Speaking Notes for the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport – Open House day for the Downtown Lac-Mégantic Reconstruction Office


January 30, 2016

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First of all, I would like to extend warm greetings on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

I’m delighted to visit the Downtown Lac-Mégantic Reconstruction Office on this Open House day! As Minister of Transport, it is important for me to attend this major event for the citizens of Lac-Mégantic, who experienced a terrible tragedy on July 6, 2013.

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to stroll through the downtown area and talk to Mayor Cloutier. I must say that I was impressed by the work done over the last two-and-a-half years.

The decontamination of the downtown area has finally been completed, but there are construction projects in progress and other projects are being prepared.

As a community, you have rolled up your sleeves and taken on an enormous, emotion-laden task: rebuilding your town and launching its economic recovery, while at the same time taking care of each other.

Over the last 18 months, many of you have committed yourselves to an ambitious citizen-action process out of which will arise the next steps in the recovery of the downtown area.

In this regard, the Reconstruction Office is the ideal tool to continue this work. In fact, the Office will effectively coordinate the renewal of the downtown area and enable the community to rediscover a living environment appropriate for the residents and their future aspirations.

As Minister of Transport, you will soon understand why I am delighted to take part in this inaugural event because I am a bearer of good news to the people living here.

Indeed, the Government of Canada has decided to grant a non-repayable contribution of $1,965,000 to cover the costs for the establishment of the Reconstruction Office over the next three years.

The Government of Canada has taken concrete measures to support reconstruction of the downtown area and the economic recovery of Lac-Mégantic. The government has made it a priority to be there for Lac‑Mégantic businesses and the Lac-Mégantic community on a short-, medium- and long-term basis.

I would like to remind you that the Economic Recovery Initiative for Lac-Mégantic, announced in December 2013, consists of an allocation of $35 million that is administered by Canada Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec (CED).

The Reconstruction Office is part of this initiative, under the component relating to assistance for rebuilding the Town of Lac-Mégantic. I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the determination and efforts of those involved in developing this initiative.

We are aware of all the work accomplished so far, and we are convinced that the projects that will take shape in the months and years to come will help you face the future with confidence and optimism.

In conclusion, I would like to raise the following point: In the mandate letter he entrusted me with, the Prime Minister asked me to deal with various issues. One of these issues is of special importance to me: increasing railway safety.

Although trains will continue to travel through Canadian communities, we must strive to learn all we can from the Lac-Mégantic tragedy in order to strengthen railway safety and prevent any accidents from occurring. We owe this to the victims of the July 6, 2013 tragedy, and to all those who were impacted by the consequences.

As I was really moved by this tragedy, I felt compelled to speak to the President of the Central Maine and Quebec Railway (CMQR) before coming here today. During my discussions with CMQR and town officials, I relayed your concerns about the transportation of crude oil through your community. Out of respect to you and to help in the healing process, no crude oil will be transported by train to Lac-Mégantic this year.

Thank you for inviting me today.

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