Family and union lay private charges in 2006 picket line death

Prof. John Stammers struck and killed during 2006 strike by Ontario college staff

Toronto (8 Feb. 2007) - The family of Prof. John Stammers, assisted by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), is proceeding with a private prosecution following the man's picket line death in March 2006.

Joshua Donnelly, 22, of Ajax, Ont., appeared in court Feb. 7 on charges of criminal negligence causing death, and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident.

Prof. Stammers, 62, died March 25 from injuries suffered in a picket line incident involving a vehicle March 20. The incident occurred during a province-wide strike by Ontario college staff.

Police did not lay charges at the time. But in a preliminary hearing Sept. 22, Justice Kerr of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled there were grounds for a summons to be issued on both charges.

"Our family was upset when we heard that the police did not lay charges," said Joanne Fulkerson, on behalf of the Stammers family. "John did not cause his own death, as certain media stories at the time suggested. We are satisfied that the driver of the vehicle may now be held to account by the court for his actions."

OPSEU represents the 9,000 community college faculty who were on strike when this event occurred. OPSEU President Leah Casselman said workers on a picket line must be afforded full legal protection.

"Our members on picket lines need the same legal protections afforded to other members of society," she said. "Tensions may rise but picketers have a legal right to be there and communicate their message to the public. There is no impunity: the law must protect picketers as it protects any citizen." NUPGE

More information:• Faculty members and students pay tribute to John Stammers