Do nothing, deny everything.

One of the less endearing qualities of Conservatives is that they are never responsible for anything. To a lesser extent, Liberals often follow suit. Luckily for New Democrats, they get few opportunities to show their incompetence. The only reason the Conservatives are best at being irresponsible is that, with them, it is an ideological trait.

Take the scene the other day when Transport Minister Lisa Rait blamed everyone except the government for the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster last year. The Transportation Safety Board reported that there were 18 different factors that came together to cause the deaths of 47 people. The only factor missing in the report was the Conservative government’s failure to take responsibility.

That seems to be a common problem with Conservative governments. They relax the rules and then fail to enforce their minimal standards. In Ontario, the Harris Conservative government cut the funds for water quality inspection and then were surprised when a community drank water laced with e-coli bacteria. They just denied responsibility.

Transport Canada relaxes the rules and allows a single over-worked engineer to run a train with a miss-labelled cargo. There were so many wrongs in how that railroad was being run, why was anyone surprised when a train ran unsupervised and unmanned into the middle of a sleepy town?

But that is the basic problem. Conservatives love business. We know that. There is nothing wrong with loving business. It is their trust of business that is wrong. Business runs best when it knows the rules and knows there are consequences for ignoring the rules. These ignorant, laissez-faire Conservatives think that business is going to police itself. And surprisingly most properly run businesses will because they have a reputation to protect. It is the bad apple that needs to be identified and helped to understand that there are reasons for rules.

Transport Minister Lisa Rait said it the other day: “The government puts the rules in place. The companies are expected to follow.”

We could not imagine a more naïve and stupid statement. Without oversight, without checking, there will always be people who will take shortcuts to profits.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper is culpable and should be charged with complicity in the murder of the Canadians killed in Lac-Mégantic by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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