TRANSPORTATION/PUBLIC WORKS--Westray Response Committee ----------------------------------------------------------------- NOTE TO EDITORS: The following are remarks made tonight by Don Downe, chair of the Westray Response Committee, in the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker: Tonight I'd like to speak to this House and to all Nova Scotians as minister responsible for government's response to the Westray report. At 5:20 on the morning of May 9, 1992, this province was rocked by one of the worst tragedies in its history -- the Westray mine disaster. That morning this province lost 26 coal miners. Twenty-six families were left without loved ones. And thousands of Nova Scotians shared in their pain and sadness. Five years later, the memory and sadness of that day remain with us all, most especially with the families. But today also marks one of the first steps toward understanding this senseless tragedy. Today, at 11 a.m. in Stellarton, Justice Peter Richard released his report into the Westray mine disaster. The commissioner's report is extensive, with more than 700 pages and four volumes of information. While we are just beginning to work our way through it, the overwhelming impression is that the report is thoughtful and thorough. I would like to thank Justice Richard and his staff for their hard work and dedication in the face of great challenge and complexity. This report will make a real difference in the lives of working men and women in this province. This government will see that it does. I would also like to thank the families. They have been the ones fighting to be heard, fighting to keep the memory of Westray alive, fighting to make a difference. The families have been through hell and back. And while I can never fully understand their pain, I do understand their conviction. I have sat in the same room and seen it face to face. Earlier today, the premier established a cabinet committee consisting of the ministers of Labour, Natural Resources, Justice and Housing and Municipal Affairs. Westray will be given high priority. This is not a report we will put on the shelf. This is a report we will carry with us until all the issues are addressed. We owe it the families. We owe it to the memory of the 26 miners. This government will respond with an initial plan of action prior to Christmas. We have a lot of ground to cover and many decisions to make, but we are committed to a timely response. The Westray families have waited long enough. This government will do the right thing. We will make this province a safer place for people to earn a living and raise their families. This morning, I took a few minutes to visit the Westray memorial in Stellarton, and I read the names of the 26 men once more. We can never allow another Westray. People do not go to work to die. Unfortunately, this government cannot change the past. I wish we could. But we can make a difference in the future. In closing, I make this pledge to the families: Westray will not be some vague memory of a tragic accident. It will be a living active presence in workplaces across Nova Scotia. Your husbands, your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your friends will never be forgotten. Every time someone wants to cut corners or bend the rules, we will remind them. There can never be another Westray. This government will not allow it. Thank you, Mr Speaker. -30- Contact: Jennifer MacIsaac 902-424-3219 E-mail: macisaja@gov.ns.ca NOTE TO EDITORS: The executive summary of the Westray inquiry report can be found on the Internet at: www.gov.ns.ca/legi/inquiry/westray/findings.htm sab Dec. 1, 1997 8:25 p.m.