For the record: Federal leaders on the anniversary of Lac-Mégantic’s tragedy

47 people died when a trail derailed in the Quebec town
First responders fight burning trains after a train derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec early July 6, 2013, in this picture provided by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. The driverless, runaway fuel train that exploded in a deadly ball of flames in the center of the small Quebec town started rumbling down an empty track just minutes after a fire crew had extinguished a blaze in one of its parked locomotives, an eyewitness said on July 8, 2013. Picture taken July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Transportation Safety Board of Canada/Handout via Reuters (CANADA - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY TRANSPORT) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTX11H18
First responders fight burning trains after a train derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec early July 6, 2013. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada/Reuters)
First responders fight burning trains after a train derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec early July 6, 2013. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada/Reuters)

Three federal party leaders reflected on the two-year anniversary of the devastating train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que., that killed 47 people in the small town on July 6, 2013.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper‬

Two years ago today, tragedy struck Lac-Mégantic when a train derailment caused a deadly explosion and fire. This horrific accident claimed the lives of 47 people, destroyed much of this community’s downtown core, and caused great harm to the local economy and environment.

Our Government has been clear: those who are found to have broken the law will be held to account and will face the consequences. Following a lengthy investigation, on June 22, 2015, charges were laid in connection with the tragic derailment under the Railway Safety Act and the Fisheries Act.

It takes people of extraordinary strength to overcome such a disaster, and I was privileged to witness first-hand during my visits to Lac-Mégantic the remarkable resilience, pride and spirit of those in the community.

Although nothing can erase the tragedy suffered by the people of Lac-Mégantic, our Government has worked hard with the province, municipality and community to rebuild the town so that its residents might return to a normal life and begin to heal.

Signs of progress are everywhere. The decontamination of Lac-Mégantic’s downtown core has advanced to the point where plans for rebuilding are now being put in place. Companies and businesses have resumed their activities, which have contributed to the town’s economic recovery. As well, new projects such as La Marche du Vent footpath will provide a unique recreation trail as part of a rejuvenated downtown core.

On this anniversary, all Canadians join the people of Lac-Mégantic in remembering, honouring and mourning those who were lost. It is also my deep hope that as time passes the spirit of the community, much like the town’s architecture, will be fully restored and that all might know peace and prosperity. Our Government will continue working with our partners to make that happen.

Official Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair

Two years have passed since the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, which cost the lives of 47 people.

For years, New Democrats have been calling on the federal government to reinforce the country’s rail safety. It’s the government’s responsibility to impose strict regulations on the transport of dangerous goods and to ensure there are more unscheduled, periodic, risk-based inspections.

In January, we called on the government to carry out an independent investigation into the rail transport of dangerous goods. Dangerous tank cars should also be eliminated to prevent another tragedy.

An NDP government would build a railway bypassing Lac-Mégantic, which has already paid a high price in human lives.

On this tragic anniversary, on behalf of all New Democrats, I wish to assure all the victims’ loved ones that our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them. It is urgent that we implement higher rail safety standards to ensure that this tragedy never happens again.

Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau

The Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the second anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster:

On July 6th, we mark a sad anniversary. Two years ago, a tragic incident occurred in Lac-Mégantic. Today, let us pause to remember all those who perished in the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. My thoughts go out to the many victims, their families, and the entire community, whose lives have been irreparably altered by this devastating incident.

Today, we also salute the courage and selflessness of our first responders. Their heroic actions – and the support they offered to so many families in a time of great need – should never be forgotten.

This heartbreaking event also highlights that the safety of our rail system should be of prime importance. Indeed, every possible precaution must be taken to ensure such an incident is never repeated. Unfortunately, two years have passed and too little has been done by this government to bring about the necessary changes.

 On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I offer our most sincere thoughts and prayers to the community of Lac-Mégantic and all those affected by this disaster.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt

July 6, 2013, is a date Canadians will not soon forget. The tragic derailment in Lac-Mégantic claiming 47 lives serves to remind us of the importance of having strict railway safety rules and regulations in place and what can happen when those rules are not followed.

Safety is Transport Canada’s top priority. And in the wake of the accident, we took immediate, concrete action to further protect Canadians and maintain the safety and integrity of the Canadian rail system.

We introduced even stricter rules for securing trains and we ordered trains carrying dangerous goods to slow down when travelling through highly urbanized areas.

In May, we introduced a stronger, tougher tank car standard, the TC-117, for the transportation of flammable liquids in North America, further protecting communities in both Canada and the United States.

We continue to meet with all of our partners and stakeholders with the common goal of enhancing railway safety.

To the people of Lac-Mégantic, you continue to be foremost in our minds. This tragedy is a reminder of the importance of rail safety for you and for all Canadians.