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?