CAO not told why he was fired

Mark Brick­ell was sus­pended af­ter de­fend­ing NPCA

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - GRANT LAFLECHE AL­LAN BENNER

Mark Brick­ell’s lawyer says his client doesn’t know why he was fired from his job at the Ni­a­gara Penin­sula Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity.

Stephen Moreau, a lawyer with the Toronto firm Caval­lu­zoo

LLP, said Brick­ell was ter­mi­nated as the NPCA chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Thurs­day evening in writ­ing.

“At no time was my client given in­for­ma­tion as to why he was be­ing or had been sus­pended or as to why he was be­ing ter­mi­nated.

“His ter­mi­na­tion was in writ­ing but no rea­sons for same were given,” said Moreau in a state­ment.

Mean­while, in­com­ing board mem­bers are ques­tion­ing whether the for­mer board had the le­gal au­thor­ity to fire any­one.

“Our by­laws are very clear. They (coun­cil­lors) were only ap­pointed un­til the end of Novem­ber, so a De­cem­ber meet­ing should be null and void,” said St. Catharines re­gional coun­cil­lor and in­com­ing in­terim NPCA board mem­ber Brian Heit.

The de­ci­sion to fire Brick­ell may have hap­pened af­ter Ni­a­gara re­gional coun­cil voted to re­place ev­ery Ni­a­gara mem­ber of the NPCA board with an in­terim group of coun­cil­lors.

Us­ing the au­thor­ity granted it un­der the Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­i­ties Act, re­gional coun­cil voted to re­place all 12 of the Ni­a­gara NPCA board mem­bers at 5 p.m. Thurs­day.

At 6:12 p.m. NPCA staff re­ceived an email from the agency’s hu­man re­sources depart­ment warn­ing them not to speak to Brick­ell.

“Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, Mark Brick­ell is no longer em­ployed at the NPCA. Please re­frain from any cor­re­spon­dence with him. An an­nounce­ment from com­mu­ni­ca­tions will fol­low shortly,” the email read.

At 6:18 p.m. the NPCA is­sued a press re­lease say­ing NPCA clerk Lisa McManus, who has no se­nior lead­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence, had been named the in­terim CAO.

McManus did not re­spond to in­ter­view re­quests Fri­day.

NPCA spokesman Michael Re­les said the is­sue is a hu­man re­sources mat­ter he can­not dis­cuss. He did not an­swer ques­tions about the tim­ing of Brick­ell’s de­par­ture or the au­thor­ity of the pre­vi­ous board.

In an email to The Stan­dard, NPCA act­ing chair James Kasper­setz of Hamilton said Brick­ell was the CAO un­til 5 p.m. Thurs­day, Dec. 6.

Brick­ell was sus­pended with pay on Nov. 28, two days af­ter he de­fended the NPCA be­fore St. Catharines city coun­cil­lors de­bat­ing a mo­tion to ask the prov­ince to ap­point a su­per­vi­sor to over­see the agency.

Brick­ell told coun­cil­lors that a su­per­vi­sor was un­nec­es­sary and that leg­is­la­tion doesn’t al­low for a su­per­vi­sor.

He also said the NPCA was putting its trou­bled house in or­der.

“We have reached a new point of sta­bil­ity. My staff have said what they’re look­ing for is cer­tainty, they don’t want to go through the stuff that they’ve been go­ing through.

“It’s time for the pol­i­tics to quiet down and let us just do the good work we do.”

City coun­cil called on Queen’s Park to cre­ate the abil­ity of the en­vi­ron­ment min­istry to ap­point a su­per­vi­sor.

Wel­land re­gional Coun. Pat Chioc­chio, who was ap­pointed as Wel­land’s NPCA rep­re­sen­ta­tive, hopes to dis­cuss the is­sues on Dec. 12, the next sched­uled au­thor­ity meet­ing.

“It dis­turbs me that it hap­pened that way.

“It should have been left to this present board or the fol­low­ing board to de­cide on how we move for­ward with staffing and the CAO po­si­tion,” said Chioc­chio who wants to know about any sev­er­ance paid to Brick­ell.

Port Col­borne Mayor Bill Steele said the for­mer board should have taken a step back and let the in­com­ing board de­cide labour is­sues.

Brick­ell’s ten­ure as CAO was marked by some labour strife within the NPCA and a highly crit­i­cal Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port.

The On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union filed nine griev­ances against the NPCA and Brick­ell, largely cen­tred around the fir­ing of sev­eral front line em­ploy­ees. OPSEU pres­i­dent Smokey Thomas said Fri­day that eight of the nine griev­ances had been re­solved and one was go­ing to ar­bi­tra­tion.

It is not clear if any of the griev­ances played a role in Brick­ell’s fir­ing.

NPCA CAO Mark Brick­ell

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