May 19, 1987.....12
Mr. BRANCH: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Is the minister aware that the cutbacks in CNR staff and in materials throughout New Brunswick are causing a serious hazard on these railroads in the province?
Hon. Mr. McCREADY: Mr. Speaker, what is causing a serious hazard to the railways of the province?
Hon. Mr. McCready: No, I was not aware, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. BRANCH: Mr. Speaker, to be a little more precise, is the minister aware of the fact that one change alone, the change from cast iron brakes to composition brakes, has reduced the ability of trains to stop? In many cases, trains are going through the stations without stopping where they used to stop. Is the minister aware of this situation? (Tape 619-7)
Hon. Mr. McCREADY: Speaker, if I were driving a rig like that, I would park her somewhere.
Mr. BRANCH: Mr. Speaker, it is time that the minister started to look at these rigs because they are now being driven through this province every day. There was a local incident in which an ore train was derailed when traveling between Brunswick Mines and the smelter. It could have cost a lot of lives because at the time this ore train was without adequate brakes and without adequate staff, imposed by the CNR. It traveled almost 20 miles and it was derailed in an inhabited community. This being the case, the CNR put the blame on the engineer.
Mr. BRANCH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am coming to the question. Will the minister make representation to the CNR and to his federal counterpart, the Minister of Transport in Ottawa, concerning these matters in New Brunswick and ask the CN to stop blaming people who are doing their best under very difficult circumstances? The local engineer was Wesley MacDonald who was nearly killed. He is a real hero because he stayed with the train. He might have saved the school bus children who may have been near the railroad tracks that morning. He got six months off without pay and it completely disrupted his life, his pension and the whole bit -- a hero who was treated very shabbily. Will the minister take this case up with his federal colleague as an example of CNR neglect toward New Brunswick?
Hon. Mr. McCREADY: Mr. Speaker, I remember reading something about that specific occasion. It seems to me there were too many cars for the capacity of the engines, and that was the cause of the accident; however' I will take the matter up with CN officials and find out exactly what happened there.
Mr. BRANCH: Mr. Speaker, there were 31 loaded cars, but the engineer was told there were 23 loaded cars. I am just correcting the minister so he can take this us with his federal counterpart as he said he would, on behalf of the working people of New Brunswick. Mr. Speaker, a case of this kind, where a person who was really a hero gets punished for the neglect of the people at the top, is really a shame. I would hope there would be enough concern left on the part of this government to pursue this matter.