Finding of guilt and guilty pleas in Lac-Mégantic cases

LAC-MÉGANTIC, QC, Feb. 5, 2018 /CNW/ - Today in the Court of Quebec, Montreal Maine & Atlantic Canada Co. (MMAC) was found guilty of unlawfully depositing or permitting the deposit of a deleterious substance, to wit: crude oil, in water frequented by fish, namely Mégantic Lake and/or Chaudière River, contrary to section 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.  

MMAC was sentenced to the maximum fine

MMAC was sentenced to the maximum fine provided to wit: $1,000,000 of which $400,000, payable upon conviction, is to be credited, under sections 40(6) and (7) of the Fisheries Act, to the Environmental Damages Fund and used for the decontamination of Mégantic Lake and Chaudière River, which were directly impacted by the spill of crude oil.

Under the Railway Safety Act (RSA), six of the accused, all employees or senior officials of MMAC including the President, Vice President of Transportation, and Director of Operating Practice in the United States, pleaded guilty to one count for omitting, after applying hand brakes, to ensure that a sufficient force was present to prevent the equipment from moving, contrary to paragraph 41(2)(d) of the RSA.

Five of the six individual accused, Michael Horan, Jean Demaitre, Kenneth I. Strout, Lynne Labonte, and Robert C. Grindrod, were sentenced to pay a fine of $50,000 each, which is the maximum fine provided under the RSA. All the fines are payable upon conviction. Another accused, the conductor of the freight train, Thomas Harding, was sentenced to a conditional sentence of imprisonment of 6 months with strict conditions, the maximum provided by the RSA.

Morevover, although fines would normally be paid to the Government of Canada, in this case, Transport Canada agreed to redirect the total amount of $250 000 to the Fonds Avenir Lac-Mégantic, a fund established in 2013 by the City of Lac-Mégantic to help rebuild and ensure the economic recovery of the downtown core.

The PPSC withdrew the remaining charges.

Following the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec on July 6, 2013, and the release of crude oil that left 47 people dead, a joint investigation by Transport Canada and Environment Canada revealed that the accused did not comply with all applicable safety requirements.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction in a manner that is free of any improper influence and that respects the public interest.

The PPSC is also responsible for providing prosecution-related advice to law enforcement agencies across Canada.