Lac-Mégantic, Québec, Canada – July 6, 2013. On a hot summer night, a driverless, out-of-control train descends the slope that leads to the scenic town below and explodes, pulverizing the downtown area and killing forty-seven unsuspecting victims. The devastation, which leaves the people of Lac-Mégantic dazed and in mourning, is quickly the object of a tortuous cover-up. Who are the tragedy’s real culprits?
In this fascinating piece of investigative journalism, which unfolds like a thriller, Saint-Cerny reveals the inner workings of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. She uncovers how the disaster, far from being just an "error of a faulty system," was caused by powerful people and institutions distant from the town itself.
The tragedy of Lac-Mégantic began far before the train’s brakes failed; it was conceived in the offices of Wall Street hedge funders, of Dakota black-gold cowboy magnates, of oil conglomerates, of a political class entirely devoted to the interests of the rail industry. And when it struck, it hit a population which, while still in shock, found itself at the mercy of local predators.
The fruit of five years of work and interviews with nearly a hundred people, including victims and their relatives, Mégantic: A Tragedy in Waiting, tells the story of the disaster in three acts – before, during, and after – in an investigation whose ultimate goal is to prevent the preventable.
Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny is a Canadian writer and political activist from Quebec. She is most noted for her 2018 book Mégantic: Une tragédie annoncée, an examination of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster of 2013, which was a shortlisted finalist for the Governor General's Award for French-language non-fiction at the 2018 Governor General's Awards. She previously published the Zan series of children's books, as well as the novel La jouissance du loup à l'instant de mordre. She was a Green Party of Canada candidate in Hochelaga in the 2015 federal election.