·  Media release

Crown Should Drop All Charges against MMA Workers

MONTREAL - In light of new facts presented in the Transportation Safety Board's report on the Lac-Mégantic disaster, the Crown should consider very seriously dropping the charges against Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) Railway workers. That is the message released jointly today at a press conference by the Quebec Director of the United Steelworkers (USW), Daniel Roy, the lawyer for engineer Tom Harding, Thomas Walsh, and the executive director of the Juripop legal clinic, Marc-Antoine Cloutier, whose lawyers are representing traffic controller Richard Labrie.

"The report clearly lays the blame on a deficient organizational culture at MMA and a lack of oversight by Transport Canada. It should now be clear that the charges against each of the workers are no longer justified. Continuing on this path will not serve the genuine public interest and will do nothing to prevent a disaster like this from recurring," said Walsh and Cloutier.

Daniel Roy, whose union represents MMA workers, had difficulty swallowing the federal government's eagerness to lay blame on the three MMA employees.

"Transport Minister Lisa Raitt had not even finished reading the report that blames her department before attempting to divert attention by reminding everyone that criminal charges have been laid. While Ms. Raitt and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney shirk their responsibilities, ordinary workers are made scapegoats," Roy said.

"The former Minister of Transport, Denis Lebel, who was responsible for the lax attitude towards MMA, is strutting around on a pre-election tour, but people are not fooled. They will judge accordingly at the polls in 2015. They will remember that the Minister of Transport failed in his duty to provide oversight and lacked the humility to shoulder the blame."

The Transportation Safety Board found that a number of factors were involved, including several stemming from negligence on the part of the company and the lack of monitoring and oversight by Transport Canada. The MMA "cut corners" when it came to safety, while Transport Canada did not perform audits "in sufficient depth and frequency."

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