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
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;
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
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