Man charged in fa­tal Box­ing Day ac­ci­dent granted re­lease

The Compass - - THE COMPASS SECTION - BY GARY KEAN TC ME­DIA — The Western Star — The Packet

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.”

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

The North At­lantic re­fin­ery in Come By Chance.

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