Chris Walker, the former Chief of the Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department, who was dismissed in June, has filed a lawsuit.
According to Walker’s lawyer Chris Siver, a defamation suit has been filed against Mayor Shirley Ackland, Town Administrator Sue Harvey and the Town. As reported in the Gazette, on June 29 Walker received a termination letter. The letter, signed by Mayor Ackland, cites the reason for dismissal as “a personal relationship with a female member of the volunteer fire department,” which was in violation of the Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department’s Code of Ethics, items #2, 3 and 4, which Siver maintains “was adopted post-dismissal”.
There is a Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia Code of Ethics, said Siven, which states a chief must: #2 Maintain the highest standards of personal integrity and ethical business conduct, be honest and straightforward in dealings with others, and avoid conflicts of interest; #3 Not compromise the integrity or reputation of the Association; and #4 Not condone unethical actions or the appearance of unethical actions by other members of the Association. A July 3 statement from the Town of Port McNeill acknowledged Walker’s dedication over the last 17 years, and went on to say that he was removed from his position because he “breached their trust.” It also says the town insists all firefighters act in a respectful and positive manner, and that the Fire Chief’s conduct must “be ethical and beyond reproach.”
The claims against Mayor Ackland involve “her attempt to use her office to interfere in Walker’s employment,” said Siver.
“Walker remains in the dark as to why he was dismissed as he has never been provided with any specifics of any allegation nor was he afforded the opportunity to defend himself from these unknown allegations,” said Siver.
“Walker is hopeful the court process will not only bring to light the process and reason for his dismissal and restore his reputation but also allow him and his family to move forward with their lives,” said Siver. Ackland and Harvey could not be reached for comment by press time.