2000-2010
Westray Coal Mine
in Hansard




Pictou County, Nova Scotia

At 5:18am on 9 May 1992 the Westray coal mine exploded
killing 26 miners




Below is a collection of Westray-related items
found in Hansard


Convenient Links to
Westray-in-Hansard items:

•  #   1987
•  #   1988
•  #   1989
•  #   1990
•  #   1991
•  #   1992
•  #   1993
•  #   1994
•  #   1995
•  #   1996
•  #   1997
•  #   1998
•  #   1999
•  #   2000
•  #   2001
•  #   2002
•  #   2003
•  #   2004
•  #   2005
•  #   2006
•  #   2007
•  #   2008
•  #   2009
•  #   2010





 

2000






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 February 18   Note about the missing link
     http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=36&Ses=2&DocId=2332176#LINK216


Private Members' Business

Westray Mine


Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough, PC):
Moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Criminal Code or other appropriate federal statutes should be amended in accordance with Recommendation 73 of the Province of Nova Scotia's Public Inquiry into the Westray disaster, specifically with the goal of ensuring that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety.


He said: Mr.  Speaker, I thank my colleague from Tobique-Mactaquac for seconding this very important motion.  Briefly, to recall, importantly of course, that on May 9, 1992 an explosion occurred at the Westray mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, killing 26 men.  It was a horrible tragedy and one that was felt throughout the province of Nova Scotia, and indeed across the country.

Many Nova Scotians acted in a very heroic fashion that deadly day in May 1992.  To those creative draggermen who were so directly involved in the efforts to locate the 26 miners who lost their lives, we will be forever grateful.  Many of those draggermen came from across Nova Scotia, and indeed across the country.  They worked, sadly in vain, to rescue the 26 men.  Coal mining and the coal industry in northeastern Nova Scotia has been very important for generations.  Pictou County Colliers, by Mr. James Cameron, chronicles the history of coal mining in that part of Canada.  The devastation of the Mother's Day disaster at Westray mine nearly eight years ago has left a very long and painful memory in the hearts and minds of miners and people generally across the province.

The explosion at the Westray Coal mine sent a very chilling message to people.  That message was that haste and financial gain can put individual lives at risk.  Many owed their livelihood, gave their lives and lost their lives underground during the past 150 years.  Many in Nova Scotia, in particular, recall the bump at Spring Hill or the cave-ins and explosions in Pictou county and in Cape Breton.  Artists, such as Rita MacNeil and the Men of the Deep, have sung poignant songs in remembrance of those lost souls.  The death of the 26 coal miners came as very unexpected and very sad to the peaceful community of Plymouth, that, from the very second that those fathers, brothers and sons were taken away from their families, people were left immediately with having to come to grips with the tragedy, and a tragedy that could have been avoided.  That is why it is so incumbent upon us as legislators to ensure that there are safe working environments for all workers engaged in labour activity, whether it is a mine, a fish plant, an automotive factory or any other work environment.  It is incumbent upon us as legislators to move toward making those work places safe.

Days after the Westray explosion, on May 15 the Government of Nova Scotia appointed Mr. Justice Peter Richard to act as the head of a commission to inquire, under the public inquiries act, into what took place at the Westray mine.  The commission had a very broad mandate, so as to shed light on the explosion and all the related circumstances that led up to that tragic day.  In fact, Nova Scotia's premier at the time, Donald Cameron, was very clear about that mandate.  He said:

Mr. Justice Richard's inquiry will not be limited to the events of the early morning of May 9th.  Nothing and no person with any light to shed on this tragedy will escape the scrutiny of the inquiry.


The commission's work began almost immediately to prepare for the public hearings set to begin in October 1992.  Curragh Resources Inc. and Westray's management challenged the validity of the order in council establishing the commission of inquiry.  This, as members can imagine, led to numerous legal proceedings.  Because of the delays, the report from Mr. Justice Richard was tabled five years later, in November 1997.  There was an incredible amount of wrangling that went on in the criminal courts and charges laid under the workers' safety act also led to much of the delay and much of the frustration that occurred as a result of the wranglings.

This is a very important matter for all and I would appreciate the attention of members who are in the Chamber.  The Westray story is one that is very complex and a mosaic of actions, omissions, mistakes, incompetence, apathy, cynicism and downright stupidity were viewed in context.  These seemingly isolated incidents constituted a mindset of operating philosophy that appeared to favour expediency over intelligent planning that trivializes safety concerns.  Indeed, management at Westray displayed a certain disdain for safety and appeared to regard safety conscious workers as wimps in the organization.

To its discredit, the management at Westray, through either incompetence or ignorance, lost sight of the basic tenet of coal mining that safe mining is good business.  These words came directly from the report of Mr. Justice Richard, a report that was entitled "The Westray Story: A Predictable Path to Disaster".  It contained 74 recommendations and concluded in its final analysis that the tragedy could have been avoided if minimal occupational safety standards had been adhered to.  There are always ways to prevent tragedies.  Sometimes they cannot be avoided, but there are ways to eliminate the risk and the environment which costs people's lives or often leaves them injured for the remainder of their lives.  There are ways to attach criminal responsibility to those actions that put people's lives at risk.  Sometimes corporations and those at the head end and the head office of these corporations should, I suggest, be brought into some degree of culpability and accountability by our legislation, particular in the criminal code.  There are ways that this can be done: through amendments and through legislative initiatives.  Some of those were proposed by Justice Richard.  One proposal in particular would be to create a new criminal offence that would impose criminal liability on the directors or those responsible for failing to ensure that their corporation maintains an appropriate standard of occupational health and safety in the workplace.  This is precisely what this motion hopes to achieve.

In Nova Scotia mining is regulated by three pieces of legislation: the mineral resources act, the occupational health and safety act and the coal mines regulation act.  Mr. Justice Richard in his report reviewed all of these provincial acts and concluded that the main purpose was to ensure safety.  Unfortunately we have seen in recent years examples of occupational safety in the workplace taking second spot behind the bottom line, the financial line, which is especially true in the mining industry where the very nature of the work involves a great deal of risk and a great deal of danger just as a course of the type of work that is done underground.  It is the duty of company officers to ensure that work is done in the safest of all possible conditions.  We want to ensure that individuals inside and outside corporate Canada will be dealt with equitably and fairly under the law, but we want to ensure that there is that degree of accountability, that executives will not be able to hide behind the corporate veil and the job titles in the commission of their duties.  Corporate Canada understandably has two related functions: to make a profit and to create jobs.  Profit is a good thing but the balance has to be struck between the profit and the cost that is sometimes incurred by reckless behaviour.  There must be a balance between making a profit and the means by which to get there.

Section 220 of the criminal code currently refers specifically to criminal negligence causing death and there are sections under section 234 of the criminal code pertaining to manslaughter.  There may be a need to introduce amendments to these sections that would broaden the scope of culpability or perhaps even go so far as to make a specific reference to executives, directors or persons in management positions when pertaining to acts which result in the loss of life.  I brought this motion forward with the hope that the devastation of the Westray disaster will not be forgotten.  I can assure the House and Canadians generally that those in Pictou county and in all of Nova Scotia recall with horror that period of time between May 1992 and the current has left in the minds of all.  It is as important today to ensure that the recommendations of the inquiry are not forgotten.  Sadly, all Canadians have borne witness to reports that have been completed; the white papers that have been completed by royal commissions that have done their work.  These reports wind up on a shelve gathering dust with no action.

Words are not enough when it comes to protecting lives in this instance.  It is important that we follow the recommendations of this report, that we actually act with a great deal of strength in responding to the work that has already been done.  The fundamental and basic responsibility of safe operation of an underground coal mine is an industrial undertaking that rests very much with the owners and the managers.  Westray management, starting with the chief executive officer, was required by law, by good business practice and good conscience, to design and operate a mine safely.  Westray management came under attack in the ensuing days after the explosion for being lax in that responsibility.  The significance of that failure cannot be overstated.  Simply because others were abdicating their responsibility is not a satisfactory response.  Shared responsibility can be said to be implicit in the recommendations that came from the report.  Not only in the mining industry but also in any business venture, corporate executives sometimes seem less interested in the merits of workplace safety and simply in the pursuit of profit.  This is a very dangerous situation.  We must be mindful of the situation that can evolve and can result in tragedy.  This mindset itself is precisely what set the dangerous tone in the workplace of the mine at Westray.

Businesses must also ensure that their employees are adequately supervised and constantly updated as to safe work practices.  In the case of Westray, labour safety standards, particularly minimal safety standards, were not adhered to to the extent that they should have been.  Looking at this issue in the larger context, there must also be a recognition of the role of government to ensure that these proper standards are being met.  If they are not being met, the government must intervene through its inspectors and simply see that the workplace is closed until those minimal standards are adhered to.  In the case of Westray, many trades persons were prone to perform unsafe tasks and take shortcuts in their daily routines, never once being told by management of the dangers of such actions given that the mine was very gassy and potentially explosive, as the Foord seam has been known to be throughout its history.  In many cases there was no question that the management may have been aware or ought to have been aware that the workers were not performing safe mining practices underground.

As stated in Mr. Justice Richard's report, there was a strong indication that the Westray management was aware of the levels of methane underground, which the coal miners were exposed to, and that these levels of methane were very hazardous and potentially explosive.  Under section 72 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, such conditions should have resulted in the workers being withdrawn from affected areas.  That, of course, was one method of preventing the tragedy that resulted.  It stands to reason that when weighing business goals versus those of safety, sometimes businesses find themselves pulled by many factors.  They have to meet production deadlines, competition to out-perform bottom lines and, in this case, there were government moneys involved that increased the pressure.

This is where the human element of safety must also enter into the equation.  Far too often businesses, and indeed heads of corporations, may be tempted by that financial gain and put the safety of workers second.  That type of short term gain for long term pain, as we have seen in the Westray example, is something that we seek to avoid by this motion.  Of course, I speak to the injury of death that can result.  It is a sad, sad scenario that we should learn from.  Tough economic times that exist in the country put further pressure on workers.  This is why this motion, I suggest, is very timely.  The economic impact of having to shut down corporations inevitably affects everyone in that region.  The employees, the management, the board of directors, anyone associated with that business feels the negative impact of an operational shutdown.

This is the cost of doing business.  If we have to shut down these businesses to ensure that lives are protected, that is what has to happen.  Companies must do everything in their power, and I suggest that we as legislators similarly are mandated to do everything in our power to ensure that hazardous workplaces are dealt with in a proactive way as opposed to reactive, as we have seen in Westray.  If companies have not acted properly, have not adhered to the legislation, both provincial and federal, there must be consequences.

Ethics and the results of this tragedy dictate that we should go further, that we have to now act, pick up the report and move this matter forward.  This is a very serious instance.  Business executives find themselves in a position where they are insulated from the consequences of their potential negligence and potential lax control over what is taking place on the ground.  Business executives must promote and nurture safe work ethics and have an open and approachable attitude toward their employees.  No one ever wants to feel the effects of what took place in Plymouth at the Westray mine again.

I appreciate the non-partisan tone that has taken place on previous occasions on the debate of this particular motion.  I would suggest that there is a great deal of impact that all members can have in this area.  We must hold to account individuals who behave recklessly and without conscience that results in lost lives.  We are empowered here with the knowledge, the know-how and the ability to make legislation that can have effect, very real effect on workplace safety.  We are empowered as officials to exercise our discretion to ensure that those who are operating businesses and those who have the final say over what takes place in the work world are adhering to safe practice.  I appreciate the support that all members thus far have shown for this motion.  I am very concerned that we are only paying lip service to this issue.  I very much look forward to the comments and the support of all members of the House to ensure that we move forward and do everything within our power to ensure that workplace safety is a priority in this country.  It is something that we in parliament are very concerned about and are prepared to take positive action toward improving.

Mr. John Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No.  79.  The motion from the hon. member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough recommends that this House express its opinion that the criminal code should be amended to address the issue of the criminal liability of corporate executives and directors.  I commend the member opposite for again bringing this issue before the House.  It is one which requires our serious consideration.  It is evident that this motion has its origins in a tragic explosion in the Westray mine on May 9, 1992 in which 26 miners were killed.  The subsequent public inquiry set up by the Nova Scotia government clearly established that mismanagement created an unsafe working environment that was a direct cause of the disaster.  Throughout the inquiry and the prosecutions that followed from the investigation into the tragedy the responsibility of Westray officers and the Westray Corporation itself emerged as important and contentious issues.  The inquiry, chaired by Mr. Justice Peter Richard, produced the four volume report "The Westray Story: A Predictable Path to Disaster".  Judge Richard's report set out 74 recommendations aimed at improving mine safety so that such incidents never happen again, so that mining operations never again, in his words, go down that path to disaster.

I would like to read into the record recommendation 73 of Mr. Justice Richard's report as it forms the basis of the motion we are debating today:

The Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, should institute a study of the accountability of corporate executives and directors for the wrongful or negligent acts of the corporation and should introduce in the Parliament of Canada such amendments to legislation as are necessary to ensure that corporate executives and directors are properly accountable for workplace safety.


I agree there is merit in examining the criminal law as it deals with the criminal responsibility of corporations.  However, it is much more likely that we will need a combination of preventive, remedial and punitive measures in order to keep us from going down that path of disaster again.  The solutions to the problem of corporate responsibility therefore will be found in a mix of criminal law, labour code regulation and the regulation of business activity.  Before I address the role of the criminal law in such a system, I will give an example of how preventive and remedial measures outside the criminal code can advance the objectives of workplace safety.  On October 28 last year the Minister of Labour introduced Bill C-12, a package of amendments to part II of the Canada Labour Code designed to improve workplace safety in industries under federal jurisdiction.  This legislation expands the responsibilities of both employers and employees in creating a safe work environment.  It establishes three fundamental rights for employees: the right to know about hazards in the workplace; the right to participate in correcting the hazards; and the right to refuse dangerous work.

There is no point in having a right without a remedy.  Therefore, Bill C-12 expands the role of workplace health and safety committees in inspecting workplaces and in investigating complaints.  Similarly when an employee refuses to perform tasks that are considered dangerous, the legislation will streamline the complaint resolution process.  The Canada Labour Code also makes it an offence to contravene any of these rules and creates sanctions in the form of fines and terms of imprisonment.  We can leave the debate on Bill C-12 to another day but I urge colleagues to keep in mind that initiatives such as Bill C-12 serve many of the same objectives as the criminal law changes suggested by Judge Richard in the Westray report.  The motion before us today does not actually identify a particular amendment to the criminal code.  Therefore, I would like to point out some of the factors involved in creating a criminal law sanction for corporate misconduct in the workplace.  Any examination of the criminal law in this area must consider both the responsibility of a corporation itself and the liability of the people who are employed by that company.

On the first point, it should be understood that under the current law, it is already possible to charge a corporation with a crime.  Section 2 of the criminal code includes companies in the definition of person and there have been instances where corporations have been charged with crimes.  In fact in the Westray case, charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death were laid against Curragh, Inc., the owner and operator of the mine, as well as individual employees of the company.

It is also important to note that the Supreme Court of Canada held in a 1985 case that a corporation will generally be liable for a criminal offence if a corporate director or officer commits an offence for the benefit of the corporation in the course of his or her employment.  In 1993 a subcommittee of the House Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General, as it was then called, issued a report on the recodification of the general part of the criminal code.  This is the part that deals with fundamental components of criminal offences such as culpability and defences.  The subcommittee took the view that express rules on the liability of corporations should be added to the general part in a way that makes a sharper distinction between the company's liability and that of its employees.  The subcommittee recommended as follows:

A corporation [should be] liable for conduct committed on its behalf by its directors, officers or employees acting within the scope of their authority and identifiable as persons with authority over the formulation or implementation of corporate policy, notwithstanding that no director, officer or employee may be held individually liable for the same offence.


If we want to change the current law, there are other approaches that deserve consideration.  Australian law makes it possible for a company to be charged with offences requiring intention, knowledge, recklessness or negligence.  The Australian statute focuses on actions by the company's board of directors and its agents that tacitly or expressly authorize or permit the commission of a criminal offence.

I will turn briefly to the criminal liability of individual employees of a corporation as opposed to the corporation itself.  As individuals the employees can be charged with any criminal offence they commit and for which they are morally responsible.  Section 23 of the criminal code also creates criminal liability for anyone who is a party to an offence, which means doing or omitting to do anything for the purpose of aiding someone to commit that offence, or abetting that person in committing the offence.  Section 23 also makes it an offence to counsel another person to be a party to a crime.  Therefore, there is already a way of getting at individual employees whose misconduct in the course of their duties amounts to a crime.  These provisions in the criminal code are important because if the corporation has a general duty to comply with the law, individual directors and officers also have a duty to take into account interests beyond those of shareholders and beyond the balance sheet.  I understand that in the aftermath of the Westray inquiry the attorney general for Nova Scotia requested that the Minister of Justice for Canada address recommendation 73 of the Westray report and that the minister has agreed to do so.  This step having been taken, I would suggest that the motion before us today does not advance the process.

Finally, criminal laws created by parliament should also recognize the role of provinces in the area of workplace safety.  In this regard I note that the Westray report also recommends that the province of Nova Scotia undertake a review of its occupational health and safety legislation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that officers and directors of corporations doing business in the province are held properly accountable for the failure of the corporation to secure and maintain a secure workplace.  For these reasons I oppose this motion as it does not further the study of criminal law in this area.

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 March 3
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/2/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/062_2000-03-03/han062_1330-e.htm


Westray Mine


Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to carry on with my speech regarding the private member's motion put forward by the member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough.

The motion, as stated, calls for the government to undertake a study for the implementation of the recommendations of the Richard inquiry on the Westray mine.  It is a very worthwhile and timely motion.  We were very pleased when it was brought before the House because all Canadians were horrified when 26 miners were killed in the Westray mine through what I believe to be criminal negligence and through what the chief justice found to be criminal negligence.

Canadians were even more horrified when they realized that the crown prosecutors of Nova Scotia would have to drop or stay the charges against the Westray mine because under the current Criminal Code of Canada there was no way to make those charges stick.  That certainly is what caught in the craw of most Canadians.  There was no way to deal with the grief of the actual deaths of the 26 miners.

It was incredibly frustrating to see that the crown prosecutors of Nova Scotia did not have the tools to do the job to bring to justice the people who caused the deaths of the 26 miners through what I call criminal negligence, through what Justice Richard called criminal negligence, and I would go further...

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 March 3
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/2/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/062_2000-03-03/han062_1335-e.htm


Private Members' Business

Westray Mine


Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for the second hour of debate on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to discuss Motion No. 79, a motion introduced by my colleague from Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough.

I would like to explain what happened on that dreadful morning in May 1992.  It may help members gain a better understanding of what provoked the motion.

On May 9, 1992, at 5.20 a.m., a violent explosion ripped under the tiny community of Plymouth, just east of the town of Stellarton, Nova Scotia.  The explosion occurred in the depths of the Westray coal mine, instantly killing the 26 miners working there at the time.

Motion No. 79, formerly Motion No. 455, was introduced by my colleague from Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough to ensure that something like this never happens again.  Workplace safety must be the norm across the country, no matter what profession one chooses, whether working in a coal mine, a fish plant or on an assembly line.  Every Canadian has the right to feel safe at work and every corporate executive must take the initiative to ensure those standards are met.

Motion No. 79 reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Criminal Code or other appropriate federal statutes should be amended in accordance with Recommendation 73 of the Province of Nova Scotia's Public Inquiry into the Westray disaster, specifically with the goal of ensuring that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety.


Recommendation 73 in the report of the inquiry commissioner, Justice Peter K. Richard, reads as follows:

The Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, should institute a study of accountability of corporate executives and directors for the wrongful or negligent acts of the corporation and should introduce in the Parliament of Canada such amendments to legislation as are necessary to ensure that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety.


Recommendation 73 does not endorse any particular legislative action by parliament.  However, I will proceed by stressing that Motion No. 79 wishes to address the concerns referred to by Justice Peter Richard in his report, with an emphasis on the personal liability of key corporate officials.

The proposal to create a new criminal offence for corporate officials for failing to maintain safe workplaces would, by definition, require adding new provisions to the criminal code.  This could be done by adding new sections to the criminal code under subsection 467.5 and 467.6.

Subsection 467.6 would extend personal criminal liability for the corporate failure to every officer or director of the corporation who knew or ought to have known, based on their experience, qualifications and duties, about the unsafe conditions in question.

Another way to address the matter would be to amend the criminal code provisions which define criminal negligence, section 219, and culpable homicide, section 222, in a way which specifically addresses death or bodily harm caused by a failure to maintain workplace safety on the part of a director or executive of a corporation.  The drawback to this approach is that it does not deal with situations where death or injuries do not result.  As well, if one wished to strengthen the accountability of officials for workplace safety violations of their corporations, one could amend subsection 149.2 of the criminal code to include additional circumstances in which their liability could be triggered.

As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Speaker, many corporate officials in today's marketplace have developed a cavalier attitude toward fair labour practices and workplace safety...

It is essential that companies take the time to train employees so that additional risk is limited for employees and those around them who are in the workplace doing their everyday job.  Management must also ensure that their employees have an appreciation of any special dangers inherent at the job site.  In the case of the Westray coal mine, many of the tradesmen were prone to perform unsafe tasks or to take dangerous shortcuts in their work, never once being told any different by management.  In fact, in many cases there is no question that management was well aware, or ought to have been aware, that safe mining practices were not being performed.

As stated in Chief Justice Richard's report:

There was no question that Westray management knew that the levels of methane underground at the coal mine were hazardous.  Under section 72 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, such conditions mandated the withdrawal of workers from the affected area, and that is the primary reason, management in this instance chose to ignore that fact.


In this situation, as in all situations, the open door policy of management could have helped prevent the deaths of the 26 coal miners that devastating morning...

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 March 13   Note about the missing link
     http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=36&Ses=2&DocId=2332187#LINK2


Private Members' Business

Westray Mine


Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland-Colchester, PC):
Madam Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me to talk about this issue which stems from an awful disaster that happened in 1992 in Nova Scotia not too far from my riding.  I remember it well.  I was the member of parliament for Cumberland-Colchester at the time.  I represent an area that has a large number of coal mines and we have seen our share of coal mine disasters in Springhill, River Hebert, Joggins and all those places that thrived on coal in the early years.  This motion is very dear to my heart.

The father of the hon. member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough who initiated this motion was the member of parliament for that area.  I remember going to the scene of the disaster and the Hon. Elmer MacKay was there virtually 24 hours a day until it was determined that there was no more hope for the 26 miners lost.  He worked with the people hand in hand and was always present to help them.

I want to congratulate my colleague from Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough for working so hard to ensure that workplace safety is a top priority of the Government of Canada as well as the business community.

We will be voting on this motion.  It will be interesting to see which members are in favour of amending the criminal code to protect workers in Canada from coast to coast.  I am confident this motion will gain the support of the entire House or at least one would certainly hope so considering the ramifications.

This morning on the airplane coming to Ottawa I happened to open the Globe and Mail and there was a story that reminded me of the Westray incident.  The article stated: "Ashen-faced relatives stood in silence watching rescuers coated in coal dust drag up the bodies of the people killed in the Ukrainian mine disaster".  That just happened hours ago and it sounds exactly like what happened in Westray.  The draegermen were bringing up the bodies.  It was such a sad thing and to think it could have been avoided.

I would like to take a moment this morning to read the motion.  It is important that we remember what we are talking about.  I will read the motion into the record so that everybody is clear about what we are dealing with. Motion No. 79 states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Criminal Code or other appropriate federal statutes should be amended in accordance with Recommendation 73 of the Province of Nova Scotia's Public Inquiry into the Westray disaster, specifically with the goal of ensuring that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety.


What could make more sense than that?  The awful thing is that the study to which the hon. member refers was started in 1992 and was just tabled in 1997.  His motion stems from that study.

The need for a rational standard of business behaviour goes without saying.  However it is every bit as important that once the laws are established, provisions are created to ensure that bureaucrats do not tokenize the enforcement of those laws.  There can be no double standards...

A small number of executives still escape liability because their lawyers show them how to hide behind jurisdictional boundaries.  Even if convicted of violating the occupational health and safety statutes, existing provincial penalties are minimal compared to the rewards generated by their violation.  This motion would require total accountability of executives with no loopholes.

Unfortunately we have seen many examples of occupational safety in the workplace taking second spot behind the bottom line, especially in the mining industry where the very nature of the work involves a great deal of risk.  It is the duty of company officers to ensure the work is done in the safest possible conditions.

I again refer to the newspaper article about the Ukrainian explosion which so mirrors the Westray explosion.  The article said "a preliminary investigation suggested that Saturday's accident was a methane explosion caused by a violation of safety standards".  That is exactly what happened at Westray.

Ukraine's energy minister also said that safety violations were likely at fault.  The miners usually blame accidents on the unwillingness of officials to spend money on maintaining or upgrading safety equipment.  History certainly has repeated itself there.

Often corporate executives sometimes seem less interested in the merits of workplace safety in pursuit of the bottom line.  This is a very dangerous scenario.  We must be mindful of it and do everything we can to prevent it.

In the case of the Westray tragedy, labour safety standards, in particular minimal safety standards, were not adhered to to the extent they should have been, much like we have read about regarding the Ukrainian explosion.

Looking at this issue in the larger context, there must also be recognition of the role of government to ensure proper standards are met, not only set but met.  It stands to reason that when weighing business goals versus those of safety, sometimes businesses find themselves pulled in many ways.  They have to meet production deadlines, outperform competitors, increase bottom lines, et cetera.  That is where the human element and the safety issue must be exercised.

Far too often businesses and indeed heads of corporations are obsessed with financial gain leaving the safety of their workers neglected.  That type of short term gain often results in long term pain, as was the case at Westray.

One thing that really struck me was the name of the study.  The report that was done on the Westray mine disaster was entitled "A Predictable Path to Disaster".  That is a sad commentary on safety in the mining industry and the executives involved in that industry.  A predictable path; they could have predicted that the disaster was going to happen, yet it still did.

Safety regulations, management and government all failed in their duties to those miners.  Tough economic times which exist in the country put further pressure on workers.  That is why this is so timely.  The economic impact of having to shut down a corporation affects everyone in that company.  The employees, management, board of directors and anyone associated with that business are going to feel a negative impact if there has to be an operational shutdown as a result of a potential breach of safety.

That is the cost of doing business and we have to do everything to ensure that those safety practices are followed.  In the case of Westray they were almost trivial things which were overlooked: sensors shut down, alarms disconnected, comments from the miners disregarded, and things like that.

Companies must ensure the avoidance of hazardous or illegal practices such as those which cannot be condoned in any capacity.  If companies have not already done so, they should do everything within their power to implement safe and ethical work practices.  Ethics such as these should be studied and followed everywhere in places of employment, especially in upper management.  If this is not the case, action must be taken to demonstrate the importance and seriousness of the issue.  Business executives must promote and nurture safe work ethics and have an open and approachable attitude toward all employees.

As Nova Scotia experienced with the Westray disaster, senior bureaucrats within the provincial workplace and enforcement agencies became compromised by regional politics and vested interests.  This practice is suspected to be occurring in other provinces even today, almost eight years after that explosion...

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):
Madam Speaker ... As the previous member who spoke indicated, one cannot be unmindful of the chilling news of the death of 80 miners in Ukraine which has occurred in the last few days.  Let us not be so smug in the House as to think that the same kind of unsafe conditions, the same kind of neglect by employers and governments cannot repeat itself in Canada.  Until we take serious legislative measures to put in place the protections that are necessary, including an enactment in legislation of the sentiment of this motion, this situation can and indeed will occur again...

At issue in this motion is recommendation No. 73 of the exhaustive Westray report.  That recommendation would establish criminal responsibility for decision makers who knowingly put their workers at undue risk.  It is the basis for this motion and the basis for my private member's Bill C-259.  Supporting the motion which is before us would tell Canadian workers that their representatives will stand for them.  Supporting Bill C-259 would show Canadian workers that their representatives will stand for them...

I think the clincher comes from the Prime Minister's office:

I share your concerns about the Westray Mine explosion...that is why the government has a comprehensive range of programs to promote workplace safety.


The translation of that statement is "Despite everything that the Westray inquiry documented, despite the recommendations coming out of the Westray inquiry, despite the fact that workers continue to be put in unsafe working conditions, there is no real problem. The existing regime does the job".

If the existing regime did the job, then there would not have been 26 miners' lives lost in the Westray explosion...

Mr. Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, PC):
Madam Speaker ... The Westray disaster of May 9, 1992 continues to resonate as a beacon of what should be done to improve worker safety, not just in Canada but around the world.

Earlier today I heard the hon. member for Cumberland-Colchester speak of the recent mine disaster in Ukraine.  Canada can play a role in introducing changes to our criminal code that would be world leading in terms of their impact on occupational health and safety issues and corporate accountability, not just in Canada but around the world.

I remember the time of the disaster in 1992.  I was on business in New York when I heard the news.  It was one of the few times I listened to national public radio in New York.  I was running in Central Park when I heard the news.  It was one of the few times that I ever heard about Nova Scotia in the U.S. national media.  It was a sad moment because, of all the positive things that we understand about Nova Scotia and Canada, it is often this kind of disaster that captures the U.S. media.  The sadness continues to affect those families, whose lives have been forever changed by the disaster...

The chilling message that came from the Westray disaster was that even today, in this day and age, occupational health and safety issues continually are ignored by companies, particularly, it would seem, in the coal mining industry, but in other sectors as well.

Increasingly executives are compensated based on stock options.  While that can be very positive in terms of creating a synergistic relationship between the goals of the executive from a compensatory perspective and the goals of the shareholders by encouraging executives to maximize shareholder value, it can also focus the efforts of executives on very short term results which can often have a negative impact on the long term results of a company, whether it is corporate and financial, or in this case the safety of workers...

I encourage all members of the House to support Motion No. 79.  I commend the member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough for proposing very sound legislation in the motion.  We need to ensure that occupational health and safety issues are dealt with in the same way that environmental issues are dealt with strongly by the criminal code.

Corporate executives must be responsible not just to their shareholders but to Canadians at large, to the workers who toil in the mines, to the wildlife that depend on a clean environment.  We need to ensure that environmental standards, health and safety and occupational health issues are dealt with appropriately.

The only way to deal with these issues in the economically driven and globally competitive society we live in today is through strong changes to the criminal code to ensure that all workers are safe in their workplace.  All corporate executives must do everything they can to ensure that Canada has the highest standards in occupational health and safety in the world.

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills-Grasslands, Reform):
Madam Speaker, it was not my intention to speak to the motion.  However because the previous three members who spoke have more or less moved away from the generalities of the motion and directed their attention solely to the Westray disaster, I would like to make a contribution.  I am a mining engineer by profession and I have worked many years underground in many parts of the world.  I would like to give the House my particular take on this disaster.

The last member who spoke made specific reference to the negligence of the regulatory system.  He did not use those words but I will use them.  I believe that the heart of the problem at Westray was that there was such enormous political pressure to open this mine in the first place, when there was good advice from mining experts that it was not a viable operation, that the shaft should never have been sunk, that they had had methane problems in that area historically every time they tried to mine there.  There was definitely a recommendation that the mine not be developed.  However, because of provincial and federal pressures and the huge amounts of government money put forward to get this thing going, there was also pressure on the regulatory system.  As I understand it, and I stand to be corrected, I believe the mine inspector was under considerable pressure not to shut that operation down.

When I was working in the mines, I never ever encountered a situation where line management was anything but safety conscious.  Line managers would do whatever was necessary to keep a mine safe.  They had the advantage of having the mine inspectors behind them.  In other words, even if management in Toronto said they had to get production up, line management could still do whatever was necessary to keep the mine safe.  They had the full weight and force of the mine inspector behind them because the mine inspector could shut them down.  They had that power.

We are perhaps shooting at the wrong target here.  The problem at Westray was not governance.  The problem at Westray was safety enforcement.  Perhaps we might say that line management was guilty but the mine inspection system failed.  Any mine inspector should have been able to spot the violations which have been described here which took place in that mine.

Because there was this one particular disaster, let us not talk about revamping a law which has served us well over the years.  That is the law which exempts directors.  I am not talking about executives or line management; I am talking about directors.  Who in the devil would want to be the director of a company if he or she was going to be held responsible for things that are happening out in the field?  The directors do not make managerial decisions.  They have nothing to do with it.

A man would have to be insane to accept a directorial position for which he is paid a very small amount of money with most companies.  There are directors of multinational companies who are well paid, but the directors of most companies work for an honorarium.  They get paid so much a meeting and that is it.  Who would take on a position like that?  Not me, not if I were going to be held responsible for something that happened 2,000 or 3,000 miles away that I did not know anything about and had no input into.

The problem here is government, government, government.  The government failed.  The civil servants failed.  A group of miners was unnecessarily killed because the inspection system did not work.  The inspection system did not do its job.  We rely on regulators in industry in this country to keep everyone honest and they did not do it...

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore, NDP):
Madam Speaker... What happened at Westray did not have to happen.  Miners and their families are very concerned about their loved ones who go underground on a daily basis to earn their bread, and to pay their taxes so that we in the House of Commons can put forth legislation to protect them.  For us to ignore their demands and wishes is a dereliction of our responsibilities and our duties.  We simply cannot allow this to happen any longer.

There was an exhaustive Westray report which made some very serious and admirable recommendations, but that report is now three years old.  What has the government done?  Absolutely nothing.  I wonder if it is waiting for the next mine disaster before doing something...

On behalf of all Nova Scotians and working people throughout the country, I encourage all political parties, especially those in government, to take heed of this very special motion, as well as the bill of my leader, Bill C-259, to take very seriously the recommendations for workers' rights and safety and to ignore the concerns of people like Clifford Frame... who have absolutely no moral leadership in the country, who want to extract wealth at the cheapest price possible, including that of labour, and who leave the country when a disaster happens.  There was absolutely no moral leadership, and for any government to support those two people over workers' rights is absolutely disastrous and scandalous...

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2000 March 27,   page 2634
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han58-1/h00mar27.htm#[Page%202634]


Resolution Number 782


Dr. John Hamm, the Premier:
    Mr. Speaker, I have the permission of the House Leaders opposite to have four whereases in this resolution which is not the custom of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas Recommendation 73 of the Province of Nova Scotia's public inquiry into the Westray Mine disaster called on the federal government to hold corporate executives and directors accountable for workplace safety, through amendments to the Criminal Code or other appropriate federal Statutes; and
    Whereas for over two years Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough MP Peter MacKay has pressed Ottawa to act on Recommendation 73 becoming the first Member of Parliament from Nova Scotia to sponsor a private member's initiative to that effect; and
    Whereas last week the House of Commons voted 216 to 15 in support of Mr. MacKay's motion and referred it to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for consideration; and
    Whereas federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough has sponsored her own private member's bill on Recommendation 73;
    Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Government of Canada to act decisively to implement Recommendation No. 73 of the Westray Report, through amendments to the Criminal Code or other appropriate Statutes.
    Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye.  Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.

[boldface emphasis added]




House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 June 5
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/2/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/107_2000-06-05/han107_2055-e.htm


Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):
Mr. Speaker ...
If it is too much to ask government members to go back and look at what happened in the province of Nova Scotia when coal mining was in the hands of the private sector, maybe some of the members opposite could take a moment to think about what went on in the hands of a private corporation in Nova Scotia more recently.  There is no one opposite, particularly this week, who can pretend they do not know the history of what happened under the private corporation, the Westray mine, Curragh Resources.

I have to say that in my twenty years in politics, without a doubt, the most horrifying experience that I have ever endured was to spend an evening, as I recall of four or five hours, with the coal miners who had survived the Westray disaster and with the widows and families of the victims of the Westray disaster a day or two after the lives of those 26 miners were lost.  If there was one thing that became clear to me, it was the difference it made to coal mining in Cape Breton and in fact much more dangerous coal mining taking place in Cape Breton.  Let us be clear that it was much more challenging, with very deep mines way out under the ocean floor.  There is no question that it was very dangerous work and very vulnerable to any number of horrifying kinds of disasters.

Does anyone know what the difference was?  There was a genuine sense that the public interest had to be protected, that the lives and the livelihoods of the miners had to be protected and that this was a resource, this was an asset to the whole of the Cape Breton and Nova Scotia economy.  What a contrast between the experience of workers employed by Devco, a crown corporation in Nova Scotia over the last several decades, and the horrors of what happened under the private coal mining company of Curragh Resources at Westray.

When I contemplate the kind of private industry start-up that apparently the government is very enthusiastic about, at least in concept, I do not think we are fully convinced that the government is serious about coal mining continuing under private auspices.  In fact there is every reason to be suspicious that this really is the government saying "Let us wrap up the coal mining in Cape Breton and let us just move on".  There is every reason to be concerned about what this is really about.  Even if we took the government at its word and it was enthusiastic about coal mining under private auspices, we have to wonder if it has really learned anything from the lesson of Westray.

If there was any member opposite who did not fully understand what that lesson was before last week, there is no excuse now for saying that they do not understand it.  The United Steelworkers of America that represent the surviving miners from Westray have been here on the Hill for the last eight days to make sure that there is no person in this Chamber, no one representing workers anywhere in the 301 ridings in the country who does not understand what it meant for coal mining to take place under the auspices of a private company and where there was no assurance whatsoever of there being a union.  That is the other part of it, the health and safety laws of this country mean nothing in the context of a union free mine setting.  I have to say in conclusion that the backdrop for this is very alarming, as is the failure of the government to learn the lessons of history...

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 June 7   Note about the missing link
     http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=1031722&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=36&Ses=2


Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has the honour to present its Fifth Report.  In accordance with its Order of Reference of Tuesday, March 21, 2000, your Committee has considered the motion, as amended, of Mr. MacKay (Pictou - Antigonish - Guysborough), seconded by Mr. Bernier (Tobique - Mactaquac), - That, in the opinion of this House, the Criminal Code or other appropriate federal statutes should be amended, after consideration by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in accordance with Recommendation 73 of the Province of Nova Scotia's Public Inquiry into the Westray disaster, specifically with the goal of ensuring that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety.  Your Committee has agreed on Tuesday, June 6, 2000, to recommend that the Minister of Justice and the Department of Justice bring forward proposed legislation in accordance with the said motion and the principles underlying Bill C-259 for consideration by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.  In accordance with the Standing Order 109, the Committee requests the Government to table a comprehensive response to the report...
(Presented to the House on June 7, 2000)

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2000 October 5
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/2/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/127_2000-10-05/han127-e.htm


Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights


Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney-Victoria, NDP) moved that the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, presented on Wednesday, June 7, 2000, be concurred in.

Mr. Mancini said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to move concurrence in that report and by way of background to indicate exactly why I am doing that.  I have very real concerns.  I know those concerns would be shared by other members of the justice committee, and certainly by other members of my party.

In June of this year the justice committee met to discuss a private member's bill dealing with the Westray mine disaster.  The justice committee considered that bill.  A motion was moved by me.  A great deal of work was done by the hon. member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough.  There has been a great deal of work done on this bill by the leader of my party, the hon. member for Halifax, and by the hon. member for Churchill in Manitoba.  This issue is not just an Atlantic issue.  It crosses all lines.  There has also been a great deal of work done by the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre, our justice critic.

At the justice committee there was a rare and I think unique feeling when the committee determined that the justice department should bring back to the committee a bill giving substance to the spirit of the report filed after the Westray disaster.

There are rules that determine when the minister can respond to that motion from the justice committee.  There is no requirement for an election for another year and a half.  I am concerned, and I know my concern would be shared by other members of the House, that if an election were called and the House did not proceed to its full mandate this most important issue would die on the order paper.  We would have to begin all over again in a new parliament, seeking to give life and legislation to the spirit of the report of Justice Richard and to bring justice to the families of those involved in the Westray mine disaster.

I do not need to repeat the history of that unfortunate day in Nova Scotia and, indeed, that unfortunate day in Canada.  I will for the record indicate the brief facts.

As many members who have followed this debate will know and as many members who have led and allowed their names to stand as movers and supporters of this bill will know, it was on May 9, 1992 that the Westray mine exploded, killing 26 miners.  The coal mine in Pictou was officially opened eight months earlier.  Federal financial assistance was approved which permitted the project to proceed.  There were very real questions surrounding the operation of that mine.

After the explosion on December 1, 1997, and after five and a half years of work, a four volume report was produced from the Westray mine public inquiry, entitled "The Westray Story: A Predictable Path to Disaster".  The report was scathing.  Comments have been made by myself and by other members who have spoken in support of some kind of legislation that would prevent the same kind of thing from happening again.

I will quote, as I have before, from the words of Mr. Justice K. Peter Richard.  He said "the Westray story is a story of incompetence, of mismanagement, of bureaucratic bungling, of deceit, of ruthlessness, of cover-up, of apathy, of expediency and of cynical indifference".

The fundamental and basic responsibility for the safe operation of an underground coal mine, and indeed of any industrial undertaking, rests clearly with management.  In this disaster there is no question that these labourers went underground into a situation where they ought not to have gone and they paid with their lives.  There is no question that if this act had been done by an individual there would have been a charge of homicide.  Because it is a corporation and because of all kinds of legal implications coming from that, justice has never been achieved.

In his report, Justice Richard recommended very clearly that there be a new criminal offence that would impose criminal liabilities on directors and other responsible corporate agents for failing to ensure that their corporation maintained an appropriate standard of occupational health and safety in the workplace; that there be a criminal offence of corporate killing.

We know the statistics.  We know that almost 10,000 workers die every year as a result of their work and possibly because of corporate negligence.  We know that three workers are injured every day on the job site.  From the time the justice committee met in June until today, how many months, how many lives how much corporate irresponsibility have taken place?  No mechanism exists in the criminal code for the courts to deal with this in the way that Justice Richard envisioned as a result of the Westray mine disaster.

I know that members from the United Steelworkers were at the justice committee hearing.  They have done a tremendous amount of work on this bill.  They have provided background notes.  They have had legal counsel work on the bill.  Everyone who was in the room the day the justice committee met was impressed with the spirit of co-operation from all parties that asked the Minister of Justice to bring forward legislation.  It was a most amazing day.  This crossed party lines.  The member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough worked very closely with us on this issue.  The chair of the justice committee was moved by the testimony he heard from families who had been affected by the Westray mine disaster.  Coming out of this was a moment when partisanship was put aside in the name of justice.

We face the prospect of losing, if not today perhaps in the next week or two, the momentum and the opportunity to have legislation brought forward if parliament prorogues and an election is called.

Today I am rising to remind the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Labour and members of the House of the importance of this legislation.  It has been literally years in the making.  It has taken the blood, the sweat and the tears of the families of the Westray miners to bring it this far.  It has taken the perseverance of the United Steelworkers.  It has taken the putting aside of partisanship by members of parliament.

I would like to hear from the minister, either tomorrow or when the House resumes on October 16, some indication that before an election is called-and I have indicated that there is no need for an election call-the legislation will be brought forward immediately to be given passage in the House in whatever form it takes to get it on the books and into the criminal code so we do not lose this opportunity.

I have concerns about that from a number of perspectives.  As a lawyer who has dealt with the criminal code and as someone who has been interested in justice for a long time, I have a very real concern that when we have a report that makes a strong recommendation and it is not acted on, then the administration of justice falls into disrepute.  Respect for the justice system is a cornerstone of any civilized society.

We now have a situation that cries out for justice.  We have done the studies and have finished the report.  We have agreement from the parties.  We have to give life to that if the public, and especially the workers of this country, is to have respect for the justice system.

I also have concerns about it because I come from a coal mining community.  The member who seconded my opportunity to speak today, the member for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton, comes from a coal mining community.  In fact, it was the coal miners in our community who went into the Westray mine to retrieve some of the bodies of the workers and who put their own lives at risk for their brothers in the mine.  Those people have contacted me and the member for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton and have asked whether there is going to be legislation.  They wanted to know if we were going to give life to this legislation so that workers who go down into the mines and workers who put their lives at risk in terms of labour every day would be protected.

Will there be some accounting at the end that says the corporation can be held liable for gross mismanagement, for negligence or, and this is where we take a further step, for malice aforethought, for deliberate actions, knowing that they can result in the loss of life?

I and other members have heard from our constituents and from people across the country who want this legislation passed.  I do not think I exaggerate the urgency of bringing this legislation forward in the name of justice, in the name of the Canadian people, in the name of the workers of the Westray mine who lost their lives, and in the name of those people who came before the committee and testified in the most moving way.

I remember when the brother of one of the miners who was killed sat at the table and told his story of his quiet, dignified search for justice.  It moved everyone in the committee to the point where we could put aside partisan differences and say that something needed to be done.

What we need to do is amend the criminal code so that corporate executives and directors are held accountable for workplace safety.  This is not something foreign.  This has been done in other jurisdictions.  Such legislation exists in Great Britain and Australia, and there is a movement in the United States to review it.  It is not something that is unfathomable or that has never been done in another jurisdiction.  It exists.

There is an opportunity to examine other pieces of legislation.  We have done that.  I can cite chapter and verse of other legislation in other countries that makes it an offence for corporations to knowingly put the lives of their workers at risk in order to maximize profit, open a mine or make sure that the last shipment of goods gets on the train.

What price do workers in the year 2000 have to pay for corporate profits, and not even for corporate profits sometimes, but just to make sure that the order book is full and the work gets out?

In the Westray mine disaster, the corporation knew there were faults in the mine and knew that the equipment was not working safely, but it put great pressure on the non-unionized workers to go into the mines every day, and the workers went.

Some people have said that the workers had a choice and that they did not have to go.  When I hear that I think about all the workers who go out to work every day in order to feed and clothe their children, pay their mortgage and be courageous citizens.  That is their priority.  They put their lives and safety at risk in order to work.  To say that they have a choice, especially in the part of the country that I come from where the unemployment rate is high and the opportunity for work is minimal, is not so easy.  To choose not to work is not so easy.

On the Atlantic coast, whether it is in fishing, mining, forestry or farming, we have a history of that kind of dangerous work.  The first time I spoke to this bill I talked about what it was like growing up in those communities.  What we know from growing up in Nova Scotia is the sound of the whistle when there is a disaster in the mine.  We know what it means for the men and women on the fishing boats in the north Atlantic when we look out at the horizon and the storm clouds gather.  We know what it is like in the steel mill when there is a catastrophe.  We grew up knowing these things.

Accidents can happen as a matter of chance, but when they happen because a corporation has determined that the lives of its workers are not a factor in determining the balance sheet, then it is time for us to say that it is a crime.  It is time for us to say that when a corporation knowingly determines to send men and women possibly to their deaths and it has the means to prevent that and does not, it is time for us to say that it is a crime.

I rise today on this motion because we said that in the justice committee.  We sent it to the minister and asked for a bill to be brought back that would make it a crime for those directors and corporations to kill their workers.

We know we will hear it again today in question period and there will be some banter back and forth about when there will be an election.  The Prime Minister may say that we will be in our seats on the 16th, 17th or 18th, but there may be an election call after that.  Everybody has his or her own reasons for an election call.  I am not afraid of it and am prepared to fight it.  However, when we have important pieces of legislation in the making let us not put those pieces of legislation at risk.

I urge the Minister of Justice, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour to issue a public statement.

They do not have to because they have a few days before they have to report back to the justice committee.  However, in the name of decency, in the names of the members of the justice committee who brought forward a unanimous report and of the witnesses who testified, I ask them to indicate within the next two days whether they will bring forward to the House legislation giving life to the commitment made by the justice committee, by the steelworkers and by the families of the miners who went underground and lost their lives.  Anything less is negligence and arrogance on the part of the government.

We know this legislation is needed.  That is not contested.  We know this legislation is important.  That is not contested.  We know the legislation can be brought into effect.  That is not contested.  Why wait?  Let us do it.  We will have other legislation pushed through the House before an election call.  The government has no hesitation about pushing through its EI changes.  The government may have no hesitation to put through its health accord.  In the name of decency, let us bring forward a bill that we can all agree needs to be enacted and give life to the Westray legislation.

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, again my hon. colleague from Sydney-Victoria on the beautiful island of Cape Breton has given one of the more eloquent speeches the House has ever heard in the history of parliament.

The hon. member comes from the coal mining area of Cape Breton.  If people across the country, especially the government and the official opposition, listen to what he said about decency and the protection of workers, by the time 5 p.m. today there is a good chance that three more Canadians will be killed on the job.  That is most unfortunate and is an alarming statistic.

Bill S-20 is coming from the Senate on tobacco legislation and Imperial Tobacco seems to be 100% behind it.  However, we have not heard anything about what corporations or multinationals think about this particular bill.  Could the hon. member speak on the multinationals who support the Liberal Party and the Canadian Alliance?  Does he suggest that they may be against the bill in order to account for themselves when it comes to this type of action?

Mr. Peter Mancini:
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question and I am thankful for the compliment.

I have not heard a response from corporations or the multinationals with regard to the Westray legislation nor do I think any other member of the justice committee has heard one.  If they have, I have not been apprised of that.

They are silent because there is a recognition that this may change the way corporations do business to some extent.  I do not want to use a broad brush to paint every corporation.  There are some corporations that take the safety of their employees very seriously.  They are to be applauded.  They have nothing to fear from this legislation.  There are some employers and corporations that work with the unions to negotiate collective agreements and health and safety standards.  They have nothing to fear from this legislation and they should be congratulated for that.

It is corporations like the owners of the mine in Westray who, if there were any question about the owners' culpability in this, not only sent these men to their deaths but evaded the justice system.  They refused to testify at a public inquiry.  They hid behind jurisdictional questions of warrants to demand their appearance.  The managers of that mine did everything possible not just to evade responsibility but to refuse to testify to help shed light on how the tragedy happened.

Those are the corporations, the managers and the directors who have something to fear from this legislation, as well they should.  I think many of the corporations have been silent in that regard because that may be the kind of management they want.  It would be most helpful, and I suppose it would help the corporate image, if those companies that believe in workers' safety came forward and said they were prepared to support the legislation.  However, we have not heard that yet.  I issue the challenge to every chamber of commerce in the country to read the proposed Westray bill and indicate their support and their citizen obligation.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough, PC):
Mr. Speaker, I very much support and attach myself to the comments made by the member for Sydney-Victoria.  I know that he has a very innate personal interest in this, as was apparent by his remarks.

This is a matter which unfortunately could be put on the slate as more unfinished business on the part of the government.  We have seen many indications that the coming days and weeks may result in an election call.  This is an election call that I think a growing number of Canadians are looking at with a great deal of cynicism.  They are viewing this as merely opportunistic, something that is being driven by polls rather than by public commitment and a commitment to complete very important pieces of legislation.

This is but one among many.  We know that there is a health accord which was ratified by the provinces and is supposed to in some small measure address the crisis in our health care system.  That legislation is a postdated cheque which will never be cashed if the House is dissolved for a general election.

There is important legislation pertaining to the criminal code, the youth criminal justice act, which is badly in need of fixing or replacing.  We know the government gave a commitment over seven years ago to do something about that legislation.  However, we are on the possible eve of an election and it has not been done.  That promise has not been kept or fulfilled.

There are numerous pieces of important legislation regarding the environment, health care, justice and taxation.  There are important legislative initiatives which do receive support from the opposition.  They will simply die on the order paper.  Canadians need to understand that.  The initiatives will go to the Senate, if they pass through the House, and will be gassed.  They will not see the light of day.  These are hollow promises.  If the government is to point to this legislation as something which has been fulfilled, it is dead wrong.

This particular debate that was brought about by the hon. member for Sydney-Victoria deals with Motion No. 79, which was moved by the Progressive Conservative Party.  It called upon the government to respond to the recommendations of the Westray report by Mr. Justice Peter Richard on the tragic event in Plymouth, Nova Scotia when the Westray mine exploded killing 26 men.

That poignant moment resulted in the renewed discussion about workplace safety, the renewed focus on how we could try to prevent such disasters and how, through legislation, we could bring about greater accountability and responsibility.

Not all disasters are preventable.  Arguably and quite rightly, this is one that most agree could have been avoided by taking proper steps to ensure the safety of those workers who went down into the mine was protected and that all the necessary steps had been taken by the management and the province, which oversaw the safety of the workplace environment.  It could have been avoided if those parties had taken real cautions to ensure that a dangerous workplace environment did not exist.  Sadly, that did not happen.

There has already been much discussion on Motion No. 79 in this place which was a carry-over from a previous parliament before prorogation.  It gave members of the House the opportunity to put forward their positions and their party's position.  Initially, members of the government were very reluctant to embrace even the idea of bringing this matter to the public debate.  They were very reluctant to discuss it.  They did not want this matter to go to the justice committee, where it eventually did aspire.  When it got there, as was alluded to by the member for Sydney-Victoria, there was an incredible catharsis.  There was suddenly a change on the part of the government in its willingness to discuss this issue.  It was very heartening and encouraging to see that happen because it washed away some of the partisanship and politics involved in workplace safety and in this type of issue.

Let us make no mistake about this.  This is a human issue.  This is an issue that touches lives and potentially takes lives if we do not act.  The indication that we heard from many of the witnesses was that shocking numbers of people are killed and injured in the workplace every day.  Not all of that is preventable and we would be naive to suggest otherwise.  However, the reality is that much of it is preventable.  Much of what has to change and evolve as a result of initiatives from this place is the attitude and the thinking on the part of corporations and people who have the final say over the setting of rules and regulations within the workplace.

How do we do that?  Part of the solution lies in changes to the criminal code which will bring about a sense of accountability and will in instances where there is neglect and obvious situations being ignored, bring about some form of accountability, deterrence and denunciation.  All of this is in the name of public protection and in the name of prevention.

This is a mother's milk type of issue and one that everyone can agree on.  Yet we do not seem to have the inner fortitude or the ability to mobilize to get this matter moving in terms of legislation.  We had that unique opportunity at the justice committee as was referred to.  There was a very real significant move in the room.  I was in that justice committee and felt it as well.  There was a genuine intent that we would move forward.  Sadly, that seems to be lost.  Like many of the other initiatives we have seen, it stands there on the precipice ready to take that leap yet, cynically, all of that is cast aside.

We have an opportunity to salvage that.  We can ask for and rightly so expect that the government will now take the initiative and bring about legislation. The justice department should have been clearly instructed. The intent was there. The intent of parliament was what led this motion to get to the justice committee. Then it continued, it snowballed and we did hear testimony from the United Steelworkers.

We heard the testimony of Howard Sim and Vernon Theriault. Mr. Theriault was part of the heroic effort by draggermen from Cape Breton, Pictou county and surrounding areas who went down into the mine with the hope that some life had survived the tragic and massive explosion in Plymouth. That is the sort of human spirit that should inspire us to keep the dream alive of somehow bringing about improved laws and legislation. It is not the total answer by any means but it certainly moves the yardsticks and takes us forward in a futuristic way.

We hear the rhetoric. We hear constant references that we have to do this and that this is the underpinning of parliamentary democracy. We hear some party members, the Liberal Party members in particular, very cynically indicating that they are the only ones who speak out for Canadians. That is not the case. It is completely cynical to suggest that this party, this natural governing party as it likes to refer to itself, is the only one speaking out for the interests of Canadians.

We are faced with an issue of complete moral duty when we talk about protecting lives and workplace safety. It is something so fundamental. When people get up in the morning and go out the door to their workplace, whether it is into a factory or on a trawler or in the woods or into a mine or an office building, it is not too much for them to expect or hope that they will be able to return to their homes safely that evening to be with their loved ones. Surely that is not something which should be too much for any Canadian to expect. Yet we are tasked in this place with trying to ensure that is just what happens.

Obviously there are workplaces that are more dangerous than others, but there are natural consequences that can flow from putting oneself in harm's way. I think particularly of firemen and police officers for whom it is implicit in their job descriptions that they may find themselves in danger. We should be looking constantly for ways to improve safety and protection of human life. We can do that through legislation to a large extent.

That is all. That is the simple, fundamental goal we are seeking, all members of parliament across party lines, across the floor, and we hope not too many more will cross the floor. This is something that is most serious and most timely. The easy thing to do would be to do nothing. The easy thing to do would be to simply bump along.

It is an aberration when we see bold moves from the Liberal government. It has inherited a healthy economy, or at least an economy that has stabilized, much as a result of a prior government's economic planning, plans and legislative initiatives, bold and unpopular as they were. When I say unpopular, members of the same Liberal government while in opposition chastised and absolutely railed against those initiatives. However, through the glass ceiling of hypocrisy we have seen that attitude change. They have embraced and called their own the same legislative initiatives they railed against.

Not to digress on that record, to look at this issue with anything other than a humanistic, impartial eye is a derogation of our responsibility. We must encourage the Minister of Justice and her department. I would suggest it is broader than just looking at criminal code amendments. The issue goes beyond simply suggesting that changing one provision or one section of the criminal code will provide the answers. We have to look at labour laws. We have to look at occupational health and safety. We have to include the provinces to ensure that there is the same standard.

When I talk of standards I talk of the health care issue we will be debating at some point in the very near future. Again, it is spurred very much in its timing because of a looming election. Health care is not fixed. Let us be clear about that. The government is putting back a portion of the money removed since it took office. It is putting back a small portion that in many ways pales by comparison to what was removed. It reminds me of Freddy Krueger offering a band-aid to one of his victims after he slashed them.

Canadians are tired of that type of cynicism. They want to see action. They want to see real action, not just the perception of action and talk of action. The government has not lived up to its commitment in that regard.

It has talked a great talk. It has given very much the perception and feeling to Canadians that health care is fixed, that the criminal code has been fixed and that taxation is under control. That is not the case. One only has to visit a local hospital, to talk to individuals who are struggling to get by, to talk to a student who is saddled with a huge student loan and debt and has to leave the country to find work, or to talk to individuals who are doing their very best as single parents to get by on seasonal employment and face horrendous cuts to seasonal unemployment insurance.

With all this coming to fruition and with people struggling out there, the government says that it will help. By the way, since Canadians will be going to the polls very soon, the government wants to remind them that it is helping them. It asks them to forget about the fact that it is the one who put them in the situation. It is now ready to throw a rope and pull them ashore. It sees that they are drowning and it will now throw a rope. They are only being pulled halfway ashore.

What Canadians want to ask themselves is whom do they trust to be on the other end of the rope. Which national leader do they want to be pulling them in as they are drowning?  Do they trust the person on the other end of that rope?  I would suggest there is only one leader in this place that should earn and has deservedly earned the trust of Canadians, and that is the Right Hon. Joe Clark. He has always done what he said he would do. When we talk about trust in government—

The Deputy Speaker:
I know the hon. member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough meant the right hon. member for Kings-Hants. I know he would want to be sure to use the name of his riding. Perhaps he has forgotten the right hon. member is now a member of the House and must be referred to by his proper title.

Mr. Peter MacKay:
In my enthusiasm I may have misspoken. When we say Joe who, we all know who now. The right hon. member for Kings-Hants has a long record of public service and a long record of honesty and integrity which I think is recognized and acknowledged by all members in this place.

This issue is one that will not go away. Whether it dies in this legislative attempt by members of the opposition, or whether it is embraced and rallied forward by the government, it is not an issue that will go away any time soon, nor will the problems in health or the problems in our economy.

Canadians expect that members of parliament, and in particular the Prime Minister, are here to lead. We heard a great deal about leaders and leadership in the past number of days. To be a leader one needs vision. That seems to be what is lacking in this place and in this current government.

There is no vision. The government bumps along and reacts to crisis. When the wheels are off it offers some support, some comfort. To prevent future problems, to somehow lay out a plan that will address problems before they happen, is the particular issue we are focused on in this debate. In terms of workplace safety, how do we put in place legislation that will save lives and prevent injury?

Let us look at the full equation. When these types of things happen there is a huge economic impact as well. Not to be callous or take away from the human impact, but when companies are forced to shut down, when persons are out of the workplace and compensation is due and deserved, when lives are lost and families are then faced with the horrible hardships that result from that type of situation, there is economic impact, that is something that is borne by all Canadians. We are lucky to have a social system that reacts, sometimes inadequately, but it is there to help.

If we can prevent these tragedies, if we can prevent this type of lasting harm to humans, the human impact and the economic impact that results, why would we not do that?  We have lots of time. We do not need to go headlong rushing into an election. We have plenty of time to react. We have unfinished work, unfinished business before the House. Let us take the time. Let us sit on the weekend if we have to. Let us get legislation done. Let us get the work done that people have entrusted us to do.

The motion brought forward by the Progressive Conservative Party did get to the justice committee. It did bring about a raised awareness and a consciousness on the part of people in this place and people across the country toward the issue. There was a willingness to act at that point.

The only thing that is preventing that now, the only impediment, is the government's timetable and, I would add to that, its priorities which seem to be very much out of sync with the priorities of others in the opposition and most Canadians.

The Westray mine sits silent. The assets are being liquidated. Yet that memory is still very poignant in Pictou county, in the province of Nova Scotia and around the country. The Westray mine has become a symbol of the tragedy and the horror that can take place when unsafe work conditions exist. It has become a symbol for every type of work. Let us not let that tragedy repeat itself. Let us not let those lives that were lost be in vain. Let us not let the heroic efforts that were made in the wake of the Westray mine disaster go unnoticed and unsubstantiated by efforts to prevent. We do have a chance to do that now.

My friend spoke of the legal implications, the malice aforethought, the callous approach and the grindings of the justice system that resulted in the aftermath of Westray. Civil implications were pursued. What was particularly striking, which doubled and exacerbated and made worse the Westray disaster, was the disaster which occurred in the legal system and the wranglings that took place. We have to try to cut through that.

Why would we not try to streamline efforts in our justice system to address issues quickly and in a timely fashion so that justice is done, seen to be done and truly done?  That was one of the many lessons that came from Westray.

We have a chance now to act as my friend indicated. We urge the government and the Minister of Justice and her department to respond quickly. Let us not rush headlong into an election. Let us do the important work we are elected to do. Westray will always be a reminder. Let us learn from those mistakes and move forward.

Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance):
Mr. Speaker, I found the hon. member's statement very interesting. I read the motion in some detail as the member was speaking and I would like him to clarify something for me.

The motion states that in the opinion of the House the criminal code or other appropriate federal statutes should be amended. That is a pretty broad request. It does not specify whether it is the criminal code that is to be amended or whether it is to be some other corporate legislation or some other justice legislation.

I was particularly impressed by his reference that we must make sure that justice is done. I could not agree more. Justice is what we want in Canada, and in particular the liability of directors. There is a provision today in legislation about the liability of directors who do not do their job and things of this sort.

Is it really amendments to the criminal code that should be studied or other legislation?  Could the hon. member give some clarification as to exactly what he intends?

Mr. Peter MacKay:
Mr. Speaker, the member has made an important point that deserves clarification. The criminal code as indicated is but one aspect. It is about liability. It is about the use of the civil code to pierce the corporate veil.

If the chain of evidence is unbroken and if there is clear indication that safety provisions have been ignored and a person has been placed in a situation where there is real danger that was avoidable, directors and those in managerial positions should face a degree of accountability. If a stream of evidence pointed directly to knowledge that was ignored, if a dangerous situation could have been remedied and a decision very often for financial reasons led the person to inaction, there should definitely be a degree of accountability. All these evidentiary matters would be examined by a court with the benefit of the presumption of innocence and all the protections that exist.

What other types of legislative initiatives can we look at?  We could look at coal mine regulations which are within federal purview. Occupational health and safety is another area that we could look at. Other federal labour codes that exist in the country could be looked at. The difficulty with much of this is provincial standards and the provincial approach to safety in the workplace. It is very much in the hands of the provinces to regulate.

We need federal statutes and legislation that encourage accountability, that encourage liability, and that will bring about a sense that there will be an accounting and deterrence and denunciation of irresponsible behaviour by those who not only in the practical sense may have created a dangerous situation but those who knew of it.

That is what I mean when I talk about attitudes changing. For years it has been assumed that those in the upper echelon in the business world, those who in many instances drive businesses to move ahead at breakneck pace, will not be held accountable, that they will somehow be able to step back and say "I just make business decisions". Business decisions affect lives, and business decisions, if they are driven only by profit, certainly create danger. That is what we learned at Westray, just as political decisions can very much create danger.

If this is truly to be about accountability and justice, that means many things to many people. Justice very much talks about fairness. It talks about accountability. It talks about openness. That is what we should all be striving for. That is what we can do by changing things in the legislative scheme in parliament.

Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or-Cape Breton, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in this Chamber today and talk about the motion put forward by my colleague from Sydney-Victoria.

It is fitting that we are having this discussion today. Over the last seven days, day after day, minute after minute, Canadians have talked about what former Prime Minister Trudeau left Canadians. They talked about his legacy. They talked about his love for all Canadians and his belief in justice for all Canadians.

What have we become as a country when we are unwilling to place a value on human lives?  That is what we are talking about. We are talking about individuals day in and day out whose very lives are put in jeopardy because of corporations' race to the bottom.

What are we asking for?  We are asking for the recognition for responsible corporations. But as I have heard the hon. member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough say, what is the rush?  Is there an election?  This is about morality. This is about us as parliamentarians and our responsibility. I believe we have a responsibility to the workers in this country to recognize the value of their lives. All we are asking is that corporations be held accountable and responsible.

I come from a part of the country that has been known on a number of occasions to have deaths occur specifically in the coal mines. While some are workplace related, they are due to the very essence of the job. When people sit and read the Westray story as I have a number of times, it should send shivers through the spine of every Canadian. Those 26 lives should have been protected. Their deaths could have been prevented in the wonderful race to the bottom.

We have become a society that looks upon its citizens as mere vehicles and not human beings. As Canadians have clearly said with respect to the legislation, we have a responsibility. We as parliamentarians have a responsibility to say that we want corporations to be accountable and we want them to be responsible if they play a role in the deaths of their workers.

That is exactly how simple this is. It is not complicated. Contrary to what the government would like Canadians to believe, that is exactly what this is about. It is about saying to companies across the country that they have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their workers.

As the member for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough said, I believe it is our responsibility as parliamentarians and Canadians to make sure that the deaths of those 26 men were not in vain, not only for us as Canadians but for their children. We must show their children that their dads did not die in vain, that we as parliamentarians and Canadians have learned a valuable lesson because of those deaths, and that we remain committed to doing everything we possibly can to make sure that deaths like those are not repeated again. If they are, then those who are responsible have to be held accountable. That is our job.

I go back to my first comment, for all of us in the House to take a minute today and ask ourselves what are we really doing here when we are not willing to stand and say as Canadians and as a government that we value our workers. That is what this is about. It is about values. Let us show some values as they relate to Canadians. Let the government show how it values workers.

The Deputy Speaker:
Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members:
Question.

The Deputy Speaker:
The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members:
Agreed.

Some hon. members:
On division.

(Motion agreed to)

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2000 November 10,   page 8600
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han58-1/h00nov10.htm#[Page%208600]

Second Reading, Bill No. 68 — Occupational Health and Safety Act

Mr. Robert Chisholm, MLA Halifax Atlantic:
Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments on Bill No. 68. Bill No. 68, pertains to the whole question of a sunset clause for regulations made pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I don't remember hearing what the minister had to say when he introduced this bill at second reading, but I expect he might have said something like, it is housekeeping, it is in order to try to keep control of regulations, this sort of thing but frankly, I am aghast at what it is that this bill is designed to do. I would just bring to your attention, in Clause 2(1) where the sunset clause is set for, "The Temporary Workplace Traffic Control Regulations, the First Aid Regulations, the Disclosure of Information Regulations and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System Regulations...", that four years after this bill comes into force, those regulations will be — I don't know what you would call it — null and void, they will no longer exist...

...That is seven years it has taken, a seven year process, in order to develop regulations, Mr. Speaker, and many of them still haven't been brought into place. The regulations on occupational health, the regulations on violence in the workplace, regulations on indoor air quality, regulations on underground mining. My concern is that, according to Bill No. 68, once these regulations are repealed, how long is it going to take us to get a new set of regulations?...

Other members before me have raised their concerns about this issue, particularly as it relates to some important occupational health and safety events or some important events that have happened over the past decade as it relates to occupational health and safety, some very serious workplace accidents where fatalities have resulted that have brought incredible attention to bear on the whole issue of occupational health and safety rules and regulations.

They referred to the Westray explosion on May 9, 1992, Mr. Speaker, where 26 miners lost their lives. As you know, there have been some very significant investigations that have followed from that event. Yesterday, I went back to Justice Richard's commissioned report, Report of the Westray Mine Public Inquiry by Justice K. Peter Richard, Commissioner, where he spent some considerable time and effort in examining the events around the disaster at Westray.

One of the major concerns that was raised was around the role of the Department of Labour and the Department of Natural Resources as it pertained to not only responding to the legislation in terms of the mines Act, which related to permitting and so on, but also the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Coal Mines Regulation Act as it pertained to the government's responsibility at ensuring that permits were granted in a way that ensured the mining that was carried out was done so in a responsible and proper manner, that a safety regime was put in place so that the lives of the people who worked there were protected.

What the investigation showed, was that all the way down the line there was some very serious abdication of responsibility, Mr. Speaker, and a real gap between what the legislation said, the regulations demanded, and what was actually done by public servants and politicians. That gap is not going to be closed by getting rid of regulations. In fact, the report talks over and over again, when it comes to responsibility, it talks about how important it is that the Department of Labour ensures any company complies with the Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It talks about how important it is that in the Department of Labour, for example, that those officials are properly trained, because it raised real concerns that the people who were left to enforce those Acts were not adequately trained, did not properly understand their responsibilities, were not being held accountable and that this led to the problem.

One of the ways to deal with that was to properly train, to ensure that there was greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of departmental staff, and ensure, Mr. Speaker, that there were additional resources brought to the administration of this particular legislation to ensure compliance both by staff, who had to enforce it, and by staff who had to work with other employers or employees, or both, to ensure that the rules were followed...

When I was thinking about this issue yesterday and listening to some of the debates, I was taken back to that time in May 1992, and subsequently the fallout from this disaster. Mr. Speaker, that was my first time in the House. I was elected in August 1991, and the first session that was held since then that I attended this House was in the spring of 1992. I was the Labour Critic, and I had to respond in this House through questions and through debate on the matter with respect to the Westray disaster. I can tell you that I remember trying to sort through all the regulations. I remember getting in my office, getting in my hands — inches, I was going to say — or pounds of paper that dealt with how this whole question was handled, the development of the Westray Mine, the involvement of the government with Curragh Resources and the role the departmental staff played in enforcing the regulations in the Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act...

Mr. Frank Corbett, MLA Cape Breton Centre:
Mr. Speaker ... it is hard in the Province of Nova Scotia not to use the Westray disaster as the benchmark for worker safety. It was certainly a folly, to say the least, of the employer in conjunction with a government that wanted to create jobs that caused that disaster. Mr. Speaker, I am sure I don't have to tell you that the former Premier, Donald Cameron, got on the witness stand during Justice Richard's inquiry ... we saw what a piece of bubblegum can do at Westray...

Hon. Angus MacIsaac, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations:
Mr. Speaker ... the intent of the government with this legislation is not to bring Nova Scotians to the point where regulations would fall off the table and there would be no regulations in place to either replace them or to get regulations that were updated. That is not at all the intent of the government. The intent is that we be forced to deal with regulations and to keep them, as I said in the beginning of second reading of the debate, make them living documents, documents that are current, up to date, and much has been said about us shrinking the regulations or expanding regulations. If we take into account the impact of technology on our society, it could well be that the requirement for regulations may shrink in some capacity in some areas. In other areas because of new technologies, new ways of doing business, it may be that we need to come up with other regulations or additional regulations that we have not yet thought of. One thing is certain, regulations need to be reviewed because they need to be kept up to date. All honourable members know there were references in the regulations that were replaced that were totally irrelevant to today's society and today's workplace and it is appropriate that they be gotten rid of...

Mr. Speaker:
The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 68. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

[boldface emphasis added]






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2000 December 13
     http://hansardindex.ontla.on.ca/hansardeissue/37-1/l118.htm#PARA205


Oral Question - Alleged Sexual Abuse of Minors


Mr. Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition):
You'll be very much aware of the precedents in Mount Cashel and Westray and even, in our province, in the case of Walkerton, all cases where independent inquiries were conducted at the same time as criminal investigations and proceedings were underway.  What you're offering is an excuse... Minister and Premier, this should not be a partisan issue.  I think we all understand what is the right thing to do under these circumstances.  Listen to your own colleague.  I had the privilege of appearing before Judge Guzzo when he was sitting on the bench and I can tell you, regardless of what you may think of him, that he is a passionate defender of the interests of children.  He has put forward a very important solution to this matter which hangs like a cloud over the community of Cornwall.

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2001






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2001 February 2,   1105 (11:05am)
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/005_2001-02-02/han005_1105-e.htm


Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, we are nearing the tenth anniversary of the Westray mine disaster, where 26 miners were killed due to gross negligence and a wilful blindness to workplace safety and health. Last spring the justice committee unanimously agreed that the government should table legislation to amend the criminal code to include corporate accountability in the case of gross negligence causing death in the workplace. Today we are reminded again of the need for a Westray bill. Nova Scotia courts have just found a company guilty of a workplace accident causing death. It was fined a paltry $50,000. This is pin money for a large corporation. I call it murder when a worker is killed at work through gross negligence. If an employer is found guilty he should not just be fined under the workplace safety and health act. He should be charged with murder under the Criminal Code of Canada. That is what the committee directed parliament to do, to table that legislation, and we are anxiously looking forward to the opportunity to debate that bill.

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2001 February 7   1505 (3:05pm)
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/008_2001-02-07/han008_1505-e.htm


Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)
Ms. McDonough moved for leave to introduce Bill C-242, an act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal liability of corporations, directors and officers).
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this bill, seconded by my colleague from Acadie-Bathurst, to amend the criminal code, establishing criminal liability of corporations and of their executives and officers with respect to health and safety practices, of which they were aware or should have been aware, that put their workers at risk. Workplace deaths and injuries in Canada are at epidemic proportions. Following the horrifying deaths in Nova Scotia in a mine disaster at Westray, which resulted in the preventable deaths of 26 workers, there was a public commission that recommended such changes to the criminal code. In the spring the justice committee unanimously recommended that the government bring forward such changes to the criminal code. It is very much hoped that this continuing pressure on the government will result in long overdue action. The immediate demand on the government to come forward with such a bill dissolved with the dissolution of parliament but the problem has not gone away.
(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2001 February 26,   1510 (3:10pm)
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/021_2001-02-26/han021_1510-e.htm


Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)
Mrs. Desjarlais moved for leave to introduce Bill C-284, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences by corporations, directors and officers).
Mrs. Desjarlais said: Mr. Speaker, prior to the last election and just prior to the summer break, the House and all parliamentarians supported the move for the government to introduce legislation to address the issue of corporate manslaughter. Very few Canadians are not aware of the situation that took place in Westray a number of years ago in which 26 miners were killed when there was no question whatsoever that it was through the negligence and disregard of their managers, corporation and workplace inspectors as well as governments in general to ensure that there was a safe workplace. Safe practices were not followed. Justice Richard at that time said that the government needed to bring forth legislation to hold those corporations accountable for criminal negligence. He also said that the corporations and corporation management should be charged and held accountable in a criminal court of law. The bill would do what the government has neglected to do. The Liberals made a promise before the election and assured us that this would happen, but the minister has given no indication that she intends to address this issue now. Therefore, this private member's bill will once again give parliamentarians the option of voting on the bill.
(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2001 March 20
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/comm/r/r010320.htm


Standing Committee on Resources


Mr. Terry Daniels, Executive Director, Chamber of Mineral Resources:
...I think it is important that we take this opportunity to talk about the significance of the (mining) industry to Nova Scotia. The value of production over the past decade continues to exceed $300 million, that is in constant U.S. dollars. If you convert that to current dollars, of course, it is much higher. During the past decade, employment in the industry has been up and down but has stayed between 3,800 and 5,600 people, that is directly employed in the industry. The average weekly wage for the mining sector continues to be the highest for any provincial economic sector. A recent report by Statistics Canada noted that the average salary was $792 for the mining sector compared with $627 for transportation and communications and $641 for manufacturing and those are weekly wages. Those, again, are expressed in constant 1992 dollars. So if you were to think of the current wage, it would be higher. It is furthermore significant to note that the majority of these high-paying jobs are located in rural areas of the province where they are much needed.

Nova Scotia has had a rich mining history that goes back over 300 years.  The first gypsum mine in North America was near Windsor.  Salt was mined near Malagash and French engineers first mined coal near Sydney in 1685.  Sandstone from the quarries at Wallace was used to build the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.  Barite was mined as early as 1865 and from 1904 to 1920 the majority of the barite produced in Canada came from this province.  The mine in Walton was recognized as world-class during its years of operation.  Between 1860 and 1939, gold production was 1.8 million ounces.  At today's prices, that would be a value in excess of U.S. $468 million.

In 1998, Nova Scotia produced 7 million tons of gypsum, that is 80 per cent of product produced in Canada and 7 per cent of the world production, and 1 million tons of salt which is equal to 7 per cent of Canadian production. The province can boast of several large aggregate producers. Martin Marietta located in Auld's Cove is the seventh largest in Canada with an annual production of 2 million tons. We also produce significant quantities of coal, limestone, dolomite, barite, dimension stone and peat. Equally important is the amount of value-added processing of minerals that takes place. These include cement manufacturing; clay products, bricks; pharmaceutical barite; wallboard; salt products; sand; crushed stone; and dimension stone...

...Underground mining regulations in Nova Scotia have been subject to extensive review and consultation. It is time to proceed to enact the changes that have been discussed without creating a discriminatory legislative process targetted at a single industry. A key element of this legislation has to be a recognition that coal mining requires a set of regulations that are separate and apart from other types of underground mining.

Provincial employees need to have the cloud of regulatory liability cleared so that they can effectively administer the law that you, the legislators, have put into effect to protect the interests of citizens. The government's response to the Westray Inquiry report needs to be reviewed to ensure that the recommendations and findings are practical, enforceable and meet the test of actually affording additional protection to workers' health and safety. Concern over liability has forced Civil Service employees to take a very conservative, narrow approach to interpreting legislation as a result of the Westray Inquiry report that was prepared by Justice Richard...

Mr. Russell MacKinnon, MLA Cape Breton West:
...It is my understanding that there are still some issues that haven't been resolved with the federal government.  I guess a lot of the mining, particularly coal mining, was a federal responsibility and I think the Westray Inquiry report, a lot of the responsibility for mining was transferred from the Department of Natural Resources over to the regulatory, the inspection process in particular, to the Department of Labour because of the potential conflicts within.  As far as the Department of Mines, we know who eliminated the Department of Mines in a previous life, but that's yesterday...

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2001 April 27,   1145 (11:45am)
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/050_2001-04-27/han050_1145-e.htm


Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.  Justice Richard in his report on the Westray inquiry called on the Government of Canada to introduce legislation to hold corporate executives and directors criminally accountable for knowingly risking the lives of workers.  On October 5, 2000, the House concurred with the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights which supported introducing such legislation.  Will the Minister of Justice act on the recommendation?  When will she introduce this legislation?

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the work done by the justice and human rights committee in relation to the important issue of corporate criminal liability.  This is a very important issue for corporate law in the country and that is why my colleague the Minister of Industry and I have decided that we need to look at this matter together.  Perhaps it would be useful to have the justice committee and the industry committee hear from a wider range of witnesses, because I do believe at the committee that no witnesses were heard.  Since this is such an important change or potential change in relation to corporate liability, I think we would be well served by further work by the industry and justice committees.

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2001 May 8,   1405 (2:05pm)
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/057_2001-05-08/han057_1405-e.htm


Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)
    Mr. Speaker, May 9 marks the tenth anniversary of the Westray mine disaster, where 26 miners lost their lives due to gross negligence and a wilful blindness to workplace safety.  It has been almost a year since the justice committee unanimously endorsed a motion directing parliament to amend the criminal code to make directors of businesses truly accountable for the working conditions in any enterprise under their direction.  Now the minister says she wants to consult further with business and industry before she takes any action.  The best way for industry to have its say on this issue is to table a draft bill and let industry make its representations to the standing committee.  The Canadian people want parliament to amend the criminal code so that when corporate greed leads to corporate murder, there will be a corresponding corporate accountability and corporate responsibility.  Ten years is long enough.  The government should implement the recommendations of the Westray inquiry and should do it in this session of parliament without delay.

[boldface emphasis added]





These references, by Mr. Martin (next above) and Mr. Blaikie (next below), to the "tenth anniversary" of the Westray mine disaster, are mistaken.  May 9th, 2001, was the ninth anniversary of this tragic event.





House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2001 May 9,   1440 (2:40pm)
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/058_2001-05-09/han058_1440-e.htm


Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg-Transcona, NDP)
    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.  The minister will know that today is the tenth anniversary of the terrible tragedy at the Westray mine.  It is some time since the justice committee recommended that the criminal code be amended so as to make sure that the kinds of people who are responsible for these kinds of events do not literally get away with murder, as is sometimes the case ... Has the Minister of Justice had discussions with the Minister of Industry and other members of her cabinet?  I have raised it with the House leader. What is the government's plan for bringing to fruition the recommendation of the justice committee so finally there will be amendments to the criminal code?

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very serious and important question on this, the very sad and tragic anniversary of the Westray mine disaster. As I indicated before in the House, the justice committee issued a report in relation to possible changes around corporate criminal liability. Unfortunately the justice committee did not hear witnesses from the corporate community or from labour, as was pointed out to me by the hon. leader of the New Democrats last week. In discussions with my colleague, the Minister of Industry and the chair of the industry committee, we would like to move forward on this important matter and hold hearings that would ensure the interests of the corporate community, labour and others—

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2001 May 9,   page 2911
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han58-2/h01may09.htm#[Page%202911]


Resolution Number 993


Hon. James Muir, Minister of Health
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Premier, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas on this date nine years ago, 26 men — husbands, fathers, sons and brothers — lost their lives in an underground explosion at the Westray Coal Mine in Plymouth, Pictou County; and
    Whereas nearly 200 brave people risked their own lives to make every possible effort to try to save those who were trapped below in the mine; and
    Whereas the Westray tragedy will forever be one of the darker days in the history of this province;
    Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House today honour the memory of the 26 men who lost their lives on May 9, 1992, and extend our condolences to the family and friends they left behind.
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.
    The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

Mr. Russell MacKinnon:
    Mr. Speaker, on that particular notice of motion, I would ask if the minister would be willing for one minute of silence in respect to the miners who were killed.

Mr. Speaker:
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    The House will rise for one minute of silence.
    [One minute of silence was observed.]

Mr. Speaker: Thank you, please be seated.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2001 May 9   page 2914
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han58-2/h01may09.htm#[Page%202914]


Resolution Number 996


Mr. Darrell Dexter, The honourable Leader of the Opposition
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas nine years ago today 26 men lost their lives in the Westray Mine disaster; and
    Whereas ever since the Westray tragedy, the families of those killed, the miners with whom they worked, their brothers and sisters in the union movement, and many other Nova Scotians and Canadians have struggled to ensure that such an event will never happen again; and
    Whereas in honour of those fallen miners a memorial service will be held this evening at the site of the monument built in respect of their memory;
    Therefore be it resolved that on this, the 9th Anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster, this House pauses to remember the 26 men who lost their lives nine years ago, as well as their families, and reaffirms its commitment to vigilant enforcement of workplace safety legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye.  Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2001 May 9,   page 2917
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard//han58-2/h01may09.htm#[Page%202917]


Resolution Number 999


Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas Curragh Mining were the owners and developers of the Westray Mine and Curragh's Clifford Frame skilfully gained public funds and government backing for his various mining ventures; and
    Whereas one of Clifford Frame's closest associates in Curragh Mining was Ralph Sultan... (see the online Hansard)
    Therefore be it resolved that this House notes with dismay the possibility that a senior executive who shared responsibility for the Westray Mine tragedy could enter the Government of British Columbia.
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    I hear a No.
    The notice is tabled.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2001 May 9,   page 2933
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard//han58-2/h01may09.htm#[Page%202933]


Oral Question


Mr. Darrell Dexter, The honourable Leader of the Opposition
    Mr. Speaker, all members in this House are aware of the tragedy that befell this province nine years ago.  I think all members of the House are or should be familiar with Justice Richard's inquiry and the recommendations following his examination of that tragic event.  One of the key recommendations he made was to ensure corporate responsibility for occupational health and safety.  My question for the Premier is, why have you failed to follow Justice Richard's recommendation and improve corporate accountability measures in the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

Dr. John Hamm, The Premier
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps, of all of the members in this House, there was no one who remembers that event any more clearly than I do, having been at the site of the accident less than an hour after it happened.  As resolutions earlier today have indicated, it was a dark day in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia, and one that will not be allowed to be repeated.  Having said that, the recommendations, many of those have gone forward.  There will never be a resolution of that particular accident to the satisfaction of everyone.  On the other hand, what government must be prepared to do is to provide the framework that will prevent an accident such as that in the future, and we are prepared to do that.

Mr. Darrell Dexter
    Mr. Speaker, the Premier talks the talk, but he doesn't walk the walk.  The current provisions for corporate accountability were introduced five years ago by Guy Brown.  He never claimed that provisions were a satisfactory response to the recommendations.  No wonder, the provision only holds corporate directors and officers responsible if they are directly involved in a violation of the Act.  There is no provision to make executives responsible for maintaining a safe workplace.  I ask the Premier, knowing the existing legislation does not satisfy Justice Richard's recommendation, why will you not act immediately to establish corporate responsibility for occupational health and safety in this province?

Dr. John Hamm
    Mr. Speaker, the issue that the member brings to the House is a very complicated one.  One that obviously all of us think about on a not infrequent basis.  On the other hand, I am not sure if, in fact, that particular piece of legislation would have prevented what had happened in Westray, so many years ago now.  On the other hand, if that becomes obvious that that is what government should do, that is what government will do.  But it does take some analysis.

Mr. Darrell Dexter
    Mr. Speaker, well the irony is that last year this Premier moved a resolution congratulating Alexa McDonough and Peter MacKay for pursuing the matter of corporate responsibility in the federal Criminal Code, which was also a recommendation of Justice Richard.  So my question is to the Premier and it is this, instead of cheering others from the sidelines, why don't you do the right thing since you are in a position to do so?

Dr. John Hamm
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is far more learned in the law than I am, so surely he must realize that the responsibility for the Criminal Code of Canada does not lie in Halifax, it lies in Ottawa. That is the initiative that we supported at the time and I think it was a strong one.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2001 May 14,   page 3355
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han58-2/h01may14.htm#[Page%203355]


Resolution Number 1114


Mr. Frank Corbett, MLA Cape Breton Centre:
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas Nova Scotia lost one of its most prominent social and labour activists, Alex MacDonald, who died at his home in Port Hawkesbury this past Friday; and
    Whereas Alex dedicated his life to fairness for people in the workplace and he served with distinction in various roles with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and in the federal and Nova Scotia NDP; and
    Whereas Alex's work with the Nova Scotia Voluntary Planning Board, the Topshee Council, the Westray Disaster Memorial Education Fund and in countless other endeavours will be remembered by all who knew him;
    Therefore be it resolved that this House express its deep sorrow on the passing of a social and labour activist, Alex MacDonald of Port Hawkesbury, and offer its condolences to his family, friends and associates.
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.

An Hon. Member:
    Could we have a moment of silence?

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for a moment of silence. Would all members please rise.
    [One minute of silence was observed.]

Mr. Speaker:
    Please be seated.

[boldface emphasis added]






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2001 October 24
     http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2001-10-24#PARA243


Private Member's Resolution


Mr. Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre):
Look, Speaker, I regret the time that I've felt compelled to devote, but this is a critical issue for every member of this assembly, both present and in the future.  It's something that I feel obliged to address as fully as I can.  It's clearly not a matter of interfering in any respect with the independence of the judiciary.  Let me ask you to consider as well, and I think this is not inappropriate, the underlying interests of the Attorney General in raising this point of order.  I'm very conscious of the rules, the standing orders, when I speak to this.  Please.  But let's understand that this government has stood firm in what has been a not-illegitimate request for a public inquiry.  What I'm putting to you is that nobody has disputed that the issues raised by Mr Guzzo could legally be the subject matter of a public inquiry.  Rather, it is my submission to you that the government has simply refused, has exercised its discretion not to call one.  Governments call public inquiries and they don't call public inquiries.  It's within the power of the government to do that, and nobody, at the end of the day, can force the government hand, no matter how legitimate the call is for a public inquiry.

The Speaker knows – both in your current status and through the history of your office – a history of debate and litigation in this assembly going back to the days succeeding 1987 regarding public inquiries, the plethora of case law that has flowed from that, including the now-leading decision in the Westray mine incident.  I ask you to refer to that, sir.  I know your office will make that litigation available to you.  That clearly defines the circumstances in which an inquiry can be conducted, notwithstanding that there is concurrent litigation of either a civil or criminal matter, and doesn't disallow the public inquiry but merely restricts it in its scope.

This Legislature has witnessed more than one public inquiry that has survived the challenge of the government of the day, and as a result of the court direction it has been made clear that the public inquiry can coexist with litigation, the prospect of litigation or the prospect of appeal, never mind an appeal actively underway... So I put to you at the end of the day that even the calling of a public inquiry – but let's understand how careful the author of the resolution was, because the resolution does not call for a public inquiry.  It calls for a commission of inquiry.  It calls for a report back to you, sir, the Speaker, and it says that any portion of the report can be made confidential.  I put to you that the author of this resolution has anticipated any possible arguments, that this resolution has anticipated any possible arguments that might be accepted, even though I put to you they ought not to be accepted, about the concurrence of a public inquiry and litigation for the commission requested... That, I put to you – without wanting to be at all inflammatory – comes pretty darn close to what we've examined as being contemptuous of this assembly because of the effort on its part, by way of that argument, to muzzle members of the assembly.  Members have to have an unrestricted right to move resolutions.  Their validity, their impact, their effectiveness, their scope, their relevance – subject to the very narrow interpretation of the standing orders which we've witnessed in the recent past – is then a subject matter for something to occur after that resolution is passed.  It's up to the members of this assembly to be persuaded not to vote for this by the Attorney General, should he wish to do so.  Sir, I submit that it's not for you to tell us that we can't debate it.  To grant this point of order is to tell us that we can't debate this very serious motion by a member who has expressed long-standing concern and has been joined by members of this caucus and many others across Ontario out of their concern about the serious legacy of abused children in Cornwall and area for whom – we know this, and there's no debate – no justice has ever been done.  This modest effort to seek justice for those abused kids, those assaulted kids, those victims, should have its day in this forum.

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2002






Saskatchewan Legislature, Regina
Hansard, 2002 April 26   page 1016
     http://www.legassembly.sk.ca/Hansard/24L3S/020426Hansard.pdf


Mr. Randy Weekes (Saskatchewan Party, Redberry Lake):
Mr. Speaker: ...It's interesting to know that Canada was the country responsible for initiating the Day of Mourning back in 1914.  Nearly a century later, April 28 has become an international day of remembrance.  Nearly one hundred countries worldwide recognize the Day of Mourning.  It is a day observed by unions, labour bodies, and councils and all levels of government.  For Canadians, 2002's Day of Mourning marks the tenth-year anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster in Nova Scotia that killed 26 miners.  For North Americans, the Day of Mourning is also an excellent opportunity to remember the hundreds who perished trying to save the lives of others during the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center...

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2002 May 9,   page 9894
     http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/C53/58_2_house_02may09/#H[Page%209894]


Resolution Number 3770


Hon. David Morse, Minister of Environment and Labour:
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas today is the 10th Anniversary of the tragic Westray Mine explosion in which 26 miners were killed and the lives of their families were changed forever; and
    Whereas this tragedy and the ensuing inquiry into its cause dramatically underscored the necessity for government, industry and all Nova Scotians to put safety in the workplace above all other considerations; and
    Whereas the legacy of Westray will be remembered and appreciated every day a worker returns home safely from their workplace;
    Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House respect and honour the memory of those who died at Westray and ensure that their memory continues to be an inspiration to remain vigilant in the cause of safety in Nova Scotia workplaces.
    I would now ask that the members of this House rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of those who died in the Westray explosion.
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.
    I ask all members to rise in a moment of silence for those who lost their lives at Westray.
    [One minute of silence was observed.]

Mr. Speaker:
    Thank you.  Please be seated.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2002 May 9,   page 9898
     http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/C53/58_2_house_02may09/#H[Page%209898]


Resolution Number 3775


Mr. Darrell Dexter:
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas the events of May 9, 1992, at the Westray Mine have left a bottomless well of sorrow in the families of the 26 miners who perished that wet, cold morning; and
    Whereas no amount of comfort can ever fully heal the wounds of the many left behind in the aftermath of a disaster that should never have happened; and
    Whereas our duty to those gone and to those left clinging to the wreckage of their lives is never to forget that such pain and suffering must be prevented to the best of our abilities;
    Therefore be it resolved that this House commit its best efforts to prevent another Westray and send its deepest sympathies and regrets to the families and friends of the fallen 26 whose memories remain with us always.
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye.  Contrary minded, Nay. 
    The motion is carried.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2002 May 9,   page 9899
     http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/C53/58_2_house_02may09/#H[Page%209899]


Resolution Number 3776


Mr. Russell MacKinnon, MLA Cape Breton West:
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas 10 years ago on this date, May 9, 1992, 26 miners lost their lives in an underground explosion at the Westray Colliery in Plymouth, Nova Scotia; and
    Whereas Nova Scotians remember with sadness today the 26 husbands, fathers, brothers and sons who have died in this most tragic explosion; and
    Whereas this tragedy has deeply affected not only the families and friends of these miners, but also all communities of Pictou County and, indeed, all of Nova Scotia and Canada and touched many people around the world;
    Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House honour the memory of the 26 men who tragically lost their lives in the Westray Mine disaster on Saturday, May 9, 1992.
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye.  Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2002 May 9,   page 9914
     http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/C53/58_2_house_02may09/#H[Page%209914]


Oral Question No. 1036

Environment & Labour - Westray Inquiry: Accountability


Mr. Darrell Dexter, The honourable Leader of the Opposition:
    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour.  A year ago the minister said that he would refer to counsel, and to what he called the proper consultation, the NDP proposal that this province finally adopt the standard of corporate accountability recommended by the Westray Inquiry.  A year has passed, the law in this province still exempts those who were responsible for the conditions like those at Westray.  My question is, why has this minister wasted another year so that today, on the 10th Anniversary, those with the ultimate responsibility for such a workplace disaster would still go scot-free?

Hon. David Morse, Minister of Environment and Labour:
    Mr. Speaker, just for greater clarification, are you referring to provincially under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or federally under the Criminal Code?  (Interruption)  That should be in the Occupational Health and Safety Act but for a greater explanation I would refer to the Minister of Justice.

Hon.  Michael Baker, Minister of Justice:
    Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, the Province of Nova Scotia has pressed the Government of Canada, who enacts the Criminal Code, to make the changes to the Criminal Code of Canada that would encourage the kind of accountability that was recommended during the Westray Inquiry.  All members of the House, yesterday, again endorsed the position of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Dexter:
    It is hard to believe, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Environment and Labour could on a day like today give an answer like that to a question about a situation in this province that cost the lives of 26 men.  The minister has a solemn duty to those people, to their families and to this province.  You know, another Conservative Government made excuses to avoid investigating safety at Westray before the tragedy.  Now in the words Justice Richard used to describe Premier Cameron and the government of the day and the Liberals in Ottawa, he said they are alternately peevish, obstinate, aggressive and myopic.  So I want to ask the minister, how can he look people in the eye and try to justify his refusal to adopt the Westray recommendation on corporate responsibility?

Mr. Morse:
    Mr. Speaker, there are two areas here.  One is provincial, where we do hold directors and corporate officials responsible under the Occupational Health and Safety Act; then there is the area of criminal, which is something that is determined by the Parliament of Canada.  That is why I referred the first question to the Minister of Justice, but there is responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act within the confines of what is available to us provincially.

Mr. Dexter:
    Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the existing provisions do not meet the standards put forward in the Westray recommendation, but I'm not going to waste any more time on the Minister of Labour, whose moral failings in this regard are evident.  My second supplementary is to the Minister of Justice.  As Peter MacKay has admitted, the Westray prosecution failed due to errors by lawyers, not lack of evidence.  But other health and safety prosecutions have also been problematic.  Workers and their families deserve justice.  When will the Minister of Justice take health and safety seriously enough to direct that a prosecutor be specifically assigned to deal with all health and safety cases, as was recommended by Justice Richard?

Hon. Michael Baker:
    Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat concerned by the fact that the honourable member has tried to take advantage of the terrible tragedy at Westray by misrepresenting the facts, because, as the honourable member knew in his earlier question, the responsibility for the Criminal Code of Canada and the serious kinds of wrongdoings that were alleged there are the responsibility of the Government of Canada.  We have a Public Prosecution Service in Nova Scotia that will adequately prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all offenses against Nova Scotia workers.

[boldface emphasis added]






Senate, Ottawa
Hansard, 2002 May 9
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/senate/deb-e/115db_2002-05-09-e.htm#2


Senators' Statements

Tenth Anniversary of Westray Coal Mine Disaster


Hon. John Buchanan:
Honourable senators, today, May 9, 2002, marks the tenth anniversary of one of the worst coal mining disasters in Nova Scotia's history.  On May 9, 1992, people awoke to the news that there had been an explosion at the Westray coal mine in Plymouth, just east of Stellarton, Pictou Country, Nova Scotia, at 5:20 a.m.  For days, all Canadians and many people throughout the world listened to radios and watched the television, hoping that the men who were in the deeps of that mine on that early morning would be found alive.  That was not to be.  Twenty-six miners joined the list of others who have died in coal mine disasters throughout Nova Scotia, mainly in Cape Breton and Pictou County.

Honourable senators, it is important that I  mention the serious coal mine disasters that have occurred in our province over the years and the number of miners who have died.  Sixty miners died in a mine explosion in 1873 in Stellarton.  Another explosion at a coal mine in Stellarton killed 44 miners in 1880.  A total of 125 men died in an explosion at Spring Hill in 1891.  Sixty-five died in a Cape Breton coal mine explosion in 1917.  Eighty-eight died in the Stellarton coal mine on January 23, 1918.  Sixteen died in a Sydney, Cape Breton, mine in 1938, when a cable broke, sending a rake adrift.  Thirty-nine died at the mine at Spring Hill, Nova Scotia, in 1956.  An explosion at Glace Bay killed 12 miners on February 24, 1979, and other miners have died in other accidents in our collieries throughout the years.  In May 1992, draggermen from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick worked tirelessly for days, endangering their own lives, searching for their comrades in the bowels of the earth.  For honourable senators who are not aware, draggermen are the bravest and the best.  It is their perilous duty to venture into the gas-filled remains of wrecked mines and look for survivors, as they did after the Westray explosion.  More than a dozen teams of draggermen from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were sent to Westray over the weekend.  Working in four shifts, they inched their way through the methane-laced tunnels with oxygen tanks strapped to their backs.

The Hon. the Speaker:
Senator Buchanan, I  am sorry to inform you that your three-minute time allocation has expired.

Senator Buchanan:
Honourable senators, I  seek leave for a few minutes more.

The Hon. the Speaker:
Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators:
Agreed.

Senator Buchanan:
I thank honourable senators for their indulgence. Honourable senators, I  will read from the Report of the Westray Mine Public Inquiry.  The commissioner, Justice K. Peter Richard, wrote:

I would be remiss if I  did not comment on the selfless bravery shown by the rescue teams in the days following the explosion.  The conditions in the mine were terrifying.  The force of the explosion resulted in severe instability within the roof and walls of the mine.  Rock falls, of varying degrees of intensity, were almost continuous.  Signs of the devastation were rampant, as were signs of impending danger.  The poisonous, unbreathable atmosphere and the actively "working" ground surrounding the mine openings, with the attendant grinding and cracking, were extremely stressful.  Yet these men, miners trained in mine rescue, each wearing his personal life-support system, went unquestioningly into that perilous environment with the hope of finding some of their comrades alive.


Unfortunately, the rescue efforts, although Herculean and very dangerous, did not result in saving the 26 miners.  Fifteen bodies were found and recovered; 11 remain in the mine, their eternal resting place.  The memorial service held shortly thereafter is something that I  shall never forget and neither will any of the other people who were present.  It is forever etched in our minds.  Conversations with the mothers, wives and brothers of the lost miners will always be in my memory bank.  When honourable senators go to Nova Scotia, they must ensure that they visit the memorial that has been set up in Plymouth, next to Stellarton, with the names of the 26 miners.  It is a poignant reminder of this terrible disaster that took place 10 years ago.  May God bless the families of those men and hold them in the palm of His hand forever.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2002 May 29
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/comm/pa/pa_2002may29.htm


Standing Committee on Public Accounts


Mr. Graham Steele, MLA for Halifax Fairview:
    Mr. Chairman, I have 10 minutes and I have four topics that I would like to cover.  I will try to keep it brief, as long as you will as well, Mr. Cormier.  The first thing is that, and I'm sorry for putting it quite this way, but when I read the Auditor General's Report on what's going on in the Public Safety Division and when I hear you speak today about what's going on, I am reminded very much of Westray, because part of the problem at Westray was an inspectorate, and I know you're not responsible for occupational health and safety or coal mine safety, but the principle's the same.

    What was going on at Westray was an inspector who tried to work with the employer, kind of put the arm around the shoulder and said, come on you guys, do the right thing.  There were infrequent inspections; there weren't surprise inspections; orders were rarely issued, and when the orders were issued, they weren't followed up on.  I think we all remember that on the day that the mine blew up there was an outstanding compliance order that had not been followed up on by the inspector, to spread limestone dust.

    When I read the Auditor General's Report, I see exactly the same kind of thing.  A Public Safety Division that's focused on working with people rather than on enforcement.  The Auditor General says that when orders are issued there's no documentation indicating that there's any follow-up, that documentation provided by companies is – his words are "often minimal or non-existent," and that there is minimal or no documentation in many files to document that inspectors and deputy fire marshals had verified compliance with the orders issued.

    How is this different from Westray?  And why is it that we don't seem to have learned the lesson in Westray, and we still have these situations where, even when we issue orders, we apparently don't follow up on them?  How is that still happening?

Mr. Robert Cormier, Director of Public Safety, Fire Marshal
    I will try to be as short as possible on this.  The process is not perfect.  First of all, I would dare to say that the arm-around-the-client type of thing is not quite correct.  I think the number of facilities that we've shut down over the last little while and the number of times our name has been used not with the greatest of admiration because of action we have taken is proof that we do not stand back and just wait.

    Where individuals are willing to work with us, yes, I think they deserve that opportunity for us to assist them.  When an organization as large as Michelin Tire or Stora comes to us and asks us for assistance in meeting fire safety, we don't need the big enforcement power, they are looking for our help.  Are there other individuals out there that we can't do that with?  You're absolutely right, that's that 15 per cent that we have to hold accountable.  Has the system been perfect?  Absolutely not.  Has accountability been as well as it should have been?  No, it has not.  We are working towards changing that.  We are working with our staff on performance appraisals.  We're working with our record keeping to ensure that our records are correct and we're working with our clerical staff to use them to help us ensure that all of the paperwork and everything is in the files where it properly belongs.

Mr. Steele:
    Because you see, the problem is not with the good companies, the companies that are determined to do the right thing and there are very, very many of those in Nova Scotia.  The problem comes with the bad companies, the companies like Curragh Resources that are determined to do the wrong thing, that are determined to frustrate the inspectorate and they're the ones that need to be told that if they're not complying that they have to comply or else and they have to really believe that there's an or else.  But according to the Auditor General's Report, even when compliance orders are issued, there is little or no follow-up.  What would make Nova Scotians believe that we have learned the lessons of Westray?

Mr. Cormier:
    Well there are a couple of things that occur with this particular public safety group that other types of regulatory matters don't have.  First of all, in my group, 90 per cent of our activities are tied to some licence.  We may recommend the licence be pulled and somebody else will pull that.  That's the compliance reaction.  We ensure that the person can't operate.  So the order may be in the file, but the activity may not be taking place.  There may have been an elevator infraction, in which case the reaction to that is to put a lock on the elevator so that you can't use it.  The same thing is true of boiler and pressure vessel equipment.  So there are actions that are taken.  Our problem is that we don't believe it's been as well documented as it should be.  We've hired exceptionally good inspectors.  We have not necessarily trained them as well as we should to be the bookkeepers that we need.

Mr. Steele:
    When specifically is the last time that the Public Safety Division pulled a licence for non-compliance?

Mr. Cormier:
    Let's see.  We pulled one last week in Yarmouth County.  There's an order on one apartment building going to the Crown.  As a matter of fact, I have to face the appeal on the 18th.  When did you do your last elevator lockout?

Mr. Randall Kennedy, Manager of Elevators and Lifts Inspection Services, Province of Nova Scotia, Public Safety
    I believe it was in Lunenburg County about two weeks ago.

Mr. Cormier:
    About two weeks ago.  Boilers?

Mr. Charles Castle, Manager of Boiler and Pressure Vessels Service for the Province of Nova Scotia
    Within the past two weeks, we've taken pressure vessels out of service for one reason or another...

[boldface emphasis added]






Saskatchewan Legislature, Regina
Hansard, 2002 June 5
     http://www.legassembly.sk.ca/hansard/24L3S/020605Hansard.PDF#page=4


Ms. Hamilton:
Mr. Speaker, "An important part of leadership is knowing when to pass the torch."  Those were the words of Alexa McDonough as she announced she was resigning as leader of the federal NDP (New Democratic Party).  In 1980 McDonough became the first woman to lead a recognized federal or provincial party.  For the next four years, she was the only woman in the Nova Scotia Assembly.  She served there for 14 years, laying the groundwork to form the official opposition and to be in contention for provincial government... McDonough's parliamentary highlights include leading the fight for victims of Westray mine disaster.  McDonough also shifted national political priorities away from tax cutting towards rebuilding the health care system and other social programs.  In closing with a quote of her own words, "If there's one thing that fuels my passions about politics, it's the understanding that we're there to serve the public interests."  Mr. Speaker, we wish her well in all her future endeavours.

[boldface emphasis added]






House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 2002 October 1   Note about the missing link
     http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?pub=hansard&mee=2&parl=37&ses=2&language=E&x=1#T1210


Ms. Alexa McDonough:
...Four and a half years ago, the Prime Minister was calling Kyoto a golden opportunity to create new jobs.  Since then, the government has succeeded in delaying and weakening world consensus.  The government insists on wanting to have clean energy credits where none are to be seen.  The rest of the world is waiting on Canada.  The Kyoto protocol needs only ratification by the Russian federation and Canada to take effect.  Kyoto is not the only area in which urgent action is required.  There is a dire need for action to protect the pensions and the life savings of Canadians that have been severely eroded and jeopardized in recent years.  We desperately need measures to establish corporate accountability.  Who has not heard of the horrors of Bre-X, WorldCom, Enron and Westray?  What did we get on corporate accountability in the throne speech beyond the voluntary standards that really are no standards at all?  A vague commitment for the most part to more talk.  We want to protect investors, workers, pensioners and consumers.  Deregulation has been clearly demonstrated not to be the answer.  We need a federal watchdog with teeth and we need regulations that have real clout...

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2003






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2003 May 22
     http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2003-05-22#PARA34


Second Reading: Bill 29,
An Act to amend the Public Inquiries Act


Mr. Bob Wood (London West):
The short title of this bill is the People's Access to the Facts Act.  It amends the Public Inquiries Act to allow any member of the Legislative Assembly to propose a resolution to set up an inquiry into any matter that the act allows.  The assembly is required to vote on the resolution within 60 sessional days after it's proposed.  Two thirds of the MPPs must support the introduction of an inquiry resolution.  This in effect gives the Legislature itself the same power to call inquiries as the cabinet now has...

Mr. Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean):
...I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate.  I first of all wish to commend the member for London West for this bill, for bringing it forward and for allowing me the opportunity to speak to it.  I think there have been some interesting comments made already this morning by the previous speakers of the opposition, and I have to agree with some of them.  But that does not diminish the importance of this legislation.  We all come here and we all pay lip service to democracy and we all talk about the democratization of this House.  I would be willing to admit that, having watched this House prior to coming here and in the eight years I've been here, we have moved in the wrong direction.  That has not happened.  I don't see it happening in the federal House in Ottawa and I don't see it happening in many democracies around the world, particularly recently in the United States.

What we have here is the essence of democracy in the 21st century.  I suggest that no member of this House would really be opposed to this bill.  It is a step forward.  The member for Niagara Centre made some good points with regard to the previous bill in comparing the two.  I make no comment upon what has to be done in order to advance the envelope in matters of items such as this.  I come from a life in a courtroom, where you're constantly seeking the truth.  I honestly thought when I came here that it would be a continuation of that effort to put the truth first.  I have certainly experienced, as has been mentioned here, examples where the opposite has taken place: there has been a deliberate attempt to keep the truth from becoming part of the public record.

We all agree that an informed citizenry tends to promote responsible government, but unfortunately, in the electronic age and the 500-channel universe, voters receive a tremendous amount of information but receive very little power to seek resolution to the problems they face through their elected representatives.  This is what a legislative-sponsored inquiry system would offer.  It would offer empowerment of both the voters and those of us as tenants in these seats.  This is an opportunity for each and every member of this Legislature to stand and deliver for their constituents, enhance the access to the information and force the release of that information.

The basic premise of this bill and of what we do here has to be that the public has a right to know.  There are very, very few times when a government has the right to suppress information.  Certainly we have seen it in times of war and we see it in issues of public security, but the public's right to know and to make an informed decision is the basis of our democracy and the backbone of our system.

I ask you to compare some examples of what we have seen in this House and elsewhere.  The tainted blood scandal: 7,000 Canadians lost their lives because of mistakes that were made at Tunney's Pasture in Ottawa, the federal Department of Health, and Queen's Park.  Walkerton: seven people passed away.  The Cornwall situation, to which two members have referred and that I have put forward on two occasions in private members' bills: we've had at least five suicides that we know of, possibly more.  The member of that riding has been a strong supporter of those bills that he knows better than do I.  Ipperwash: one member of the George family.  What do we know, what does the public know, about each of those four cases?  Rather, what has been disclosed in each of those four cases?  There are tremendous differences when you compare the four, tremendous differences when you compare what has been done in relation to the four – but that's a question for another day.  The issue is public information and the right to know.

In the tainted blood scandal, Mr Justice Krever came down five years ago with an excellent report.  It's prescribed reading for every person who wants to indulge himself of herself in government democracy, and an academic exercise in management as well, quite frankly.  Surprisingly, I think five charges have been laid, five years after Mr Justice Krever, 10 years after the events.  In Walkerton we've had some charges laid after the inquiry of Mr Justice O'Connor.  But in Cornwall and Ipperwash, the message was always that we can't have an inquiry first because it will impair charges.  We continually pointed to the Westray mine situation, where that did not happen, and now we have two examples here ourselves... I also want to state for the record that I tried yesterday and I will try again today to reintroduce a bill on Cornwall and also introduce a bill on Ipperwash, if I'm afforded the opportunity...

[boldface emphasis added]






Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 2003 May 28
     http://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/hansard/2nd-36th/vol25/h025_2.html


Headingley Correctional Institution
Inquiry


Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Justice and Attorney General)
I just want to make sure that the member and all Manitobans know the process that has to take place.  First of all, there is currently a police investigation underway.  That police investigation may lead to criminal charges.  We, at the same time, will be conducting our internal review within the Department of Justice.  That internal review will be supported by federal corrections, who will come in to provide an assessment to make sure procedures were followed.  But we also want to get to the bottom of this.  We also want to make sure that this will never happen again, and that is why we have committed to an independent review, which may take place at the same time.  If we were to wait for a public inquiry, that public inquiry could not take place until the completion of the criminal cases.  That is why we have decided to proceed this way and to not wait.

Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition)
Madam Speaker, I would encourage the Minister of Justice and the Premier (Mr. Filmon) to review the precedent established with the Westray public inquiry, where charges are pending and being investigated but a public inquiry is being conducted.  Madam Speaker, we have had reviews before, the 1989 review.  There have been reviews in the past.  There have been internal reviews that have talked about the safety of this institution, the physical limitations of the corridors, the bars, the situation with the ability to deal with the locking system in that jail.  Madam Speaker, I would encourage the Premier to take charge of an independent public inquiry...

[boldface emphasis added]






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2003 May 29
     http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2003-05-22#PARA34


Inquiry into Police Investigations of
Sexual Abuse Against Minors in the Cornwall Area Act,
2003


Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean):
I'd like to thank my colleagues for their comments, particularly in light of the last couple of issues raised by my colleague for Peterborough.  I've distributed the pamphlet that the coalition from Cornwall has distributed.  It has 20 questions thereon.  If you don't want an inquiry, if you've got some reason that there shouldn't be an inquiry, for God's sake, surely we should sit down and give answers to these questions.  Surely it's time.  When this matter was raised in Bill 48 and Bill 103, the argument was of course that we can't do it, notwithstanding what happened at the Westray mine when they carried it on at the same time.  "We can't do it.  It's going to interfere with criminal prosecutions."  Well, guess what?  It's been five and half years since Krever on tainted blood, and we finally got around to laying some charges – no impairment there.  We may not have charged all the people, all the higher-ups, but it hasn't impaired it.  And in Walkerton, have we laid charges as result of an inquiry that went forth?  Of course.  So the arguments that have been put forward in the past have been dispelled and properly so...

[boldface emphasis added]






LEGISinfo, Ottawa
LEGISinfo, 2003 July 3   Note about the missing link
     http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/LOP/LEGISINFO/index.asp?List=ls&Query=3750&Session=11&Language=e#bproblemstxt


Bill C-45: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code
(Criminal Liability of Organizations)


Problems with the Current Criminal Law


...In its submissions to the public inquiry into the Westray Mine disaster of May 1992, the United Steelworkers of America called for the facilitation of corporate criminal liability and also advocated enhanced criminal accountability of corporate directors and officers.  The union's position was that the existing provisions of the Criminal Code on parties to offences (sections 21 and 22) – which extend liability to those who aid, abet (i.e., encourage) or counsel (which includes to "procure, solicit or incite") the commission of offences, as well as to those who directly commit them – are inadequate.  The union recommended creating a new criminal offence aimed specifically at "directors and responsible corporate agents" who negligently fail to protect the health and safety of employees.  The union conceded that the offence would likely have to be confined to situations of criminal negligence (i.e., conduct amounting to a "marked departure" from the standard of the reasonable person).  However, it was thought that legislating a specific legal duty on the part of key corporate officials to take reasonable care to protect employees would facilitate their prosecution by obviating the need to establish a causal connection between the conduct of a corporate official and the death or injury of an employee...

The Evolution of Law Reform in Canada


...In 1997, the Nova Scotia public inquiry into the Westray Mine disaster recommended that the federal government study the issue of the accountability of corporate executives and directors for corporate wrongdoing, particularly in relation to workplace safety, and introduce any necessary legislation.  In response to the Westray inquiry's recommendations, private Members' bills providing for enhanced criminal accountability of corporations and senior corporate officials for corporate wrongdoing were introduced in the House of Commons in 1999 and 2001 by Ms. McDonough and Ms. Desjarlais, respectively: Bills C-468 and C-259 of the 36th Parliament, and Bill C-284 of the 1st Session of the 37th Parliament...

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2004






Newfoundland Legislature, St. John's
Hansard, 2004 April 27
     http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/hansard/ga45session1/04-04-27.htm


Mr. Collins, MLA for Labrador West:
...If we look at the health and safety legislation in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and the right to refuse that was proclaimed, if I recall correctly, June 1, 1979.  These words contained in the legislation today and the right to refuse unsafe or unhealthy work came word for word out of a collective agreement in Labrador West, the district that I represent, and the steel workers' union.  It came about not because some employer, not because some government wanted workers to have the right to refuse, but it came about as a result of many people dying.  What really tipped it off is that we had three people killed in nine days and that caused a two-week wildcat strike where we had members go to jail.  We had members fired, but in the end, Mr. Speaker, there was a Commission of Inquiry into the health and safety practices and from that came the legislation that we have today.  The workers paid a great price for that and nobody can stand here and say the contribution that was made, at that time, did not lead to a better quality of life for both unionized and non-unionized working people in our Province today.

Mr. Speaker, another example of that is what was just passed recently in our federal parliament, and commonly referred to as the Westray Bill.  Another important piece of legislation that was driven by workers after the Westray tragedy so that from now on in this country CEO's and managers of corporations can be held personally liable and responsible if they know they have employees working in unsafe conditions.  Not some phantom from another country that you are trying to get at, Mr. Speaker, but the people who actually live and work in the community with the responsibility for ensuring that the workplace is safe.  They can be now held personally responsible, and that is something that was a long time coming.  I am very proud to say that working people, and the Steel Workers' Union in particular, were the driving force behind that.  It took many, many years to achieve but it is finally done right now.  The Prime Minister of Canada actually went to the national President of the Steel Workers' Union and presented him with a personal copy of the bill.  So working people, working men and women, Mr. Speaker, have contributed greatly to the conditions that we enjoy in this Province and country today.  The action taken by this government now could have been taken on day one.  It could have been taken on day one of this strike...

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2004 May 10,   page 3374
     http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/C50/59_1_house_04may10/#H[Page 3374]


Resolution Number 1518


Hon. Kerry Morash, The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour:
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas May 9th is the 12th Anniversary of the tragic Westray Mine explosion in which 26 miners were killed and the lives of their families were changed forever; and
    Whereas this tragedy and the ensuing inquiry into its cause dramatically underscored the necessity for government, industry and all Nova Scotians to put safety in the workplace above all other considerations; and
    Whereas the legacy of Westray will be remembered and appreciated every day a worker returns home safely from their workplace; and
    Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House respect and honour the memory of those who died at Westray and ensure that their memory continues to be an inspiration to remain vigilant in the cause of safety in Nova Scotia workplaces;
    Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Mr. Speaker
    There has been a request for waiver.
    Is it agreed?
    It is agreed.
    Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
    The motion is carried.

Mr. Morash:
    Mr. Speaker, I now ask that the members of this House rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of those who died in the Westray explosion.
    [One minute of silence was observed.]

[boldface emphasis added]






Newfoundland Legislature, St. John's
Hansard, 2004 May 17
     http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/hansard/ga45session1/04-05-17.htm


Second reading: An Act To Amend
The Corporations Act
(Bill 4)


Mr. Parsons, Opposition House Leader:
I appreciate an opportunity to make a few comments on this particular bill, bill 4, regarding the Corporations Act... One question I do have, however – and I realize that the minister may not have any particular legal background to explain this to me, but maybe one of her colleagues or some staff, maybe the Minister of Justice or the Acting Government House Leader, might be able to provide some assistance in this regard.  That is the issue of the percentage of directors being put at 25 per cent; the rationale for why, if you are directors of a Newfoundland company, it must be 25 per cent.  I did not get the full explanation, or I did not get any rationale in the minister's comments as to why we picked that figure of 25 per cent out of the air, and what is the logic behind it, because the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi pointed out quite right that all the Corporations Act does is create another legal entity body and says that you shall have certain legal rights.  A person has rights, and now we have legal corporations that have rights under this act, but these legal bodies, of course, do not have a brain.  Their brain is their board of directors, so it is very important as to what kind of brain a company has vis-à-vis its board of directors, and why are we putting a figure of 25 per cent must be Canadian?  If we are talking about Newfoundland companies, we are not saying that 25 per cent of the board must be Newfoundlander or Labradorian.  We are saying that it must be Canadian, and I am wondering why the significance of the Canadian factor, and what is the rationale for the 25 per cent factor?  Because, if the issue is responsibility by the brain to the shareholders, and responsibility by the brain, the board of directors, to the Province, and to seeing that they comply with the Corporations Act, it only becomes an issue then of director liability as opposed to percentages or nationality.  So, I would think you would address that issue vis-à-vis duties that you would put upon the directors vis-à-vis you must have insurance policies, or whatever, if you are a director.

I am not informed to utmost satisfaction as to why 25 per cent and why the reference to Canadian.  What are we trying to accomplish by this particular provision, and what is the rationale behind this?  Because, if it is an issue of liability, that is covered off by insurance coverages as opposed to distinguishing nationality.  If a brain, a board of directors, of a Newfoundland incorporated company is going to be good for this Province, quite frankly, I do not care what their nationality is, and dealing in the global economy that we deal in, dealing in this global economy, yes, it is important, I say to the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, that we cover them off for liabilities such as in the Westray case that we had in Nova Scotia, no question, and criminal liabilities and so on; but nationality, as long as you have good, credible, honest people of integrity on a board of directors, I could not care where they are from.  I think to say otherwise might even be discriminatory.  My concern is that they operate legitimately and in the best interests of this Province and by the corporate laws of this Province.  So, I am wondering about the rationale in this day and age where we talk about free trade, where we talk about the global economy, why we are concerned about having Canadian directors; and, if that is an issue, why 25 per cent?  Why not 50 per cent?  Why not 51 per cent must be Canadian?  Or 51 per cent must be Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?  I am sort of lost in the logic and the rational here...

[boldface emphasis added]






British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 2004 October 18
     http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/37th5th/h41018a.htm

Private Members' Statements

R. Sultan, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano:
It's a privilege to respond to the member for North Island on the subject of mine safety.  He has pointed to the remarkable accomplishment of the Quinsam Coal mine in his constituency, the only underground coalmine operating in Canada today.  As he has pointed out, Quinsam recently completed its twenty-fifth month without a reportable injury.  Indeed, as the member points out, Quinsam illustrates that mining has become the safest heavy industry in this province.  A food and beverage worker is more likely to suffer a work-related injury than a miner in this province.

Not all underground coalmines in Canada have been like Quinsam.  I have personal knowledge of Westray in Nova Scotia.  About 14 years ago and less than eight months after I toured it underground, Westray blew up, killing 26 men.  One knowledgable observer, a journalist, concluded after interviewing many people that the disaster was marked by shoddy planning, unrealistic production targets, poor safety practices, out-dated mining laws and ineffective Nova Scotia government monitoring.  From disaster and tragedies heroes emerge.  I know two of them who put on their draegermen gear and crawled in the dark through debris, collapsed roofs, methane gas and shifting ground half a kilometre below the surface looking for survivors.  Graham Clow, a private sector mining engineer from Ontario, led the rescue teams underground and brought as many bodies as he could to the surface, before advising that further effort would probably lead to additional loss of life.  Fred Hermann, a government civil servant from British Columbia, our chief mine inspector, also rushed to help.  Fred told me that after experiencing the conditions below, he resigned himself to never seeing his family again.  What prompts such men to put their own lives on the line to help their fellow man?  Most of us will never have the opportunity to know.  The outstanding mine safety record of British Columbia is a tribute to our skilled and trained workers, our prudent managers, our responsible owners, our careful engineering, our strict regulations and our close monitoring of operations.  Nothing less will do.  I'm all in favour of deregulation, but we must maintain zero tolerance for slackness in mine safety rules or casualness in mine safety practices.  The stakes are too large...

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2005






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2005 April 28
     http://www.ontla.on.ca/committee-proceedings/transcripts/files_html/2005-04-28_F045.htm#PARA139


Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Tobacco Control Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005


Mr. Rolly Marentette, Windsor and District Labour Council:
...In eight years, I've heard all of the arguments.  I want to speak to some of them, because I think that it's important to dispel some of the myths.  I'm sure you remember the uproar in 1979 when the Occupational Health and Safety Act was enacted.  Ontario workers were given the right to refuse unsafe work.  Some employers were outraged.  They were predicting that the Ontario economy would be devastated.  Sound familiar?  Our experience over the past 25 years tells us that those concerns were unfounded.  I call these naysayers "the false prophets." They make all kinds of predictions about business losses, but when asked to substantiate their claims, they never have reliable data.

There is another group of naysayers that I also call "the false profits," but it's spelled with an "f" instead of a "ph." These are the employers who have not recognized that their profits they claim to be at risk are really at risk from a different threat.  Heather Crowe and a number of other claimants have been successful in claiming compensation for health problems as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and this experience has been mirrored in other jurisdictions as well.  Only a fool would not recognize how these judgments will affect their rates for coverage by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.  Every day, more workers are recognizing that the respiratory problems they are experiencing are the result of the workplace exposure, and that can only lead to many more successful claims.

Another one: "You knew there was smoking before you took the job.  If you don't like the conditions, you should quit." Wonderful.  In 1992, in Pictou county, Nova Scotia, at the Westray mine, 26 miners were killed in a mine explosion.  During the operation of the mine, workers knew this was an accident waiting to happen.  But when you've got a family to feed and work is hard to come by, some workers will take that chance.  Some workers, by the way, have chosen to quit because of second-hand smoke.  On several occasions I have personally spoken to workers who worked at Casino Windsor and had to quit because of respiratory problems due to tobacco smoke.  No reasonable person would expect workers to have to make those kinds of decisions...

[boldface emphasis added]






Newfoundland Legislature, St. John's
Hansard, 2005 May 3
     http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/hansard/ga45session2/05-05-03.htm


Statements by Members


Mr. Collins, MLA for Labrador West:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  We, too, would like to congratulate the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers, particularly the local chapter in our Province, for their work in this area.  It is important, Mr. Speaker, that occupational health and safety is a worldwide concern, not just provincially, nationally, or in North America.  Our fishing industry and our mining industry, for years, have seen more than their share of tragedies because of a lack of occupational health and safety measures being in place.  It is important to acknowledge and note that we need to do more aggressive work on occupational health and safety on a national and international level, when we look at the mining operations in China where people are dying every day, in Siberia and places that do not have standards set that protect workers.  We have seen our own in this country, Mr. Speaker, with Westray.  It is time that this issue of occupational health and safety is made an international concern and that we are in a position to take a leading role in that.  Thank you.

[boldface emphasis added]






Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 2005 June 2
     http://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/hansard/3rd-38th/hr_02/hr_02.html


The Standing Committee on Human Resources


Ms. Charlene Bergen, (written submission)
...The Steelworkers have recognized that Occupational Safety and Health of our members and workers in general to be a top priority of our organization.  The legal obligation on the employer to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees was further defined with the recent passing of the Westray Bill into law which makes corporations, their directors and executives criminally liable for failing to prevent workers' deaths.  The United Steelworkers worked for 17 years to get this Bill passed into law...

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2006






Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 2006 April 28
     http://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/hansard/4th-38th/vol_58/h58.html#iob


Bill 211 - The Truth About Crocus Act

Crocus Investment Fund Public Inquiry


Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach):
It is clear, it has become clear over the last number of months that this government does not understand what the purpose of a public inquiry is.  They hide behind the Auditor General's report, they hide behind RCMP investigations.  I want to quote from Supreme Court Justice Cory who talked about inquiries in the Westray mine tragedy.  The Supreme Court Justice said that one of the primary functions of a public inquiry is fact-finding.  They are often convened in the wake of public shock or scepticism in order to uncover the truth.  Unlike the judiciary, inquiries are often needed for wide-ranging investigative powers.  That was a Supreme Court Justice in the highest court in this land.  This government does not understand it.  Can the Minister of Justice please today stand up and say he supports the Supreme Court and call for the inquiry, Mr. Speaker?

[boldface emphasis added]






Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 2006 May 24
     http://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/hansard/4th-38th/la_04/la_04.html


The Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs

Bill 15, The Emergency Measures Amendment Act


Mr. Paul Clifton, private citizen:
...I just want to make sure that all folks have the package as distributed. The first package is a Manitoba Natural Resources letterhead, June 2, 1997.  The second is an Access to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request of the Premier (Mr. Doer) for executive committee records held in the archives.  The next one is an e-mail to general@infocom.gc.ca, that is the e-mail address for the Information Commissioner of Canada, the adjudicator on behalf of citizens of Canada, under the access to information act.  The next thing is your gracious funding partner, Western Economic Diversification, as it relates to past flood protection infrastructure upgrades, unlicensed as they may be, and I will talk to that.  The last one is really the reason why, in this particular amendment to the act, you are introducing a $50,000 fine for not obeying an evacuation order, and I will simply be talking about that.  That is just a means of the Province limiting liability, i.e., if you kill us in the valley, you will be criminally responsible from this new legislation since the Westray Mine disaster. So do we all have that?...

Ontario OPG used to be Ontario Hydro.  The operator of Ontario Hydro operated a spillway control structure on their dam.  They flushed 30 people down the river; a mother and her son died; eight people were injured.  They have been charged under the federal new law related to Westray.  Not only is the operator of the dam charged, but the supervisor.  So, essentially, the legislators, if these people are found guilty, and the operators that are going to flood the valley and potentially kill people – so what you plan to do is take them out.  You have forced the people out for fear of a $50,000 fine...

[boldface emphasis added]






NOTE:
The following is not a Hansard document.
It   is   included   here   because   it   is  a
Governent of Ontario  document that may
be  of   interest   in   the   context  of   the
Westray  mine  disaster  and its ongoing
repercussions within our legal system.




Ontario Panel on Justice and the Media
Report to the Attorney General of Ontario

Justice Department, 2006 August
     http://www.paneljusticeandmedia.jus.gov.on.ca/pjm/en/

Chapter Two: Openness (pages 21-23)
     http://www.paneljusticeandmedia.jus.gov.on.ca/pjm/en/II.pdf

...The current Executive Legal Officer of the Supreme Court, Nancy Brooks, indicated to the Panel that in her opinion, attitudes have changed with direction coming from the Chief Justice and others that courts should be open public institutions and it is important for media to understand the case it is covering.  The philosophy is to improve accuracy so that the judgment, its rationale and underlying issues can be explained to the media.

In England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice announced that he was creating a communications office to support judicial office holders as of April 2005. 

The reason I am establishing this office is to increase the public's confidence in judges… In the past judges have been very well supported in our communications needs by successive Lord Chancellors who have generously made the facilities of their departmental press office available to us.  However, I have been aware for some time that the judiciary needs to expand its communications base more widely, from a relatively narrow focus on media relations to a more comprehensive information service for the public as a whole.  Although our relationship with the media remains important, a major element of the work of the new communications office will be to provide the public with a sound understanding of how judges operate.


Provincial prosecution models were also instructive.  The Panel heard from Nova Scotia and British Columbia.  Though structured differently, in both cases the prosecutions' communications role was independent of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

• Nova Scotia has an independent Public Prosecution Service (PPS), which reports directly to the Legislature rather than to the Attorney General.  The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service has a director of communications (a former journalist).  This position was established after the Westray Inquiry.  The present director is responsible for internal communications, external stakeholder relations, media relations, issue management and crisis management.  She sits at the PPS management table and has built trust and credibility with Crowns.

• In B.C., the role of Communications Counsel was established in 1998 for the Criminal Law Branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General.  The role is set out under the Crown Counsel Act and is distinct from the ministry's communications.  The Criminal Law Branch position includes public education, training and helping trial and appellate counsel respond to the media.  The communications counsel's message may not always coincide with that of the ministry's communications – but the two entities have a good relationship that respects the role of the other.


The Panel has been advised that media reaction to the Communications Counsel's role in B.C. has generally been positive.  As can be imagined, some reporters appreciate the convenience while others, especially those working on a particular case, would prefer direct contact with the trial counsel.

The individuals to whom the Panel spoke, from the Supreme Court of Canada, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, observed that in their opinions accuracy in reporting has improved with explanations of context.

The Panel also heard from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Association of Ontario which pointed out that most police services boards now work with professionally trained media relations officers.  Sometimes these are police officers; sometimes they are civilians.  At all times these individuals must operate within a legislative framework.

The Panel heard from a representative of Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General about its current communications policies and practices.  The Ministry is quite aware of the role that timely, accurate information to the public via the media plays in enhancing confidence in the justice system...

[boldface emphasis added]

NOTE:
The following is not a Hansard document.
It  is   mentioned   here   because   it  may
be  of   interest   in   the   context  of   the
Westray  mine  disaster  and its ongoing
repercussions within our legal system.

A guide to recording your own court hearing in Ontario
By Mike March, Canadian Justice Advocate

In recent years there have been a growing number of complaints from those attending courts about the lies, deceptions cover-ups and unlawful activities that are going on in family courts and inside court buildings.  It is well recognized by many Canadians, including high ranking Canadian authorities and even some judges, that perjury in family court is rampant and that this crime often goes unpunished in family court...

Note: This electronic document ignores the accepted
standard for presenting  information  on the  WWW  in
a way that works  properly  for all citizens.  As a result,
the presentation  that  this  document  delivers  to your
monitor screen may or may not be readable, depending
on what  browser  or computer platform  you are using.
Normally,   a  serious  design  defect  like  this  would
preclude a document from further consideration, but
in this  case  the  content  is important  enough to
support the inclusion of this link,  for those who
may be able to obtain a readable display.





 

2007






British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 2007 February 26
     http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/38th3rd/h70226a.htm


Mining Industry in B.C.

B. Bennett:
I'd like to make the following motion:

[Be it resolved that this House recognizes that new metal mines are necessary for the continuation of a healthy mining industry in British Columbia and that mining is an important contributor to a vibrant provincial economy.]


L. Krog:
...We are now in a position where we have a permitting process that is fairly complex, and it should be.  At the end of the day, unless the mining company is in good shape when the mine shuts down, if there are environmental costs to be paid, it'll be the taxpayers who will be paying them.  My friend from Prince George-Omineca is arguing we should pay the cost up front, as well, to get the mine started and that the taxpayers be stuck with the bill at the end of it.  The fact is that we have to approach this in a sensible and appropriate manner to guarantee a standard of regulation appropriate to the values of British Columbians; to ensure that there is safety in the mines, as opposed to the mess that we know happened back east with Westray; to ensure that the communities developed are developed as part of a larger economic strategy that would allow them to remain sustainable after the mine either diminishes production or shuts down...

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2007 April 3
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han60-1/house_07apr03.htm


Mr. Patrick Dunn, The honourable Deputy Government House Leader:
    Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 166, Undersea Coal Mines Regulation Act.

Bill No. 166 - Undersea Coal Mines Regulation Act

Mr. Speaker, The honourable Cecil Clarke:
    The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

Hon. Mark Parent, The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour:
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to move second reading of Bill No. 166, an Act to Facilitate the Effective Regulation of Undersea Coal Mines in the Province.  What this will do is clarify or help to clarify occupational health and safety jurisdictions, as the federal government agreed to mirror our legislation and our Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.  We are very proud of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations we have in the province.  As a result of Westray, out of bad comes good and we now have some of the most modern and vigorous Occupational Health and Safety Regulations in any jurisdiction and that has been recognized in many different ways.  So by eliminating the confusion over who would protect these workers, we hope to protect them better.  So with those few words of introduction, I am happy to move second reading.

Mr. Speaker:
    The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

Hon. Frank Corbett, MLA for Cape Breton Centre:
    Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this bill moving on to the Law Amendments Committee.  Just a few short statements on it.  Yes, this bill was born out of Westray, and the fact that it is a good thing if we have proper inspectors with the right legislation in this province inspecting our mines, and we know that, this is in particular in relation to the Donkin enterprise, that what we need are people who are local people who know that coalfield, who will be there to inspect these mines, inspect them in a timely manner and that the province should have control of them rather than Ottawa, and the fact that we would hope that they would be reflective of the years of work of people on the committee who drew up these amendments, that they be followed through on them – people such as Angus Grant from CAW and Hughie MacArthur from UMW of America – and these people be listened to, that these laws be enforced in the very strictest way, so that we never have another lost life in coal mining in this province.  So with those few words, we will be supporting this bill moving on to the Law Amendments Committee.

Mr. Speaker:
    The honourable member for Glace Bay.

Hon. David Wilson, MLA for Glace Bay:
    Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and say just a few brief words concerning Bill No. 166.  Of course, we too will be supporting this bill moving on to the Law Amendments Committee because, of course, as the two previous speakers have said, it makes perfect sense and we have to stay on guard in terms of regulations and laws that are enforced.  As the other speakers mentioned, this came about from Westray.  Having grown up in a coal mining town, we know the dangers that are faced by coal miners and we know that safety is paramount to coal miners.  We know what can happen, we know what has happened over the years and we know that, if anything, we have to pay particular and special attention to the regulations and the safety regulations that go along with coal mining...

[boldface emphasis added]






LEGISinfo, Ottawa
LEGISinfo, 2007 November 13   Note about the missing link
     http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/LOP/LEGISINFO/index.asp?List=ls&Query=5301&Session=15&Language=e#commentary


Bill C-15: Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity Act


Bill C-15, An Act respecting the exploitation of the Donkin coal block and employment in or in connection with the operation of a mine that is wholly or partly at the Donkin coal block, and to make a consequential amendment to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act, was introduced in the House of Commons by the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Gary Lunn, on 29 October 2007.  By unanimous consent, on 20 November 2007 it was deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in the Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.  It received first reading in the Senate on 21 November 2007.  By unanimous consent, on 20 November 2007 it was deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in the Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.  It received first reading in the Senate on 21 November 2007.

Commentary


The reopening of the Donkin mine would have a significant impact on the Nova Scotia and, specifically, the Cape Breton economy.  At one time Nova Scotia had a thriving coal mining industry; however, while a few small surface mines remain, there has been no underground coal mining in the province since 2001.  It has been suggested that the Donkin project is a "potential saviour of the province's once-flourishing coal industry."

The project could create up to 400 direct and spin-off jobs.

The project's primary customer would likely be Nova Scotia's privately-owned electric utility, Nova Scotia Power, which currently imports much of the coal it burns at its generating stations.

This bill has attracted some local media attention in Nova Scotia, with most coverage focusing on the costs of the project and the potential for employment.

Should the Donkin mine open, it would be the first underground mine to open in the province since 1992, when 26 miners were killed in a methane explosion at the Westray mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia.  The subsequent Westray Mine Public Inquiry in 1997 recommended significant changes to health and safety legislation; many of those recommendations are now included in the new underground mining regulations that constitute the provincial aspect of the federal-provincial regulatory framework proposed in Bill C-15.

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2008






Newfoundland Legislature, St. John's
Hansard, 2008 April 8
     http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/hansard/ga46session1/08-04-08.htm


Mr. Kennedy, the hon. the Minister of Justice:
...This Inquiry is independent.  By its very nature it has to be independent.  Madam Justice Cameron has been sitting on the Court of Appeal at least for ten if not fifteen years.  She sat at Trial Division, if I remember correctly, since 1985.  She is perhaps now one of the senior jurists in this Province.  I simply sit in amazement when I hear this kind of comment.  Which brings me to the point – and I am sorry that I have gotten engaged in such an elementary discussion, but unfortunately I feel it is required.  When I listened to the condescending tone of the Opposition House Leader today or yesterday, I am not going to adopt that tone, I am going to adopt an instructive tone.  I am gong to say: Sir, here are some of the cases you can read if you want to talk about this kind of thing.  The inquiry process is not new in this country.  We have had the Red Cross inquiry in the early 1990s.  We have had the Westray Inquiry, the Gomery Inquiry, and there have been two major inquiries that I have been a part of, the Lamer Inquiry in this Province and the O'Driscoll Inquiry in Winnipeg.  The purpose of an inquiry is to determine the truth, what happened, how did it happen, who did what and how can we prevent it from happening again.  Now, that is what we are trying to do. That is the purpose of the inquiry...

[boldface emphasis added]






British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 2008 April 9
     http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/38th4th/H80409p.htm


C. Puchmayr:
Almost all provinces in Canada have taken the inspections of the mines over to WorkSafe or to their workers compensation boards.  After the Westray disaster the mines minister even went on record saying that there is no way that a ministry that is promoting mining should also be enforced with the safety of mining.  Again to the minister: will the minister encourage this government to divest the inspections of mines and turn it over to WorkSafe B.C. so that it has a clearer sense of independence?

[boldface emphasis added]






British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 2008 April 28
     http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/38th4th/H80428p.htm


Commemorative Pin for Day of Mourning for Workers

K. Conroy:
Today to help commemorate this workers' Day of Mourning, we are all wearing a pin that has come to symbolize health and safety.  The pin shows a canary in a birdcage.  As I'm sure most of you know, in the early days of coalmining, miners were sent into the mines carrying canaries in a birdcage to determine the air quality in the shafts.  If the bird died, the miners had to quickly evacuate, or perish themselves.  Steve Hunt, a member of the United Steelworkers, designed the pin after sitting through Westray mining disaster hearings.  The Westray mine was a coalmine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, where in 1992 a methane explosion killed 26 miners.  Steve felt that the Day of Mourning required a symbol that would ensure we not forget the tragedy of the miners and the lives lost.  He took the image of the canary and used it to symbolize the plight of workers worldwide.  Nothing got done until the canary died.  It's much the same for too many workers today.  Today this pin is being worn across Canada and the United States not just by Steelworkers but by thousands of people from many different unions and by politicians like us on both sides of the House and both sides of the border.  I want to thank the Steelworkers for their ongoing commitment to ensure worker safety and the creation of this pin, and also for their daily struggle to make sure workers in B.C. are safe on the job.  To the members of Local 480 in the Steelworkers union: thank you for providing all the members of the Legislature this pin that we can wear in solidarity as we remember workers who have died or been injured on the job and their families who are left behind.

[boldface emphasis added]






Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 2008 April 28
     http://www.hansard.gov.yk.ca/32-legislature/sesson1/093hansard.html


In recognition of National Day of Mourning


Hon. Mr. Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge, Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister responsible for Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, Government House Leader:
Today, April 28, is the National Day of Mourning for workers who have been injured or killed on the job.  This national day of remembrance was founded by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984 and entrenched by the Mourning Day Act passed in federal Parliament in 1991.  As stated at today's Yukon Day of Mourning Ceremony which just concluded, we need to do more than remember those who suffered.  We need to commit to keeping ourselves and others safe at work.  In 2007 alone, there were more than 2,000 injuries in Yukon workplaces out of a workforce of fewer than 16,000 people, and we lost another member of our Yukon community to a workplace fatality.  Worst, these Yukon deaths were preventable.  Injuries and deaths are not statistics; they are co-workers, loved ones, children, neighbours.  Hundreds more will be injured in Yukon workplaces during the coming year, some will never fully heal, and some may die.  We must not let that happen.  At today's Day of Mourning ceremony, we stood together as individuals and as a community to commit to doing our part in preventing these injuries from happening and keeping each other safe.  The commitment we all made at today's ceremony only has a meaning once it is put into action.  When we gather at the Day of Mourning ceremony one year from today, let us be able to say we made a difference, that we kept each other safe, and let our reward be that not one Yukoner's life was lost in a work mishap in 2008.  Thank you.

Mr. Arthur Mitchell, MLA for Copperbelt, Leader of the Official Opposition:
I rise today on behalf of the Official Opposition to pay tribute to National Day of Mourning.  April 28, 2008, is the 24th anniversary of the Day of Mourning for the workers killed and injured on the job.  We in the Yukon join with the rest of Canada and more than 80 countries around the world to honour the millions of lives that have been forever changed or lost to workplace injuries.  We mourn those workers who have been injured, killed or suffer illness as a result of occupational accidents and hazards.  Most workplace injuries are preventable.  Although there have been some improvements to unsafe working conditions on the job, we still have far too many lives that are unnecessarily lost or irrevocably affected by injuries because of workplace accidents.  We must do more to save lives and prevent needless suffering.  All workers have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment.  Safety on the job must be a priority for everyone and responsibility for safety belongs to each of us.  Both employers and employees must follow workplace safety procedures.  By working together then, and only then, can we hope not only to prevent and reduce, but to eliminate entirely, workplace deaths and injuries.  As we observe this Day of Mourning, we pause to reflect on and to mourn for the workers who have died or been injured at work, sadly, including another Yukon worker in 2007.  We must renew our commitment to our workforce to improve health and safety conditions on the job.  As our youth enter the workforce we must educate them on how important workplace safety is, not only for themselves, but for their fellow workers.  It is a sad fact that young workers are most at risk for workplace accidents.  Since 2004 over 130 young Canadians have lost their lives to workplace accidents.  There have been 503 workplace injuries reported to date this year in the Yukon.  That's 503 too many.  Let us join together to eliminate all workplace injuries and fatalities.  Show you care by wearing a Day of Mourning pin, pause for a moment to honour those Yukon workers who have been injured or killed on the job.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many Yukoners who have shown their support for our workers and their families on this National Day of Mourning.  Thank you.

Mr. Steve Cardiff, MLA for Mount Lorne, Leader of the New Democratic Party:
I rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to recognize April 28 as the National Day of Mourning and to pay tribute to workers and their families whose lives have been lost or severely impacted by occupational injury or death.  This year's slogan from the Canadian Labour Congress is "Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living – Now more than ever".  The principle behind the slogan is obvious.  Grieve for those lives that have ended prematurely and get to work to stop preventable injuries and death.  I don't think anything could be more important.  So far this year, 503 Yukoners have been injured on the job, and we're only a third of the way through the calendar year.  As we speak, the Yukon Federation of Labour is holding a three-day symposium called, "Making It Work for Me! – Keeping Yukon youth safe at work".  One of the challenges the Day of Mourning forces us to reckon with as legislators is how we are working to safeguard the lives of young workers – a group that is disproportionately injured on the job.  There is much to do to keep young workers safe and to keep all workers safe on the job.  Canada continues to have one of the highest workplace fatality rates of any OECD – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – country.  In 2006, there were 976 workplace fatalities in Canada.  That's up substantially.  It's an increase of 18 percent since 1996.  These numbers should be going down, not up.  It seems unfortunate that the principle that operates in our society is that things only change after there's a tragedy.  Tragically, we lost another worker last year.  Legislators have made changes.  The Criminal Code was amended in 2004 to hold employers responsible for health and safety offences that destroy workers' lives.  This year, a company – Transpavé – was found criminally negligent of the death of a 23-year old labourer.  They were fined $110,000.  What is the price of a life?  It's only the first conviction under this change in the law, and the labour movement fought long and hard to win that amendment to the Criminal Code.  It has come way too late for many people.  It has come way too late for the 26 men who died at Westray, and it has come way too late for many of the others who have passed away, working on the job.  At least it's a law.  We hope this change, born from the struggle to remember and say, "Never again", will save lives and protect livelihoods.  This is definitely a day to remember, but it's also, as was said earlier, a day to commit.  We need to do that on a daily basis.  We need to commit every day when we go to work to keep each other safe.  Thank you.

[boldface emphasis added]






Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 2008 May 2
     http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/comm/sub-su/su_2008mae02.htm

Subcommittee of the Whole House on Supply

Mr. Michel Samson, MLA for Richmond:
    ...Minister, do you accept the notion of ministerial responsibility under our British parliamentary system that we have here in Nova Scotia?

Mr. Cecil Clarke, the honourable Minister of Justice:
    I do.

Mr. Samson:
    Okay.  In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I've heard you on several occasions make the statement – most recently on ATV News – I believe you said, as Minister of Justice, the buck stops with me.  Am I correct in that statement, have I not heard you say that?

Mr. Clarke:
    The statement, as you would know, that flowed from that was indicating that the responsibility and accountability for a matter stopped at one of the senior managers and my indication is, no, it stops with me, the buck stops with me in terms of being responsible for the Justice portfolio.

Mr. Samson:
    That's right and I ask you that and I fully agree with that, having been a Minister of the Crown previously, I certainly accepted that as well.  That's the way our whole system works.  Previously, for example, when Leroy Legere was the Minister of Labour, he was forced to accept responsibility for the Westray disaster.  We all know that Leroy Legere was not a labour inspector and he did not go down in the Westray mine, but at the end of the day he was expected to accept responsibility for the tragedy that took place... When I, as a member of the Legislature, criticize the Minister of Justice for what has taken place in his department, I believe that is the appropriate place to give the criticism because at the end of the day, whatever has happened, the Minister of Justice must react and make the changes necessary and to take cheap shots at civil servants, I believe, is completely inappropriate in our system...

[boldface emphasis added]






British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 2008 May 15
     http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/38th4th/H80515p.htm


C. Puchmayr:
The code review has nothing to do with the questions that are being asked here.  The code review does have a process that is looked at.  What we are speaking of here is looking at a model that is superior.  It brings levels of safety both from WorkSafe standards, with respect to confined-space entry, and from the mine safety and reclamation code.  It puts them together to get the best possible standards that are available and then decants them from the Mines Ministry and puts them into WorkSafe, which is a more independent wing of governance and inspection.  Almost all provinces in Canada have done this.  After the Westray disaster the minister went on record saying that there's no way the ministry in charge of promoting mining should also be in charge of health and safety in mining.  That's a ministry in a province that certainly isn't a socialist province, and they've seen the issues that arose from when you have the same type of governance looking at mining that could possibly come into conflict with promotion of mining.  We're just asking for a better system here.  Is the minister prepared to look at decanting the mine safety and reclamation code provisions and moving them over to some independents?  That isn't going to curtail the mining industry.  It's not going to affect the mining ministry, other than it will put an independent lens on health and safety in the mining industry.  That's what the families of the four people that died on that minesite want.  That's what we want.  That is good for British Columbia, it's good for mining, and it's good for the health and safety of people.

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2009






British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 2009 October 7
     http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/39th1st/h91007p.htm


Committee of Supply – Estimates:
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure



G. Coons:
...We, somewhat, over the years, have had this discussion ever since the Queen of the North sank.  We've requested a public inquiry into the sinking.  Even though we've had a TSB report, we still don't know what happened – not only in the minutes of the accident or the weeks ahead, the months ahead or the years leading up to the sinking of the Queen of the North.  The previous minister had said that there's an ongoing RCMP investigation and so we don't want to do a public investigation.  I'm not too sure if there's still one going on.  I've requested… I'm still getting that information.  But if there is an ongoing RCMP investigation, it would be under Bill C-45.  That deals with the federal safety that the minister brought up, and it deals with the criminal liability of organizations, including corporations and unions.  It applies to Crown corporations and agents of the Crown.  When we do talk about safety under Bill C-45… People may know it as, I think, the Westray mine act.  Management and other people knew that there were concerns, and there were criminal charges because they did not use due diligence.  I know there have been letters to the previous minister about the issues of dangerous cargo.  I would suggest that if there is a concern about safety, it would fall under Bill C-45 – ensuring that it doesn't happen to you and that you do your due diligence, as the company has to and as the union has to and as all workers have to, but as the sole shareholder, even though non-voting, that you are the ultimate person responsible for what goes on with B.C.  Ferries and all safety aspects.  I would suggest that your staff follow up on the concerns about dangerous cargo...

[boldface emphasis added]





 

2010






Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 2010 April 28
     http://www.legassembly.gov.yk.ca/hansard/32-legislature/session1/pdf/hansard_april28.pdf


In recognition of National Day of Mourning


Mr. Steve Cardiff, MLA for Mount Lorne, Leader of the New Democratic Party:
Mr. Speaker, on this 26th Day of Mourning, and on behalf of the New Democrat caucus, I rise in solidarity with workers who have been killed or injured on the job, their friends and families, their loved ones and their children.  I salute the memory of those workers who went to work but never came home.  As New Democrats with strong roots in the labour movement, we have worked side by side with labour to support workers and to advocate for improvements to health and safety.  The Canadian Labour Congress first created the Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job in 1984, and I am proud to say that it was a New Democrat bill that was enacted in the House of Commons, which proclaimed April 28 as the National Day of Mourning.

According to the Ontario Federation of Labour, the number of people killed at work each year in Canada has risen in each of the past 15 years.  This is in contrast to almost every other OECD country where the incidence of workplace fatalities and injuries is declining.  This is a shameful state of affairs in this country.  This Day of Mourning is especially sad and tragic here in the Yukon.  We all know of the recent events at Wolverine mine with the tunnel collapse and the death of William Fisher.  Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the young man's family and friends as they grieve and they try to make sense of what happened.  As more and more mining operations develop in the territory, I think it is time to reflect on this industry and the some-times sorrowful relationship that Canadians have with this in-dustry.

The Hillcrest mining disaster of June 9, 1914, stands as Canada's worst mining disaster.  Of the 235 miners who headed into the mine that day, only 46 survived to live another day and 400 children were left fatherless in an instant.

The Springhill mining disaster of October 23, 1958, which had the distinction of being the first major international story in Canada to be covered by live television broadcast – 74 deaths.  Survivors spent up to five days trapped nearly 3,000 feet below the surface.

Drummond Colliery, 1873; the Fernie mining disaster, 1902; these are the names of other places of unmistakable tragedies that have rocked communities to their core.  We're not alone in this world.  There were recent tragedies in West Virginia and our sister province of Shaanxi, China.  We have a long way to go to prevent these disasters in the mining industry and in our workplaces.

The Westray tragedy in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, killed 26 men.  It led to the creation of Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Westray Act, whereby the Criminal Code recognized the liability of employers, managers and owners if workplace deaths were the result of their negligence.  We have questions as to whether there are enough resources to adequately prosecute this important law, and federations of labour across Canada are pushing on this Day of Mourning for the Westray Act to be meaningfully implemented.  We pledge our support, our commitments and our efforts to build a culture of safety in the Yukon.  On this day, we hope others will take up the challenge as well.  Thank you.

[boldface emphasis added]






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2010 April 28
     http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2010-04-28#PARA230


Oral Question: Workplace Safety


Mr. Peter Kormos, MPP for Welland:
...Between 1999 and 2008, work-related deaths increased by almost 50%.  More and more workers are dying due to the criminal negligence of their employers.  Why isn't the government prosecuting employers who are responsible for the death or injury of hard-working and responsible workers?

Hon. Peter Fonseca, the Minister of Labour:
We are all saddened when there is a fatality in the workplace or a serious injury.  Ministry of Labour inspectors, as I said, are out there in the field every single day, investigating incidents to ensure that the Occupational Health and Safety Act is followed and enforced.  I can tell the member that over the last four years, the Ministry of Labour has successfully convicted almost 4,000 companies and individuals for workplace health and safety violations.  The member, I believe, is speaking to the Westray bill, which is federal legislation.  Under that legislation, he would know that it speaks to criminal charges.  It's the responsibility of police and crown attorneys to determine when criminal charges are warranted for a workplace injury or fatality.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters):
Final supplementary.

Mr. Peter Kormos:
You see, Speaker, that's why I put the question to the Premier, because since 2004, the Criminal Code of Canada has enabled the prosecution of corporate executives, directors and managers who recklessly disregard the safety of workers.  Hundreds of workers have been killed on the job and millions injured in Ontario since the Criminal Code was amended in 2004.  Holding employers responsible for workplace deaths is the only sure way to improve workplace safety.  It's this government's Attorney General, Minister of Labour and Solicitor General who are responsible for ensuring that the Criminal Code is enforced in the province of Ontario.  Why won't the government make full use of the Criminal Code and stop the needless and tragic killing of Ontario workers by sending bad bosses to jail?

Hon. Peter Fonseca:
Any one death is one death too many in the province of Ontario.  But the truth is, to the member, that in Ontario we have seen a downward trend in the number of fatalities in the workplace.  We will continue to do all we can to ensure that our workers are healthy and safe when they go to work and that they come home healthy and safe at the end of the day.  That is why we have a strong strategy, a plan.  It's called Safe at Work Ontario.  We work with labour groups, we work with employers and we work with employees, because it's everyone's responsibility to make sure that people are safe when they're at work and that they do come home safe and sound at the end of the day.  We've also launched an expert advisory panel led by Tony Dean...

[boldface emphasis added]






Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 2010 April 28
     http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2010-04-28#PARA535


National Day of Mourning


Hon. Gerry Phillips, MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt, Deputy Government House Leader:
Mr. Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent that up to five minutes be allocated to each party to speak on the National Day of Mourning.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters):
Minister of Labour.

Hon. Peter Fonseca, the Minister of Labour:
Today is a significant day here in Ontario and across Canada.  Today is the National Day of Mourning.  On this day, we all remember.  We pay our respects to the workers who have been killed, who have been injured, or who suffer illness as a result of work-related incidents.  We honour the families who also have been deeply affected.  It's also a day for us to reflect on ways to prevent these tragedies so no other worker or family suffers again...

Mr. Peter Kormos, MPP for Welland:
The day of mourning is now truly a global event.  Memorial activities are held in almost 100 countries.  April 28 allows all Canadians and people internationally to remember, recall and regret those working people who've had to die or suffer injuries and diseases in their workplaces.  We remember workers on April 28 thanks to the efforts of labour and injured worker activists to get this day established.  In 1984, the Canadian Labour Congress set this day aside to remember workers whose jobs exposed them to hazards and risks to their life and health.  In 1988, an NDP resolution here in the Ontario Legislature was passed unanimously, recognizing April 28 as a provincial day of mourning.  In 1991, a private members' bill sponsored by the federal NDP was passed to proclaim April 28 of each year as a national-Canadian-day of mourning.  The House of Commons and many provinces and municipalities now recognize the April 28 day of mourning with a minute's silence, and many flags fly at half-mast.  It's suitable, it's appropriate, it's essential that we remember those lost and broken lives on this day, yet it isn't right to do this only once a year.  This pain suffered by those who have lost family members and friends to a workplace injury should be remembered constantly, vigilantly, on every day of every year as a caution against the future abuse of human lives.  While we mourn the dead, it's also essential that we continue to fight as hard as ever – harder than ever – for the living, and prevent this terrible and unnecessary toll.

Pallbearers carried 342 Ontario workers to their graves last year; 342 Ontario workers buried in this province last year as a direct result of workplace conditions.  Between 1999 and 2008, work-related deaths increased by almost 50%.  In 2009, there were 479 fatality claims and 253,000-plus injury and disease claims here in Ontario.  In the first two months of 2010, there have been 86 deaths – in but 60 days of 2010; 86 deaths and 38,000-plus claims for work-related injuries and diseases reported to the WSIB.  These fatality figures, in fact, don't reflect the true toll of occupational disease: 9% to 40% of all cancers are occupational.  In Ontario, this means that between 2,200 and 9,800 workers die of cancer each year as a result of their exposures at work.  In addition to the human suffering, the health care costs of these cancers are as high as $500 million a year.  This human suffering could have been prevented if more was done to prevent injuries in the workplace.  Indeed, the government has the primary role of ensuring that that happens.  One important step would be to step up criminal proceedings against employers who are responsible for the deaths or serious injuries of workers.

We've had the Criminal Code amendments since 2004 enabling prosecutors to charge corporate executives, directors and managers who recklessly disregard the safety of workers.  Hundreds of workers have been killed on the job and millions injured in Ontario since that law came into effect.  Holding employers responsible for workplace deaths is the best way to improve workplace safety.  It's as simple as this: You kill a worker, you go to jail.  Yet this government refuses to take the measures needed to ensure that police and crown attorneys are sufficiently aware of these Criminal Code provisions and that they act on them in all investigations of workplace deaths.  In fact, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services refuses to meet with the Ontario Federation of Labour to explore ways to ensure that the Westray law is fully acted on.

The Ontario government should ensure that it makes full use of the Criminal Code to stop the needless and tragic killing of Ontario workers, and the Ontario government should also ensure that every worker in this province is covered by WSIB.  We still have 1.3 million workers who have no WSIB coverage whatsoever, including workers in some very hazardous workplaces.  If they lose their jobs as a result of injury, they don't receive workers' compensation – WSIB.  They end up relying on food banks with no job, no income and no help from the McGuinty government.

The procedure is simple.  If this government had the political will and the political gumption, it could guarantee within two weeks that every worker in this province had WSIB coverage, and this government, with the political will, could ensure that if you kill a worker, you go to jail.  If we really respect those dead workers and those injured workers, we would commit ourselves to those two goals immediately.

[boldface emphasis added]






Senate, Ottawa
Hansard, 2010 July 6
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/40/3/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/fina-e/15eva-e.htm?
        Language=E&Parl=40&Ses=3&comm_id=13


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance

Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget
tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures


Ms. Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada:
...I would agree that efficiency is not a bad thing, but that is not what this does.  This guts the environmental assessment process and does it permanently, unless a future government changes it back.  This is more than saying what agency energy projects go to.  I think most of your comments were directed to the idea that energy projects would go to either the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the National Energy Board, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.  The scoping of the act, the changes to overturn the Supreme Court of Canada's view of proper environmental assessment, definitely changed the environmental assessment process.  It is not to say that everything is the same but for a few tiny changes.  They have created an opportunity for environmental assessment to be made a joke, a complete mockery of environment assessment, by allowing a minister to decide what part of a project is to be reviewed and not the whole project.  That is a significant concern.

Sometimes you protect jobs by getting a proper environmental review done.  I wish there had been some review of the Westray Mine before they went ahead with that.  The methane levels, the kind of things that would have given people pause before pushing ahead, which resulted in the worst mining disaster in recent history, had no environmental review.

The last environmental review I was involved with before getting involved with politics was the joint federal-provincial review of the remediation of the Sydney Tar Ponds.  Start to finish, from the decision of the Minister of the Environment to appoint a joint federal-provincial panel, they concluded their work in less than a year.  It was some four years later that the province went ahead to say that is what they will do.  Sadly, they did not read the report of the panel review.  If they had, they would have realized that what they are now funding with federal taxpayers' money will not work.  You cannot make the case that that process was slowed up...

[boldface emphasis added]






Senate, Ottawa
Hansard, 2010 July 8
     http://www.parl.gc.ca/40/3/parlbus/chambus/senate/deb-e/048db_2010-07-08-e.htm?Language=E&Parl=40&Ses=3#27


National Day of Service Bill

Second Reading – Debate Continued


On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Marshall, for the second reading of Bill S-209, An Act respecting a national day of service to honour the courage and sacrifice of Canadians in the face of terrorism, particularly the events of September 11, 2001.


Hon. Tommy Banks:
...Honourable senators, there is no doubt about the tragedy of that day.  There are no words sufficient to the task of describing what happened on that day and of what happened to the 24 Canadians and many more citizens of other countries who lost their lives that day.  However, we should be careful in passing laws, including the best-intended of laws, to ensure that they mean what we say and that we say what they mean.

I am not entirely convinced that the words "courage" and "sacrifice" are the right ones with respect to those 24 Canadians.  There is no doubting the tragedy.  There is no doubt of the horrible loss.  However, was it sacrifice?  Was it courage?  Perhaps there are examples that can be adduced to demonstrate courage and sacrifice from those Canadians.  I hope that, if so, those examples will be presented to the committee that will study this bill.

Honourable senators, we know of instances in Canada in which there was courage and sacrifice and for which there is no named day.  We do not have a Springhill mine day.  There is no Ocean Ranger day.  We have no day for the Edmonton tornado or for the Westray mine.  We have no ice storm day.  In each of these cases, there was courage – heroism, in fact – and sacrifice.  In each of these events, more Canadians lost their lives than was the case in New York City on September 11, 2001.  However, there is no day for any of them.

Honourable senators, let us by all means have this bill studied further by committee, but let us not be profligate when it comes to naming days, whatever the temptation and however good the intent.

[boldface emphasis added]






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