Pubdate: Wed, 02 Aug 2000
Date: 08/02/2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Author: J. Chris Holden

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 charges.

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,