The resolution of conflicts in a society can be seen as a complex network of interactions between various relatively autonomous official control systems. The place occupied by the criminal law as well as its role within this network are larg e -ly determined by the nature of its relations with the other control systems. Based on these theoretical premises, developed in recent socio-juridical studies, this article advances a number of conceptual proposals aimed at clarifying a question that has been the subject of theoretical and political controversy in the field of criminology for about half a century. It is the question of the exclusion, total or partial, of certain particular forms of illegalities from penal intervention. The principal characteristic of these illegalities lies in the fact that they have a broad range of forms of control (civil, administrative proceedings and particularly amicable arrangements). The control of illicit activities in five areas of social life examined in the second part of the study (the business world, public administration, public health, the environment and health and safety in the workplace) show this characteristic very clearly. In conclusion, the author advances a number of arguments that tend to illustrate the profoundly illusory nature of any attempt at control of the above-mentioned illicit activities by intervention of the criminal law.
More people die in Canada every year from work related accidents and illnesses than as a result of murder. More work days are lost to work accidents and illnesses than to strikes and lockouts. Yet the illegalities committed in the field of health and safety in the workplace are, for all intents and purposes, left unnoticed by the criminal justice system.
This article addresses the use of penal and criminal law in Quebec against employers who have violated health and safety legislation and the Criminal Code.
The first part examines the historical, political and social reasons why deaths and injuries in the work place are perceived as normal and inevitable, rather than as aberra -tions often of a criminal nature.
The second part examines the application of statutory legislation in Quebec, particularly the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety (R.S.Q. c. S-2.1). The nature of the offences therein provided for is studied, as well as the attitude of the judiciary and the Quebec Health and Safety Commission (C.S.S.T.) towards their application.
In the final section the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code are studied, in the light of the rare examples from case law where criminal negligence charges have been laid.
The article concludes with the assertion that a change of attitude both on the part of the state and on the part of public opinion is necessary if we wish that health and safety in the workplace be taken seriously by employers.
The limits of pollution authorized by law are constantly being exceeded in Quebec and throughout Canada, as evidenced by acid rain, the disposal of dangerous refuse in nature and the uncontrolled use of pesticides. The criminal law on the environment exists, to be sure, but its application is highly relative. In principle, certain infractions under the Criminal Code can be used against polluters but the State rarely makes use of them. As to the statutory criminal law -the main subject of this article - the author notes that it suffers from a lack of clarity and precision. Complex and unorganized, it is characterized by a multitude of infractions and a disparity of sanctions. However, the fact is that the public administration very seldom resorts to the provisions of this law to have industrial activities conform to the laws and regulations. When it does do so, very often the courts hesitate to impose sanctions of a truly deterrent nature. In spite of all this, the fact is that the main obstacle to the criminal law on the environment is the lack of firm determination on the part of the legislators and public administrations to use severe measures against polluters. As long as this political will is lacking, notes the author, certain major industrials will continue to contaminate the environment with impunity.
This note reports on the various causes underlying the collapse of the Belmoral Mine in Val d'Or, Québec, in May 1980. It relays the facts concerning the events preceding and following this tragedy: reports on the working conditions, the public inquest and its conclusions, and the court hearings. Based on information drawn from these sources and from the press, the author reconstructs the events surrounding the tragedy and the arguments presented by Belmoral management and independent experts, denying or supporting the theory that the collapse of the mine was foreseeable and therefore preventable. The object of this paper is to state the facts, as objectively as possible, allowing the readers to draw their own conclusions concerning this matter.