This case serves as an example of what degree of conduct will or
will not constitute obstruction of an officer in a workplace
The accused was charged under the Safety Act (NWT) with
2 counts of obstructing a safety officer arising from 2 meetings
between the accused and the safety officer tasked with
investigating a workplace accident. At trial, the accused and the
officer had differing versions of what had occurred in the
meetings. Ultimately, the Court found the accused to be an evasive
witness and preferred the evidence of the officer.
The section of the Safety Act in question required the
Crown to prove that the accused had (a) obstructed or hindered (b)
a safety officer (c) engaged in carrying out his duties. The Court
held that this required an obstruction or hindrance of the
investigation itself – not just the safety officer; that the
accused's actions had to be deliberate, with knowledge that the
officer was engaged in carrying out his duties; and that the
accused intended to prevent the progress of the investigation.
In the end, the Court found the accused not guilty of the court
relating to the first meeting. In that meeting, the accused had
been loud and aggressive and "vented" but he had
responded to the investigator's questions. While he had refused
to provide a written statement and drawing, his conduct did not
impede or delay the progress of the investigation. However, the
Court found the accused guilty of the count relating to the second
meeting. In that meeting, the accused confronted the investigator,
grabbed him by the arms, pushed him out the door, and slammed the
door behind him, all before the officer had asked any questions.
The accused knew the investor was there to ask him questions about
the incident and the Court found that the accused's conduct in
that meeting did halt the progress of the investigation.
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