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Edmonton MP to introduce bill calling for enhanced rail safety measures

Last Updated Aug 3, 2016 at 10:43 pm MDT

Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Que, on July 6, 2013. Source: Surete du Quebec

Edmonton Strathcona Member of Parliament Linda Duncan says it’s time the federal government addressed the regulatory gaps in rail safety.

The NDP Transport Critic is calling for improved safety regulations regarding the transport of dangerous cargo.

She plans on tabling a bill in September that will strengthen measures and regulate the rail shipping of such things as oil from the oilsands.

Duncan says transporting dangerous cargo is something she’s been trying to do since elected as a Member of Parliament.

“Rail traffic is completely exempted from assessment,” said Duncan. “I will be tabling my bill as soon as Parliament resumes, it requires that rail companies get additional permission, certificates from where they’re trying to ship dangerous cargo. I’ve also discovered the rail sector is the only sector is exempt from environmental assessment.”

The long-time Member of Parliament calls it a timely measure and one where the government should take expedited action.

Given disasters in towns like Lac Megantic and Gainford, Alberta, she questions why previous governments have been unwilling to take on the rail sector.

“I just find it remarkable that government has never taken this on and just sat back while there is this increase in dangerous activity,” she said.

Duncan says she doesn’t want to stop the rail industry, she wants better safety measures given the number of people who have died in previous tragedies.

She doesn’t think this will have a negative impact on her home province and its economy.

“We’re already shipping oil anyways,” she said. “The reason why a lot of the pipelines saw so much opposition is that the previous government undermined the process. Hopefully the new regime will change that.”

A former Environmental lawyer by trade, she says it’s critical that impacted communities here have a choice.

She says it’s still too soon to say whether she’ll get any support from her Liberal and Conservative counterparts.

“One of the communities from Toronto has been calling for this very measure so I thought I might as well let people know this bill is coming forward. I would be more than happy if the government decided to grab it and make it their own.”