MMA did not strive for safety: defence lawyer at Lac-Megantic criminal trial

The lawyer for the engineer who parked the train that eventually derailed and killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic is suggesting the company that owned the train and the tracks did not strive for safety.

Charles Shearson is completing his closing arguments today at the trial of three men charged with criminal negligence in the July 2013 rail disaster.

Rail employees Tom Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre have all pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.

Shearson says his client, Harding, cannot be held to a standard of perfection when his employers — Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway — did not demand a perfect compliance with all the rules.

The lawyer adds that Harding was alone the night he parked the 73-wagon train loaded with crude oil, hours before it began moving on its own and barrelled into the small town.

One-man crews on trains carrying dangerous goods were banned in Canada following the Lac-Megantic derailment.

"One-man crews are no longer allowed,'' Shearson said, referring to the rule imposed by the federal government shortly after the rail disaster.

"If it doesn't make a difference then why take it away?'' Shearson said.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas is to give his instructions to the jury Wednesday.

The Crown delivered closing arguments in Sherbrooke last week, as did lawyers representing Labrie and Demaitre.