Mr. Speaker, on October 11 I asked the Minister of Transport, considering the increase in the number of railway-related incidents and accidents in Canada, for a moratorium on the closure of one of the three track maintenance shops operated by CN in Charny, in my riding.
In his answer, the Minister of Transport said:
There are from time to time minor variations among all provinces but essentially when we look at accidents in the various categories in which they are analyzed, there has been a slight increase in some of the derailments but not at all untoward and certainly not out of the ordinary with respect to the normal variation statistics.
I hope this intervention produced some results, since last week I was told that CN had decided to extend the closure date. It will now be November 30 instead of October 30. I had hoped for a longer postponement, but still, a month is better than nothing.
I did not want to let that pass. One question during Oral Question Period is not much. I wanted to explain why, and I had read an article published in Le Soleil on August 15, which said: ``A 50 per cent increase in derailments in Canada during the first seven months of 1996: from 97 in 1995, their number has now reached 146. For the month of July alone, they more than doubled, from 9 to 20''.
I would like to give you some more statistics, since I have a few minutes left. For instance, the number of serious injuries as a result of accidents in 1995 was 40, but the annual average during the five previous years was 24. In 1995, the number of deaths caused by accidents was 87, while before it was 73. The total number of accidents for the last five years has gone up from 632 to 770.
I hardly need recall the figures given by Le Soleil on the number of accidents on the main lines, a main line that goes as far as the Maritimes, where accidents increased by more than 50 per cent.
These figures were not produced by an outside office but by the railway safety service of the Department of Transport, which is the minister's responsibility.
This is not the first time I put this question to the minister. I had done so before, on June 12. And now, months later, after the summer recess, and despite the statistics and what we read in the newspapers, the minister answers: "These variations are not important". We are talking about 50 per cent, Mr. Speaker.