Railway Police Forces should no longer be left to police their own employers in the event of a workplace death
EDMONTON – Two years ago today, on February 4, 2019, the brakes of a 99-car grain train failed and the train suddenly started rolling on its own, gradually picking up speed until it eventually crashed. Engineer Andrew Dockrell died instantly, conductor Dylan Paradis was crushed to death, and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer died on the scene after being thrown from the wreck into a nearby frozen river.
Shortly before Christmas, the RCMP announced they had opened a criminal investigation into the train derailment that killed the three Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail employees, nearly two years after their tragic deaths.
“It took almost two years of the families of these three Teamster Rail members speaking out, along with calls from labour groups and the many Canadians who signed Petition E-3204 to parliament, for a proper criminal investigations to finally occur,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “This was an unacceptable wait for justice which will ultimately damage the ability for a proper investigation of criminality to occur.”
Currently, CP Rail and CN Rail use their own police forces to investigate a workplace death on their worksites. To date, the Alberta Federation of Labour’s repeated calls for the Government of Canada to implement a system where independent criminal investigations automatically occur in the event of a death on railway worksites have gone unheeded.
“We owed it to the families of Andrew Dockrell, Dylan Paradis, and Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer to fully investigate their deaths. Now we owe it to all railway workers, who have been operating as essential workers throughout this pandemic, to ensure their safety. We owe it to all Canadians to make sure our worksites, such as CP Rail tracks, are safe for workers and the surrounding public,” said McGowan. “This means we need to properly enforce the Westray Act at our railways going forward.”
“We are calling on the Trudeau government to immediately move to implement a system of independent criminal investigation where an external police force is immediately called in when a workplace death occurs at a railway,” concluded McGowan.