News Release Archive

NOTE TO EDITORS: The following are remarks made tonight by Don
Downe, chair of the Westray Response Committee, in the House of

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

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

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 

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

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. 


Contact: Jennifer MacIsaac

NOTE TO EDITORS: The executive summary of the Westray inquiry
report can be found on the Internet at:

sab                        Dec. 1, 1997          8:25 p.m.