Alberta Court of Appeal says Chinese company can face charges in deaths of workers

EDMONTON - In a decision released Wednesday, the Alberta Court of Appeal has decided that a Chinese corporation can face charges in Alberta court for the 2005 death of two temporary foreign workers in northern Alberta.

The decision upholds a previous ruling that Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Company Ltd. can be prosecuted. The two men worked for the company.

The company had argued that since it has no official presence in Alberta or Canada, and no Canadian employees, it could not be included in the jurisdiction of an Alberta courtroom.

On April 24, 2007, the internal supports of a large tank collapsed, killing Hongliang Liu from China's Shandong province and Genbao Ge, from the Henan province. The men were in Canada on temporary foreign-worker permits and worked at the Horizon Oil Sands project near Fort McKay.

In April 2009, the Alberta government laid 53 Occupational Health and Safety Act charges in connection with the incident. While most were laid against Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., 10 were laid against Sinopec Shanghai.

CNRL will be in court in the fall of 2012.

In the Alberta Court of Appeal decision, two judges upheld the ruling, while a third offered a dissenting opinion.

The Alberta Federation of Labour applauded the decision.

"If companies like Sinopec are going to invest in the oilsands, they need to respect our laws," said AFL president Gil McGowan.

Edmonton Journal, Wed Nov 23 2011

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