Skip to content

Ministry of Labour now facing criminal charges in mining death

The Ministry, an inspector for the ministry at the time, the former Dynatec Corp. and three others are charged with criminal negligence causing death in the fatal 2006 injury of Raymond Campeau
060922_JL_Courthouse 1_resize
Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Dan Beaulieu, an inspector for the ministry in 2006, the former Dynatec Corp., Chris Stewart, Terry Jibbs and Stylianos Kontonikolas have all been charged with criminal negligence causing death in the fatal injury of Raymond Campeau. They were in Sudbury court June 26.

In 2006, Raymond Campeau was fatally injured at Podolsky Mine in Capreol. 

Since that time, his widow, Faye Campeau — who now goes by Fay Smith in court documents, and will be referred to as Smith here — has been in and out of the courts in an attempt to hold both the mine’s owner and the Ministry of Labour accountable. 

In 2021, a judge awarded Smith more than $2 million in civil damages from the province, but months later that judgment was set aside, and Smith ended up agreeing to a settlement. 

But in March 2024, she filed a motion to set aside that settlement, with Smith claiming in court documents that she felt she was “forced” by the Crown and her own counsel, Stephen Moreau, into signing the settlement “under duress.” 

Also in March of 2024, Smith successfully began a private prosecution against Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Dan Beaulieu, an inspector for the ministry at the time, the former Dynatec Corp., Chris Stewart, Terry Jibbs and Stylianos Kontonikolas, which was given the go-ahead by Justice Leaonard Kim and resulted in all parties being charged with criminal negligence causing death.

On June 26, the accused, as well as their attorneys, made their first appearance on the charges. So did Smith, with her lawyer, well-known Toronto-based criminal lawyer, Michael Lacy. 

But it appears she may not have to prosecute the case on her own anymore, as the court appearance also saw Sudbury Crown attorney Kara Vakiparta move to take over the criminal prosecution.

The death of Raymond Campeau

Raymond ‘Ray’ Campeau was a mechanic at Podolsky mine who died on May 25, 2006, at Podolsky Mine in Capreol. His widow is pursuing criminal charges against the Ministry of Labour and his former employer, among others. (Supplied)

According to court documents, Raymond “Ray” Campeau was a mechanic at Podolsky mine, and on May 25, 2006, he was attempting to replace the motor on a piece of equipment known as a winch when the winch exploded, sending metal fragments travelling at a high velocity. 

Mr. Campeau’s legs were severely injured as a result. He had been working 2,000 feet below the surface of the ground when the accident took place. Although co-workers got him to the surface for medical treatment, he died approximately 90 minutes later. 

A coroner’s inquest was held in 2008, and the coroner determined that Campeau’s death was caused by equipment failure: the winch failed because required engineered tie-offs had not been installed to secure it.

Pushing for justice 

In 2016, Smith began pushing for for criminal charges against his employer, Dynatec Corp. and the Ministry of Labour, and in 2021, sued the province. 

She sued the provincial government — the Ministry of Labour — alleging liability on the basis that their employee, mine inspector Beaulieu, failed in his duty to properly inspect the equipment involved and failed to follow up to ensure compliance with work orders that had been issued.

But the province failed to respond to the Campeau family’s statement of claims, putting Ontario in default, and the court deemed that lack of response is an admission of the truth of all allegations of fact made in the statement of claim, and granted a default judgment of more than $2 million in damages to Smith (then Campeau) and her children. 

But soon after, the Crown filed a motion to have that overturned; a decision on the matter, dated July 14, 2021, states the Crown said that they did not know about the matter until the default decision was posted on CanLii, the online listing of public court documents. 

Regional Senior Justice Bruce G. Thomas agreed with the Crown’s motion and overturned the default judgment. He stated in his decision that the Crown had “a plausible explanation” for failing to respond to the litigation, describing them non-specifically as arising from “from unique and unfortunate circumstances,” which were compounded by an “unprecedented global pandemic, and not from a lack of intention to defend.”

Smith, her attorney, and the Crown agreed to a settlement in 2021. But in March of this year, Smith filed a motion to have that settlement dismissed, claiming she was under duress when she signed the settlement, the details of which are not public. Her motion was not granted.

And it’s her quest for criminal charges that brings her, and Lacy, to Sudbury court now.

Smith is pursuing the prosecution under what’s known as the Westray Law, passed in 2004. The law allows for the criminal prosecution of private corporations in cases of gross negligence that resulted in workplace deaths. But as the legislation was amended to allow prosecutions of any organization, Smith is now able to proceed on with filing the criminal negligence causing bodily harm charges against the Ministry of Labour and the others, with Justice Kim finding enough evidence to grant the charges in March of this year.  

The Crown’s decision to take over the case means it will now proceed as a public prosecution. The matter has been adjourned until July 31.

Jenny Lamothe covers court for