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Excerpts from Humboldt Broncos crash statement of facts

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An agreed statement of facts detailing events leading to the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus crash has been obtained by CBC. This is a preliminary version, which has yet to be presented in court, in the sentencing of Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and injury.

Just before 5 p.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018, Sidhu was driving a transport truck, pulling two trailers filled with bags of peat moss, west on Highway 335. The Broncos’ team bus was travelling north on Highway 35 on its way to a playoff hockey game when the two vehicles crashed at the highways’ intersection.

Sixteen people — a majority members of the junior hockey team — died as a result of the crash, while 13 were injured.

No stopping, no distractions

According to the statement, Sidhu was travelling at a speed of 86 to 96 km/hr, west on Highway 335, at the point of impact. 

The road conditions and weather conditions were fine for safe driving, and the intersection was clearly visible to him. The trees at the corner of the intersection would not have stopped Sidhu from seeing the approaching bus if he had stopped at the stop sign, according to the statement.

« The relevant stop sign was an ‘oversized’ stop sign; it was 4 feet in diameter, » reads the statement.

The sign was affixed to a light standard that also had a red traffic light, that flashed once per second as a warning to drivers.

Pictured is the intersection where the crash occurred. Originally, there was concern the trees may have obstructed a semi driver’s ability to see a bus coming toward the intersection. According to a statement of facts, the trees would have not proved an obstruction if the semi driver had stopped at the stop sign. (CBC )

Collision unavoidable for bus driver

The bus driver, Glen Doerksen, applied the brakes to the bus and started to skid, about 24 metres before the point of impact. The bus was travelling at a speed of 96 to 107 km/h at the time of the crash.

The truck was completely in the intersection and spanning all lanes of Highway 35 when the bus hit the semi in a T-bone fashion, just forward of the wheels on the lead trailer.

« There was no way that Glen Doerksen, the bus driver, could have avoided the collision, » the statement said.

The statement of facts put the responsibility of the crash fully on Sidhu, saying Doerksen recognized the hazard early and tried to avoid the crash.

« The driver of the semi-tractor unit failed to recognize the hazard and took minimal or no action in an effort to avoid the collision, » it stated, noting that alcohol and drugs were not a factor, and that Sidhu was not believed to have been distracted by his cellphone at the time of the crash.

The Crown did submit that violations in Sidhu’s logbook and trip inspection reports constituted an aggravating factor. 

Sidhu has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Sentencing for Sidhu is scheduled to begin Jan. 28 in Melfort, Sask.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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