Lac-Mégantic anniversary bitter one for victims' family

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    Courtesy for Rey Mena

      The town of Lac-Mégantic is preparing for a sad and difficult commemoration this Sunday.

      A year ago, a runaway train exploded in the town center, levelling most of the buildings and killing 47 people.

      In our continuing special five-part series, CJAD 800 News brings you stories about what has been happening in the town and with its residents over the past year.

      TODAY: A man who lost three family members in the tragedy and how his grief has turned into anger.


      "If I were younger, I would have left Lac Megantic."

      Raymond Lafontaine can't hide the bitterness in his voice. The July 6 train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic claimed the lives of his 33-year-old son Gaetan and two daughters-in-law, Joanie Turmel, 29 and Karine Champagne, 36.

      Lafontaine was a tireless unofficial spokesman at the time, denouncing what he called lax rail security and federal government laws.

      But now, he says he is fed up, disillusioned by the mechanics and red tape of politics and bureaucracy. Lafontaine deplores the fact that freight trains now roll through near the old town center that was levelled last year.  Lafontaine said their arguments for rerouting freight train tracks and implementing tougher rail safety measures fell on deaf ears.

      "We'll never forget the Harper government's negligence," Lafontaine said.

      "Nothing has changed."

      Lafontaine told CJAD 800 News the decontamination and the reconstruction has been slow, accusing the Harper government of doing nothing to improve rail safety and of sending incompetent outsiders to reconstruct the town he himself helped build.

      Lafontaine said he is washing his hands of the whole matter. He'll continue his retirement, do a little camping.

      Lafontaine took a moment to pause and reflect. Then he said he wanted to add something else.

      Lafontaine said his wife offered him an allegory to help deal with the death of their son: that he is sailing off into the ocean, that they know they will never see him again.

      "But imagine that on the other side of the ocean, there are people who are waiting for him, and that another life begins."

      TOMORROW: Some merchants who say they have been left in limbo

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