We hope you have been enjoying the unseasonably warm fall weather.
It’s been a couple of months since our last update, but rest assured that Safe Rail Communities has not been idle!
· The federal election campaign was exhausting for us all, and the surprise results of the October 19th left us with a new majority Liberal government. We are particularly disappointed to have lost our own MP, Peggy Nash, who was such a strong advocate of our work and that of many important organizations in our community. Peggy will be greatly missed. We deeply thank her and her team for all of their encouragement and support. We have sent letters of congratulations to our new MP, Arif Virani, as well as to Minister Chrystia Freeland, both of whom have supported our work for some time.
o Once Prime Minister Trudeau announced his cabinet on Wednesday November 4th, Safe Rail Communities also quickly sent off letters of introduction to the new ministers of Transport (Marc Garneau) and of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Ralph Goodale). We look forward to working closely with these new ministers on the important file of rail safety.
· Since late October, we have received from Transport Canada a response to only one of the 5 Access to Information requests we submitted in July via our lawyer (Ecojustice). Our requests relate to railway risk assessments, railway emergency response plans, cost data related to insurance minimums set out in Bill C-52, and scientific test results of crude oil properties. The response we received in October related to railway risk assessments, and we are not satisfied with the exemptions identified. We do not feel that the stated exemptions actually apply to our request. We will not give up, and will be drafting a letter of complaint to the Information Commissioner.
· In mid-November, we participated in the first continental Oil Train Response conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The 3-day gathering was a terrific opportunity to connect with 150 people across Canada and the U.S., all working in some way on this issue. A huge thank you to Forest Ethics for hosting this awesome event, during which Safe Rail Communities committed to working directly on two action items to help the network move forward together. Stay tuned for more on this.
· Through one of the expert panelists at our June and August town halls, Dr. Ali Asgary, we have become aware of some possible academic funding through the Networks of Centres of Excellence. We attended an information session on this funding at York University’s Centre for Research and Innovation, and feel that this funding would be a good fit for Safe Rail Communities. The funding would allow us to share research and knowledge with communities across Canada. It also invites applicants to include other groups who would like to participate in this ‘knowledge mobilization’. Please stay tuned for more details on this exciting news.