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The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster
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The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster

Public Betrayal, Justice Denied

By Bruce Campbell

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The July 6, 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster is a tragedy unparalleled in Canadian history. It resulted in major loss of life, massive environmental destruction and the evisceration of a small Quebec town. Blame landed squarely on the shoulders of three front-line employees of the Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic Railway Company. But a jury acquitted them.

Lac-Mégantic is the story of a rail industry writing its own rules, a booming US oil industry based on fracking, fighting any obstacles to selling their dangerous product, and a rogue US railway operator cutting corners to make his fortune.

At another level the story is about a federal government blinded by its own free market ideology, fixated on making Canada an energy superpower, and compliant bureaucrats failing to protect the public interest.

At the heart of it all is a small, tight-knit community torn apart and struggling to recover. There is unimaginable loss, broken lives and families, and individual and collective trauma. But there is also healing, solidarity, commemoration, remembrance, and the determination to rebuild and transcend.

This book uncovers the truth about Lac-Mégantic. It includes first person interviews with many of the key players, analysis of the corporate executives and the companies involved, an examination of the complex world of transport safety regulation in Canada, and an account of the trials of the three accused.




Chapter 1 The Liberators

Chapter 2 Railway Makeover

Chapter 3 Oil-Lobby Power, Railway-Lobby Power

Chapter 4 Pipeline on Wheels

Chapter 5 A Crew of One

Chapter 6 Harper and Harrison

Chapter 7 Eve of Destruction

Chapter 8 Apocalypse

Chapter 9 Aftermath

Chapter 10 The Investigation That Lost Heart

Chapter 11 Still Spilling

Chapter 12 The Civil Lawsuits

Chapter 13 The Trial of Tom Harding

Chapter 14 The Four Tragedies of Lac-Mégantic

Chapter 15 Plus ça Change







Nominated - 2019 Ottawa Book Award - English Non-Fiction - 2019

Long-listed - The Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Non-Fiction) - 2019

"Who and what led up to this disaster? Was it the result of a few workers not following the rules as the federal Minister of Transport claimed, or were other people and events behind this? Bruce Campbell has carried out meticulous research in many fields to piece together the whole story of a catastrophe-in-the making, and his findings, as reported in this book, will be of interest to readers who value human life, intact communities, and a safe environment. Much more than a research report, the book is a dramatic read, with no letup in the action from start to finish."

- Harry Gow, President Emeritus of Transport Action Canada and Chair of the Board of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre

"Bruce Campbell has achieved a rare feat. By combining careful and meticulous research with compelling personal narratives, his engaging and highly readable book is both a sobering analysis of the diverse constellation of factors that ultimately lead to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and a moving elegy to those whose lives were forever altered by it. It is also a call to action and a larger reflection on the need to balance prosperity with fundamental values. All Canadians should read this book."

- Jennifer Quaid, Civil Law Section, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

"Bruce Campbell has made a superb contribution. His vivid account of the events at Lac-Mégantic reveal a deep empathy for the victims. He accords them the highest respect possible by avoiding sentiment and explaining why it all happened. He puts the tragedy in its economic and political context. He shows how the internalization of neoliberalism by our political elites has made it too easy easy for predators. Deregulation to satisfy the avaricious heedless of human welfare, is carefully documented. The associated disciplining of bureaucrats and the corruption of corruptible regulators is brought out with precision. Campbell proves that the Lac-Mégantic disaster was a designed event, not an accident. The law's failure to punish the truly guilty endorses his point. This is a "must read" for all, but especially for those of us who want to believe that our political and legal institutions are there to protect us, rather than private profiteers."

- Harry Glasbeek, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School. York University

"With great policy proficiency and a profound quest for justice, Campbell clearly explains why Transport Canada, along with and railway companies/lobbies and oil companies, did not want a public inquiry into the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic. This book exposes how these actors sought to shield their actions rather than promote public safety. Corporate greed and narcissism, regulatory capture, political laissez-faire and unaccountability are boldly explained as some of the unwarranted causes of this tragedy. These explanations, as infuriating as they are, tragically comfort after more than five years of impunity and mourning."

- Liette Gilbert is Professor and Graduate Program Director, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.

"Itemizing the confluence of avoidable conditions that caused the catastrophe, and not afraid to assign blame, the book pays tribute to a resilient community even as it leaves us with the uneasy feeling that, if fundamental changes aren't made, something similar might happen again somewhere."

- Montreal Gazette

"The Lac-Megantic Rail Disaster not only vividly captures the horror of the 2013 derailment inferno that killed 47 Quebecers, but also shows how little Ottawa has done to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again."

- Linda McQuaig Toronto Star

"You'll find this book very informative on what the governments of the day (Liberal or Conservative, Federal or Provincial) have (or more likely haven't) done to ensure another Lac-Mégantic doesn't happen. Brutally honest reading."

- Miramichi Reader

"Underscores the profound disconnect between our view of pipelines and our view of railways ... The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster urges us to slow down and fix the problem."

- Murray Campbell Literary Review of Canada

BRUCE CAMPBELL is a former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one of Canada's leading independent think tanks. He is the author of three major reports and a number of media commentaries on the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. For his work on Lac-Mégantic, Bruce was awarded a Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship and spent 2016 as a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Throughout his career, Bruce has written numerous reports on economic policy, trade and investment, Canada-US-relations, and the political economy of oil. His commentaries have appeared in major newspapers and online news sites across Canada. His previous books include the edited volumes Living with Uncle: Canada-US Relations in an Age of Empire and Medicare: Facts, Myths, Problems & Promise. Bruce is currently Adjunct Professor, York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies, and Senior Fellow, Ryerson University, Centre for Free Expression. He lives in Ottawa.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 200 pages
Publication Date: 2nd October 2018
ISBN: 9781459413412
Format: 9in x 6in
full colour photo insert

Binding: Electronic book text, 200 pages
Publication Date: 2nd October 2018
ISBN: 9781459413429
Format: EPUB
16 colour photos

BISAC Code:, BUS070040, BUS079000, LAW034000, POL044000, SOC040000, TRA004010
Imprint: Lorimer


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