Three recent cases neatly illustrate the experience of many individuals charged with environmental offences.Teresa Silva pled guilty to 15 counts of filing fraudulent Drive Clean certificates, while she was an MTO employee. An audit had identified 105 false transactions in three months and she was charged with 30 of these. Because Ms. Silva has been unemployed and on social assistance ever since, she was fined the modest amount of $1,000 per count, or a total of $15,000.
In R. v. Parker, two individual drinking water system operators pled guilty to failing to report adverse drinking water test results, contrary to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Both had been adequately trained and were given frequent opportunities to review the relevant regulations and procedures. Other municipal staff had made the necessary reports when they came on shift. Their employer, the Niagara municipal drinking water system, had provided proper training and was not charged. There was no public health risk. The two individuals were each fined $5,000.
In R. v. Daigle, Daigle was a diesel service attendant with Canadian Pacific Railway. He was acquitted of two charges under the Ontario Water Resources Act for discharging diesel fuel and failing to report it. The Crown was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Daigle was the person who caused the spill or was the person responsible for reporting it. Since few individuals can afford a trial, his employer likely paid the legal bills for his defence.
In all three cases, years passed between the alleged offence and the conviction.