CN Needs to Explain Derailments, Canada Transport Minister Says

Canada’s transport minister is calling on a parliamentary committee to summon Canadian National Railway Co. executives to explain recent derailments, saying they’re a result of “operational” issues, not federal safety standards.

Lisa Raitt made the request of Canada’s parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Tuesday afternoon, asking the committee to bring in Canadian National officials after the second derailment in Northern Ontario within a month.

“We have to take a closer look at the operations of CN,” Raitt told the committee, where her party has a majority.

After the committee meeting, Raitt told reporters she’s close to announcing improved tank car safety standards, but said “the cars don’t cause the derailment,” instead pointing to CN “operations.”

Transport Canada officials are speaking with the company about recent Ontario derailments, but not getting sufficient answers, she said.

“This is the second derailment in the span of two weeks in the same subdivision. So what is going on up there?” Raitt said. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions on this and we really want to get to the bottom of this.”

The committee, under parliamentary rules, needed unanimous consent to invite CN on short notice. Liberal MP David McGuinty, a committee and opposition member, declined that, delaying any invitation.

The committee next meets on Thursday. Canadian National spokesman Mark Hallman said the company would accept an invitation by the committee.

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