Thomas Mulcair, NDP leader, has linked the July rail disaster at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, to what he calls “years of government deregulation.” In doing so, he creates a compelling narrative: The Lac-Mégantic was a tragedy of such consequence that surely, something other than the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway must be to blame. Deregulation has become Mulcair’s whipping boy since the accident, and although he’s not alone, there are problems with this conclusion.
First, if deregulation were the reason for the tragedy, rail accident statistics over the years would have pointed in that direction. The opposite is true. Railway safety has dramatically improved over the years since deregulation.