Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Spaniard's Bay Council Apologizes to Female Firefighter for Sexual Harassment

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Spaniard's Bay Council Apologizes to Female Firefighter for Sexual Harassment

Article excerpt

Town apologizes to firefighter for harassment

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A Newfoundland and Labrador town that made international headlines over sexual harassment allegations apologized Tuesday to its only female firefighter, attempting to put the ugly dispute behind it.

"We've got to pick ourselves up out of the ashes," said Tony Menchions, mayor of Spaniard's Bay in southeastern Newfoundland.

"We've got a lot of rebuilding to do."

A news release Tuesday signed by Menchions apologized to firefighter Brenda Seymour. She is also a town councillor.

"We do not condone nor tolerate any such behaviour," said the statement. "As a council, we have adopted a zero tolerance policy on harassment of any kind and shall ensure that all town workers and volunteers operate in a safe, respectful and inclusive environment."

In an interview, Menchions paused when asked if the town could have handled the matter differently before long-simmering tensions blew up.

"Hindsight is a great thing," he said. "If there's things we could have done differently in the past, possibly, but we are where we are. We have to move forward."

Seymour unleashed an uproar this month with harassment allegations that included pornography shown during firefighter training almost two years ago.

The Bay de Grave Regional Fire Services Board confirmed Monday that Bay de Grave regional fire chief Jeremy Hall had been replaced. He was removed as chief and as a provincially approved safety trainer in connection with an explicit porn clip shown at the end of a 2014 session for volunteer firefighters in nearby Spaniard's Bay.

It was one of several alleged incidents Seymour publicly described of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Growing internal rancour peaked last week as most of the volunteer fire brigade resigned in support of its council liaison, who also quit. It was all part of a rift that has split the town of 2,700 people.

Spaniard's Bay is now accepting applications from past and present members to rebuild its fire service from scratch, Menchions said. …

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