Multiple bus fatalities have once again dominated Canada’s headlines yet we have learned nothing from any previous catastrophe. The latest tragedy reportedly occurred yesterday, July 18, 2020, on Highway 93 at the Columbia Icefield between Banff and Jasper national parks in Alberta. Presently three persons are confirmed dead but there are multiple passengers who sustained critical injuries and the fatality count may increase.
An eerie silence still resonates over the previous multiple-fatality bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos crash in April of 2018. The official police report of that crash has never been made public thus the cause of the multiple fatalities has also never been publicly disclosed. Similarly, a bus crash near Ottawa in 2013 caused six fatalities and an obvious separation of the bus structure could not be ignored. And again in January of 2019 another multiple-fatality bus crash in Ottawa occurred when a double-decker bus had its structure torn apart from striking an overhang at a bus stop. These crashes led the Transportation Safety Board to comment in January of 2019 that better national crashworthiness standards are needed for buses and other commercial vehicles.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2019 the Federal government has held meetings in a parliamentary committee organized to consider the safety status of buses. Professor Ahmed Shalaby of the University of Manitoba has been a forerunner in demanding improved standards and through his diligence a brief was submitted (co-authored by Zygmunt M. Gorski) to the committee discussing these issues. Yet Professor Shalaby has also demonstrated that the parliamentary committee has been shut down as a result of the elections in the fall of 2019 and nothing has been done by parliament to reactivate the safety committee.
No one needs to work on a mushroom farm to know how its activities relate to Canada’s reluctance to keep the public informed on bus safety issues.