07/23/2013 05:07 EDT | Updated 09/21/2013 05:12 EDT

Rail safety meeting brings MPs back to Ottawa

Members of Parliament who sit on the transport committee are interrupting their summer breaks and returning to Ottawa today for a meeting on rail safety, in the wake of the derailment and explosion that devastated the community of Lac-Mégantic, Que.

Olivia Chow, NDP transport critic and vice-chair of the committee, officially requested the meeting last week with the required support of three other MPs. Chair Larry Miller, a Conservative, had five days to set up a meeting according to procedural rules.

The committee is meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. ET on Parliament Hill and the NDP will be pushing the other members to agree to undertake a study on rail safety. The Conservatives could use their majority on the committee to shut down that request.

Miller said on Friday he thinks a study on rail safety would be "premature" given that the investigation into the Lac-Mégantic crash is ongoing. The NDP argues that the study wouldn't focus specifically on what happened in the small Quebec town but rather on rail safety generally and on why past recommendations to improve it have been ignored.

If the study goes ahead, the committee would hear from witnesses and Lisa Raitt, who was appointed the new federal transport minister in last week's cabinet shuffle, could be one of them.