A look in the rear-view mirror shows trail of inaction, injustice in legal structure
By John Devine
Awakening News Associate Editor
It was five years ago that the former newsletter “Worlds Apart” (which became Awakening News) reported that a dog, a large rottweiler in fact, attacked three different people at the Tim Horton’s in Orillia, Ontario. The third person the dog lunged at happened to be an OPP officer, who nearly had to draw his weapon as he tried to bring the dog under control.
But we’re not simply rehashing a dog attack. What matters is that the incident illustrates “the big picture” of how difficult it can be to right wrongs and achieve justice in Canada. Such an obstacle, since it prevents the resolution of problems and allows things to fester, makes otherwise small issues into big issues.
This writer, who was the first victim of the dog attack, which resulted in a broken wrist, had previously been informed by Ontario Provincial Police Commander Goard on whom to contact about incidents causing harm to employees and/or customers at another workplace—in this instance Casino Rama. That casino’s workplace (like Tim Horton’s workplace) falls the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of Labour and its enforcement officers, according to Goard.
So, well before the dog attack at Tim Horton’s, this writer followed Goard’s instructions regarding Casino Rama’s situation by sending an anonymous letter in order to blow the whistle to the Ministry of Labour (MOL). The letter detailed apparent workplace hazards at Casino Rama and asked for the MOL enforcement officers’ involvement.
The MOL officers were asked to remove hazards at Casino Rama which were, and still are, causing bodily harm. At the time, this whistle-blower was willing to come forward with more evidence regarding alleged violations of the Ontario Health and Safety Act (e.g., apparent physical assaults, including sexual and verbal assaults, against Casino Rama employees by unruly customers).
Lo and behold, the MOL officers did in fact visit Casino Rama—going directly to inspect the hazards that this whistleblower had identified. However, the officers left the casino without removing any of the hazards, thereby enabling the continued violation of the Ontario Health and Safety Act. Under that Act, hazards must be removed “IMMEDIATELY” from the job site and/or employees who might be affected by their proximity to the hazards must be moved away from the hazards. Shockingly, the MOL officers refused to exercise either option.
Notably, countless instances of head trauma have been inflicted upon Casino Rama employees since the MOL enforcement officers left the hazards intact (e.g., signs with sharp edges which are positioned at head level). These hazards conceivably were a factor in the death of one Casino Rama employee and in the lifelong illness of another Casino Rama employee.
So, with the MOL having become an enabler pf U.S.-based Penn National (Casino Rama’s owner at that time) violating the Ontario Health and Safety Act, further protection of all Casino Rama employees was denied—a violation of Canada’s Constitution.
Subsequently, Yours Truly the whistleblower, exercised his legal right to refuse to work in hazardous and harassing conditions at Casino Rama, walked off the job, and then wrote immediately to Minister of Labor Linda Jeffery asking for help to remove the hazards. But she refused to help. And Penn National followed through on their written threat of reprisal and fired me. Therefore, Penn National removed me rather than removing the hazards.
What does this have to do with the Tim Horton’s incident? For starters, with three attacks from the same dog on the same day, against three different people on Tim Horton’s property—and with all three attacks happening within about a 10-minute time frame—the restaurant had almost certainly become a violator of the Health and Safety Act. One of the apparent violations was the failure of the workers or management at that particular Tim Horton’s location to keep customers away from the hazard—immediately—or otherwise somehow remove the hazard.
The OPP was called and officers spoke with this writer at Tim Horton’s on the scene right after the incident. They said they’d get back to me but never did. The police ought to have filed the matter with the MOL, but nothing ever came of it.
Around the time of the dog bite incident, Nebraska-based investment icon Warren Buffet’s Burger King Corp. bought out Tim Horton’s. This whistleblower attempted to make Mr. Buffet aware of the incident and the MOL’s silence surrounding it, via one of Mr. Buffet’s media outlets, but no reply was received.
Taking the long-range view, this is at least the third time this whistleblower’s family has been violated and it’s interesting to speculate how many others have had similar experiences but were also frozen out by the government and/or the conventional media. The first was my aunt Eleanor Sheppard’s money manager’s gross mismanagement of her portfolio; the second was the criminal destruction by the government of my former fish-hatchery and retail business, Fisherman’s Cove, a venture constituting a major investment in Ontario’s economy financed by Aunt Eleanor; and the third by Penn National and the MOL regarding their negligence to abate hazards at Casino Rama and Tim Horton’s.
Moreover, copies of our former “Worlds Apart” newsletter, some of which were in the employees’ break area, were physically removed from the premises by Penn National.
Beyond that, one wonders how many other hazards at all sorts of other workplaces are being violated. Whenever laws are not enforced, duties are shirked and rights are violated, the public trust is broken. But given the enduring silence from Canadian media—be it the tax subsidized $1.1 billion-per-year CBC or other media heavily dependent on Casino ad dollars that serve to deter news coverage of the downside of gambling—many Canadians may not be fully aware that their Constitution and democracy are on especially shaky ground and are often violated with impunity. [Keep reading after the following image]
Thusly, as people go about their daily lives, many issues, both great and small, are swept under the rug and hidden in a kind of “time machine,” or “fossilizer,” so memories will fade and little if any meaningful action will be taken. Some items perhaps will never be heard of again. The rabbit hole runs deep.