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May 20, 1987

Honourable John Crosbie
Minister of Transport
Government of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Mr. Minister:

It has been brought to my attention that the CNR has made cutbacks in manpower and material to the point where safety for people comes into question. Presently, I am informed that CNR has changed from cast iron brakes to "composition brake shoes". As well, I am informed that these new brake shoes are not adequate to stop trains. Especially a train loaded with iron ore.

The train presently used to transport base metal ore from Brunswick Mines, south of Bathurst, New Brunswick, to Belledune Smelter recently derailed in great measure caused by the problems cited above. However, instead of the people in top management accepting responsibility for this derailment, the blame was shifted onto the working man -- the engineer. The engineer is Mr. Wesley MacDonald, telephone 546-9613, R.R. 2, Site 32, Box 1, Bathurst, N.B., E2A 3Y6.

Personally, I feel that this man is a hero and should not be discredited for the role he played in a difficult situation. Instead of jumping clear to save himself, he stayed with the train which had inadequate brakes, so that he would be able to warn people at railroad crossings, especially school buses at that hour of the morning, of the pending danger. Following the derailment, it is my information, that CNR officials in covering their own incompetence dumped the blame on Mr. MacDonald and forced him to sign acceptance of responsibility, thereby giving him a six-month suspension. This suspension effectively ruins Mr. MacDonald's retirement plans for later this fall because it has a reverse effect on Mr. MacDonald's pension.

Mr. Minister, I believe this is a very shabby way to treat an employee of 42 years, a man with a perfect record up to this accident and a man who showed great courage to the point of placing his own life in danger to warn others. Men like Mr. MacDonald in our society should be congratulated instead of punished.

Mr. Minister, I call on you personally to correct this injustice. Please have your officials contact the appropriate authority in the CNR, and Mr. MacDonald, then right this wrong. Recently, I have brought to the attention of our Legislative Assembly and our own Minister of Transportation, please see copy attached. Our own Minister of Transportation has promised to look into this matter. I sincerely hope you will do the same.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could contact Mr. MacDonald directly at the address mentioned above so that he might be informed as to what you will do to help correct this injustice. May I wish you well in all of your endeavours.


Frank Branch, MLA