March 14th Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 3/14/2014 7:59:00 AM

Dangerous trains

It's time to turn up the heat on Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sale. Put his feet to the fire, so to speak. Time to demand to know how many tanker cars of dangerous goods pass through by rail in this city.

CN Rail provided the stats to Toronto Fire at a meeting in December, at which several municipalities were present...in the wake of the Lac Megantic rail disaster.

On Wednesday, the fire chief of Hamilton revealed that 7 percent of the CN rail cars passing through his city last year contained dangerous goods.

A public information officer for Toronto Fire has told the Star that she is sure they have a copy of the data from CN but they won't reveal it because it's confidential.

Toronto councillor Josh Matlow is bang on when he says "the public has a right to make informed decisions about their own safety, and about the neighbourhoods in which they live."

Here's what we do know: there are about 40 freight trains and passenger trains travelling the Toronto-Montreal corridor every day of the week.

The average CN Freight train is 12-thousand feet long. That's 3.6-kilometres long. Suffice to say there are a lot of dangerous goods moving through this town.

General Motors

By now you've likely heard about GM recalling 1.6-million vehicles to replace faulty ignition switches on Cobalts, Solstice, G-5's, Ions and a couple of other models within the last decade.

Ignitions were falling out of the "on" position causing the engine to stop and power to fail so that air bags didn't deploy.

So far we've heard of 33 crashes and 13 deaths.

Now however, the Centre for Auto Safety has hired a company to study the federal crash database in Washington and it has found that on two of the 6 models...the 03 to 07 Saturn Ions and the 05-07 Chevy Cobalts....3-hundred-3 people died after the air bags failed to deploy.

This was over a 9 year span ending in 2012. The company did not try to figure out what caused the crashes so they cannot be directly linked to ignition failure.

Incidentally, those defective ignition switches...still haven't been replaced.

GM is having them manufactured and hope to start the recall next month.

In the interim you could be driving right now beside a vehicle that could, at any time, suddenly quit and it could for something as simple as the key chain being too heavy.


Then there's the natural gas that flows through pipelines to our homes.

Enbridge has asked the Ontario Energy Board to increase natural gas prices by 40 percent effective April 1st.

The company stresses that it makes no profit from natural gas itself. It makes money by sending through pipelines and distributing it to your home but the gas itself, Enbridge has to buy it and the price has skyrocketed.

The company argues that in the last three months the price has soared and it wants to recoup that money plus the price is likely to keep going up over the next 3 months.

What does this mean to you? A typical homeowner pays about a thousand dollars a year just for the natural gas. This would add 4-hundred-dollars a year more...but the price is reviewed every 3 months so if demand drops and the price drops...that would be passed along in the next quarter.


Another one of those stories that must make Americans wonder why they even bothered rescuing Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

There is legislation before the Iraqi Parliament which, if passed, would effectively allow Shia men to legally marry girls as young as 9.

That same bill would require wives to submit to sex on their husband's whim. They couldn't say no under any circumstance.

Women would not be allowed to leave the house without their husband's permission and it would be easier for Iraqi men to have multiple wives.

Tennessee bill

It seems ever winter, as we approach Christmas, there's one harangue after another about religious freedom and how kids in school who are not Christian feel left out during Christmas. Thus we get greetings such as Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Yesterday the state House of Representatives in Tennessee passed legislation that if the Senate passes next week would stipulate in law that school teachers could not be sued for wishing students "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" or any other religious greeting. The Tennessee teachers would also be legally protected if they taught about religious holidays in the classroom and the schools would be protected from legal action if they put up a Christmas tree or Menorah or the holiday symbols of any other religion.

Clara Hughes

A quick reminder that Clara's Big Ride, a Bell Media event starts at noon downtown.

The 6-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes will begin her 12-thousand kilometres ride around Canada at noon at Maple Leaf Square.

Police advising motorists that there could be delays as Hughes and her entourage make their way out of town westbound sometime after 1 o'clock.

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  1. Bafan Inkulo posted on 03/15/2014 11:50 PM
    RE: Trains thru Toronto
    Note the Quebec disaster how the company declared bankruptcy to avoid liability.
    Look to CN creating a limited company for each group of rail cars carrying dangerous goods.
    If that group of cars derails and causes damage, they can simply declare bankruptcy and avoid liability.
    It's cheaper to incorporate these groups of freight cars as needed than paying millions to victims.
    How much are 47 lives worth?
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