Fair Rail Freight Service Act (Bill C-52)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for an excellent presentation on the things that are missing from the bill. I wonder if I can turn attention from the pricing, which she quite rightly pointed out is the elephant in the room, and ask about a concern I have that the private freight controllers, the companies running our freight, have been cutting back in a dangerous way on the personnel on board.

We no longer have people on board in the last car, the caboose, which used to be required under regulation, to monitor safety. I believe that the spill at Wabamun Lake, which the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona knows about very well, occurred largely due to the cutbacks of key safety positions of personnel on board freight.

It needs to be reliable and safe. We are having far too many derailments.

Olivia Chow: Mr. Speaker, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has made a series of recommendations, some of which are on staffing. Others are on the need for advanced technology to be installed in rail cars. For example, voice recording in the locomotive cab has not been done yet, even though the recommendation is eight years old.

There has been a recommendation for a positive train control system that would provide an automatic braking system. If the conductor happened to miss a light, a track or a red light stop sign, the train would stop automatically based on GPS technology. Unfortunately, that recommendation is again being ignored by the minister. The United States made it mandatory that all trains have automatic braking devices for safety, but we do not have such legislation in Canada.

Therefore, both staffing and technologies should be in place to keep train services safe.