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October 28, 2017 5:08 am

Lakeland Inquest Adjourned After ‘Email Chain’ Brings New Information To Light

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 @ 4:50 PM
Inquest Counsel, John Orr,      250News photo

Inquest Counsel, John Orr, 250News photo

Prince George, BC – In an unexpected development,  the Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of Alan Little and Glenn Roche in the 2012 Lakeland Explosion has been adjourned to a later date, possibly the end of April.

Inquest Counsel, John Orr, requested the adjournment, citing time needed to review new material, including information he just received yesterday that raises concerns about WorkSafeBC’s handling of the investigation into the deadly sawmill blast and the conclusions reached in its final report.

On Monday afternoon, Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe, directed lawyers for Lakeland to provide the inquest with all materials related to a forensics investigation done for the law firm in the aftermath of the blast.  Both the coroner and Orr have said they were not made aware of the investigation until it was raised during testimony at the inquest. (click here, for previous story)  But Lakeland Counsel, Gavin Marshall, has maintained all parties – WorkSafe BC, the BC Safety Authority, and the Coroners Service – were aware that CASE Forensics was working alongside their investigators and it became part of the record when the Coroners Service received that information.

Orr said, based on his preliminary review of the CASE information since Monday, it’s clear the investigation was very extensive and covered issues not necessarily addressed by WorkSafeBC.  Of further concern, he said, was an email chain that Lakeland lawyer, Gavin Marshall, provided him with yesterday, indicating Marshall offered to meet and share this information with WorkSafeBC  in November 2012, prior to the release of its final report into the Lakeland explosion.

Orr said WorkSafeBC’s Director of Investigations declined that opportunity and that raises concerns about the process behind WorkSafe’s investigation and the conclusions reached, if it was done with incomplete information.

“What concerns me is that WorkSafe did not share that information with the Coroners Service.”  Orr said he believes WorkSafeBC’s CEO at the time, Dave Anderson, should be called as a witness at the inquest to explain why the decision was made to proceed without all the information.

“To me, it is unfortunate.  It is unfortunate that this comes out at this stage of the proceedings, that it was not disclosed a year ago (during pre-hearing meetings attended by all counsel).”  But he said it would be wrong to proceed in the absence of all information.

Coroner Lisa Lapointe said, “I am significantly disappointed that information was known to people in this room and they chose not to bring it forward.”  She pointed out it’s an offence under the Coroners Act to neglect to provide information.

“You don’t get to filter – that’s not your role,” Lapointe admonished counsel.  “And, in fact, I would say, as participants, you have a bigger responsibility – that anything you have in your possession, or any information that you know about – needs to be brought forward.”

She said the inquest’s biggest responsibility is to find out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.  “Because we know that at least 24 people went to work on April 23, 2012 and two people didn’t come home and 22 others were badly injured.”

Lakeland Counsel, Gavin Marshall, stood to confirm for the record that the coroner did not want to hear from him or any other counsel at the table.  Lapointe replied, “That’s correct.”

A date for when the inquest will re-convene has yet to be set.

Glenn Roche’s widow, Rhonda, was visibly upset as she left the courtroom where the inquest was being held.  She was comforted by a family member and a few of the employees who survived the blast.

Company President Greg Stewart

Company President Greg Stewart

In a brief statement to media outside the courthouse, the President of the Sinclar Group which owns Lakeland, Greg Stewart, said he’s disappointed with the adjournment, he had hoped the inquest would wrap up by the end of the week.

But he noted it’s the familes who lost loved ones and the survivors who are the real victims of the delay.  Stewart would offer no direct comment on the issues that forced the adjournment, except to say the CASE Forensics investigation is consistent with the types of work done by law firms in the wake of events of this nature.

WorkSafeBC has advised it has no statement to make with regards to the adjournment at this time.










It’s going to take a public Inquiry to get to the bottom of this, just as Braidwood inquiry did.

A very interesting twist. Why did WorkSafeBC not want additional information to consider in its investigation, let alone not provided to the inquest? Very interesting indeed.

it sucks that nobody knew that dust could lead to an explosion. I learned that in high school science and it was reinforced in my trades training. Shame on the fire inspector for not knowing as much. He should get a failing grade as should worksafebc and the union for not looking after the workers. The management must of been just looking at the bottom line. Shame on them.

I hope the union membership send the present executive members packing after their withdrawal from the inquiry. The Union should be front and center in the inquiry looking after their members

The union does not care about the workers they just want there money.

You are quite right there mactac. I would imagine that Canfor has more than a few hundred questions for the Lakeland bunch, most of all why are we in this awful deal on the Nechako?

It would also be rather informative to this inquiry the inspection reports from Lakeland’s insurance company…with any remaining common sense they would have been there the day after Babine went up.

And dust explosions are old news… like since 1896 when the biggest grain elevator blew up and the National Fire Prevention Assoc. was created (65,00 members), most of whom have seen the following video…If these idiots profess to know nothing of saw dust explosions, check out this clip about sugar dust. Eerily similar to the Lakeland situation.


bluesman Thursday, March 26, 2015 @ 6:58 AM
mactac Thursday, March 26, 2015 @ 12
bluesman,mactac, I learned the following many years ago in regards to unions. “A union is only as strong or as good as it’s weakest link.”
All union members should strive to attend all union meetings and to be involved with their unions, of course I refer here to legitimate unions not rat unions. If someone thinks just because they have paid their union dues that they have fullfilled their obligations to that union they sorely mistaken.Belonging to a Union is similar to having a business, you will only receive from it what you put into it. On the topic of the present subject , all the union members belonging to this union at Lakeland should get behind their union to help it get a resovle into what caused this terrible loss of life and injuries to their fellow members, added to this there is something amiss within this inquiry , I myself feel this inquiry should and could turn into a public inquiry, this way there will be accountability, and at least give a voice for those who were killed and maimed, as they no longer can or are unable to speak for themselves.

furtree -good post. I would like to know if there were any grievance’s filed with the Union prior to the explosion on working conditons.

It may possible that grievances were issued. What I think that should have been pursed and it may have is the recording (notes) from the safety meeting which should have been duly documented and recorded and pasted on to their respected agencies. Some time back when I was still in the craft when safety meetings were held which were at least once a month everything concerned or safety matter was issue to a safety matter it was recorded along with who chaired and attended these meetings which were mandatory. Should a safety problem arise in between safety meetings there was an employee elected to a safety committee to represent the workers I will reiterate we were represented by a union.

As far as I know it was mandatory to have a safety meeting once a month. Not all employees had to be at a safety meeting but one or two employee(s) were elected to take up concerns from the employees to the employer. The elected member(s) would go around and talk to employees on an individual bases to see if they had any concerns before a meeting was held with management and everything was documented.

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