Press Releases



Contact: Fritz Edler

Harding and Labrie Defense Ctte

Phone 202 494-3848

Français: Cameron Slick


Harding and Labrie Defense Committee

Press Release

Activists declare “Rail Safety Emergency” over Gov’t Continued Prosecution of Tom Harding and Richard Labrie for Lac-Mégantic wreck

Washington DC, February 1, 2018

Rail safety, Labor and environmental activists are calling on Canadian Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould 
to drop ALL the pending charges and lawsuits against the recently acquitted rail workers in Lac-Mégantic wreck case. “It’s time to focus on rail safety.”

There is growing outrage over the Canadian government response to losing its criminal case against railroad workers over the July 2013 Lac-Mégantic crash. The jury found Tom Harding and Richard Labrie not guilty on all counts. Speaking for the Harding-Labrie Defense Committee, veteran train engineer and wreck investigator Fritz Edler expressed hope that the focus would finally shift to a full-scale investigation of the many factors that led up to the tragedy. “We have been waiting over four years for an actual public inquiry into the causes of this tragedy.”

The wait continues. Instead of an inquiry, the Canadian government has called Harding and Labrie back into court on February 5th to face another possible trial, this time facing a set of federal charges. “A criminal trial is the absolute worst way to uncover all the actions and policies that contributed to this crash,” said Edler. The Canadian Transport Safety Board (TSB) identified 18 causal factors. The two rail workers had no part at all in almost all of them. The not guilty verdict came even though the judge would not allow the TSB report into evidence. This should have told the government to look way beyond two rail workers to the part played by management policies and government oversight.

The Harding-Labrie Defense Committee considers the decision to continue their targeted prosecution of Harding and Labrie instead of an inquiry a “Rail Safety Emergency.” “This is a life and death issue,” said Edler. “There are still runaway trains and wrecks in 2018. Many of these same risk factors are operating right now. That should be the government’s main focus.”

The actions, and inaction, of federal government agencies were cited as factors in the Lac-Mégantic crash. “Here they go again,” observed Edler. “Enough is enough. That’s why we are calling the Minister of Justice directly. We need action on rail safety, not another detour.”

The calls to Wilson-Reybould’s office from rail safety activists and environmentalists will begin this friday.

The Harding and Labrie Defense Committee has worked with groups from Lac-Mégantic, Montreal and across the US organizing the existing broad consensus that the wrong people were on trial and working to combat the disinformation campaign by politicians and their rail industry sponsors. It has delivered thousands of petition signatures from Québec and elsewhere to the Crown prosecutors organized rallies, concerts and protests at Canadian consulates and raised money for the political defense of the rail workers.

More information: Twitter:SafeTrainsNow


Contact: Fritz Edler

Harding and Labrie Defense Ctte

Phone 202 494-3848

Harding and Labrie Defense Committee

Press Release

A Guarantee That People Will Die

A conviction in the Lac-Mégantic rail worker trial will be a license to kill rail workers and civilians

Washington DC, January 16, 2018:

Jurors in Sherbrooke, Québec continue for the 6th day of deliberations in the trial of rail workers charged with responsibility for the devastating oil train wreck that killed 47 in 2013. Tom Harding and Richard Labrie, along with a minor company official face 47 counts of Criminal Negligence resulting in death and other charges. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.

The rail industry driven, government orchestrated decision to focus exclusively on these individuals was made to divert support for calls by rail worker groups and community for a full public inquiry into the risky practices and policies that contributed to the wreck. Many of these are standard railroad practices or are the goals of the industry for the future. 18 of these were identified by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s Report on the wreck as the causes. Repeated testimony in the current trial exposed even more of the reckless and dangerous practices and managerial decisions that will go unchecked with a scapegoating peremptory targeting of the last actors in the danger chain.

The decision to evade any full inquiry was made soon after the wreck and encouraged by the owners and policy makers for the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad (MMA) in the days immediately after the wreck as they worked to insure evasion of liability for the tragedy. The Canadian government took up the charge to focus on the rail workers and block calls for an inquiry. This focus has had the full support and efforts of the rail industry organizations of North America. It needs to be fully understood that the peremptory focus on the rail workers before any full inquiry has already led to an increase each year in reported runaway trains in Canada SINCE the 2013 Lac-Mégantic wreck. In 2017 alone, at least 6 Canadian rail workers have died on the job.

Many across the continent and indeed the world have raised the demand of Safe Trains Now! No More Lac-Mégantics! The Canadian government knows the MMA and Rail World Inc (owners of MMA) officials will never be held responsible for the deaths and destruction their policies are now documented to have caused. A conviction of Tom Harding and Richard Labrie helps ensure that none of the people responsible for those reckless decisions that have already been identified as causes will ever be brought to justice. Those that have already died and those that will die in the future will get no justice with a conviction of Harding or Labrie.

More information:

For Release 10 AM, EST, January 16, 2018


Contact: Fritz Edler

Harding and Labrie Defense Ctte

Phone 202 494-3848

Harding and Labrie Defense Committee

Press Release

Protests Coast To Coast, And Even Abroad Meet The Final Phase Of The Lac-Mégantic Trial

Phony Personal Responsibility Narrative Seen As Obstacle To Any Real Accountability For The Wreck Aand Related Rail Tragedies Across The Continent

Washington DC, January 8, 2018:

The most important rail safety trial of our time will soon be in the hands of the jury. They are tasked with the difficult decision of whether or not to hold rail workers accountable for actions of their employers because it’s plain that there will be no other accountability, despite what is now a matter of public record.

The stakes are high. But fortunately, many people across North America are not fooled by the Crown’s phony veneer of holding people personally accountable for the tragedy. No such real personal accountability will ever be made, since the government made it’s decision to target only the last persons in a danger chain that continues across every railroad to this moment.

On January 4th and 5th, in cities across America, people took their call for real rail safety, No More Lac-Mégantics and opposition to scapegoating workers to Canadian consulates as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil. In several cases, they had to experience severe weather but came out anyway, knowing how important this case is. Active rail workers, Union members, working class militants, rail and other retirees protested in San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC and Minneapolis. Solidarity activists, Climate Change fighters, volatile oil opponents and environmental activists turned out their support to add their voices to the protests and delivering notice to the Canadian government that justice and rail safety cannot be served by framing up rail workers for the conditions they are forced, with government complicity, to work under. In some cities, they delivered printed statements and letters to consular officials.

Members of rail unions, Railroad Workers United, the United Electrical workers, Communication Workers of America and others were joined by the Workers Solidarity Action Network, the Backbone Campaign, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and many others stood up to oppose scapegoating and stand with the community of Lac-Mégantic, whose activists have an ongoing fight for the safety of their town more than 4 years after the government appointed scapegoats have had no role.

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These stand up people across the country have taken their time, money and energy into the street and to the Canadian consulates because they know that their own concerns, health and safety are at stake in the outcome of the Lac-Mégantic trial.

On Monday, January 8, 2018, attorney Charles Shearson has begun presenting the defense of Tom Harding. That defense will be a summary of the evidence presented by the Crown prosecutors in their attempt to demonize Tom Harding as the criminally negligent cause of the wreck that nearly destroyed Lac-Mégantic and killed 47 outright. It should be noteworthy that the defense has made the determination that the facts supporting acquittal of Harding are already in evidence having been made by the Crown itself.

The case will go to the jury this week. A conviction of one or both of the scapegoated rail workers is the signal the rail industry across the continent has been waiting for…a signal that they are free to conduct any and all of the dangerous practices and policies documented in the wreck of Lac-Mégantic, without any fear of liability. Some, like the actual policy makers and owners of the Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MMA), who are still free and running railroads around the world will breathe even easier as they take their profits; knowing that what they did will never have consequences for them.

People are watching this trial all over the world. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The activists who braved the cold last week to deliver the message that we are all watching will be talking in the coming weeks, along with their Canadian counterparts, about the next necessary steps that we must take if we are truly going to see No More Lac-Mégantics!

More information:

For Release 10 PM, EST, January 8, 2018





Contact: Fritz Edler

Harding and Labrie Defense Ctte

Phone 202 494-3848

Harding and Labrie Defense Committee

Press Release

Drop The Charges! Safe Rails Now! No More Lac-Mégantics!

Rallies Across The Nation Supporting The Scapegoated Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Washington DC, January 2, 2018:

Protest events will take place across North America and around the world this week calling for real rail safety and accountability regarding rail disasters like the 2013 Lac-Mégantic oil train wreck. Railroad workers, rail safety and environmental activists will be calling upon the Canadian government to drop the charges against framed up rail workers as the prosecution case against them unravels. Canadian rail workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie are currently on trial for the deaths in that disaster. The criminal trial has highlighted the connection between dangerous railroad policies and the need to hold the right people accountable for the danger created.

On January 4th and 5th, 2018, rail safety activists will be calling on the Canadian government to stop it’s diversionary prosecution of rail workers who have no control over the majority of the causes identified by government reports and independent investigations. In many cases, the causes identified are also at issue in other railroad wrecks in the last years, yet no policy makers are held accountable.

The trial testimony has been clear. The actions of rail workers Harding and Labrie did not cause the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. But risky decisions and policies by railroad managers and their government regulatory enablers must be addressed and those responsible held accountable if we are to have rail safety across North America.

Safe Trains Now!

No More Lac-Mégantics!

Harding and Labrie Did Not Cause The Wreck, Drop the Charges!

San Francisco Rally-Press Conference

Thursday January 4, 2018 12:00 PM

San Francisco Canadian Consulate

580 California St. San Francisco, CA

Chicago Rally In Support of the Scapegoated Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Thursday January 4, 2018 1:00 PM

Chicago Canadian Consulate

180 N. Stetson St.

Chicago, Il

Seattle Rally In Support of the Scapegoated Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Thursday January 4, 2018 Noon

1501 4th Ave

Seattle WA

Washington DC Rally In Support of the Scapegoated Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Thursday January 4, 2018 12:30 PM to 1 PM

Canadian Embassy

501 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington DC

Minneapolis Rally In Support of the Scapegoated Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Friday January 5, 2018 2:30 PM

Minneapolis Canadian Consulate

701 S. 4th Ave.

Minneapolis MN

Actions in other cities are in the process of being organized.

More information:

For Release 10 AM, EST, January 2, 2018

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