Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Given the discussion we've been having since the meeting began, I would like to share a few thoughts with my colleagues, respectfully, of course .
I think my colleague Ms. Chow did an excellent job of explaining the problem. We can well imagine that the eyes of the entire Lac-Mégantic community are on us as we discuss this issue, but that's only part of the picture. The truth is every resident of a town whose urban landscape is dotted by a railway now lives in fear because of what happened in Lac-Mégantic. Just as the brave people of Lac-Mégantic are rolling up their sleeves and working tirelessly to put their community back together, I believe the entire population expects the country's politicians to support them throughout the process.
That being said, we are more or less in agreement that we aren't going to rush the findings of the investigation under way as we speak, on the ground. Never was there any question of taking resources or money away from the investigation into the Lac-Mégantic disaster so the committee could undertake a more comprehensive study on transport safety.
Be that as it may, we seem to be dealing with some inconsistencies, or considerations, that we need to address. Take, for instance, the measures that were re-introduced at around 2:30 this afternoon. They were put in place for a period of six months, but everyone here knows that we probably won't have the report on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy in six months' time. Once that period is up, we'll be confronted with the same questions the people are asking right now, questions that are causing them to feel increasingly unsafe. Someone has to try to allay that fear, and if not the federal administration or this committee, then who? Isn't that our true mandate? I think enough pre-Lac-Mégantic reports on rail incidents have come out to allow us to start examining the situation and looking for answers to many of the questions that the Lac-Mégantic tragedy has brought to light.
Will the Lac-Mégantic report give us more insight into rail safety and shed more light on the issues? We'll respond accordingly at that point, and that is the reason for the second part of the motion. The motion, as presented, in essence focuses solely on Lac-Mégantic and suggests that we would wait for the report, because we can't do anything now. What that motion does is send all Canadians the message that they will have to continue feeling unsafe and asking questions that we might address at some point down the road if we have all the information.
And once we have all the facts on the tragic incident in Lac-Mégantic, does that mean we'll be able to alleviate the concerns of the other municipalities? They're asking how do they figure out what products are being transported through their region. They want to know what emergency measures the mayor can put in place, when they don't even know which goods are moving through their municipalities or who the first responders are. The bottom line is that there are numerous issues we could start discussing now to work together on finding solutions.
I was—and still am—hopeful that we won't spend this meeting hiding behind partisan politics and strategies. My hope is that we will listen and respond to the fears and concerns of not just the people of Lac-Mégantic, but also the residents of many municipalities across Quebec. They are looking to their politicians for guidance now, not in two years.
Some people are even speculating that the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic could have been prevented. I don't know. Perhaps the report will tell us. It's too early to draw any conclusions in that regard.
What is clear, however, is that we have a responsibility to do everything possible to prevent another accident of this magnitude or worse, even one that is less serious. And that means we must get to work now. What's more, because it's summertime and the House isn't sitting, we have more time. And people expect us to tackle these questions as a matter of priority. That is our job. I hope we can work out a schedule very quickly, instead of arguing about commas in a motion whose relevance, I repeat, extends far beyond the Lac-Mégantic accident.
Who are people supposed to rely on for peace of mind when they go to bed at night, for total assurance that they are now safe, no matter where they live in the country?