Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced it will be asking the Superior Court of Quebec to stay a July 14, 2014 decision by the Canadian Railway Office of Arbitration (CROA), which ruled a locomotive engineer, who consumed cocaine at a time and of a quantity which could impact his duties, must be reinstated. CP also announced it will be appealing the agency’s order to the Superior Court of Quebec asking it to overturn the decision.

The CROA decision stems from an incident in December, 2012 in which the crew, operating a freight train, committed a serious rules violation.  The crew was drug tested following the incident and the arbitrator found that the results indicated that the engineer had consumed cocaine. Nevertheless, the arbitrator ordered that the employee be reinstated.

“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 E. Hunter Harrison, CP’s Chief Executive Officer. “The decision sets a dangerous precedent and is grossly unacceptable for the safe operation of a railway.” Harrison said CP has a vigorous zero-tolerance drug and alcohol program, but companies in Canada are limited under Canadian law as random drug and alcohol testing is prohibited.  

“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 in the United States are required by Federal law to perform random drug tests.