Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fired for what?

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THERE is a legitimate reason why taxpayers want to know something more of the dismissal this week of fire-paramedic chief Reid Douglas, a man in the eye of the storm over the mangled handling of the city's construction of four fire stations. They pay his salary, and want to know if it was well spent or whether they, now, are paying for a severance reached make Mr. Douglas leave quietly.

If Mr. Douglas was fired for cause, there need be no settlement. That would require a solid case. If there was no solid case, the howls of "scapegoat" may be justified: Mr. Douglas's firing comes days before the release of an external audit of the fire station affair, which also caught up senior city managers.

The city has said only that the job termination had nothing to do with the audit. That is unsatisfactory. A better explanation would make clear whether he was fired for poor performance of duties or for reasons of personal conduct or some other cause.

The city says it doesn't comment on personnel matters but that is a convenient way for senior management to sidestep scrutiny for their decision in a controversial case. Settlements are typically sealed with a commitment to non-disclosure and Mr. Douglas is not talking, as yet. If there is such a settlement, Winnipeggers should be told now. It may reflect upon the findings of the external audit when it is released in coming weeks.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 27, 2013 A14

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