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Scenes from the road: June 28 – July 4

Posted on July 7, 2014

Justin Trudeau, Xavier, and Ella-Grace visit the Calgary Stampede grounds. July 4, 2014.Justin Trudeau, Xavier, and Ella-Grace visit the Calgary Stampede grounds. July 4, 2014.


Lac-Mégantic: One Year Later

Posted on July 7, 2014

I drove down to Lac-Mégantic on Sunday to join the thousands commemorating the tragic loss of life that occurred one year ago when a train, laden with crude oil, derailed in a crowded area of the town, setting off a series of tanker car explosions that killed 47 people and shattered the lives of so many more.

On my way there, I drove through the village of Nantes, 11 kilometres to the northwest of Lac-Mégantic. This is where the fateful train began its out-of-control journey, a massive weapon rolling inexorably towards the heart of a community. I could see very clearly how the rail bed sloped downwards on its way out of Nantes, allowing the train in question to build up speed from the simple effect of gravity. How could this have been allowed to happen?

To put it bluntly: it was a failure to take the proper safety measures to prevent the train from ever moving by itself. It was also a failure to understand the explosive nature of the crude oil being carried by the train.

The main purpose of the commemorative ceremony was to remember those who lost their lives one year ago. It was also more than that. As firefighters lined the street in front of Sainte-Agnès church, it was also important to pay tribute to the courage and heroism of first responders and to acknowledge the many who, for the past year, have supported the community through this tragedy.

As I watched and spoke to some of the residents, it was clear to me that they have been profoundly changed by what happened a year ago. While they are resilient, it will still take time and it will never be quite the same for most. The death of 47 people in a small, tightly-knit community turned their world upside down. I felt that everyone in Lac-Mégantic knew someone who died that night.

As we mark this solemn occasion by remembering those we lost, we must also strengthen our resolve to ensure that the tragic events of Lac-Mégantic are never repeated. Our railways are vital to our Canadian infrastructure and economy, and it is the responsibility of the Canadian government to ensure that we have the safest rail system in the world.

Trains will continue to pass through the hearts of our communities from coast to coast to coast, and more must be done to ensure they do so as safely as possible.

Transport Canada has done some good things. The 5,000 least crash-resistant DOT-111 tanker cars have been retired and the others are being phased out or retrofitted. Trains carrying dangerous goods will now have to do so with an emergency response plan that can be shared with first responders.

However, there is more work to be done. The Auditor General recently expressed his concern that “Transport Canada does not have a quality assurance plan to continuously improve its oversight of rail safety.” The inspectors in charge of deciding if a railway’s Safety Management System is adequate lack the proper training materials needed to make those judgments.

The Auditor General also found that Transport Canada lacked data in important areas such as the condition of railway bridges. These problems must be addressed as soon as possible.
As my colleague David McGuinty recently wrote: Canada was brought together as a country by rail and many of us continue to live near the same rail lines that helped build Canada. On the anniversary of the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, let us commit to ensuring Canada’s rail system is the safest in the world.

Marc Garneau, M.P. (Westmount—Ville-Marie)

A journey through the Arctic

Posted on July 5, 2014

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Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time; it is a global issue, and the consequences are both visible and invisible to the eye. Fortunately, science and technology can help us tackle this challenge and, at the same time, help us build a greener economy.

Upon my return from the Ilulissat Icefjord, located in northern Greenland, I reflected on what I had experienced over the past few days; I spoke about climate change with experts like Dr. Robert Corell, a renowned climate scientist, and witnessed with my own eyes the impact that human-caused climate change is having on our planet. This incredible learning experience was organized by fellow Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, and participants came from all walks of life. I cherished every minute I spent in the Arctic Circle. The beauty of nature, the immensity of the ice sheet, the icebergs in the Davis Strait of Baffin Bay, and the local Inuit community all left a lasting impression on me. I quickly realized that, like the Canadian Arctic, this is a pristine part of our planet that we need to better understand and protect. I would now like to share with you a few thoughts that have stemmed from my experience in the Arctic.

The science behind climate change is now well-established and it is clear that the changes occurring to our planet are demonstrably caused by human activity. Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have significantly increased since 1900; in fact, emissions were 16 times higher in 2008 than they were in 1900.

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The impact of climate change on humankind is already severe, and it will continue. With rising sea levels, droughts, and more extreme weather becoming commonplace, it is clear that we must act. Thanks to innovation and technology, we have the tools required to reverse this trend and to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

I was impressed to hear from the Danish foreign minister and a group of Danish business leaders about the so-called ‘Danish consensus,’ which has allowed Denmark to achieve remarkable economic growth and energy efficiency, without increasing its carbon dioxide emissions. It is a great example of how development and environmental sustainability can go hand in hand.

Throughout our discussions, it became clear that one meaningful way to achieve better energy efficiency is to adopt policies that will lead to innovation and the conservation of energy. About 40 percent of the energy we consume is used in residential and commercial buildings; as a result, higher energy efficiency standards in buildings, appliances, and lighting would make a real impact on the amount of energy we consume as a society. Encouraging people to adopt more eco-friendly lifestyles has proven to be effective in Scandinavian countries, and it is worth exploring here in Canada. Contrary to what the current government would like us to believe, there is a path to greener, more sustainable economic growth.

I am proud to be a part of the Liberal team and to work closely with our Leader, Justin Trudeau, to address these growing issues. Together, we will provide Canadians with new leadership on one of the greatest challenges of our time and work diligently to ensure the protection of our natural environment.

François-Philippe Champagne
Liberal candidate

Scenes from the road: June 21 – 27

Posted on July 2, 2014

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha, Liberal candidate for Fort McMurray—Athabasca, meet constituents. June 25, 2014.Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha, Liberal candidate for Fort McMurray—Athabasca, meet constituents. June 25, 2014.


A fantastic night for Liberals!

Posted on July 2, 2014 | No Comments

The amazing results since Justin Trudeau became Leader. Thank you, Canada.