07/23/2013 12:41 EDT

Elizabeth May Slammed For Erroneous Tweet About Sarnia Train Incident


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has come under fire for an erroneous tweet about a minor train incident in Sarnia last Friday that set off what one mayor called a "media frenzy."

May tweeted on Saturday to her nearly 70,000 followers about a seemingly terrifying situation in the Ontario city she felt wasn’t being reported.

But it appears the incident was greatly exaggerated and her "source" was totally wrong.

CN Rail said a set of wheels derailed on a single empty tank car during slow moving yard operation in the Sarnia yard, with no injuries or impact on operations, the Sarnia Observer reports.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told the newspaper that May’s tweet spurred plenty of calls from reporters, prompting him to email May to say only: "Very disappointed with your tweeting a rumour."

In light of the tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Bradley suggested May should have been more careful with her words.

"Because she is the leader of a political party, she gives it credibility," he told the Observer. "When she sent out that tweet, it got all the media in a frenzy. There should be a correction out from her office by now."

May’s chief of staff confirmed the Green leader did not double check the information. The staffer said she wouldn’t reveal the source of the inaccurate information.

May did acknowledge on Twitter she made a mistake and said she called the mayor to apologize.

May is not the first federal leader to face criticism for controversial rail statements in light of the Lac-Megantic disaster that killed at least 47 and devastated a small Quebec town.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was accused of sinking to a "new low" by former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae for drawing a link between Tory policies and the deadly explosion.

"Governments have to regulate in the public interest, nothing more important in what governments do than taking care of the safety of the public," Mulcair told CTV News shortly after the disaster. "And this is another case where the government has been cutting in the wrong area."

Then just days later, Mulcair curiously denied using those very words.

"It's not a quote from me," he told CBC News. "I've been prudent not to draw the exact link."

Mulcair also reportedly told CBC News: "You won’t find that quote from me."

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