Man charged in fatal Boxing Day accident granted release
It was a somber mood in Courtroom No. 2 as family and friends awaited the appearance of Walter Alfred Joyce in provincial court in Corner Brook last Wednesday.
Nearly 20 people attended the brief appearance of the 45-year-old man charged with impaired driving causing the death of his sister-in-law Marilyn Sheppard and her husband Merle Sheppard.
The 51-year-old woman and 59-year-old man were killed after being struck by a pickup truck as they walked home from a family gathering in Lark Harbour in the early morning hours of Boxing Day.
Joyce, 45, is originally from Lark Harbour but is currently a resident of Fort McMurray, Alta. and was home for the Christmas holiday.
Crown attorney Adam Sparkes was not opposed to releasing Joyce, pending a $4,000 cash deposit and the posting of a $500 surety. That was expected to be taken care of later in the morning.
Joyce made eye contact with several of the people who attended court, but said nothing other than indicating to Judge Catherine Allen-Westby that he understood the conditions of his release.
Those present remained relatively quiet, with some shedding tears and embracing one another.
The court was told that Joyce would return to Fort McMurray as soon as travel arrangements could be made, but would be staying with family in York Harbour until those plans could be made.
Joyce will be under several conditions upon his release, including living at specified addresses in York Harbour and Fort McMurray and being subject to a curfew. He has also been prohibited by a court order from contacting several family members.
The matter will next be called in provincial court in Corner Brook Jan. 17.
The United Steelworkers (USW)) union, which represents workers at the North Atlantic refinery in Come By Chance, says it is committed to discussion and safety as the current labour dispute is awaiting an arbitration date.
North Atlantic Refining Ltd. (NARL) laid off 128 workers in November — 107 of which are represented by USW.
In an interview with TC Media Dec. 20, USW 9316 local president Glenn Nolan said the employees and the union representatives are interested in seeing proper safety and maintenance at the refinery going forward.
Nolan says the union has simply discussed ways to save money, increase productivity and incentives for employees to retire, in previous discussions with North Atlantic.
“The union informed the company that the collective agreement gives all employees a right to be represented,” Nolan told TC Media.
Employees gave the union the directive to follow the collective agreement that was put in place about a year and a half ago, he added.
He says if the employees decide on a new direction, the union will comply.
In response to North Atlantic’s statements on staying competitive within the industry, Nolan says all workers want that too, adding the salaries of workers at the Come By Chance’s refinery are equal to or less than other workers at refineries across Canada.
Employees around the province don’t want the refinery to shut down, he added.
He says in the United States, wages are comparable to the local refinery in Canadian dollars — in American dollars, U.S. work is more expensive.
“Do (they) want us to work for nothing?” said Nolan.
As for carbon taxes related to greenhouse gas emissions, he says the union agrees any new carbon tax is a burden to both the company and employees.
He says the company has already made changes to reduce emissions and the union has
The company has indicated that the refinery is in jeopardy of shutting down. That’s out of our control. — Glenn Nolan
also previously met and corresponded with the provincial government to help achieve this.
They’ll be meeting with the province in the new year to further discuss this matter.
“The company has indicated that the refinery is in jeopardy of shutting down. That’s out of our control. Employees worked hard to get the company where we are today from increased production capacity, to improving safe operation to energy efficiency and more.”
He says it takes a lot of safety and maintenance to run the refinery and that is the main concern for employees in light of the layoffs, particularly for those who will be working at the facility in the future.
Nolan says the union simply wants more information regarding a plan for the safe operation of the plant going forward and a new take-off agreement for the site — which is an agreement between an oil buyer and producer regarding the sale of the resource.
In the meantime, workers that have been issued lay-off notices, as well as those who will stay, are under an immense amount of stress, says Nolan.
“Through (the workers’) emails and phone conversations — I’ve cried, I’ve got to say. A lot of people don’t know these stories but it’s pretty emotional.
“They’re phoning me, as president (of the union), and it’s hard on them emotionally … that’s about the hardest part of the job. And the company is not dealing with that (workers) are phoning their union (instead of their employer) and it shouldn’t be that way.”
The North Atlantic refinery in Come By Chance.