Pubdate: Wed, 02 Aug 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Page: A19
Section: Letters
Author: J. Chris Holden, Sarnia


As an employee of Imperial Oil Sarnia, working in what is classified as a 
"safety sensitive" position, I was very pleased, as were my co-workers, 
with the recent Ontario Court of Appeal ruling regarding drug testing. For 
eight years we've been subjected to this demoralizing and degrading 
invasion of privacy.

The fact that alcohol testing was upheld was viewed as reasonable by most 
of the employees I talked with. Testing for impairment was never an issue 
for us, and although we haven't had a history to justify it, it's 
understandable from a business perspective. Who wants someone inebriated 
running your gasoline factory?

The trouble with drug testing is that it isn't about monitoring job 
performance, it's an attempt to monitor lifestyle. It's the practice of 
offering up a cup of urine (or losing your job) to mother Exxon, to check 
if you were smoking marijuana on vacation, 4,000 miles away, a month ago.

This type of intrusive and unreliable testing should sound warning bells 
for all workers in this country. For helping make Esso one of the most 
profitable companies in Canada, we are made to feel like criminals without 

We commend the Ontario Court of Appeal for its unanimous and unbiased 
decision. Unfortunately, our elation didn't last long, for within 48 hours, 
directives were funnelling down the Esso management chain stating "to 
continue testing as normal."

Given the parent company's power, if its appeal is heard by the Supreme 
Court, this could go on for years. Very much like Exxon's protracted 
payment schedule for its fines in the Valdez incident. I see this as an 
American war on drugs, being fought on Canadian soil, sponsored by Exxon.

The American people have traded in most of their civil rights under the 
guise of combatting the rampant crime generated by a non-winnable war. It's 
not our fight and we don't have their problems.

We need someone to stand up and say enough and have the clout for it to 
mean something.

J. Chris Holden

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