Friday, August 10, 2007

 

Was a 4-mile section of BC Rail track "re-defined" as a CN railyard? See Hansard excerpt (below) for the um, er ... well, can't be sure but maybe so.

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Here is an e.mail from Nelle Maxey offering views from the August 4 scene of the CN crash in Prince George. Many of us had challenged the accuracy of CN spokesperson Kelli Svendsen who repeatedly referred to the crash site as being in the CN railyard. Here, writes Nelle Maxey, is one explanation of how that could possibly be true.

But it leaves a bigger question: how did CN re-designate trackage which Premier Gordon Campbell assured us was still in public ownership? Didn't he say that we still owned the rail-bed? and that they had sold "only" the freight operation?

So how (if true) was this section of mainline track (about 4 miles, I'd guess) alienated from public to private ownership? Was it done unilaterally by CN? Was it inserted into the Agreement (which few of us have seen) signed by the Campbell government for the sale of B.C. Rail to CN? Was it an Order in Council?

(Photos by Nelle's son)

Many thanks to Nelle Maxey who wrote:

I discussed the crash with my son who lives in Prince George across the river from where the [CN] crash occurred. He spoke to folks in the crowd who were familiar with CN operations. Therefore this information is 3rd-hand and may not be entirely accurate, but gives some clues as to why the news stories are being worded as they are.

The first thing to understand is that upon the 99-year lease [999-year lease] of BC Rail to CN Rail, CN "redefined" the rail yard to include both the CN rail yard and BC rail yard AND THE MANY KILOMETERS OF TRACK THAT CONNECT THEM as the "new" CN rail yard.

The accident occurred on the tracks connecting the two old rail yards (now defined as one yard). These tracks [are] across the river from Paddle Wheel Park and large residential area.

The second point is that the operation of trains within a rail yard have different regulations than trains running outside of yards. These include the information that

1) the braking systems on the trains are not required to be engaged and that the trains are braked with the engines, and

2) the trains can be driven roboticly [belt-driven].

This is done by workers who have a control panel strung around their necks with which they control the trains. Apparently they could not visually see what was happening on this portion of the track. Thus the new order by Transport Canada that visual contact must be maintained at all times when operating trains by robotic controls.

Once again we see CN taking advantage of the deregulation of rail operations by cutting costs.

That is, by overloading the trains on these "rail yard" tracks (hence new limits on number of cars by Transport Canada), cutting the workforce required to oversee the operations and if what workers say is true, not properly training management in the use of robotic controls of these huge trains they are moving on "rail yard" tracks.

What happened is that two trains were being switched remotely on the "rail yard" tracks which lie between the CN rail yard and the former BC rail yard.

One train was loaded with tanker cars (some containing gasoline). It rear-ended a train carrying lumber at the switch location.

The tanker train had two engines with a diesel fuel car between. When the tanker train hit the back of the lumber train, the first engine of the tanker train caught fire, the diesel fuel car and the second engine jackknifed off the tracks and the decoupled tankers continued to travel forward BEHIND the lumber cars.



Then the diesel fuel for the tanker train ignited and ran down to river.

(at left - Click on picture to view larger image)


Then the lumber car caught fire.

After hours of burning, the lumber finally ignited the gasoline tanker behind it.

This resulted in the huge fire plumes and black smoke column one sees in the pictures.



At this point a bomber was brought in to drop fire retardant on the forest behind the tracks.

(at left - Click on picture to view larger image)

I have put a series of photographs my son took in pdf files which I labeled to show the above described sequence of events. [The primary labeled pic is above, another with previous post- Click on any/all pics to see larger image in new tab or window - BC Mary/kc]

Also see Peter Ewart's Opinion 250 for great pictures and more details of the crash. http://www.opinion250.com/news/3/news

Nelle

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Thanks again, Nelle. Thanks especially to your son. I wish some of those experienced trainmen he talked to, would write to us, too. I've contacted Peter Ewart of Opinion 250 in Prince George hoping he can confirm the "re-definition" of the old BC Rail trackage. I think it's important to ask ourselves if dangerous practices can be made safe by "re-defining" the grounds where dangerous practices happen.
- BC Mary.

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These COMMENTS deserve to be seen up front ...


lynx said...

From hansard, April 27, 2004: Scroll down to The Committee of Supply. A worthwhile read in light of this article (thanks Nelle and Mary) and an intrigueing series of questions from Joy.

In questioning "the forcing" of ownership on CN in the case of environmental damage Joy MacPhail proffers "if" there is a clause in the contract (as Mr. Falcon suggests but manages to provide no evidence or details of in this secret agreement) - then why, she asks, the necessity of the one buck sale?

Earlier in the debate she states: "All of this is malarkey that it's to force CN to clean up environmental damage -It's just malarkey. It's not part of the contract."

J. MacPhail: "If there's a clause in there requiring them to clean up their damage, why do you need to sell the land to them? If that was the purpose of the forced sale and such a clause is in the agreement to force them to clean up, why do you need to give away Crown land for a buck?"

....then further down in the debate:


J. MacPhail: "I'm sorry. I missed the other reasons that it would be good for the province to give land over for one buck when there's already a clause forcing them to clean up their environmental mess. I'm sorry. What would be the good reasons for that that would override first nations concerns?"

- and bravo again to Ms. MacPhail:

J. MacPhail: "Mr. Chair, I find the member's remarks offensive — that somehow he's being wrongly done by me asking these questions. It's a real tough job the minister has, and it's his job to answer these questions.

"When he makes claims in public to justify a $1 land sale, he's got to back up the claims. So he was out there in the hallway justifying that we have to do this — we have to give the land to CN so that we can force them to do these.... If these matters are clauses already protected in the transaction agreement and/or the revitalization agreement, there should be no reason to have to sell the land for a dollar."

"There's no reason for him to keep this secret — absolutely no reason for him to keep it secret. Is there a clause…? He was out in the hallway giving all these great reasons why they're going to do the land giveaway. He refuses to acknowledge the question that this is a sale of Crown land. He completely refused to admit to that. What is it? Is this a sale of Crown land — when the publicly owned right-of-way is forced onto CN for a buck? Is that a sale of Crown land?"

As Joy remarks earlier in the debate:

The clause forces ownership for $1, not on anyone but CN, hence all the concerns of First Nations - because it goes through First Nations land claims. This government has a clause that frees ownership for a buck, ownership for $1!

"Oh my God, please force me - not for anyone else, not for public tender, but on CN."

This raises some of the same questions that this blog asked about the Roberts Banks spur line.

Is this really about the 999-year lease/sale of a railway that conveniently snakes through vast areas of BC prime land, land also involved in the First Nations treaty process or is this about the acquisition of something else?

Like the magician who distracts with one hand while the other hand is.....

August 17, 2007 3:35 PM



G West said...

Thanks Lynx,
As always you seem to be able to take Hansard and apply some alchemical magic to it and render up something profound.

There were a lot of Order in Council transfers of BCRail lands (deemed redundant to RR needs) during the past four years - not a single one of them appears to have gone either to tender or to be offered for public sale...

I think Mr Campbell knows where the lands went - his signature appears on nearly every one of the OIC's in question...



Gazetteer said...

lynx and GW--

Wow!

Run with this please.

August 18, 2007 9:59 AM



G West said...

The problem Ross, is that the folks who should have cared about this - and who have the resources to do the necessary research - don't appear to give a damn...

We badly need another Joy MacPhail!

August 18, 2007 10:55 AM

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Comments:
Hi Mary

I took your advise and started to ask questions about this re-designated track. The first response I got was From my MLA Charlie wyse and he had forwarded my request to the Opposition Critic for Transportation David Chudnovsky. David said he had not heard this story before and asked if I could point him to the story. He is now aware of this blogspot and the Tyee which are the two main sources I have for the sale of BC Rail.

I think that some of the problems you have had in getting answers are that the opposition may not have known about this blog. I think they do now. And my thanks as well to Nelle for getting this info. I am still following up with more "detective work" as you put it. I want to see if the minister will answer the question of how this track got transferred.
 
Very nice bit of Citizen J.

Thanks Mary and Nelle.

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Thanks, RossK. Nice to see you back.

Also, many thanks to gary e., but so far, no further news about how or even if the former BCRail track got itself turned into a long skinny railyard without anybody noticing.

I have another question, too. The way CN, the Campbell Gang, and CanWest came together on this story gave off that deja vu feeling.

The same template was revealed: sure, something bad happened; yeah, it was very sad but it had nothing to do with us; because you see, it was caused by employee error; nope, we assure you, absolutely nuthin' to do with us; so please just move along, folks, move along ...

which is where I began to think more about the longterm Campbell Plan ... you know, he seems to have a Care o'Me Plan, which is bustling along faster than we can keep up with it. So what is his plan? He sells off all of B.C. for ... what?

And so my immediate question: is B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell attending the Montebello Summit with G.W. Bush and S. Harper on August 20, 21?

If so, as a speaker? an observer? participating? what?

Anybody know? It's beginning to seem important to find out.

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Well, silly me.

After asking Google in different ways, I have learned enough to guess that not even Surete de Quebec with pepper spray could keep Premier Campbell away from the Montebello Summit.

The heads of 31 of the wealthiest corporations on the planet will be there on August 20 & 21 meeting with "the three amigos" (Bush, Harper, and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico)behind closed doors in the huge, elegant en bois Fairmont Chateau Montebello, Quebec to discuss their Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

We're not invited. But it is to laugh hysterically if you can imagine our Gordo not being there! Even if he has to disguise himself as a waiter, he'll be there in 7th heaven.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was founded in March 2005, in Cancun, at a summit of the Heads of State of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Broken down, the SPP is NAFTA-plus-Homeland-Security model. The founding premise of the SPP is that an agenda of economic free trade and national security will result in human prosperity. Yes, Gordo will say, clicking his heels in the air and deftly catching the martini glasses: human prosperity!

Yet we know that the so-called "prosperity" of previous free trade agreements such as NAFTA have only brought corporate prosperity, with increasing rates of poverty and displacement for the vast majority of people. For example, the Economist Intelligence Unit (affiliated with Britain's The Economist) has reported that the implementation of NAFTA in Mexico has "failed to create even one formal job in net terms."

We also know that the "War on Terror" and the beefed-up national security apparatus has exacerbated insecurity and brought terror on the lives of millions of people locally and globally through immigrant raids, border militarization, foreign troop occupations, and repression of civil liberties and resistance movements. A September 2006 report in The Independent found that the "War on Terror" has "directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees, and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth."

SPP is not an official treaty; it is not an official law; rather, it is being presented as a vague 'dialogue based on shared values'. Gordo will like that. It means that SPP has been able to escape public scrutiny and will never be debated in the House of Commons.

There have been several meetings for the SPP, including a summit in March 2006 in Texas and a preparatory meeting in Ottawa in February 2007, all of which were held behind closed doors.

So, on August 20 and 21, 2007, the three Heads of State will meet for a third tri-national Summit to push forward the SPP agreements.

People in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Quebec City have already begun organizing to confront this Montebello Summit.

Gordo won't tell you this. Neither will Steve. But it seems that the Bush administration wants to create more advantageous conditions for transnational corporations and remove remaining barriers to the flow of capital and cross-border production within the framework of NAFTA. It wants to secure access to natural resources, especially oil.

And it wants to create a regional security plan based on "pushing its borders out" into a security perimeter that includes Mexico and Canada."

Under this framework of security and prosperity, the following initiatives are currently being recommended and/or being undertaken:

Integration of military and police training exercises, cooperation on
law enforcement, and the expansion of The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) into a into a multiservice joint naval and
land Defense Command.

Expand temporary worker programs as a means of ensuring low wages and
labour exploitation.

Adoption of coordinated border surveillance technologies with major contracts provided to military suppliers; coordination of no-fly lists; development of a North American Border Pass; and the use of Biometrics. The Canadian Biometrics Group is predicting that the North American biometric "market" would rise to US $2.6-billion by 2006.

Integration of refugee policies. The Safe Third Country Agreement,
implemented in December 2004 between the US and Canada, has resulted in at least a 40% decrease in refugee applications in Canada. Under the United States-Mexico "Voluntary Repatriation Program" more than 35,000 persons have already been deported.There is also a pilot project to share information on refugee and asylum claimants based on a comparison of fingerprint records.

Harmonization of health and environmental regulations to lower
standards and development of a North American alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.

Beginning of the privatization of Mexico's nationalized oil sector;
fivefold increase in tar sands production in Alberta; and full
"development" of Canadian energy resources, already being actively
opposed by the Lubicon, Dene, and other indigenous communities.

NAFTA Superhighway, a corridor several hundred metres wide including rail lines, freeways and pipelines from Mexico to the Canadian border.

In Canada, the major lobby for SPP comes from the Canadian Council of
Chief Executives (CCCE), a CEO organization and Canada's 'premier
business organization'. In January 2003, CCCE launched its North
American Security and Prosperity Initiative with initiatives to
increase investment and capital flows, integrate security agreements and military defence, and expedited means of resource (oil, natural gas, water, forest products) extraction.

With the launch of SPP in 2005, the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was created.
Harper appointed the Canadian membership of the NACC in June 2006:

Dominic D'Alessandro (Manulife Financial);
Paul Desmarais, Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada);
David Ganong (Ganong Bros. Limited);
Richard George (Suncor Energy Inc.);
HUNTER HARRISON (CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY);
Linda Hasenfratz (Linamar Corporation);
Michael Sabia (Bell Canada Enterprises);
Jim Shepherd (Canfor Corporation); Annette Verschuren (The Home Depot);
Rick Waugh (Scotiabank).

I rest my case.

BC Premier Gordon M (for More) Campbell will attend the August 20, 21 Montebello Summit with George, Felipe, and those other guys. Then, by golly, watch out for more Human Prosperity in B.C.!

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Linda Hasenfratz - holy jesus, isn't that the daughter of Frank Hasenfratz?

You don't suppose pee wee is grooming her as another 'Belinda Stronach' for the CPC?

I think Hasenfratz is another Hungarian émigré auto parts maker - funny that she should be interested in continental competitiveness. But not very funny.

How lucky can a poor little country like Canada get?
 
Hey mary
when is the Basi Basi Verk show getting back into court?
 
anonymous 8:38,

Look up ... way up ... to see the answer to your question.
 
From hansard, April 27, 2004: Scroll down to The Committee of Supply. A worthwhile read in light of this article (thanks Nelle and Mary) and an intrigueing series of questions from Joy.

In questioning "the forcing" of ownership on CN in the case of environmental damage Joy MacPhail proffers "if" there is a clause in the contract (as Mr. Falcon suggests but manages to provide no evidence or details of in this secret agreement) - then why, she asks, the necessity of the one buck sale?

Earlier in the debate she states: "All of this is malarkey that it's to force CN to clean up environmental damage -It's just malarkey. It's not part of the contract."

J. MacPhail: "If there's a clause in there requiring them to clean up their damage, why do you need to sell the land to them? If that was the purpose of the forced sale and such a clause is in the agreement to force them to clean up, why do you need to give away Crown land for a buck?"

....then further down in the debate:


J. MacPhail: "I'm sorry. I missed the other reasons that it would be good for the province to give land over for one buck when there's already a clause forcing them to clean up their environmental mess. I'm sorry. What would be the good reasons for that that would override first nations concerns?"

- and bravo again to Ms. MacPhail:

J. MacPhail: "Mr. Chair, I find the member's remarks offensive — that somehow he's being wrongly done by me asking these questions. It's a real tough job the minister has, and it's his job to answer these questions.

"When he makes claims in public to justify a $1 land sale, he's got to back up the claims. So he was out there in the hallway justifying that we have to do this — we have to give the land to CN so that we can force them to do these.... If these matters are clauses already protected in the transaction agreement and/or the revitalization agreement, there should be no reason to have to sell the land for a dollar."



"There's no reason for him to keep this secret — absolutely no reason for him to keep it secret. Is there a clause…? He was out in the hallway giving all these great reasons why they're going to do the land giveaway. He refuses to acknowledge the question that this is a sale of Crown land. He completely refused to admit to that. What is it? Is this a sale of Crown land — when the publicly owned right-of-way is forced onto CN for a buck? Is that a sale of Crown land?"

As Joy remarks earlier in the debate:

The clause forces ownership for $1, not anyone but CN, hence all the concerns of First Nations - because it goes through First Nations land claims. This government has a clause that frees ownership for a buck, ownership for $1!

"Oh my God, please force me - not for anyone else, not for public tender, but on CN."

This raises some of the same questions that this blog asked about the Roberts Banks spur line.

Is this really about the 999-year lease/sale of a railway that conveniently snakes through vast areas of BC prime land, land also involved in the First Nations treaty process or is this about the acquisition of something else?

Like the magician who distracts with one hand while the other hand is.....
 
Thanks Lynx,
As always you seem to be able to take Hansard and apply some alchemical magic to it and render up something profound.

There were a lot of Order in Council transfers of BCRail lands (deemed redundant to RR needs) during the past four years - not a single one of them appears to have gone either to tender or to be offered for public sale...

I think Mr Campbell knows where the lands went - his signature appears on nearly every one of the OIC's in question...
 
lynx and GW--

Wow!

Run with this please.

.
 
The problem Ross, is that the folks who should have cared about this - and who have the resources to do the necessary research - don't appear to give a damn...

We badly need another Joy McPhail!
 
I'm kinda happy to hear that the US Congress, both ReThugs and Dems are not happy with the SPP and have vowed to deny funding to any initiatives arising from it. They see it as an assault on "American" sovereignty (duh!) and are displeased to be left out of the loop of the Tres Amigos and the CEO's.

Of course both sides of this Congress have a tendency to fold in fear of Commander Codpiece and Darth Cheney.
 
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OK, Koot ... I'll bite. This is a trick comment, right?

So tell us: why are these U.S. views being posted on The (B.C.) Legislature Raids?

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