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Corner Brook councillors didn't know meeting was about firing the city manager

The way Corner Brook city council came together to discuss the termination of its city manager is not sitting well with all members.

Mayor Jim Parsons contacted councillors last Friday to inform them that they would be meeting the next day. The only information they were given on the need for the meeting was that it was to address a human resources issue.

During the Saturday meeting, a notice of motion was put forward by Deputy Mayor Bill Griffin to terminate, without cause, Melissa Wiklund’s contract.

Council will consider the motion at a council in committee meeting on June. 18. A motion to confirm the termination will be made 30 days after that.

Wiklund was placed on paid administrative leave once she was served with the notice following the meeting.   

Here’s what council members had to say on the issue.

Coun. Josh Carey

“When I received a telephone call from the mayor on Friday evening I asked what the meeting was (about) and I was informed that it was an HR issue and we would deal with it on Saturday morning.

“You have to respect the individuals that are involved when it comes to human resources issues. And with that respect in mind I have no difficulty with the manner in which the meeting proceeded.

“Council, in any decision-making process, are given a topic. We’re not always provided with all of the information and that is not unusual.

“Human resources issues should stay internal to the organization and those involved and not be played out publicly.”

Coun. Linda Chaisson

“Five-thirty Friday evening I was told to come into a meeting and when I asked what it was about the mayor told me it was an HR issue.

“When something is going to have as big an effect as this, yes maybe we should have had more information on why we were actually going and more preparation.

“The first default you get when you get a call like that is what did I do. Is this about me?

“I didn’t know.”

Coun. Tony Buckle

(Buckle was out of the country at the time and participated in the meeting by telephone)

“No, all I knew it was an HR issue.”

When asked should council have known more, Buckle said: “Not when it comes to anything that are HR issues.

“This is pretty close to everyone’s heart. This has got to do with people’s livelihood.”

Coun. Bernd Staeben

“I didn’t know anything until we got in Saturday morning.”

“Good question,” was his response to being asked should they have known more.

“The question to me is this about the process of how things happened or is it about what happened?

“And to me, that’s a big difference.

“In this particular situation, I’m not going to say anything about what happened.”

Coun. Vaughn Granter

(Responded with this statement via Facebook messenger)

“I was asked to attend a meeting on Saturday. I had no prior knowledge until Saturday morning related to the details of what the agenda items would be.

“I also did not know if any other member of council knew what was in the agenda.

“I will let the process unfold and participate as all other members of council will have to do as laid out in the official procedures of the City of Corner Brook.”

In an interview with NTV Granter said: “There shouldn’t be any delineation between what one councillor knows and what the other councillor knows. If other people knew Friday evening and had a chance to think about what might be transpiring over the weekend or in the meeting, then all councillors should have been given that opportunity.”

Deputy Mayor Bill Griffin

“We made a decision as a council that our mayor would be the spokesperson and that we would not comment in any way.

“At the end of the day it is a human resources issue and that’s private.”

Mayor Jim Parsons

“HR issues are sensitive. So, when things are brought to my attention I have to make sure that I ensure the confidentiality and the confidence of those involved.

“In terms of who knew what when, I can only speculate to a certain extent. To me it’s somewhat irrelevant.

“This is not a political issue. It’s an operational institutional issue and irrelevant to the discussion.

“There’s a lot of considerations with these things. There’s obviously the staff, there is the person involved and, really, the confidence of the institution and making sure that it was important of us to inform staff and give them reassurance. It’s important that they know before it gets out there in the media.

“This is not part of any reorganization, there is no plans for further dismissals.”

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