The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
The international president of United Steelworkers is joining a chorus of outrage over a police decision not to lay criminal charges in the 2011 deaths of two men at Vale Ltd.’s Stobie Mine.
Leo Gerard, in Sudbury to attend the USW District 6 triennial convention, said the investigation his union conducted into the deaths of Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, was one of the finest it has done.
It took eight months and resulted in a 200-page report with 165 recommendations, chief among them that criminal charges be laid against Vale under the Westray Bill of the Criminal Code of Canada.
“When you see what happened at Stobie, and you see what happened here in town with the police deciding not to lay any charges … I’ve been around a long time. I know that stuff,” Gerard said. Both his union’s and the Ministry of Labour’s investigations “said there was deliberate ignoring (of ) certain safety infractions,” said Gerard.
“Let me tell you, if you del iberately run through a red light and kill somebody, you’re going to jail. So you del iberately ignore safety infractions as a boss” and no charges are laid? asked Gerard.
Greater Sudbury Police didn’t lay criminal charges in the Stobie deaths because they didn’t meet the “criminal threshold,” Insp. Todd Zimmerman said.
“If I stab you and I’m trying to kill you, that’s a criminal threshold,” Zimmerman said. “When you’re in the workplace, it’s not as cut and dried, so to speak.”
Chenier and Fram were killed while working at the 3,000-foot level of the 112-year-old mine and were overcome by a run of 350 tons of muck — water and crushed rock — from the No. 7 shaft.
In its report, Local 6500 said Vale supervisors and company officials knew that area of the mine was dangerous because Chenier had sent them two e-mails warning about excess water a day or two before he was killed.
The investigation also found supervisors ordered the removal of barriers Chenier had erected on a level above where he was killed, to prevent the dumping of crushed material.
Zimmerman said there obviously were “some Ministry of Labour problems, and that’s why the Ministry of Labour laid some charges.” But there wasn’t sufficient evidence to lay criminal charges against management “or anyone else in the mine,” he said.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2012/09/18/lack-of-criminal-charges-angers-steelworkers-convention