May 1, 2014 4:15 pm

CPR boss refuses to apologize for ‘coffee and doughnuts’ remark about emergency crews  

An aerial view of the train derailment in southeast Calgary.

Global News

CALGARY- His comments about Calgary emergency responders spending more time “drinking coffee and [eating] doughnuts” than dealing with a train derailment got Calgarians riled up—but the CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway continues to stand behind them.

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Last September, a train jumped the tracks near Inglewood, forcing six cars to overturn. That forced the closure of a number of surrounding roads, as well as the evacuation of 12 businesses and 142 homes while first responders tried to determine what the cars were carrying.

CEO Hunter Harrison criticized the response during a conference call with investors in March, saying in part:

“I went to the derailment. And first thing I see is 90 first responders. You know where they are? In the trailer, drinking coffee and doughnuts. So I went right past them…went right to the point of derailment.

“Not that I’m any genius but I’ve done this before. I figured out the problem.”

When asked about those remarks in Calgary on Thursday, Harrison said he had no regrets, and he was simply speaking the truth.

“Facts are facts.”

“I went down to the derailment myself, I crawled under the cars, I determined the cause in about 10 minutes, and nobody else had been there,” he said. “I’m not being critical, I’m just naming the facts.”

CP Rail has since been billed $500,000 by the fire department, to pay for the emergency response. Harrison said he wasn’t aware of the bill, and thought that as a “big taxpayer” those kind of services would be covered. He added that if there was a bill, CPR will pay it.

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