Chairman of railway company to visit Lac Megantic; make it short then start signing checks


CBC.CA
Edward Burkhardt/CBC.CA

Apparently no longer fearing for his life, Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway Inc. (MMA) Chairman Edward Burkhardt is on his way to Lac Megantic to see the devastation there after one of his company’s trains exploded in the downtown area. If he’s wise he’ll take a car and not one of his trains. The oil-car fueled blast leveled the town and has so far claimed 15 casualties but dozens of people are still unaccounted for. Burkhardt had originally said he’d need a bullet-proof vest if he visited the site, but has since had a change of heart.

The ridiculous vest statement was explained away by MMA President Robert Grindrod, stating Burkhardt  “has a different sense of humour at some times”

The ridiculous vest statement was explained away by MMA President Robert Grindrod, stating Burkhardt  “has a different sense of humour at some times”. He’s a real scream. Perhaps what Burkhardt should consider is that sometimes a sense of humour, different or otherwise, isn’t appropriate. The funny side of a train wreck that destroys a town, costs lives and ruins others escapes me.

The funny side of a train wreck that destroys a town, costs lives and ruins others escapes me

In the few short interviews I have seen with Burkhardt he comes across as totally uncaring and almost annoyed with the whole incident. In one he even made reference to profits and competition. When the interviewer mentioned that perhaps he was being a wee bit less than compassionate, he replied that he was being “realistic”. He gives me the impression that he’s really not all that worried about the loss of a few Canadian lives in a small town somewhere far away from his office in Chicago. One local resident, when told of Burkhardt’s bullet-proof vest quip wonder if he thought all the folks in Lac Megantic are “savages”

He gives me the impression that he’s really not all that worried about the loss of a few Canadian lives in a small town somewhere far away from his office in Chicago

Robert Grindrod/Photo Agence QMI, JOEL LEMAY
Robert Grindrod/Photo Agence QMI, JOEL LEMAY

I understand why the MMA tried to stick with President Grindrod as the human face in this tragedy. He seems to be much more understanding in his statements. Unless of course he’s the “good cop” to Burkhardt’s “bad cop” – care being taken not to admit too much fault with insurance claims about to rain down on MMA.

I suggest he make a visit, say some appropriate words of condolence and sorrow (maybe even a couple in French) then get back to Chicago and start signing checks

I hope that nothing untoward happens to Burkhardt during his stay in Lac Megantic, and don’t believe any more than a few much-deserved shouts will be aimed at him. The people of the town have shown immense strength and courage in the face of this tragedy; they have outclassed Chairman Burkhardt and his foolish attempts at humour. I suggest he make a visit, say some appropriate words of condolence and sorrow (maybe even a couple in French) then get back to Chicago and start signing checks.

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