Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18: Why hasn't Jim Irving visited Lac Megantic?

Mr. Burkhardt, president of the railway that destroyed Lac Megantic and killed some fifty people, took five days to get up, brush his teeth, have a leisurely breakfast, and drop in to Lac Megantic to see how things were coming along. So far, the only help he has offered is stopping train service to the town, and firing one quarter of his Quebec employees - effective immediately.

Well, that beats Mr. Irving's record. So far, he hasn't lifted a finger. That was his oil that destroyed the town and  those people. The train that did it was chartered by Irving Oil, and chartered despite its bad safety record.

Did Irving Oil know that the train would have only one engineer? With no relief, no backup, and nobody on board at all at night when the train would be parked with its engine running? Irving Oil must have known that the regulations for railways in Canada had just been changed to permit that sort of irresponsible behaviour. After all, Irving, too, is in the railway business.

And was changing the regulations just a whim on the part of Stephen Harper? Or did somebody ask him to do it? And who would that somebody be? And surely the civil servants inovlved in preparing the regulations must have warned about the dangers of carrying only one engineer.

Some fifty people are dead. Is this just an accident that was nobody's fault? Or should there be heavy fines? Or should there be criminal charges?

As far as the Irving Press is concerned (and most of the Canadian press) it's rapidly becoming just an old story. But some fifty people have been killed. We should be asking questions until we have the full story on how and why they died.

But, obviously, we aren't ever going to hear it from Mr. Irving. He is a major figure in this tragedy. But the Irving Presss - and most of the others - haven't even hinted at it. Burkhardt took five days to visit the disaster scene. Mr. Irving hasn't bothered to put in any appearance at all.- though his company is the one that chartered a train to be driven by just one man, alone, all the way from South Dakota to St. John. And even though 50 people are dead as a direct result of that decision.

Shale gas companies have received permits to drill in our wetlands. That's an important story because wetlands are very vulnerable to any activity. The chances of damage to the wetlands and to wildlife are very, very high. So - how can a newspaper of the Irving press report such a story while, at the same time, suggesting it doesn't mean a damn thing?

A common answer to that problem is to give us a soothing (not to say boring) headline. It works this wat. You don't mention in a headline what the the real story is- that a warning of the danger has been given. No. For a sample of how to put readers to sleep or to move on to the horoscope page,, see p. A2, "Alward not worried about wetland work".

That's nice. Alward wasn't worried about the safety of our railways, either.
There's an important story at the top of D1. "AFN wants answers for test 'horrors'". This is the story of how Canadian scientists used native children and adults, most of them already close to starvtion, as guinea pigs for diet tests. They deprived them of essential foods for up to two years to see what effect it had on their health and intelligence.

This is really no different from the ghastly experiments that Nazi doctors and scientists carried out on Jews - and we were still doing it for some years - even after we learned in 1945 about how terrible those Nazi doctors were.  And there's a much bigger story here.

There are plenty of people in Canada who are racists and bigots in their attitudes to native peoples. Indeed, Harper and his local hacks like Robert Goguen have recently been running a hate campaign aimed at native peoples - precisely to appeal to the many racists and bigots among us.

There's a bigger story here than Canadians are getting. People who are poor often go on being poor for generation after generation. And they do badly in school for generation after generation. And they end up in low level jobs for generation after generation.

But none of that has anything to do with weak minds or weak characters. It has to do with growing up poor. I grew up in a community in which finishing high school was not even on our radar. That was another world. Our highest ambition was not to become doctors or lawyers. We knew that wasn't our world. Our highest ambition was a 'steady' job. When I was kicked out of high school and landed a job as mail boy at Bell Telephonne, I had achieved my mother's greatest hopes. The Bell was 'steady'; and I was a community success who was one of the few to come home after work with clean clothes, not like my father, a factory worker with the dirt of his job so rubbed into his skin that it could never be completely washed off. There were traces visible in his skin to the day he died, 15 years after he retired.

Native peoples, even today, are poor and malnourished and profoundly disadvantaged in the world of work. But it's not because of - as Mr. Harper hints in is hate campaign - because they are lazy or stupid. It's because of the poverty and lack of hope that they are raised in. (The fact that our government encouraged scientists to conduct those vile experiments on native peoples gives us a hint of just how destructive our behaviour has been for several hundred years.)

Mind you, it would be interesting to see the results of similar tests conducted on Irvings and McCains. Or, instead of sending their children to private, residential schools, they could send them to native, residential schools.
Oh, on the same page, Harper admits he did not give crucial information about the payoff to Mike Duffy. But that was only because the "RCMP didn't ask him. Now, there's an excuse I haven't heard since I taught elementary school.
There's still no story on the confrontation between shale protestors and SWN on route 116. Way to go, TandT. You're destroying the trust that is the glue that holds a society together. By depriving people of information, you are allying yourself with dominant forces in government and business that are abusing the people of this province. That destroys trust in the news, in government of any sort, and in business of any sort. You are destroying New Brunswick as a society of any sort. You are making us into a province of enemies.

And some day, you will carry editorials blaming us for the destruction that you've caused.
Yesterday' editorial tore a strip off council for criticizing city hall staff for wrong doing. Today, the editorial criticizes council for not keeping city shall staff "in line". Go figure.

Norbert is trivial. Alec Bruce is, as usual, well done - though I don't share his casual attitude to Harper's list of enemies that he distributed to cabinet ministers.

Rod Allen has a piece about how meeting Alex Colville inspired him. That least, that's what the headline says. If you can figure out what that garbled column is really about, or exactly how Colville's inspiration has affected Rod Allen, drop a note and let us all know.

Solid column on "Equality Time" by Beth Lyons.
Nothing on the Middle East or Africa, though it is on the edge of nuclear war, and though the US is fighting three, possibly four illegal wars there and France is fighting one, and though special ops  (possibly including Canadian ones) are involved in still other wars, and though Congo brutalities inflicted by western companies - including Canadian ones - have killed millions, and though disastrous US interference (with part of NATO) has created chaos in Syria, Iraq, Libya and, soon, Turkey.

What's happening? The US is trying to make itself the imperial power in the middle east and Africa that Britain, France and Spain once were before they were kicked out. Britain and France are supporting the US because they're hoping to be allowed to grab back a little bit of their old empires.

That's what the "war on terrorism" is really all about, killing people of that region by the million - and risking nuclear war - so we can make them colonies again to supply cheap labour so our big business can rob them of all their resources. Nothing has changed in more than a century. Except that this time it's a hell of a lot more dangerous for all of us.


  1. Hi: me again:

    Enemies of the state:

  2. Good train wreck pics here:

    And as I earlier had stated: it looks like this is going to get hung on you and I to pay for this, MM+A and Irving will likely be getting another publicly funded break

  3. Excellent. A crown attorney said the same as you, to Professor Morton regarding the similarities between the experiments in the German death camps and our residential 'prisons'. Your insights on poverty are appreciated by people like me who lack formal education. Thanks for telling it like it is, Graeme.

  4. Here we go.............