Westray Coal Mine
in Hansard

Pictou County, Nova Scotia

At 5:20am on 9 May 1992 the Westray coal mine exploded
killing 26 miners

Below is a collection of Westray-related items
found in Hansard

HANSARD is the informal title for the official printed reports of parliamentary debates.

The printed verbatim record — of the proceedings in a Legislature or the House of Commons, published after each sitting — is often identified as "Hansard" which is the name of the British family responsible during most of the 1800s for the transcription of the proceedings of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.

The Origins of Hansard:

From the second half of the sixteenth century the British Parliament prohibited all reporting and publishing of its proceedings. The Parliament believed it should deliberate in private and regarded any attempt to publicise its proceedings as a serious punishable offence. By the late eighteenth century dissension among more progressive members of Parliament, the growing weight of public opinion and the increasingly outspoken attacks of the press, persuaded the Parliament to relax its stance.

In 1803 the British House of Commons passed a resolution giving the press the right to enter the Public Gallery. That same year William Cobbett, (an MP), using reporters in relays had them write up what they could remember in his Political Register. In 1811 Cobbett sold his company to his assistant, Thomas Curson Hansard, the government printer's son, who published these condensed versions of debates monthly. In 1829 the name of the publication was changed to Hansard's Parliamentary Debates.

By the late 1870s dissatisfaction with the accuracy of the report was being expressed. As a result Parliament voted Hansard the sum of £300 a year for shorthand assistance. The Hansard family continued to produce the Parliamentary Debates until 1889. In 1888 a joint committee of both houses of the British Parliament decided to let a public tender for the reporting of debates. The Hansard family lost the tender and thus ended that family's association with parliamentary reporting. Other publishers continued to print transcripts of the debates until the House of Commons took control in 1909 of the reporting and printing of parliamentary debates. It was during the sixty years of the Hansard family's publication that the name Hansard became synonymous with the printed debates.

Hansard was dropped from the official name for the parliamentary reports in 1889, but the informal name Hansard remained in common use. In 1943 the British Parliament reinstated the name Hansard in the title of its formal records.

The reporting method officially adopted by the British Parliament in 1907 was a "full report, in the first person, of all speakers alike." A full report being defined as: "...one which, though not strictly verbatim, is substantially the verbatim report, with repetitions and redundancies omitted and with obvious mistakes corrected, but which on the other hand leaves out nothing that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the argument." This is a good description of the way Hansard reports of proceedings in Canadian provincial and territorial Legislatures, and the House of Commons and the Senate in Ottawa, are produced today.



Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1987 November 12

Mr. Dan Lang:
...Over the past couple of years, there has been some positive development, positive developments that I think have touched all people in Yukon in one manner or another, and I refer specifically to the mining industry to begin with: the development of Mount Skukum; the development of the Canamex property at Ketsa River; the revival of United Keno Hill Mines; the resurrection of Cyprus Anvil, now known as Curragh Resources...

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1987 November 18

Hon. Mr. McDonald:
I am pleased to introduce to the Legislature today an executive of Curragh Resources from Toronto, Mr. Ralph Sultan, vice president of the company.

... I rise today to make an important announcement that was only concluded moments ago, and therefore I apologize to Members opposite for the short notice given to them for the details of my remarks. I am pleased to announce to the House today that a new arrangement has been struck between Curragh Resources, Faro Real Estate Limited and this government that will assist the people of Faro by lowering their housing costs. Late this morning an agreement was reached that will result in modification of the $3.4 million Yukon mortgage with Curragh Resources. Members will recall that the original mortgage provided a repayment term over seven years. In recognition of the continuing confidence this government has in the company's operation in Faro and the future developments on the Van Gorda Plateau we have agreed to extend the repayment term of the loan for an additional seven years. In effect the original mortgage will be modified to provide for a term of 14 years commencing November 22, 1985 and expiring November 22, 1999. We are delighted with this new arrangement because we not only protected the security position of the government but this arrangement will result in reduced housing costs for the people of Faro. We are particularly pleased because Curragh Resources have facilitated this arrangement by agreeing to extend long-term financing to Faro Real Estate Limited...









Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1991 November 19

Mr. Lang:
...Could the Minister tell the House how well Curragh is doing in securing the necessary financing?

Hon. Mr. Byblow:
What the Member is describing is the efforts of Curragh Resources to raise some $30 million to finance the Van Gorder stripping program, in preparation for continued supply to the mill. As indicated by the Premier, I can tell the Member that we are in constant and regular communication with officials of Curragh, respecting not just the raising of the financing for the stripping program, but in matters relating to the current production at Faro. The company is indeed attempting to utilize the convertible debenture that currently rests on the Westray Coal Mine in Nova Scotia, as part of the mortgage financing for the new issue of shares. It is premature to describe the success of that effort; it is currently ongoing and every effort is being made to provide that source of funding...

Mr. Lang:
Can the Minister tell us if the federal government has been approached to assist in this particular project?

Hon. Mr. Byblow:
By virtue of efforts to utilize a convertible debenture that currently rests on the assets of Westray Coal in Nova Scotia, the federal government is involved, due to the security provided by the federal government on that debenture. The short answer to the Member's question is yes; the federal government is also intimately involved in the financing efforts of Curragh Resources...

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1991 December 17

Mr. Lang:
...I want to go on to another area, if I could, and that is the question in the area of energy. I have a number of questions there. In the 1990 strategic plan that was published, it indicated that in the neighbourhood of 10 gigawatt hours would be energy fuelled by imported diesel fuel. The balance of what was needed was going to be provided through our other energy sources. Subsequently, things have changed dramatically

I want to ask the witness if he can verify if we are up in the neighbourhood of 30 gigawatt hours using imported fuels.

Mr. Sweatman:
That is correct. That is what was in the strategic plan. Our current forecasts indicate significantly more diesel. I do not have the exact number, but I think it is more than 30, actually. It may be 30 now that the Aishihik reservoir is filled and we will be generating with hydro at that time, but yes, that is true.

The change in circumstances, I should note, results more from a change in Curragh than it does in a change from a change in the other forecasts. Our load forecasting is very much influenced by Curragh and there is — unfortunately, I did not bring it with me — a chart of how Curragh's forecasts varied over the past 18 months, and they have varied from a low of around 145 gigawatt hours for the year, to a high of 210 gigawatt hours for the year. It is very difficult to plan in that context. One of the advantages of the new contract that we have signed with Curragh is that those fluctuations are taken up with them paying the actual cost of producing that additional energy, so it does not impact on other rates. On the current margin, yes, we are generating with diesel, so that if Curragh goes up by 10, diesel goes up by 10...



Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1992 May 7

Hon. Mr. Penikett:
I move
    THAT at 4:00 p.m. until 4:45 p.m., Mr. Colin Benner, president of Curragh Resources, appear as a witness before Committee of the Whole during debate on Bill No. 52, the Faro Mine Loan Act ... following discussions with the House Leaders, we have invited Curragh Resources to be present today. I received a communication from Mr. Clifford Frame, chairman of Curragh Resources, some days ago that indicated that, while he would have liked to have been here, he was in Asia, unfortunately, and it was not possible. He had asked his able number two man, Mr. Colin Benner, to be here in his stead. Mr. Benner is intimately acquainted with the operations in the Yukon, both the mine at Faro and Sa Dena Hes. I am sure he can answer any questions Members put to him...

Mr. Benner:
...The $5 million contribution from the Yukon territorial government, matched by $5 million from Curragh Inc. — as of two days ago, we have had a change of name — accommodates about four months of the stripping program...

Mrs. Firth:
...I have a quick question about the name change. Since the witness made reference to it, perhaps he could tell us why their name has been changed to Curragh Inc...

Mr. Benner:
...On the name change to Curragh Inc. and the dropping of the word "Resources": quite honestly, I would have preferred to leave it "Curragh Resources Inc." It was recommended by someone in the company that the term "resources" might be associated with a company that was going to be venturing off into other endeavours, other than just mining. Our company is a mining company, and we intend to stay in the mining business. It has no significance, other than that...

British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 1992 May 11

Ministerial Statement, Nova Scotia Mine Disaster

Hon. A. Edwards, Minister of Energy and Mines:
I rise to ask the House to join me in expressing sympathy and condolences to all those who feel the loss of eleven lives in the Nova Scotia mine disaster. We feel this even more acutely in light of a slide in B.C.'s Greenhills mine earlier today in which a life may have been lost. I therefore propose to send a telegram to the Mines minister of Nova Scotia and the mayor of Plymouth as follows:

"We share your sorrow at the loss of eleven lives in the Westray mine disaster and pray that you will reach the other fifteen while they are still alive. Please extend the sympathy of the people of British Columbia to the families of the miners involved. Our hopes are with you, as is our respect for those who deal daily with such risks."

D. Jarvis:
We in the Liberal party also wish to express our sorrow over the death of the eleven miners in Nova Scotia. We can only hope with all of you that the remaining fifteen will be reached successfully.

C. Serwa:
What makes this message so particularly meaningful is that the mining industry has played a significant role in the province of British Columbia. Mining disasters, both in hardrock mines and in coal-mines throughout the province of British Columbia, are part of our history. The methane gas generated from coal-mines, which is what caused the explosion, has affected the minister's area, the Crowsnest Pass area — Fernie, Natal, Middle Town, Michel — and the Vancouver Island areas of Ladysmith and Nanaimo. When the message is sent — and we support that message; we share in the sorrow and the grief — the understanding is there, because it has been a major and significant part of the early history of British Columbia.

Hon. G. Clark:
Hon. Speaker, perhaps by leave I might ask that you convey on behalf of all members of the House the sentiments expressed by all three parties today.

The Speaker:
If it's your wish, I will be pleased to do so, hon. members.

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1992 May 19

Mr. Lang:
If I may, I would like to direct a question to the Government Leader on an issue that is facing the House that will be dealt with fairly soon: the bill asking Members of the House to loan $5 million to Curragh for the stripping project in Faro. As we all know, that particular project is not going to cost $10 million; the total amount is going to be in the neighbourhood of $60 million. Unfortunately, the recent situation in Nova Scotia has obviously had some financial implications for the company — not just the results of the disaster that took place but also the financial implications on the market price and how it is going to affect the longevity of the company and its capability to finance such a project as the Faro mine and the stripping project.

I want to know from the Government Leader if he has had the opportunity to discuss at any length with any of the proponents of Curragh Inc. what their plans are in view of the situation that has taken place over the last couple of weeks.

Hon. Mr. Penikett:
I have been briefed on the question asked by the Member, by our Finance officials. I have also had discussions with the vice-chair of the board for Curragh, Inc. and officials of the union representing the workers at Curragh on all of the concerns indicated by the Member.

The structure of the parent company is such that there is a financial relationship between the mine at Westray and the mine at Faro.

Within the next few hours, I will be endeavoring to determine the financial facts of that relationship. While I believe that we have to be concerned about the potential effect on the Yukon, in the wake of this tragedy in Nova Scotia, I am told that there is no reason for great alarm given the nature of the obligations at Westray.

I understand that most of the liabilities of the mine at Westray are covered by government loan guarantees, and by the Province of Nova Scotia and the federal government.

Beyond the examination that I am going to be completing in the next few hours, we hope to have further discussions with the principals of the company shortly, although I should say to the Member that the express purpose of the senior officers in communicating with me was to calm any alarm or any potential fears about the implications of this tragedy that we might have in regard to Faro...

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1992 May 21

Mr. Lang:
I do not think the Minister has brought any new information to the House with respect to the situation that Curragh Inc. now faces. The consequences of the tragedy at Westray are obviously going to have some implications. My information is that the $25 million received from the sale of their assets in Europe is going to meet some of the financial demands put upon them because of the situation in Nova Scotia. Can the Minister confirm if that is true?

Hon. Mr. Penikett:
The fact is that they received $60 million cash from the unwinding of their involvement in Asturiana de Zinc in Spain. The Westray mine is also financed largely with federal loan guarantees and provincial loan guarantees. There is a $25 million charge against Curragh if the Westray mine does not reopen. The situation, in the simplest terms, is that, without the $60 million, they would have even less of it available for cashflow for operating purposes. They would have only $35 million available. If the Westray mine continues under any circumstances, the repayment of the loans against that property would be carried out over a longer term, over the life of the property, I expect.

Mr. Lang:
That, of course, leads to another question. When the witness was here on behalf of Curragh, he made it very clear they not only looked at the dollars that were going to be made available through the winding up of their European asset, which was $60 million, but that Westray was a significant asset, as well. That is now not the case. We have a compounding situation here and I would be very surprised if that mine opens again. Therefore, we can assume that the $60 million will be cut down to $35 million, and will be the money available for the day-to-day running of the organization. This will affect the Yukon and Faro in particular. The Minister indicated a couple of days ago that he may be in contact with some of the major players within that organization. In view of the seriousness of the situation, could he update the House with what information was provided to him and how it is going to affect the Curragh mine?

Hon. Mr. Penikett:
I think the stated intention of the company is to reopen the mine in Nova Scotia. The stated position of the Premier of Nova Scotia, though, is that that will not happen. In my view, there is going to be a judicial enquiry into the tragedy. The simple and only answer I can give is that, frankly, it is too soon to say; it is too soon yet following the tragedy for us to know with any certainty what is going to happen. We have seen the impact on the price of Curragh shares — they have dropped in value as a result of the explosion and the deaths there. Obviously, that will have some bearing on a decision to reopen the mine, or otherwise. However, we have been clear from the beginning that the $5 million we proposed to loan and the $5 million Curragh is putting in was enough to start the stripping program. We hope there will be, as the company calls it, private sector solutions to the problem of raising the other money, either from cashflows, improved zinc prices, lower Canadian dollar, et cetera. The company also indicated that they are continuing to have discussions with the federal government. If I may be permitted to express a political opinion on that, I would be very surprised if, in the wake of the accident, there were any new financial undertakings by the federal government until some findings have been made about the root causes and the responsibility for the accident a few days ago...

British Columbia Legislature, Victoria
Hansard, 1992 June 19

Miners' Memorial Day

H. Lali:
It is with pleasure that I make my first member's statement on the topic of Miners' Memorial Day. I would like to commence by quoting from the Princeton and district Miners' Memorial Day program:

"On May 9, 1992, just before dawn, a thunderous methane explosion roared through Westray's Plymouth, Nova Scotia, underground workings, killing 26 miners. For six long, agonizing days Canada watched and waited, clinging to the hope that some might be found alive. The nation's hearts were one with the families whose fathers, husbands, sons, brothers and uncles would not be coming home. This year Miners' Memorial Day is dedicated to the Westray miners who died, those who risked their lives in search of their brothers, to their families and to the people of Plymouth, Nova Scotia. May the memory of their tragedy make us more vigilant so others may live."

Before I delve into Miners' Memorial Day any further, I would like to talk briefly about the history of mining and miners, and their impact upon British Columbia...

Alberta Legislature, Edmonton
Hansard, 1992 July 2, page 1748

Also available at:

Mr. Gibeault (Edmonton-Mill Woods):
... We know, Mr. Speaker, about that terrible mine disaster just recently, the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia. Surely all of us here must be concerned that we don't have a repetition of any sort of disaster like that in Alberta. We're a coal producing province here, and we have to be very concerned about the status of mine safety. That was the intent of this motion for a return: that we get these inspection reports for the last three years from these respective mines so that we can be assured, so that all Albertans can be assured that an adequate level of safety is maintained at the major coal mines in the province. I would like some explanation from the government as to why these reports are not forthcoming...



Alberta Legislature, Edmonton
Hansard, 1993 February 4, page 2098

Also available at:

Mr. Stockwell Day, Minister of Labour:
Mr. Speaker, I move that the motions for returns on today's Order Paper stand and retain their places with the exception of the following, which would be motions for returns 375, 380, 381, and 382.
[Motion carried]

Mine Inspection Reports
375.   Mr. Gibeault moved that an order of the Assembly do issue for a return showing all mine inspection reports carried out by the department of occupational health and safety from the 1988 to 1991 calendar years inclusive respecting the Grande Cache, Cardinal River, and Star-Key coal mines.

Mr. Gibeault (Edmonton-Mill Woods):
Mr. Speaker, after almost a year of nonresponse from the government in asking for this information, I hope that today we might get it. Just to remind the members after such a long delay, the reason we asked for this information was: members may recall a mining disaster last year in the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia. Of course it was the concern of members of the New Democratic caucus in any event. We wanted to ensure that such a disaster would not be possible to happen in Alberta. We wanted to make sure that every possible effort was being made in terms of health and safety reports, procedures, what have you, to make sure that we had safe mining practices in the province of Alberta. It's an important industry in our province, an important contribution to the economy in this province. Many Albertans earn their livelihoods in the mining industry. It's very important that miners, their families, and the people of Alberta have confidence that the best and most complete safety programs are in place to ensure that we do not have such a horrible disaster as occurred at the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia. Even though it's a year late, I'm looking forward to a positive reply from the minister.

Mr. Day:
Mr. Speaker, I share the member opposite's concerns for safety in the workplace. It's a priority of this government and this minister. I don't know about a year's delay. I've only been responsible for this for a few days here in the House, and I'm happy to accept this.

Mr. Speaker:
Thank you. Call for the question?

Hon. Members:
[Motion carried]

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1993 March 17

Mr. Penikett:
...We actually had the Minister of Economic Development say to us yesterday, in probably one of the most astonishing statements I have heard for years in this House, that Curragh Resources did not understand its financial position. Curragh Resources, headed by Clifford Frame — no matter you may think of him — who has been running mines for a long time and has been involved in many multi-million dollar projects and some quite fascinating transactions in many parts of this country, does not understand the company he operates; that John Turner, a director of the corporation, a former Prime Minister of Canada, a big-time Bay Street corporate lawyer and former Finance Minister of Canada, does not understand Curragh Resources' finances; that Ralph Sultan, another director, a former Professor at Harvard Business School, a former Senior Vice-President of the Royal Bank of Canada, does not understand Curragh Resources; but good old boy, John Devries, from Watson Lake, does. Let us get serious here. Let us get serious...

...Mr. Benner sat there in the witness chair on Thursday afternoon; that Saturday, we saw him on television, speaking on behalf of the company, as that awful tragedy happened in Nova Scotia. What became clear once the Westray disaster happened was that the federal government was not going to touch this company with a 10-foot pole...

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1993 April 5

Hon. Mr. Ostashek, Government Leader:
This morning, in Toronto, Curragh Inc. filed an application seeking protection from creditors under the Companies Creditors' Arrangement Act. During this interim period, Curragh will work with the Bank of Nova Scotia to restructure its financial affairs...

Mr. Penikett, Leader of the Official Opposition:
I rise because of the emergency situation occurring because of Curragh Incorporated's shutdown notices for Faro and Sa Dena Hes last Friday, April 2, and their application for bankruptcy protection today, April 5. I would like to move
   THAT the ordinary business of the Assembly be adjourned.

The Leader of the Official Opposition provided me with the required written notice of this request. I understand that copies were transmitted to the House Leaders. Under the provisions of Standing Order 16(4), one Member from each party may speak to the request for not more than five minutes. Then the Speaker will make his ruling.

Mr. Penikett:
Curragh's contribution to the Yukon economy is enormous. It is the largest single private-sector employer and contributes, directly and indirectly, 3,000 jobs to the Yukon economy. One out of every eight private-sector jobs in the Yukon is a Curragh job. Curragh purchases $100 million of goods and services locally each year. Unemployment in the Yukon is already at 14 percent. If these mines close permanently, the unemployment rate will go up and we will have lost perhaps one-third of our gross territorial product ... We desperately want information about what is going on ... The citizens of Faro are hanging on by their fingernails to any hopes and dreams they have had about life and work here. Many Main Street merchants in this town worry about the fate of the mine and many Yukon Alaska truckers worry about their futures, as well...

It appears that the House has decided that it will debate the issue of Curragh Inc. The Speaker is not required to give a ruling, because it is an agreement of the House. However, I would like to comment on the comments made by the Members with respect to this issue, in an attempt to focus the debate.

The issue of Curragh Inc., and the shut down of its operations at Faro and Sa Dena Hes, is a matter of critical importance to the Yukon economy. I think that all Yukoners are hanging on every word that comes forward, and every hour is critical.

The announcement, on Friday, of a two-month shutdown at Faro and a three-month shutdown at Sa Dena Hes, followed by the announcement this morning that Curragh would be seeking protection from its creditors, is new to us and has not been debated by this House ... each Member who wishes to speak has up to fifteen minutes. After that, there will not be a vote, but we will simply return to the ordinary business of the day.

Mr. Penikett:
...I think it is quite obviously the case that the financial crisis for Curragh Inc. is the biggest economic issue to face the Yukon this year, last year, and perhaps even for a decade ... Throughout most of last year, we were negotiating with Curragh, and Curragh was negotiating with the federal government to try to arrange an aid package similar to what is now on the table. To state the obvious, the situation for Curragh has gotten far worse since the Westray disaster, and I believe, as prices have been low, and stockpiles have increased, the situation over this past winter has become much worse ... If we fail, we will pay and pay and pay for years and years and years to come. Most of all, the people, the employees of Faro and Sa Dena Hes, will pay; so, too, will the suppliers and customers of Curragh ... I believe that in the end the way we are going to get an arrangement here is to recognize that there has to be a role to play for the Government Leader in demonstrating economic leadership, perhaps even to the point of sitting down with Mr. Frame here in Whitehorse to hammer out some essentials in order to get these mines open and get our economy back on its feet...

Mr. Trevor Harding:
...In the meantime, there was the Westray fallout, which has taken awhile ... What I am trying to explain to the Member for Riverdale North is, after that statement, the Westray fallout took some time to get to the point where it was well known to the Members in this House that the company could not survive on its own. There was just no way. A lot of things have changed since then. At that time, there was no request for the $34 million. The Westray fallout was still occurring...

Mrs. Firth:
...We are not protecting Curragh; we are not doing this for Curragh; we are not doing this for Clifford Frame; we are not doing it for anyone, other than the people we represent. At least that is the way I see it...

Hon. Mr. Phelps:
I would like to put a few comments on the record during this timely debate. I would like to make a few fairly simple points. The first point is that this is 1993, not 1985 ... In 1985, we had a new company coming along called Curragh. There was no Westray, with all of the political liability and cloud that company sits under, in conjunction with this mine. There was no Westray in 1985. In 1985, we did not have the history of people, who are officers of Curragh, having stripped out of the company millions and millions of dollars for their personal use. That was not on the books or on the record in 1985, because it was a new company coming forward ... There are a lot of differences in play. Let me say that this government has never intended to subsidize the mine at Faro, ever. Despite the expertise of Mr. Frame and his company at squeezing money from every government that he seems to come in contact with, we were never going to give away millions of dollars to the private sector in this fashion, to try to subsidize the mine and fight against a world price over which no government, including the federal government, could have any possible control. The supply and demand of the world is what we are talking about. Subsidizing Faro was never this government's position...

Curragh Inc. 151 times
The name "Curragh" — as in Curragh Inc. — appears 151 times in the Hansard record of what was said on the floor of the Yukon Legislature on this one day, 5 April 1993. "Frame" — as in "Clifford Frame" — appears eight times, and "Westray" ten times.

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1993 April 28

Mr. Penikett:
...We all know that since we began debating the matter last year ... a lot has changed. There has been the Westray tragedy and the subsequent criminal charges against the corporation. The chair of the corporation has become a pariah in the national media. Senior federal Cabinet Ministers no longer want to be seen in the same room as Curragh officials. The company has been plagued by continuing low metal prices. There is a glut on zinc markets and their financial problems have gone from bad to worse. It should not surprise anyone that Curragh's officials and the chair of the company's board are fighting for their lives. That should not surprise anyone. I am told that is what corporate executives do...

Curragh Inc. 164 times
The name "Curragh" — as in Curragh Inc. — appears 164 times in the Hansard record of what was said on the floor of the Yukon Legislature on this one day, 28 April 1993. "Clifford Frame" appears six times, and "Westray" six times.

Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1993 May 25

Hon. Mr. Ostashek, Government Leader:
I rise today to provide Members of this Assembly with a report of my meetings held last week in South Korea regarding Curragh Inc.

Members of this Legislature will recall that when I announced two weeks ago that I would be going to South Korea I said that my purpose in going was to make potential investors aware of the fact that we in the Yukon are open for business, and that we are supportive of Curragh in their efforts to seek investors.

In my meetings in Seoul, that was a message that was delivered each time, on behalf of Yukoners. The meetings can best be described as productive, as evidenced by the announcement earlier today by Curragh Inc., which I want to address in a few moments.

My meetings included a private meeting between myself and the chief executive officer of Korea Zinc to discuss the opportunities to invest in the Yukon. I can report that I was assured, separately, by both the CEO of Korea Zinc Limited and the chairman of Curragh Inc. that the involvement of the Yukon government in these meetings was significant in achieving progress between Curragh, Korea Zinc and Samsung Corporation.

I also want to point out that I was extremely pleased by the positive approach of the Korean officials who are focused strongly on long-term supplies of zinc at competitive rates, with adequate security and protection for their investment.

Earlier today, Curragh announced the major elements of an agreement signed between Mr. Frame and representatives of Korean Zinc Limited and Samsung Corporation. The agreement involves the provision of $50 million of new equity to Curragh Inc. conditional upon Curragh meeting a number of significant terms and requirements, one of which is the company will be required to restructure...

Curragh Inc. 46 times
The name "Curragh" — as in Curragh Inc. — appears 46 times in the Hansard record of what was said on the floor of the Yukon Legislature on this one day, 25 May 1993. "Frame" — as in "Clifford Frame" — appears seven times.



Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1994 April 19, page 2187

Mr. McDonald:
...What we have here are some write-offs that include some $2.4 million to pay for Curragh's energy charges prior to their unfortunate demise. That $2.4 million is a one-time debt by the company for electrical energy. Now they are saying that the taxpayers of this territory must pay for it...

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1994 May 9, page 4060

Ms. Roseanne Skoke (Central Nova, Liberal)
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry. Exactly two years ago today, in my riding of Central Nova 26 coal miners were killed in the Westray coal mine explosion. Can the minister advise this honourable House as to what his position is regarding the recovery of the remains of the deceased coal miners still entombed in the mine?

Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry):
Mr. Speaker, all Canadians remember with sorrow the tragic accident that happened in the Westray mine some two years ago. As the member knows, many volunteers risked their lives, albeit unsuccessfully, to try and rescue the lives and later on the bodies of the miners. Right now the Government of Canada in conjunction with the Government of Nova Scotia has hired an expert who is working on this project. Very soon the results of his study in terms of not only the remaining deposits in Westray but also the access to the remaining bodies will be made known to us.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1994 October 21, page 7027

Mr. John Duncan (North Island-Powell River, Reform):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to begin second reading debate on Bill C-55 on behalf of the Reform Party. It is important to recognize the importance of the mining industry to Yukon. It is a major, non-government industry in a jurisdiction that is more than 70 per cent dependent on federal government spending.

In some ways one could look on debate of Bill C-55 as the end, the resolution, and the confirmation of the principles contained in Bill C-33 and Bill C-34.

The mining industry has a current campaigned called "Keep Mining in Canada". Governments have tended to take the industry for granted in many jurisdictions where it has made operations very difficult, expensive, time consuming and uncertain. Also we have a Canadian tax regime that can be considered unfriendly in international terms.

Within my riding there are several operating mines. The BHP Utah mine, the Westmin mine, Texada mines and Quinsum Coal. Quinsum Coal has 25 employees who previously worked at the Westray mine in Nova Scotia. We all know Westray is where they had the disaster. These people feel very abused by actions of government...

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1994 November 28, page 8338

Mr. John Murphy (Annapolis Valley-Hants, Liberal):
Mr. Speaker, today in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, the Governor General, the Right Hon. Ramon Hnatyshyn, will present the medal of bravery to the heroes of the Westray coal mine disaster. Close to 200 draegermen and barefaced miners will receive this decoration for their unselfish acts of bravery under very hazardous circumstances. This is the first time in Canadian history that so many individuals have been awarded bravery decorations for a single incident.

I stand here today to salute those individuals for their heroic acts during this tragic time. I urge each member of the House to take a moment and reflect on those who lost their lives in the Westray mine disaster. Let us never forget the efforts of those individuals who worked so diligently in the aftermath of this tragedy. Not only do they deserve our recognition but our deep and heartfelt thanks.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1994 November 28, page 8340

Mr. John Duncan (North Island-Powell River, Reform):
Mr. Speaker, the Westray mine in Nova Scotia was the scene of an explosion accident on May 9, 1992. Twenty-six men lost their lives, eleven of whom are still entombed in the mine. During the five day rescue operation conditions were present for another explosion. Roof falls had to be crossed. Lethal carbon monoxide gas which is an after product of a coal mine explosion was heavy in the mine. Miners put aside their own safety in the hopes of finding their fellow workers.

In an unprecedented presentation 195 individuals of the rescue crew are receiving the Governor General's Medal of Bravery in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, today. Fourteen of these individuals now live in my hometown of Campbell River, B.C., and work at the Quinsam coal mine 25 kilometres out of town.

I know my colleagues will join me in applauding these brave individuals who were involved in a tragedy which affected Canadians from coast to coast.



House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1995 February 9, page 9418

Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, may I remind the minister that we must distinguish between the events in Somalia and the events in Petawawa. Section 45 of the National Defence Act authorizes him to establish a commission of inquiry immediately, rather than disband the regiment and wash his hands of the affair and punish no one except enlisted men. How can the minister claim to deserve the confidence of this House and of the public when, on the very day he set about disbanding the Airborne Regiment, he concealed from the public the existence of a third tape?

Hon. David Collenette (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Liberal):
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to make light of the hon. member's intention, but the fact is that when we are talking about the existence of other tapes I do not know how many tapes are out there. I do not know how many copies there are. I do not know how many camera people there are. What is obviously happening is that as modern technology is catching up with everyone, including the armed forces, people are taking tapes of certain activities and I do not know exactly what is out there.

With respect to the question of why, sure we have the authority to set up an inquiry right now. There is a court decision now before the Supreme Court, the Westray Mine decision, that calls into question the fact that we could have an inquiry, a coroner's inquest or judicial proceedings all at the same time.

Once judicial proceedings were initiated, and they were initiated before we were elected, there was no choice but to adjourn the original inquiry. What we are saying is once due process is followed with the existing courts martial, and that would be the middle of March, there will be an inquiry. It will be public. It will be headed by a civilian. All these questions on how the regiment was fit for deployment to Somalia will be answered.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1995 April 28, page 11935

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Reform):
Mr. Speaker, every day Canadians across the country enter a dangerous workplace. Canadians remember and mourn the 26 miners tragically taken in the Westray coal mine explosion. This disaster only serves to underline the brutal reality of certain types of work.

Today is a day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace. Canadians must learn from the mistakes of the past, take action in the present and ensure their health and safety are protected in the future. Occupational health and safety should be foremost in the minds of management, labour and governments when decisions are made. A safe workplace translates into a productive workforce and a strong and vital economy. From the farm, to the mine, to the factory, to the lumber mill the Reform Party pays respect to all who put their lives on the line to make ends meet.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1995 May 9, page 12365

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Reform):
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to mark the third anniversary of the Westray mine disaster. The tragedy claimed the lives of 26 miners and plunged the community of Plymouth, Nova Scotia into a state of grief. Sadly in many ways the healing process will not begin until an ongoing public inquiry has done its work and miners' families have answers to the most basic questions — why?

As a guest in the riding of Central Nova last summer I was struck by the enormous sense of community and warmth among the people who had to bear this tragedy. The fact that hazards of mining are well recognized does not make the tragedy any easier to bear.

It follows that today our sympathy should be with the miners' families and the community as they commemorate those who died. We should also recognize the courage of not only those who labour far beneath the earth's surface but of those who risked their lives in an effort to rescue the survivors of the blast.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the victims of the Westray disaster, the families and the community still mourning the 26 men who lost their lives underground.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1995 May 17, page 12750

Ms. Val Meredith (Surrey-White Rock-South Langley, Reform):
Mr. Speaker ... I accept the word of the commissioner. I hope that this commissioner will make an intense effort in the near future to advance the investigation or to accept that the investigation is over and the time has come to move on. But until that time the question is, will a royal commission affect any subsequent criminal proceedings?

Again the member for York South-Weston is impeccable in his timing. Less than two weeks ago the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its decision on the holding of a public inquiry into the Westray coal mine disaster at the same time that criminal proceedings are under way.

The decision in that case was that the court should be most hesitant to interfere with interests of holding a public inquiry. However, the court limited its decision specifically to the Westray case and would not speculate on other cases.

For example, the supreme court pointed out that the Westray criminal case was being tried in front of a judge alone. As well, the court believed that the commissioner of any public inquiry would not compel the accused to testify at the inquiry until the criminal case was concluded. Thus some significant considerations have to be resolved before a royal commission into the Air-India bombing is conducted.

Do we want to sacrifice any subsequent criminal charges for the sake of holding a royal commission today? I think not. This is where a royal commission would create a great many problems.

In the Westray decision the supreme court recognized the protection of the charter to any potentially accused. They could be compelled to testify in front of the royal commission but their testimony could not be used at the trial. That is a given.

What would cause even greater problems in pursuing criminal charges against those responsible for bombing Air-India is the difficulty created by the derivative evidence.

This means that if any new information comes out at the royal commission, at a subsequent criminal proceeding the defence could claim that the crown was only able to proceed with charges with the evidence that was a result of compulsory incriminating testimony and therefore the evidence would not be admissible.

In addition, in the Westray case the court ruled that the testimony of the accused must not be published and the report of the inquiry must remain confidential to ensure that any accused received a fair opportunity at trial.

The whole point of a royal commission should be to bring the truth about Air-India to light, and this could not be done if the evidence could not be published. Our first priority must be to bring those responsible for the Air-India bombing to trial...

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1995 June 22, page 14414

Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon, NDP):
Madam Speaker, I have several petitions here. The first petition is from residents of Faro, Yukon, who did not receive vacation pay, severance pay, or pay in lieu of notice when the firm Curragh Resources was declared bankrupt. Therefore, the petitioners request that the Minister of Human Resources Development investigate the situation and take the necessary steps to ensure that this worker and other workers who are laid off do not have severance packages, including earnings, in the final calculation of UI benefits.



Yukon Legislature, Whitehorse
Hansard, 1996 March 13

Mr. Harding:
...I think it is fair to say that Curragh had the plug pulled on it ... Clear and simple, they flat-lined Curragh. That was it. It was over ... The specific gravity of the gold at Ketza River was overestimated, causing its closure. The closure of Sa Dena Hes was a classic case of Curragh's debt load and associated problems because of the Westray disaster, along with the Faro mine. These closures were disappointing...

Saskatchewan Legislature, Regina
Hansard, 1996 March 15,   page 310

Mr. Trew:
Mr. Speaker:
Back here in Saskatchewan, I'm pleased to report that as a former safety officer and as a former miner, I know the importance of workplace safety. One only has to look at the workers' compensation records or the Westray mine disaster to have that point made bluntly...

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1996 March 26

Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, House of Commons of Canada
Considering Bill C-12, An Act respecting Employment Insurance in Canada

Mr. Yvon Godin (United Steelworkers of America, Bathurst Office):
...At first glance, that looks like one way of providing a reasonable disincentive for the lazy and the dropouts. However, you just have to consider the miners and their testimony during the Westray inquiry. They confirmed that they chose not to complain about the working conditions that weren't safe any more because they were afraid of being fired and losing their eligibility to unemployment insurance. So you can see they didn't resign because they were afraid of the real disaster which was losing their eligibility to unemployment insurance. How many of those 26 people died because they kept on working in that deadly hole for that very same reason?

Such requirements have nothing to do with a system designed to protect workers rather than punish them or, as in the Westray case, to kill them. I am a former miner and the Westray affair is something that hits close to home.

Let me give you an example. The public investigation into the Westray mine has clearly revealed that the governments and inspectors concealed facts and failed to assume their safety responsibilities. We know that the miners went to find out what their unemployment insurance entitlements were and that they were told that if they claimed unemployment insurance, they would lose their jobs and if they resigned, they would not be entitled to unemployment insurance.

Which one of you is able to live without money and look after a family and children? It led these people straight to the grave...

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 March 29,   page 26
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-4/h96mar29.htm#[Page 26]

Introduction of Bills

Bill No. 1
Entitled an Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas.
(Hon. William Gillis)
Bill No. 2...
Bill No. 3...
Bill No. 4...
Bill No. 5...
Bill No. 6...

Mr. Speaker:
Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 1996 April 3

Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition):
...In the middle of the Westray mining incident where we have horror story after horror story after horror story going on about the lack of backup for working people who had to make the choice of whether to potentially get killed in a mine shaft versus getting food for their children. Unfortunately, they had to make a decision to put their own life at risk, and some of them — for 26 or 28 — unfortunately lost their life because they needed the pay and needed the support...

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 April 4,   page 310
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-4/h96apr04.htm#[Page 310]

Public Bills for Second Reading

Hon. Richard Mann, Government House Leader:
Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 — Interprovincial Subpoena Act

Hon. William Gillis, Minister of Justice:
Madam Speaker, I rise on this occasion to speak briefly on Bill No. 1, An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas. In so doing, I move that this bill be now read a second time.

As honourable members would know, the bill is designed to allow subpoenas from Nova Scotia to be recognized and enforced in other provinces or territories. Jurisdictions that have adopted the uniform Act on which it is based within their own legislation.

As members would know, Madam Speaker, it is a uniform reciprocal Act adopted and recommended by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada in 1974. Since then, starting with Manitoba in 1975, the Interprovincial Subpoena Act has been adopted in every common law province in Canada, with the exception of Nova Scotia. It also has been adopted in the Yukon. All these jurisdictions have had the Act in place since 1981 or earlier, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, which enacted it nine years ago.

Mr. Speaker, the government feels that the enactment of this piece of legislation in Nova Scotia is long overdue. The proposed Act will be of benefit in legal matters, where it is not now possible to subpoena persons from other jurisdictions within Canada, for the purposes of legal matters here. The bill would permit a party to a proceeding to obtain a subpoena in Nova Scotia for a person who is located elsewhere in Canada. That subpoena could then be sent to a court in a reciprocating jurisdiction, with a certificate of the issuing court in Nova Scotia. The order then would be enforceable in the other jurisdiction.

Of course it would be necessary to send the appropriate witness fees and travelling expenses at the same time, in order for the subpoena to be enforced. These fees and expenses would be set by regulations.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the government has brought forward this legislation has attracted some attention in the context of the Westray Mine public inquiry. Although the bill is designed to deal with all civil litigation matters arising in Nova Scotia, also it may be of assistance to this Commission of Inquiry. As all honourable members would know, in the draft bill that we are considering, the definition of a court is broadly drafted to include a board, commission, tribunal or other body that is designated by regulation.

The Commissioner of the Westray Inquiry has written to me urging passage of this bill during this session. Legal counsel to the commission probably will use this legislation in its ongoing efforts to compel attendance of witnesses.

The commission is aware that with reciprocal legislation there may be some uncertainty in doing what it wants, due to different definitions of courts in other jurisdictions. In most provinces the definition of court in their reciprocal legislation does not include designated boards, commissions, tribunals or other bodies. As a result, Madam Speaker, there is a question whether their courts will treat the commission as a court.

The fact that the commissioner has the same authority as a Superior Court Judge, however, may help the courts of other provinces determine that the Westray Inquiry can be considered a court for the purposes of their Act. The foregoing has been canvassed with legal staff for the commission by staff within my department. I am advised that the commission is aware of this issue.

Madam Speaker, it is important that no one be under the impression that this bill has been brought forward simply because we have an extremely important public inquiry underway into the tragic events of the Westray Mine. This is legislation that will have potential application in many legal actions in the province.

As I mentioned, it is in place in all the other common law provinces. As a result, the Government of Nova Scotia feels it is appropriate that our province join this reciprocating legal regime.

Madam Speaker, in drawing my remarks to a close, I want to ask all honourable members to support this legislation on second reading. I would like to have this bill moved through all of the legislative stages as quickly as reasonably possible and, of course, the first step would be once it is approved here to have hearings at the Law Amendments Committee at the next stage. Thank you.

Madam Speaker:
The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

Dr. John Hamm:
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and provide brief remarks in support for Bill No. 1, An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas. I listened with interest to the words of the Minister of Justice describing this particular piece of legislation and its applications and I find nothing with which I disagree.

It is interesting that in this particular piece of legislation, in Clause 2(b), " 'subpoena' means a subpoena, summons or other document issued by a court requiring a person within a province other than the province of the issuing court to attend as a witness to produce documents or other things or to testify". I think if there is a clause in this particular piece of legislation that brings it all together, I think it is perhaps that one. As well, the minister made reference to the fact that within this piece of legislation, it will, by way of its drafting, apply to designated boards, commissions and tribunals and the minister did make reference to the fact that this legislation will not necessarily, in this particular regard, be interpreted that broadly in other jurisdictions. It certainly is a step in the right direction that witnesses residing anywhere in Canada can, in fact, be called upon to be in attendance at certain hearings and proceedings, regardless of which province they are occurring.

In general, I am pleased to get up and support the Minister of Justice in this particular piece of legislation. As well, I feel it will be most useful to the continuance of the Westray Inquiry and I support that statement. I feel that this piece of legislation which is already in effect in other provinces, is a forward step and enhances and strengthens our system of justice. I will be supporting the legislation.

Madam Speaker:
The honourable member for Hants West.

Mr. Ronald Russell:
Madam Speaker, I too will be supporting the legislation, it is good legislation. As the minister has said, it may be of some assistance with regard to the Westray Inquiry but I think it has ramifications far beyond that in that we are putting in place a piece of legislation that is not just for something of immediate concern but something that is of ongoing concern through the years.

I didn't hear the minister, however, in his opening remarks enumerate what provinces are part of the interprovincial agreement. As I understand, at the present time there is the Province of New Brunswick and Ontario and I think one other western province. (Interruption) I beg your pardon? I appreciate the minister advising that he will do that when he closes his debate.

I was wondering why the Ministers of Justice across Canada in their annual meetings, whether or not there has been a protocol set up for mirror legislation to be adopted by all provinces. I would think that this is something that has import for all provinces, specifically with regard to the custody of children where we have mothers or fathers taking children from one province to another province and then the parent who had the original custody having incredible difficulty regaining possession of that child. It would seem to me, particularly at the present time, that is something of great importance and is something that should be adopted by all provinces.

I appreciate the fact the minister has brought this bill forward. I appreciate that it does have jurisdiction in the Province of Ontario because, as I understand it, that is the province of most interest at the present time with regard to the Westray Inquiry. So I will be voting for this legislation, Madam Speaker, on second reading.

Madam Speaker:
The honourable member for Kings West.

Mr. George Moody:
Madam Speaker, I too will be supporting this piece of legislation. I listened with interest to the Minister of Justice in indicating he wanted this to be passed as quickly as possible. The minister indicated that this has been approved by all the other provinces except Nova Scotia, that is part of this group, and I guess I am wondering what clicked the switch with the Minister of Justice. I have no difficulty in us doing this bill through the process as quickly as possible, especially in light of Westray. I happen to think that probably that is the reason we are trying to do it quickly although the minister sort of indicated that was or wasn't. I wasn't clear, but I would assume the reason we are doing this quickly is because of the Westray situation.

I cannot imagine why the government didn't bring this forward last fall or some other time if it was as urgent as the minister had indicated. Maybe it was a letter from the Westray Inquiry that prompted the minister to bring it forward, although he hasn't said that is the case, but I guess I want the minister to explain to me what is the urgency. We have had it on the books for a number of years and if there isn't a crisis, if there isn't something that we should be doing, if it is not Westray, what is the urgency that we are all of a sudden putting this through?

Now I agree with the principle of this bill and agree that we should put it through, and agree that we do it as quickly as possible, but in listening to the minister introduce the bill, I wasn't clear as to the rationale of all of a sudden why we are in a hurry and one moment we are or we are not doing it for Westray. Obviously this will affect more than Westray and I understand that. All the news reports I am hearing are that the Westray Inquiry needs this and needs it as quickly as possible, though the minister says that that is not the case. I would like for him to be upfront with us and say. If it is, I have no difficulty with it. If there is another reason that I am not understanding, then I would like to know that, too.

But I want you to know, Madam Speaker, and all members to know, that I think this is good legislation. It happens to be the number one piece of legislation this session, and probably one of the most important pieces that will pass and probably one of the few where we will all agree that it is the right thing to do for all the right reasons. I will be voting for this bill and look forward to the minister answering my questions in summarizing the bill.

Madam Speaker:
The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Robert Chisholm:
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Bill No. 1, An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas. I understand that the introduction of this bill is precisely for the purposes of facilitating the Westray Inquiry officials to be able to bring in out-of-province witnesses that they would like to have testify; senior officials with Curragh Resources and Westray in order to provide testimony at the inquiry.

I think Nova Scotians are recognizing every day that that inquiry goes on just how important it is that we go through this process, just how important it is that we as a government, as a province, get to the bottom of what it was that led up to that tragic explosion and the death of those 26 miners and what followed in terms of the response by not only the company involved but also this government and its officials.

Some of the issues that have been raised, I think, are truly terrifying in their implications, and only by having a fully exhaustive process of hearing from witnesses, will we be able to get the true picture of exactly what happened and that will involve hearing from senior officials of the mining company, Madam Speaker, as well, of course, from the politicians and the senior public officials who were involved in making some key decisions which led to the opening and the development of this mine and, in fact, to the way this mine was allowed to operate. Those are important questions, Madam Speaker, that I think it is incumbent upon us to ensure get answered.

I am hopeful that, in fact, this bill will do that although I understand from newspaper articles — I didn't hear the minister when he introduced the bill at second reading — that there is some question as to whether this bill will, in fact, have the effect of its stated purpose, that it will be successful as a tool to bring people back from Ontario or any other province. I would certainly like to hear some assurance from the Minister of Justice that, in fact, this Act will go some distance to do that and, failing that, that his officials and perhaps officials of other departments, including the Intergovernmental Affairs, are involved or would be involved in discussions with the Province of Ontario, in one specific example, and maybe other provinces, to ensure that whatever is necessary to ensure that whoever we need to come and testify before the inquiry is done so that we can bring those people back and hear from them their story as to what happened, their role in that, and have them answer any questions we may feel appropriate at the time.

So, Madam Speaker, let me just say that I think this is extremely important if, in fact, the bill is allowed to have the impact that has been suggested. I think we need to get to the bottom of this. I wish we had been able to do that a year or two ago. I wish the process had gone quicker. Nonetheless, I am extremely pleased that we are now in the process. Anything we can do to assist the process, be that passing legislation or whatever, certainly the NDP caucus is firmly behind that process. Thank you.

Madam Speaker:
The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Mr. Brooke Taylor:
Madam Speaker, I too would like to speak in support of this Bill No. 1, the Interprovincial Subpoena Act. I would like to commend the Justice Minister for coming forward with this legislation. I don't think any of us in this House forget the mining disaster that happened back in May 1992. I believe that any legislation should be based on rationale, logic and, in fact, be well reasoned. This legislation at least appears to be based on a sound and very justifiable rationale.

Madam Speaker, I understand that legislation like this is perhaps being considered in other jurisdictions. Unless we have other Canadian jurisdictions with mirror legislation, and perhaps the minister can correct me if I am wrong, I don't believe that this legislation can really be fully effected and provide a useful purpose unless it is respected and recognized by other Canadian jurisdictions. I know that perhaps the Minister of Justice can clarify that a little bit for me and I would certainly request that he does.

Now there has been a lot of interest in the Westray Inquiry. I know the minister referenced it and other speakers have certainly spoken about that terrible disaster. It is unfortunate, Madam Speaker, that those who should come and testify and appear before that inquiry really don't have any legal mechanism in place, or there is no legal mechanism in place that requires them to do so.

With the passage of this Act, Bill No. 1, I believe we are taking a step in the right direction. Thank you.

Madam Speaker:
If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close the debate.

Mr. William Gillis:
Madam Speaker, I will just try to provide a little bit of information that was requested on second reading and I want to thank all honourable members for their support of the bill and their contribution to the debate.

The main reason this legislation is here, aside from the fact it is good legislation in any event, is that late in the last session of the House, we had a contact from the Westray Inquiry asking about the possibility of us bringing it forward. That contact came late November into December when the other session was just about over. We indicated at that time that we had been there for some months and were attempting to conclude our session but it did not seem feasible that we could get the bill through at that time but we would make our best effort to have the bill brought forward as early as possible in the next session. It is Bill No. 1 so I guess we kept that part of the bargain.

I suppose you can argue that the government of which I am a part and my department and my ministry had two years and ten months, maybe we should have brought it forward sooner. Well, it didn't come to my attention and maybe that is my fault but when it did come to my attention, my officials and myself worked on it and brought it forward at the first opportunity.

Another point that another honourable member brought up is that in which provinces it applies. There is general reciprocal legislation that applies to courts, basically of civil matters to get people to come from other provinces and the two territories and it applies across the board. The legislation that is before us goes as far as we can because we include not only courts but commissions and tribunals and inquiries. So, it does apply in our case if this bill is passed the way it is. However, we can only be sure that this law will be effective in other provinces is in those provinces where there are similar provisions and that is Alberta, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories. The same provisions do not apply in those provinces, just to conclude but the officials of the Inquiry believe, since the Inquiry is headed by a Superior Court Judge, a Supreme Court Justice and you have the same rules as a court in the Inquiry they think they will be able to argue successfully in other provinces such as Ontario, for example, to get the subpoena rights in the same way as if it were in the bill. That is the approach but there is nothing more we can do. Our bill is covering all of the bases but we can't dictate the legislation in other provinces which exists.

Mr. Ronald Russell:
Would the honourable minister permit a question? Basically, I think the minister has answered my question and that was the point I was trying to make was that this is not mirror legislation across Canada, it is only in two or three provinces. I was wondering why the minister couldn't persuade his colleagues across Canada to come forward with mirror legislation? I am sure that it must be to the advantage of all provinces to have that availability to serve subpoenas in that fashion?

Mr. Gillis:
Madam Speaker, I will undertake, at the first opportunity I have to raise that but the fact of the matter is we have uniform legislation that applies in all provinces except Quebec in civil matters; Quebec has a different law, different procedures there. So, not including Quebec, all of the other provinces and the territories have the subpoena powers. It is only several that have gone beyond that. I will certainly take that opportunity but remember, we are talking about a law that was based on recommendations that came forward in 1974; the first one of the provinces adopted the recommendation in 1975 and the last province was Prince Edward Island which was in 1987, they were the last of the provinces but Nova Scotia did not do it and we are only now coming forward to join the group. So, whatever the case may be, I can raise the matter of extension and I will do that but I think we have to be realistic, to try to say, well, you know, you might want witnesses from Ontario when you have a government there that has their own agenda for us to contact Premier Harris and say, look, we have a problem down in Nova Scotia, Mr. Premier. We think you should adjust your legislative agenda to do this even a matter as worthwhile as may be. We are doing it and we think you should do it. I will raise it at the opportunity with my colleagues next month at the Ministers of Justice meeting, but those are the facts of the matter and I am just laying it out in that way.

Before I sit down, I just want to say, this is good legislation. I think it is good in general because it will help in many matters, civil matters. Now, in criminal matters, we don't have to worry, because in criminal matters the federal Criminal Code applies and you can, obviously, subpoena from anywhere in the country. If somebody kidnapped a child, for example, somebody mentioned that, well, if it is a criminal offence there isn't a problem. But there are other family related matters on property or something that this law will help us. More than that, it will help us with inquiries in the designated provinces and it also will give the commission an opportunity to argue before the courts. They believe, with their solicitors, they have a reasonable chance.

Like I said, I hope all honourable members will support this and hopefully next week, the Law Amendments Committee can be convened, we will have hearings and we will move this bill on through the stages. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker:
The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 1, entitled An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 April 15,   page 569
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-4/h96apr15.htm#[Page 569]

Public Bills for Third Reading

Hon. Richard Mann, Government House Leader:
Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 — Interprovincial Subpoena Act

Mr. Speaker:
The honourable Government House Leader.

Hon. Richard Mann:
Mr. Speaker, in absence of the minister I will move third reading of Bill No. 1, the Interprovincial Subpoena Act.

Mr. Speaker:
Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 1. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 April 17,   page 706
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-4/h96apr17.htm#[Page 706]

Res. No. 57, re Environ. — Stellarton:
Strip Mine — Permit Hold — notice given Apr. 2/96

Dr. John Hamm, Leader of the Opposition:
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this resolution. I encourage all members of the House to pay some attention to the details of my presentation to gain a full understanding of what has happened to the residents of Stellarton with the permitting of Pioneer Coal for a surface strip mine in the so-called Wimpey pit area of our town.

Since the first license to mine coal in Pictou County, which was let in 1807, coal has been a major part of our history. It is interesting to note that the earliest underground workings in our coal seam were in the so-called Foord seam. The Wimpey pit area is a project again involving that same Foord seam, the thickest seam of coal anywhere in North America; 40 feet of solid coal. In the area concerned, the Foord seam actually is only a few feet under the ground and becomes deeper as the seam slopes away to the north and the east.

The permitting, which was issued as of March 4, 1996, allows the extraction, over the next thirteen years, of some 2.6 million tons of coal. The Wimpey pit area in Stellarton is immediately adjacent to the small community known as Evansville and to the north, the residents of Foster Avenue to the west of MacGregor Avenue.

In 1978, the George Wimpey Canada Limited Company entered into negotiations to mine the Stellarton site. They were prepared to take the residents of Evansville, purchase their properties and relocate the entire Evansville community to the nearby area of Fox Brook Road. This company recognized the severe disruption that the strip mine in this area would have to local residents. As a result of this initiative, the area has been locally called the Wimpey pit site ever since. It is to be noted that back in the late 1970s, when these negotiations were in progress, the Evansville area contained more homes and families than are currently located there at this time.

In 1992, Westray Coal, a division of Curragh Resources, as making application to mine the Wimpey pit area and an environmental review was carried out. This company, as did the Wimpey company, recognized the disruption that would be caused to the residents of the Foster Avenue area and to the Evansville area and discussions were under way to arrange a compensation package to residents whose properties were in the area. I will table a copy of the letter prepared by Westray to the then Chairman of the Citizen's Committee, outlining various items of compensation to be offered to the neighbourhood residents.

These compensations were as follows. The company will reimburse property owners for property taxes for the years in which the open pit is operating. The company will provide vinyl siding for homes or an allowance of $2,500, this is a once-only item. The company will provide a window air-conditioner and an electric clothes dryer or an allowance of $1,000, this is a once-only item. The company will pay for the following services for the three years in which the open pit operates. They will pay the town water bill for a maximum of $200 per year, and the power bill to a maximum of $500 per year. The company will compensate residents whose wells dry up and the compensation will consist of tying the residents' homes into the town water supply and a one-time lump sum payment of $2,500. The company will pay for painting the inside and the outside of homes which have been impacted by the open pit. The company will pay a fixed amount of compensation annually, by February 15th, in any year in which the open pit is to operate and it will pay it to the residents in the impacted area. It will pay $500 per year to each resident in the impacted area and an additional $1,000 per year to residents who are deemed to be in the potential area of high impact. This will be for a maximum of ten years or for the years in which the open pit is operating.

It is clear that the coal company at this time recognized the fact that an open pit mine in this neighbourhood would have a severe impact on the residents. In addition, the company offered a package of remuneration to the Town of Stellarton based on a per ton mined basis...

Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 1996 April 26

Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson):
Sunday was a very important day for the working people of this country, Madam Speaker, the national day of mourning. In Thompson we were very fortunate to have a service to commemorate this ... Also this weekend, Madam Speaker, to mark the occasion, we were very fortunate to have in Thompson a play called Westray, The Long Way Home, put on by the group, Two Planks and a Passion, a theatre group from Nova Scotia, which addressed first-hand the reality of what happened in the Westray mine disaster.

Madam Speaker, as we reflect on the day of mourning and the message of the impact that that tragedy had in the province of Nova Scotia, I think it is important to recognize two things, first of all, the fact that we continue to have unsafe working conditions in this province. We have had six mining deaths in this province over the last number of years ... We have to reflect on the reality of continuing unsafe conditions in this province, and also the fact that disasters such as Westray have a very political dimension, in that province a federal Conservative and a provincial Conservative government that ignored the very clear warnings of the unsafe conditions, and I believe very much led to the 26 deaths that took place...

Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 1996 April 29

Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition):
Madam Speaker, I would encourage the Minister of Justice (Hon. Rosemary Vodrey, Minister of Justice and Attorney General) and the Premier (Mr. Filmon) to review the precedent established with the Westray public inquiry, where charges are pending and being investigated but a public inquiry is being conducted...

The Senate, Ottawa
Hansard, 1996 May 6

The Special Committee of the Senate on the Cape Breton Development Corporation

Mr. Joseph P. Shannon, Chairman of the Board, Cape Breton Development Corporation:
Mr. Chairman, I would like to make it clear to you, sir, and to other members of your committee that I am not an engineer; I am not a coal miner. I fancy myself as a truck driver from Port Hawkesbury who happens to have gotten into a situation where I became chairman of the board and acting president of the Cape Breton Development Corporation about ten or eleven months ago...

...I went to the Nova Scotia Power Corporation's board of directors' meeting and, before I left their meeting, they had asked the president to meet with me to start some serious negotiations with respect to concluding the outstanding issues and to bring the contract to a successful conclusion. It took us some time to do that. At the outset, they were looking for about a 35-per-cent discount, and then they were asking for 25 per cent. We settled on an 18-per-cent reduction in the price over a three-year period. In the last two years of the five-year agreement, inflation has built up to a maximum of 4 per cent. If the inflation rate stays under 4 per cent, we will be acceptable, and we hope Canada will be able to do that or we will all be in trouble. The contract was signed and set aside.

One of the problems we ran into is that, during the negotiations to build the Westray mine, the Government of Canada opened our 33-year contract with the Nova Scotia Power Corporation and gave the Westray company a contract to supply 700,000 tonnes of coal to Nova Scotia Power at the Trenton power plant. Unfortunately, there was no provision in that agreement that, in the event the Westray project did not go forward as anticipated, the contract would revert to the Cape Breton Development Corporation. There was no such clause in that agreement. Nova Scotia Power Corporation continues to use that as a lever against us in the negotiations and, for the last number of years, the price at which we have had to supply coal to Trenton is substantially less than we are selling coal to them at all other generating plants...

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 May 9,   page 1551
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Resolution No. 505

Premier John Savage
Be it resolved that in memory of the 26 men so tragically lost, the members of this House stand and observe a moment of silence.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 May 9,   page 1552
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Resolution No. 506

Dr. John Hamm
Be it resolved that the members of the House join with the families and friends of the victims in remembering them.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 May 9,   page 1553
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Resolution No. 507

Mr. John Holm
Be it resolved that on this tragic anniversary the members of this House honour the memory of Westray miners by committing to the strongest possible legislation and enforcement of workplace safety.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 May 9,   page 1553
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-4/h96may09.htm#[Page 1553]

Resolution No. 508

Mr. Wayne Fraser
Be it resolved that the members of this Assembly keep foremost in their minds and hearts the tremendous grief and pain suffered by the families and friends of these courageous men.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1996 May 9,   page 2557

Ms. Roseanne Skoke (Central Nova, Liberal)
Mr. Speaker, in recognition of the grieving families and in commemoration of the 26 deceased miners who were killed in my riding of Central Nova in the Westray coal mine disaster on May 9, 1992, we will remember them:

John Thomas Bates, Larry Arthur Bell, Bennie Joseph Benoit, Wayne Michael Conway, Ferris Todd Dewan, Adonis J. Dollimont, Robert Steven Doyle, Remi Joseph Drolet, Roy Edward Feltmate, Charles Robert Fraser, Myles Gillis, John Philip Halloran, Randolph Brian House, Trevor Jahn, Laurence Elwyn James, Eugene W. Johnson, Stephen Paul Lilley, Michael Frederick MacKay, Angus Joseph MacNeil, Glenn David Martin, Harry A. McCallum, Eric Earl McIssac, George James Munroe, Danny James Poplar, Romeo Andrew Short and Peter Francis Vickers.

We will remember them.

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1996 May 9,   page 2557

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary North, Reform)
Mr. Speaker, four years ago today 26 miners died at the Westray mine in Nova Scotia when coal dust ignited with methane gas to produce an underground explosion.

With all the headline coverage about the ongoing inquiry and with all the difficulties in getting at the truth, there are often times when the actual tragedy and loss of life seem to have been forgotten. If anything positive is to come out of this terrible event, it should be an acknowledgement that we can never overlook the importance of safety in the workplace.

To this end it is an absolute necessity that government regulations responsible for ensuring safety must never be relaxed and the safety inspectors that are looked to for protection must be completely free from political interference if they are to be effective. If we can achieve this we can take solace in the hope that this tragedy will never be repeated.

Today Canadians remember and honour the 26 miners who lost their lives four years ago this morning. We extend our sympathy and support to their families and friends.

Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 1996 May 16

Mr. Daryl Reid (Transcona):
...Take, for example, the Westray situation, just last week, where the inspector said very clearly that he would give two days notice to the company before he went in to do his inspections. How is that random inspection? How is that helping to make sure that we have a worksite that is going to continue to have safe working conditions for all its people every day, not just the days that the inspector is coming to inspect? We have to take the steps necessary to protect people in the worksite, both the employees themselves and the management people, for all people who work in those worksites...

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 May 17,   page 1837
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Resolution No. 635

Mr. Robert Chisholm, Leader of the New Democratic Party:
    Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
    Whereas the Westray Families Group has expressed growing frustration with the performance and testimony of some provincial officials before the Westray Inquiry; and
    Whereas the families group has expressed concern that by their attitudes and performance, these officials may be putting other workers in the same danger as that faced by Westray workers before May 9, 1992; and
    Whereas the families group has raised legitimate concerns about workplace safety in this province;
    Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Labour and Natural Resources stop hiding behind legal niceties and meet with the Westray families forthwith.

Mr. Speaker:
The notice is tabled.

Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 1996 May 23

Mr. Gord Mackintosh (St. Johns):
...And then the minister said ... I do not know where he gets his legal advice, but you cannot have a commission of inquiry and criminal proceedings going on at the same time. Here we are looking at criminal proceedings and the commission of inquiry into the Westray mining disaster going on in Nova Scotia. In the national news we are reading about it all the time. It is interesting there is a Supreme Court of Canada decision that says, yes, indeed, you can have both at the same time. There are checks and balances. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms have to be respected, but you leave that to the commissioner. The commissioner can ensure those protections are guaranteed...

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1996 May 23

Standing Committee on Economic Development

Mr. Stephen Drake, President of District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America
...On private coal; private coal created Westray, that's one thing. Private coal has a long history of high fatality rates, high accident rates, absentee ownership and everything else that you could put along with private coal. We have had the private coal here in Nova Scotia and it didn't work very well. I think that one of the key things that anybody can learn from is their history, and the history in the coal mining industry has been very tumultuous with private coal...

Mrs. Lila O'Connor
All right but if the taxpayer at this time doesn't have the funding to go forward with the Donkin Mine — in Smoky River Coal, what's the history on that? Has there been a history of accidents out there? We all understand Westray and we certainly don't want to ever see that happen again, but that could have happened even if it had been owned by the federal government. I don't want to see that happen again and I don't want to expand on that. But I would like to see why you are not promoting - private industry can be run just as successfully and safely as any other industry as it does in other businesses besides coal. If it does its job, it will happen. I am surprised that if the coal is out there and it will get people working, why is your union not supporting trying to find that to happen if the federal government is not able to do it at this time?

Mr. Drake
Pardon me, the Westray situation, private coal operators don't operate coal mines like the federal government. The federal government has strict and stringent regulations that we follow. That is why we have the safest coal mines in the world in Cape Breton, under federal ownership. That's the first thing.

The second thing is that safety costs a whole lot of money. Safety adds to your cost per ton dramatically and private coal operators, historically, have not paid that type of attention to safety issues and Westray is a prime example but in China, in private coal mining industries, 10,000 coal miners die every single year. In the United States, there were 41 fatalities last year in privately owned corporations. Now those industries, where the 41 fatalities were, were mines that the UMWA has jurisdiction over and the UMWA has very well trained safety people and if they cannot keep the fatality rate at zero in these private mines, I don't think we are going to do it in Cape Breton either.

One of the reasons that during the last four years our fatality rate has been zero is because we are federally mandated. We are not under provincial jurisdiction, we are not run by a private operator and I say, once again, and I will stress it, if this industry can work, and I believe it can, under Crown ownership without a cost to the taxpayer, and I certainly believe it can and some of these numbers will justify that, I suggest that we should keep it as a Crown Corporation and maintain the level of safety that we have. We don't need another Westray and we don't need private owners who live somewhere else and take their money out of this province...

Mr. Alfred MacLeod
...Nova Scotia Power actually buys BTUs, they don't buy tons of coal...

The Senate, Ottawa
Hansard, 1996 June 4

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Ms. Alexa McDonough, Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada:
Honourable senators ... Cuts make others so desperate for work that they will take any job, no matter how low the pay or how poor and dangerous the working conditions. I know there is no one in this room who is not aware that one of the factors in the Westray tragedy, which cost 26 miners their lives in Pictou County four years ago, was the fact that when some of those miners went to the unemployment insurance office to inquire about their eligibility for UI benefits, so they could feed their families, they were told that because of recent changes — and these are changes already put in place to make UI even more restrictive than it had been previously, but not nearly as restrictive as what we will have after these changes go into effect — they would be considered quitters. They would therefore not be eligible for any benefits for at least eight, and probably twelve, weeks. So they went back into the mine; did exactly what most working people would do under those conditions in order to feed their families and to keep an income...

...We are talking about the reality of the testimony of Westray miners, who reported exactly what happened when they tried to seek relief and protect themselves from those unsafe conditions by going to the UI office. It does not take away the problem to say that the UI official was misinformed, or to ask why that worker did not know that they should have been able to quit their job and press through the courts to have their claim respected. I am talking about what happened in the lives of those miners and what people mean when they say that we are creating a Westray world by these kinds of changes...

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1996 October 30,   page 5888

Mr. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Vancouver South, Liberal)
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the solicitor general. By the way, it is great to see the solicitor general back in the House. The Gander, Newfoundland air crash, the Hinton train wreck, the Dryden aeroplane disaster and the Westray mine explosion have one thing in common: inquiries were conducted into all four tragedies...



Saskatchewan Legislature, Regina
Hansard, 1997 March 18   page 274

Also available at:

Mr. Harry Van Mulligen (NDP, Regina Victoria):
Mr. Speaker:
...All I can say is, don't do this, don't do this. Don't do this to the working people of Saskatchewan – don't do this. Don't bring us down, okay? Do what you can, do what you can to ensure a safe working environment for Saskatchewan people. Please do that. Don't attack in this way.

I was interested that even as I was, you know, as we were listening to this non-ending attack on occupational health and safety, this non-ending attack on the government – and I might say, a non-ending attack on working people in Saskatchewan by saying that you deserve something less than the very best – that I received from United Steelworkers of America, a document called Death by Deregulation: The Story of Westray, Mr. Speaker, and this is a very sad chapter in Canadian history.

But the report that they provided me is based on their submission to the Westray inquiry, and they conclude by saying:

The Westray disaster happened because regulations governing mining practices and safety were not followed, and because the government, while fully aware of the situation, did not step in to enforce the law. Such behaviour is not unique to coal mines or to Nova Scotia. It is a result of the deregulation of health and safety, a policy goal now pursued by governments and employers across Canada.

And I might say parenthetically, thankfully not by this government, Mr. Speaker.

Some Hon. Members:
Hear, hear!

Mr. Van Mulligen:
And I go on here, Mr. Speaker, to read this quote:

Every day in this country people die from work-related accidents and illnesses. Many more are injured or incapacitated by their work. Like all these victims, the twenty-six miners who died at Westray were ordinary people. They went to work to make a living and to provide for their families. Nobody went to work to die.

The point is simple. Work can be made safe and healthy. With our advanced science and technology, and with all our resources to create wealth, there is no reason or excuse for a Westray explosion.

And I might say, with all the wealth and all the resources that we have in this country, there is simply no reason to risk the lives of workers as they ... (inaudible) ... Mr. Speaker...

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1997 May 9,   page 1594
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Resolution Number 421
Premier John Savage
Be it resolved that on this, the Fifth Anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster, that this House pledge to Nova Scotians and particularly to the Westray families that we will work together in a unified manner to ensure the continued development and enforcement of laws and regulations to ensure the safety of all miners in this province.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1997 May 9,   page 1595
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-5/h97may09.htm#[Page 1595]

Resolution Number 422
Mr. Wayne Fraser, Pictou East
Be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly pay tribute to the rescuers for their compassion, unwavering professionalism and steadfast courage and extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of the miners left behind to suffer the grief and pain of this tragic loss.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1997 May 9,   page 1596
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-5/h97may09.htm#[Page 1596]

Resolution Number 423
Dr. John Hamm, the honourable Leader of the Opposition
Be it resolved that the members of this House join with the families and friends in remembering the 26 lost Westray miners.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1997 May 9,   page 1596
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/han56-5/h97may09.htm#[Page 1596]

Resolution Number 424
Mr. Robert Chisholm, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party
Be it resolved that this House commends the Families Group and others who keep alive the memories of the Westray miners, and on this fifth Anniversary commits to the strongest possible legislation and the most vigilant enforcement of workplace safety legislation.

Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 1997 September 29

Mr. Bud Wildman (Algoma):
My question is to the Premier. I hope he is as positive and taciturn in his response to my question as he was to the Leader of the Opposition's first question. My question is regarding Ipperwash and the wrongful death of Dudley George ... There is no reason to stall on a public inquiry. Premier, it's time to call a public inquiry.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier):
I know the Attorney General —

Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell):
Attorney General.

Hon. Charles Harnick (Attorney General, Minister Responsible for Native Affairs):
There are still matters of appeal before the courts, there are civil actions before the courts, and my understanding is that the crown is continuing with three charges that are presently before the courts even though a couple of those charges have been withdrawn.

Mr. Wildman:
To deal with the minister responsible for native affairs and the Attorney General, the Supreme Court of Canada has given some clear guidelines regarding inquiries so there cannot be any excuse about legal issues pending in this particular situation. In the case of Westray and most recently in the Krever blood inquiry, the Supreme Court clarified the circumstances in which you can have an inquiry even when there are civil and/or criminal investigations outstanding. The Supreme Court ruling on Krever states:

"The ability of an inquiry to investigate, educate and inform Canadians benefits our society. A public inquiry before an impartial and independent commissioner which investigates the cause of tragedy and makes recommendations for change can help to prevent a recurrence of such tragedies in the future."

All the information we have is that the government can now have a public inquiry. What is the government hiding? When are you going to call a public inquiry? Will you follow the Supreme Court ruling?

Mr. Harnick:
The member has been told before, and I will say again, that no one has precluded an inquiry taking place. No decision has been made about that. When all the criminal matters and the civil matter and the appeals are dealt with and the three outstanding charges are completed, that's something we will consider. Consideration of that has never been precluded.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1997 December 1,   page 478
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Hon. Donald Downe, Minister of Transportation and Public Works
Mr. Speaker, tonight I would like to speak to this House and to all Nova Scotians as minister responsible for the government's response to the Westray report.

At 5:20 on the morning of May 9, 1992, this province was rocked by one of the worst tragedies in our history — the Westray Mine disaster. That morning this province lost 26 coal miners; 26 families were left without loved ones and thousands of Nova Scotians shared in their pain and sadness.

Five years later, the memory and sadness of that day remains with us all, most especially with the families. But today also marks one of the first steps toward understanding this senseless tragedy. Today at 11:00 a.m. in Stellarton, Justice Peter Richard released his report into the Westray Mine disaster. The commissioner's report is extensive with more than 700 pages and four volumes of information. While we are just beginning to work our way through it, the overwhelming impression is that this report is thoughtful and thorough.

I would like to thank Justice Richard and his staff for their hard work and dedication in the face of challenge and complexity. This report will make a real difference in the lives of working men and women in this province. This government will see that it does.

I would also like to thank the families. They have been the ones fighting to be heard, fighting to keep the memory of Westray alive and fighting to make a difference. The families have been through hell and back. While I can never fully understand their pain, I do understand their conviction. I have sat in the same room and seen it face to face.

Earlier today the Premier established a Cabinet committee consisting of the Ministers of Labour, Natural Resources, Justice, and Housing and Municipal Affairs. Westray will be given high priority. This is not a report we will put on the shelf. This is a report we will carry with us until all the issues are addressed. We owe it to the families and we owe it to the memory of 26 miners.

This government will respond with an initial plan of action prior to Christmas. We have a lot of ground to cover and many decisions to make but we are committed to a timely response. The Westray families have waited long enough.

This government will do the right thing. We will make this province a safer place for people to earn a living and to raise their families. This morning I took a few minutes to visit the Westray memorial in Stellarton and I read the names of the 26 men once more. We can never allow another Westray. People do not go to work to die. Unfortunately, this government cannot change the past. I wish we could but we can make a difference in the future.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I make this pledge to the families. Westray will not be some vague memory of a tragic accident. It will be a living, active presence in workplaces across Nova Scotia. Your husbands, your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your friends, will never be forgotten. Every time someone wants to cut a corner or bend a rule, we will remind them there can never be another Westray and this government will not allow it. Thank you. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker:
The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

Dr. John Hamm:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his announcement today. I first became aware of the Westray explosion at 6:00 o'clock on the morning of May 9, 1992, when I was called to the hospital having been told there was an explosion at the mine. At 7:00 o'clock, I was at the pit-head only to be told that the hot gases coming out of the mine were still preventing anyone from entering the mine. The questions began at that time as to why.

Now, the Westray report quotes a French sociologist and inspector general of mines for France in the 1800's, "The most important thing to come out of a mine is the miner". With this in mind, today is the day to move on and take the recommendations of Justice Richard and ensure swift action. I have faith that this government is sincere in its commitment to respond by Christmas through the Cabinet committee it announced today. This is the very least we owe to the memory of those 26 young men who lost their lives on May 9, 1992, as well as their families who carry on five and one-half years later.

The blame has been squarely and widely laid after 77-some days of testimony from over 70 witnesses. There was corporate, political and bureaucratic mismanagement. The information from the inquiry, two years in the making, allows us to look at the mistakes and allows us to put in place procedures to ensure that such a calamity is never allowed to happen again. Justice Richard has closed his book. Now it is time for government to act to right this tragedy. There need never be another Westray.

Mr. Speaker:
The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Robert Chisholm:
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's statement. Let me just say that I was pleased to receive and to hear the recommendations of the commissioner today. The responsibility with respect to this disaster was clearly laid at the feet of both the government and the company. The recognition that the miners played no part in that was an important one for the miners who are still there in that community, and for the families of those who died.

Mr. Speaker, this committee that has been formed will clearly be judged on its actions. The families, the miners and the people of Nova Scotia demand action, from this government, on those recommendations. I must say that we need to dispel at least two myths right off the top. Number one, we need to dispel the myth that there have been big improvements in workplace health and safety in the Province of Nova Scotia since 1992. That is not, in fact, the case. There are still problems out there, very serious problems. We have an Act right now that is improved, but we still have many outstanding regulations that have not been passed, and we still have not put the resources towards inspection and enforcement to ensure that all those in workplaces recognize that it is not good enough to pay lip service anymore to workplace health and safety.

The second myth, Mr. Speaker, is that the way to create economic growth is to drive down employment costs, reducing wages, benefits, and employment security of employees. All that does is that it reduces employees options, putting them in a position where many of those miners were, where they felt completely insecure in terms of their working conditions. We must ensure that from this day forward the workers in the Province of Nova Scotia understand and feel confident that they can say, no, when faced with unhealthy and unsafe conditions at work...

House of Commons, Ottawa
Hansard, 1997 December 2, 1405 (2:05pm)

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan-Shuswap, Reform)
Mr. Speaker, the first duty of any government is to protect its law-abiding citizens. Instead neither the province nor the federal government made sure that the men who went underground to mine coal at Westray came home safely each day.

According to the book The Westray Tragedy, CANMET recommended a more in-depth evaluation of the project. Over one hundred men previously killed in the Foord coal seam should have been reason enough for governments to be extra cautious about Westray. So why did the federal government suddenly give its stamp of approval through loan guarantees? If the federal government had no worry for the safety of citizens working at Westray, why did it not even ensure that its investments could be recovered through long term safe and profitable operation of the Westray mine?

The report released yesterday reveals a chain of obvious preventable safety problems. As project financier, Ottawa must share the blame for turning the federally assisted job project into a tomb, a mine so unsafe that eleven bodies have yet to be recovered, and a whole region in Nova Scotia remains in mourning.

Nova Scotia Legislature, Halifax
Hansard, 1997 December 9,   page 1024
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Mr. John MacEachern, Cape Breton East:
Mr. Speaker ... we will start with Westray ... Remember the take or pay agreement? Let me just remind you of this ... They (the government) would buy 150,000 tons of coal if it stayed in the ground. Now let's work our way through that now at $51 a ton. We were assured in the House over and over again (Interruptions) The member for Hants West is awake and I am thankful for that. Let's consider 150,000 tons at $51 a ton every year. Now the interesting part ... If he didn't dig the coal he would get $51 a ton. If he dug the coal, now take the labour costs, the risks and all of the other things, and he would get less than $51 a ton. Now ... he would say, let's see, if I leave it in the ground I get $51 a ton, if I mine it, I get less than that and it costs me money to do it.

An Hon. member:
...the day off, how would he know?

Mr. MacEachern:
That is right. In fact, if they stopped not digging it, how would they know they were taking the day off?

We had a discussion in this House one day in which the government was charged with, maybe next year they wouldn't dig the same ton of coal and get paid twice for not digging it. They told us no, that there is a map and they are able to indicate that as they move from a block of coal they don't dig this year and a block of coal they don't dig this year, then they know which block of coal they didn't dig. Now it gets better than that. When you ask them what happens at the end of 15 years, and if you do a little bit of arithmetic, $51 by 150,000 tons of coal (Interruption) Oh, we'll get to it, you just stay with me here. I am just getting going here, we'll get to that...

...Continuing here, if you work it and then we ask the question, what happens at the end of the 15 years after we gave all the money to this mining operator? They said, we will own the coal then. Mr. Speaker, we owned the coal before we started. So we gave them all this money not to dig the coal and then we got the coal at the end of it even though it was still in the ground...

Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg
Hansard, 1997 December 11

Mr. Daryl Reid (Transcona):
Madam Speaker, I rise on behalf of the families of mine workers who have been killed on the job. In 1992, 26 miners were killed in an underground coal mine explosion at Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Westray coal mine. Last week, after five and one-half years of waiting for these families, Justice Richard released his findings in a report containing 74 recommendations. Justice Richard named people responsible for the disaster, indicating that a clear hierarchy of responsibility lies with mine management and government.

One quote from Justice Richard states: It is a story of incompetence, of mismanagement, of bureaucratic bungling, of deceit, of ruthlessness, of cover-up, of apathy, of expediency and of cynical indifference.

Justice Richard states that unacceptable performances of the mine safety inspector regulators must surely have destroyed the confidence that the people had in the inspectorate. Justice Richard recommended that Ottawa and the provinces should study accountability of corporate bosses for wrongful or negligent acts of a corporation with an eye to legislating it. I could not agree more...

Ontario Legislature, Toronto
Hansard, 1997 December 11

Ms. Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview):
I want to thank the member for Scarborough-Agincourt for bringing forward this issue of fundamental justice and fairness. This is a story of heavy-handedness and bullying and hiding the truth and fabricating more of it, and in the end a story of an innocent man shot dead. The facts have been recited here this morning. Dudley George was killed on September 6, 1995. The judge in the first instance found that he was unarmed. Since then all the charges that have been laid by the crown have either been dropped or dismissed by the courts, with two civil suits pending.

The latest criminal charge that was dropped was September 29, 1997. There has been outrage not only in the native community but in the broader sector. Ontarians have been shocked to hear that in this province we would behave in this fashion.

I'd like to ask three questions. One is, can an inquiry be called? It's pretty clear that it can. The Supreme Court of Canada, in the Westray mining disaster, indicated the circumstances under which a public inquiry may be called. Time doesn't permit me to go into all the details, but I would suggest the Attorney General look into that...

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