CALGARY, Alta. — Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison came out strongly in favour of random drug testing for Canadian employees in safety-sensitive positions earlier this week.
This, after CPR was ordered to reinstate a locomotive engineer who was involved in a serious rules violation and later found to have consumed cocaine. The Canadian Railway Office of Arbitration ruled the engineer be reinstated, which caused Harrison to speak out.
“The Arbitrator’s decision is an outrage and, as a railroader, I am appalled we would be forced to place this employee back in the cab of a locomotive. On my watch, this individual will not operate a locomotive,” said Harrison, CP’s Chief Executive Officer. “The decision sets a dangerous precedent and is grossly unacceptable for the safe operation of a railway.”
He said rules that keep Canadian employers from conducting random drug and alcohol testing must be changed.
“This decision highlights the need for further public debate regarding the rights of an individual when employed in positions involving the safety of the public. Companies in Canada need the ability to carry out random drug tests as safety should trump the rights of any individual who makes the dangerous choice to place themselves, their coworkers and the general public at risk,” said Harrison, who noted railroads – like trucking firms – in the US are required by federal law to perform random drug tests.