Man Criminally Guilty of Dangerous Operation of Farm Tractor

This case is of the “you thought you had heard everything” variety.  An Ontario man has been found guilty under the Criminal Code of dangerous operation of a farm tractor, and his appeal has been dismissed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal summarized the facts as follows:

“•                     the appellant was driving the tractor at 30-35 kilometers per hour along a rutted gravel and dirt road, causing the tractor to bounce along the road;

•                     the appellant was driving in a deliberate manner, and appeared determined to return to his property, heedless of those who were in his path or were attempting to stop him;

•                     without slowing, the appellant drove the tractor through a narrow opening between two trailers, one of which was moving, barely missing both;

•                     the appellant drove toward Constable Diemert, ignored his motions and shouts to stop, and drove within a few of meters of his vehicle before making an evasive manoeuvre to avoid it;

•                     he continued along the road at top speed toward Constable Lalonde, who feared for his own safety, to the extent that he nearly drew his own service revolver, before the appellant abruptly veered away at the last minute to avoid striking him;

•                     he drove up onto the narrow berm, adjacent to and above Constable Keller in his cruiser, putting the officer in fear for his own safety, before the tractor did in fact roll off the berm; and

•                     the evidence of several witnesses, including the officers, who testified that the appellant’s driving caused them to fear for their own safety.”

The appeal court stated that the trial judge found that the appellant’s driving was a “marked departure from what would be expected from a prudent driver in similar circumstances.”  The appellant’s disregard of the officers who were trying to stop him, driving toward the police vehicles in a way that required the officers to get out of the way, and leaving the road and mounting a berm, proved that the appellant had intended to drive dangerously.

One assumes that the appellant was operating the farm tractor for work-related purposes, not for recreation.  If that assumption is correct, the case is another example of the potentially “long arm” of the criminal law reaching into the workplace.  Dangerous operation of farm or construction equipment – particularly on a roadway – can lead to criminal charges.

R. v. Clare, 2013 ONCA 377 (CanLII)



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Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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