Spaniard's Bay council meets with Municipal Affairs

By Nicholas Mercer, The Compass
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Rally held in support of firefighter Brenda Seymour

Backers of embattled firefighter and town councillor Brenda Seymour made their presence known at the Spaniard’s Bay Municipal Building Saturday afternoon.

Brenda Seymour (right) talks to supporters in Spaniard's Bay Saturday afternoon.

Organized by the St. John’s branch of the Smash Patriarchy: An Action Team, the rally today was significantly smaller than the rally held Thursday evening in support of the former members of the town’s fire department.

Where the firefighters received support in the hundreds, today’s demonstration drew just over a dozen people. Some were from Spaniard’s Bay, but most were from outside the community.

There was a different feeling around the rally as well. Some vehicles slowed down considerably and kept a close watch on the proceedings, while a trio of snowmobiles twice passed in front of the rally despite a lack of snow on the parking lot.

The backdrop for the rally of support was a planned meeting between representatives of the Department of Municipal Affairs and the town council. Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons was also on hand for the meeting.

There was plenty of speculation around the subject of discussions, which stretched into the early afternoon.

Scheduled in early December, it was an education and guidance session set up by Municipal Affairs intended to give the council a better understanding on various issues at the municipal level — including the handling and definition of sexual harassment.

“This is a positive first step,” said Parsons moments after the meeting had concluded. “There has to be education and there has to be guidance.”

Seymour and the rest of the town have been under fire since Tuesday when 20 firefighters handed over their pagers and resigned from the department in support of former councillor Sheri Collins, who stepped away from council.

What came next was an Internet and media firestorm that has brought to light allegations from firefighter Brenda Seymour of sexual harassment and mismanagement of the department.

An instance where a pornographic film was shown at the conclusion of training seminar which Seymour attended in April 2014 is one of a number of issues that have been causing tension in the community for some time.

The situation has been brewing since November when three of Spaniard’s Bay’s seven-member council attempted to remove former fire chief Victor Hiscock via a pair of motions that were defeated. It’s put the spotlight squarely on the town and left people questioning what the next step is.

In the interim, the Bay Roberts Volunteer Fire Department is handling any emergency calls in the community.

It’s a story that has made international headlines and drawn plenty of interest on social media and in the news.

Before speaking the media, Seymour chatted with her supporters. She noted she has received phone calls from people all over the world pledging their support to her cause. There was even a 17-year-old aspiring female firefighter who is using Seymour as an inspiration going forward.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the core issue,” she said. “I want sexism like I’ve experienced to stop.”

The Spaniard’s Bay council has been on the hot seat the last number of days. Some in the community have handed around a petition calling for the council to remove Seymour from her position at the table.

“That’s a private issue and the council has nothing to do with them,” said Spaniard’s Bay Mayor Tony Menchions.

Menchions noted he thought some of the online comments were “blown out of proportion,” but committed to ensuring that changes are made wherever they need to be.

“We’re working on the policies as they come,” he said. “I’m one of many committed to the changes. It’s a long road.”

There’s no game plan or timeline for when this matter will be resolved.

“At the end of the day, when all of this has died down, we’ll be stronger and better for it,” said Menchions.

Organizations: Department of Municipal Affairs, Bay Roberts Volunteer Fire Department

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Recent comments

  • Webster
    January 24, 2016 - 19:39

    Spaniard`s Bay`s rally supporting sexual harassment in the workplace was shocking and embarrassing to our Province. Parents even used their young children. Shame!

  • Bernice
    January 24, 2016 - 17:55

    Cant believe this woman is being treated this way by the fire dept and town...these men need to grow up and get with the times...Brenda Seymour I am with you on this...dont let them beat you down

  • Linda
    January 24, 2016 - 17:11

    I wonder did this person get a chance to leave the room before the clip started? For that matter I wonder if any of the guys were given a chance to leave? I'm assuming this female has never told off-colour jokes at the firehall or in male company anywhere? Interesting...

    • Joe
      January 25, 2016 - 11:45

      As they say always a bad apple that spoils the barrel. I've heard off-color jokes, blond jokes etc. and many are offended by it. What this fellow said (or reported to have said) in the Fire-chief's office would be considered absolutely gutter by 99.9% of the people.

  • Ralph
    January 24, 2016 - 16:02

    I just wonder what the wives of these firefighters and the daughters of these firefighters think when they know one of the firemen joked about masturbating over a fellow firefighter's equipment. I hope the wife and daughters are proud of their father. The rally in support of those imbecilic men reminds me of the old adage that 'the wrong always seems to be so well organized'.

  • Political Watcher
    January 24, 2016 - 13:57

    If the Mayor and Council are unable to see the error here then they all should be removed asap.

  • James Hoover
    January 24, 2016 - 11:11

    I also don't know this woman, but would like to know why it took two years to bring this story of the porn film to light. Lost it when this part came to light. She has some explaining to do on this.

  • reality check
    January 24, 2016 - 10:39

    I've read what ever is available on both sides of this matter and it seems to come down to this- the firefighters who walked out (abandoning their posts), are not denying the allegations of sexual harrassment, but they and their supporters really seem to be saying ' so what, its not a big deal and she should just get over it'. am I wrong? they say Ms seymour is this and she's that...sounds like she is ambitous and dedicated but they interpret that as aggressive and coniving. even if she were those things, that does not excuse casual (or otherwise) sexism and sexual harrassment in the workplace. its time to move into the 21st century b'ys. grow up.

  • james
    January 24, 2016 - 09:54

    Still a man,s world in Newfoundland PATHETIC

  • g b
    g b
    January 24, 2016 - 09:06

    It take brave people in situations like this to stand up and take a stand . Its a small community and these people will pay a price for doing so . Even though some people in positions of power and in the general community may try to make life miserable for you realize that you stand out like a beacon of light and hope to the people who are less brave. Let'em slow down in their cars and waste their gas as much as they want!

  • Bill
    January 24, 2016 - 06:55

    "Menchions noted he thought some of the online comments were “blown out of proportion,” but committed to ensuring that changes are made wherever they need to be." This is a leadership issue. Mayor Menchions is the leader. The fact that after all of this his assessment is that some things are out of proportion and that change is not warranted everywhere illustrates that the leadership will continue to perpertrate the harrassment of Ms. Seymour.

    • Wallabanger
      January 24, 2016 - 09:07

      Agreed Bill, the problems 'usually' stem from the top and trickles down, if the 'Leader' exercises a laxy dazy approach, well then others are quick to jump on board. If this leader cannot exercise professionalism and handle all of this with a 'no tolerate' approach, well it's obvious who needs to step down along with the other 'not so professional' people that have already stepped down! This situation has made Spaniard's Bay the laughing stock of the planet - it's an absolute embarrassment how this poor woman is being treated this day in age. In a small community, usually everyone knows everyone's business - it's ridiculous, and I can assure you I am so glad neither one of the those 'firemen' are my father or husband - I would be disgusted! I love a good laugh, and can tolerate a bit of dirt in good spirit - but boys there's a time and a place and it obviously wasn't the time or place when you heroes decided to show the video or talk the dirt to the extent that you did. Classy, not at all, I don't know if it was everyone at the meeting (firemen) but one of them (excluding the chief) because it's fairly obvious a backbone is not present it's a wonder he can stand upright?? To watch the news the other day, was an absolute disgrace, all the bystanders (mostly men) were almost bowing down to him - the mentalities shining through were pretty evident - disgusting - these men are setting a pretty bad example for their kids/lack of respect for the spouses and to have kids at this rally - disgusting - what do they know or understand about all of this - and better still, why do they need to be exposed to such disgrace?

    • Taxpayer
      January 24, 2016 - 17:09

      Change is warranted everywhere? Is that not blowing things out of proportion?

    January 23, 2016 - 20:14


  • Dianne Barker
    January 23, 2016 - 19:49

    I don't know any people on either side but I tell you if this woman was the most hateful female on the planet it would still not be okay to treat her with such disrespect. These people are living in the dark ages if they do not know that sexual harassment is NOT okay. Shame on them for teaching their children that their actions and words are acceptable

    • OMG
      January 24, 2016 - 09:07

      Seems to me that this problem could have been done with if Menchions hadn't cast the deciding vote to keep Hiscock on as fire chief. The people of Spaniard's Bay don't get it... they have just told every little girl in their community that they should put up and shut up with regard to sexual harassment. OMG I am getting flashbacks to 1970. Shame on you for forgetting!