Corporate Responsibility

Do corporations kill? Unfortunately, yes, they can. A corporation is a person in our crazy legal system. How do we best punish a corporate person, for killing people?

Burkhardt had drawn criticism for forwarding the responsibility for the explosion on to others. He told the Toronto Star earlier in the week that it was the fire department shutting off the train’s engine to fight earlier flames that resulted in the brake failure an hour later. He also said that the conductor failed to apply all 11 hand brakes.

“I’ve been pointed out as blaming the engineer, blaming the fire department that shut down the engine. That’s not my intention at all,” he says. “My intention is to try and get the facts and the biggest fact of all that we have to confront is that this train ran away.”

All the while, he is steadfast that his company should not shoulder all the blame. “The words corporate responsibility are used from time to time, but what I think you generally find is that when mistakes are made… then it’s people that did it,” he says.

“A corporation is a bank account in a lock box at the post office. It doesn’t do things. People do things.”

Corporate structures cause people to do terrible things. From hiring lawyers [haha], right up to allowing atrocities because the corporation demands them. Would a train operator *choose* to work alone, or would he prefer to have a human companion in the train engine, and to help him apply brakes, and to cover for him during breaks? No he’d worth with a partner, a ‘co-pilot’, but Mr. Burkhardt’s corporation required him to work alone, unsafely. The corporation required the conductor to abandon the running train in order to get rest. Dozens died as a result of this corporate mistake (negligence by design). How can the corporation take responsibility and serve punishment for the crimes they repeatedly make?

Do individual Canadians even have the power to compel the Crown to levy this punishment? If not, consider that the Crown prosecutes crime in part so vigilantism does not grip our justice system. If the Crown is powerless to extract the pound of flesh or a corporate eye for human eye, will humans stand peacefully by, wronged, for long?


7 responses to “Corporate Responsibility

  1. The Harper government allowed this one man system to happen. Find out who this owner is- a rail privatization guru.

  2. Talk of setting 30 hand brakes is typical of the you shoulda, we told ’em, not my responsibility jargon that always follows this type of event. It’s rubbish I tell you, nothing but rubbish. At the end of a 12 hr shift, alone in the dark, no one sets 30 handbrakes, nor 20, nor 15 for that matter. A brake test with the locomotive too? Right, and when you hand in your slip for OT, the dressing down begins. No one is going to do it and they know it. I read one of the first things MMA’s CEO did was cut wages 40% after taking over the previously bankrupt firm.

    There are a number of simple things that could have and should have been done every time that train stopped in Nantes which would have easily prevented this disaster, most of which the company was able to side step due to Canada’s lack of regulations. And for what? To skim a few more bucks off operating costs.

    They are like gamblers really. Everyone has been playing the odds in the railway industry for years, but the instinct for even greater winnings drove them past the point of reason. What’s most infuriating is, the Government of Canada accommodated them.

  3. How’s this guy viewed over in Europe? Noticed that Rail World Inc. has holdings over there as well as in North America.

  4. The anger is justified. The blame will be distributed among those that cannot financially fight back (underpaid & overworked employees) leaving the corporate entity free to go because the company ‘followed the rules’ which have been diluted by years of bribe $ fed back into the system.

  5. “A former locomotive engineer with the Montreal Maine & Atlantic railway says he left the company because he believed its policies, in particular one that left a single employee in charge of the entire locomotive, could compromise safety.

    “It was 10 years of them gambling and rolling the dice, and it finally caught up with them,” the former employee said.”

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