Jack Locke

The lesson I’ve learned from Osama
Is not to think lightly of Obama,
Though much blood has been spilled
And bin has been killed
It’s not likely the denouement of the drama.

I know it’s a blow bearing the brunt of trauma
’cause tragedy, tragically, follows with a comma
When loathing militates
And violence elevates
It shows we’re no smarter than a four-legged llama.