October 6, 2003

Moncton Times and Transcript

Defence wants dump trial dumped
by Rod Allen

Provincial court Judge Yvette Finn will decide this morning whether there is still a trial going on for a New Brunswick consulting firm and its chief engineer, charged with polluting the Petitcodiac River. Yesterday morning Robert Kenny, the lawyer for Gemtec Inc. of Fredericton and Moncton-based engineer Robert Lutes, moved for dismissal of all charges against both clients. Two weeks after the outset of trial and the calling of 17 witnesses by Crown prosecutor Paul Adams, Kenny argued the Crown had waited too long to proceed.

Citing the provincial statute of limitations, Kenny argued that Environment Canada the investigating body in the case did not proceed to trial until 2003 even though it had been aware of complaints as far back as 1997, thus exceeding the statute’s two-year limit to proceed with charges.

Adams countered that the time-line of the Environment Canada investigation is reflected in the charges, which allege an offence taking place between July of 2000 and November, 2002. Thus, Sept. 22 of this year, the day the trial began, is well within the limitation.

If Finn upholds Kenny’s motion the trial is over and both accused parties walk away. Should be rule otherwise, the trial is scheduled to resume this morning.

Two weeks ago the City of Moncton pleaded guilty to a similar charge, was ordered to pay a total of $35,000 in fines and levies and was ordered to undertake restoration – at a cost estimated between $500,000 and $700,000 – of the old city dump still sitting on the banks of the Petitcodiac River. The old dump – centrepiece of the trial – was decommissioned in 1993 with the opening of the Westmorland-Albert regional landfill on the northern outskirts of the city.