by Greg Klein | January 26, 2015
Sentenced to life imprisonment for killing nine strikebreakers in 1992, Roger Warren has been granted extended medical leave, Canadian Press reported January 26. Now 71, he had been on day parole since June after being released from a minimum security prison near Vancouver.
In 1993 Warren, after agreeing to an RCMP lie detector test, admitted planting a bomb that killed the men during an acrimonious strike at Yellowknife’s Giant mine. He stated that he climbed down an unguarded shaft and connected explosives to a trip wire. A passing man car carrying nine workers detonated the bomb. Warren later tried to recant his confession but was convicted in 1995 of nine counts of second-degree murder. The judge called his actions “nothing less than an act of terrorism.”
Employees had walked off the job after the owner, Royal Oak Mines, called for cutbacks in wages and benefits due to a declining gold price. The bitterly divided town of 17,000 then experienced vandalism, arson, brawls and a near-riot following the company’s decision to bring in replacement workers and a private security force.
The union told media it was willing to tie wages to gold prices but wanted improvements in safety. “We just don’t want to see [Westray] happen here,” one striker told reporters, referring to the Nova Scotia mine accident that killed 26 underground workers in May 1992. Warren’s bomb went off three months later.
On behalf of the victims’ families, the Workers’ Compensation Board launched a $10-million lawsuit against Royal Oak, the security company, the union and the Northwest Territories government. In 2010, after 16 years of litigation, the federal Supreme Court dismissed the action.
The mine shut down in 1999 after Royal Oak went into receivership. The company left Canadian taxpayers with an estimated $903-million bill for a yet-to-begin plan to clean up 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide.
“Giant was built before northern miners were required to post environmental cleanup bonds,” stated CP in March 2013. “In fact, the mess left at Giant is one of the reasons such legislation was drafted.”