On Sept. 18, Sylvain Fournier, a Quebec based contractor, was sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by two years of probation. Fournier had been found guilty of manslaughter under the Criminal Code relating to a workers death by means of a breach of Quebec safety code. The case is the first of its kind in Canada and raises serious concerns about the use of criminal law to enforce provincial regulatory safety standards.
In what can only be described as a harsh sentence, with scathing reasons, Justice MacDonnell sentenced Vadim Kazenelson to 3 ½ years in prison, for each of five convictions of criminal negligence, relating to the Metron Construction Swing Stage collapse, to be served consecutively. With the January 11, 2016 sentencing, the tragic saga of a quadruple fatality on a construction site on Christmas Eve 2009 has finally come to legal conclusion. On June 26, 2015, following a trial, Kazenelson had been found guilty of all five counts of criminal negligence for which he had been charged in relation to the cause of the incident.
The trial judge said in the Reasons for Sentence: “ … a significant term of imprisonment is necessary to reflect the terrible consequences of the offences and to make it unequivocally clear that persons in positions of authority in potentially dangerous workplaces have a serious obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure that those who arrive for work in the morning will make it safely back to their homes and families … “
In August 2009, Metron was retained to repair concrete balconies on two high-rise apartments. As was its normal practice, Metron hired a project manager and a site supervisor to oversee the project. Mr. Kazenelson was retained by Metron as its project manager. Mr. Kazenelson owned and operated his own construction company and according to reports, came highly recommended as an experienced and qualified project manager.
The tragic saga of a quadruple fatality on a construction site on Christmas Eve 2009 has finally come to legal conclusion with the criminal conviction and sentencing of the project manager overseeing the project. On June 26, 2015, following a trial, Vadim Kazenelson (Mr. Kazenelson), the project manager overseeing the project for Metron Construction Company (Metron), was found guilty of five counts of criminal negligence in relation to the accident. Mr. Kazenelson has had sentencing submissions completed before the trial judge.
The Crown argued that a penitentiary sentence of 4 to 5 years was appropriate, and that the sentence should be at the upper range. The Defence argued that the appropriate sentence in this case was 12 months to 2 years of incarceration. The Defence argued that 4 years imprisonment overshoots the mark for deterrence purposes, and that there is a real risk of sentencing imbalance, given that imprisonment is a blunt instrument. At the conclusion of submissions, Justice MacDonnell commented that there is no sentencing precedent that could easily be applied to this case, and as a result, sentencing would require much more thought. Justice MacDonnell did note that it is common ground that incarceration should be imposed; the only question remaining is the length of incarceration. Justice MacDonnell adjourned the sentencing decision until January 11, 2016.