Lac-Mégantic was the right call for Canadian story of the year

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The Canadian Press announced on Christmas Day that it had chosen the tragedy that befell Lac-Mégantic, Que. as its story of the year.

Not the buffoonish antics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Nor the slow-burning quagmire of lies and political spin that is the Senate scandal.

Not even the volumes written about Canada’s mustachioed man of the hour, retired astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Nope, they (it was an editors’ poll) chose a story about a run-away train that obliterated a quiet little hamlet’s downtown and 47 of its people.

It was the right call.

Lac-Mégantic was the greatest loss of Canadian lives in recent memory.

So if Rob Ford had beat it for story of the year, it may have been time to consider moving to a new country – because this one would have been beyond saving.

Sadly, the Canadian Press also noted that Ford generated 1.4 times more international news coverage in 2013 than the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

The only conclusion we can draw from this fact is that no matter how worthy a news story, people just like to shut out negativity and find something to laugh about.

We can’t really blame them, even if we lament the sentiment.

Hopefully this tragedy being named story of the year will again bring it back into a few headlines, and a little more coverage to its ongoing repercussions.

There are many more stories to be told about Lac-Mégantic, and there will be for years to come.


The story


On July 6, 2013, an unattended freight train, with 74 cars carrying crude oil, got loose and derailed.

More than 30 buildings in downtown Lac-Mégantic, a place of roughly 6,000 people, were destroyed by the resulting explosion and fire.

The environmental damage to the land in the town’s downtown was catastrophic.

The story garnered international attention for its staggering loss of life and the questions it posed about the safety of transporting oil by train and general train safety.

Subsequent investigations by various government and non-government agencies have raised further questions of safety and environment

Today, trains are again moving through a still scared Lac-Mégantic – though only non-hazardous materials are being transported.

Organizations: Canadian Press

Geographic location: Lac-Mégantic, Toronto, Canada

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