May apologizes for tweeting 20 cars left CN’s Sarnia tracks

CN Rail crews work on a line near the McGregor switch at the Sarnia rail yard Friday. CN officials said one car left the tracks but there were reports, spread by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, that 20 cars had left the track. May has since apologized for the comment.

CN Rail crews work on a line near the McGregor switch at the Sarnia rail yard Friday. CN officials said one car left the tracks but there were reports, spread by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, that 20 cars had left the track. May has since apologized for the comment.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has apologized to Sarnia’s mayor for sounding alarm bells about a minor accident at the CN Rail yard in town.

On Friday around 3 pm there was what CN calls a “minor incident.” Warren Chandler of CN Public and Government Affairs in an email says “one set of wheels derailed in a single empty tank car during a slow moving yard operations.“There were no injuries and no impact to CN’s mainline operations,” says Chandler.

While Sarnia officials were not contacted when the incident took place, although Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says CN did notify Transport Canada about the incident. CN did send a photo of the derailment to Sarnia’s acting fire chief who termed the incident minor, telling Bradley the accident was equivalent of a flat tire on a car.

But Green Party Leader MP Elizabeth May sparked questions with a tweet on Twitter which read: “Why is no one reporting the train derailment in Sarnia yesterday? My sources say 20 cars jumped the track.”

CN was not commenting on May’s contention. “The cause of the incident is under investigation. CN will not comment on rumor or speculation surrounding events involved in the incident,” says Chandler.

Bradley fired off an angry email to May saying he was “very disappointed with your tweeting a “rumour” about a twenty rail car derailment.”

There was an incident at the CN Rail yard in Sarnia Friday. The company says there was only one car damaged but there are concerns there may be more to the incident.

There was an incident at the CN Rail yard in Sarnia Friday. The company says there was only one car damaged but there are concerns there may be more to the incident.

May spoke with Bradley late this evening and apologized. “She was working on what she believed was reliable information and it wasn’t reliable information,” says Bradley adding May’s tweet gave a level of credence to the rumour because she is a member of parliament. “If you are leader of a party …and you have 70,000 followers, it makes a difference.”

But he adds CN could have avoided some of these problems with a couple of calls on Friday. “If a courtesy call is made to Transport Canada, a courtesy call could have been made to 9-11…I don’t think you ever go wrong when you provide information. If they had reported it out on Friday would they have been better served? Yes.”

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