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October 28, 2017 3:10 am

Maureen Luggi Applauds Babine Inquest Jury

Saturday, August 1, 2015 @ 4:17 AM

Prince  George, B.C. – The widow of one of the two men killed in the Babine Forest Products explosion in January 2012 is pleased with the recommendations issued by the jury at the coroner’s inquest into the tragedy.

Late Friday the jury ruled the deaths of sawmill workers Robert Luggi Jr. and Carl Charlie accidental.  The jury and presiding Coroner Chico Newell issued a total of  41 recommendations to parties including Babine Forest Products Ltd. and the Manufacturer’s Advisory Group, Hampton Resources Inc., the United Steelworkers Union District 3, WorkSafeBC, the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour of BC, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, BC Safety Authority, Health Safety Unions, the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, the Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Minister of Justice of British Columbia.

Maureen Luggi, the widow of Robert Luggi Jr, says “I am very happy with the recommendations.  They were read out in the courtroom and I heard them all and I agree with them all one hundred percent.”  Asked whether any of the recommendations specifically stand out, she says “I think the one regarding the Westray Law, the Criminal Code Section 217.1.  It would be recommendation number 31.”

“That one stands out for me the most because it’s the start for an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada.  The background to that recommendation is the Westray Act amendment created a duty under 217.1 but did not create an offence for failing to fulfill that duty.  If that were implemented right now, me and you would not be having this conversation and people would be made accountable for their actions if men and women die in workplaces.  So that one stands out for me the most.”

Maureen Luggi continues “I think all of the recommendations are really good.  The other one is to Babine Forest Products would be the presiding coroner’s recommendation to conduct an employment equity audit pursuant to the Employment Equity Act.   I really like that one because there was so much testimony given that Babine Forest Products is comprised of 11% ownership of the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation and the rest of the company belongs to Hampton Affiliates.”

“I feel what they need to do is create better working relationships with First Nations people in the Burns Lake area, and the recommendations that came forward from the presiding coroner addressed those.  We heard evidence related to a relationship accord that was presented to Hampton Affiliates by the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation that Hampton has not responded to.  The details of that accord were read out as evidence and it sounded so positive that we wondered why this wasn’t being pursued by the company.”

She says there has been no explanation why such an accord has not been looked into further and says “I think they may have been focussing likely on the re-build (of the Babine mill) and getting the new mill in operation than on a relationship accord.  So I would think that it would be their next logical step to look at this accord and start creating more meaningful relationships with First Nations people.”

Regarding the question of accountability in this tragedy Luggi says “I think there’s accountability that’s required at the WorkSafe level and the Babine Forest Products level and the Shirley Bond level, she’s the Minister of Labour.  I think that with regard to WorkSafeBC, at every level there needs to be accountability measures so that workers don’t have to die in workplaces the way that Robert and Carl died.”

Luggi says accountability also has to extend to the Steelworkers Union.  “Yes, definitely to the union, I fully agree.  I think there was evidence heard on the stand regarding the men, the workers paying union dues and yet the union is not representing them to the best of their ability.”

“Hopefully that will change and I think that at every level, in government and in industry, that people need to be kept accountable so that workers don’t die like this, so that preventable tragedies never have to happen like this again.”

Maureen Luggi reflects upon the tragedy, the fallout and the more than three years which have now passed since that horrendous day by saying “I think that our families need time and space to process all of these recommendations and start to de-brief and think about our next steps and to consider the evidence of what happened, where it happened.  You know, for me there’s a sense of peace and closure but I would like to see all of our families arrive at that same conclusion and decide what our next steps are going to be.”


May your Peace be everlasting Maureen!

She states: “the Westray Act amendment created a duty under 217.1 but did not create an offence for failing to fulfill that duty.”

That is totally wrong. This is one of the problems, the general public is really not informed on such matters. And Maureen Luggi is a person directly affected, not just a member of the general public.

Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada was enacted in 2004. That was over a decade ago. It imposes a legal duty on persons directing work or with authority over how work is performed to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to those working under their authority or direction. A breach of the duties imposed by section 217.1 may result in a corporation and/or senior managerial employees being fined or imprisoned.

The first conviction under section 217.1 occurred in 2008 after charges were laid against Transpavé Inc., a Quebec manufacturer of concrete products. An employee of Transpavé was crushed to death while attempting to clear stone from a production line. The investigation into the circumstances of the fatality concluded that a guarding device had been intentionally disabled. Transpavé pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against it and received a monetary penalty. However, section 217.1 has yet to be applied where an accused has defended against the charges.

The main problem as I see it, there have been very few charges laid under this section and when they are, they take years to go through the courts. Some have been laid and the defendant has plead guilty so that incident was not tested in court to provide guidance to lawyers of how judges rule and how to handle a case.

If my observation is reasonably correct, that means that the justice system also needs to be trained better to understand cases related to 217.1 charges.

Crown Counsel can still open up this case and lay charges. They have plenty of time to do that.

I just read recommendation 31. It seems the jury did not realize that the teeth of 217 are in the sections which follow 217.

This is how the Criminal Code reads in 219 and 220

219. (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
o (a) in doing anything, or
o (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, “duty” means a duty imposed by law.

220. Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Charges of criminal negligence have been made against an engineer in Ontario and the case is about to go to trial. It deals with the collapse of a mall roof used as a parking structure that collapse and killed 2 people.

219 and 220 are general applications where a duty has been imposed. 217.1 imposes that duty. That is all that had to be inserted into the Code. Everything else had already been there.

Recommendations mean little unless they are made to do it. They are just a suggestion.

IMO, this inquest was a joke, a public inquiry would have had more teeth and brought about the changes needed to protect workers going forward. However, these two inquests served their main purposes well IMO, in a sense they exhortation both the province and the sawmill companies from blame / fault because these inquests do not establish blame or fault.

Well played BC government and sawmill companies, well played.

IMO public enquires are no different.

Sorry, forgot to add that capable crown counsel with balls make the difference.

Sage, show me where an inquiry has to establish blame or fault

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