Thursday, October 4, 2012
Just left the Crowsnest Ratepayers meeting at a packed Hillcrest Miner's Club at which MLA Pat Stier attended, along with the Captain of the Hillcrest Fire Department Jerry Newman who brought everybody up to date as to the real reason Jamie Margetak was fired, and what he and his fellow firefighters in both Hillcrest and Bellevue plan on doing about it.
First of all, it turns out Jamie was fired for a bogus reason. For moving a desk and other personal belongings from the office he occupied for many years to another section of the Blairmore Fire Department, after his office was 'commandeered' by the newly hired fire chief. Apparently, administration felt those items should have stayed in his old office and took this as a case of insubordination deserving of his being terminated, after faithfully serving this community for 34 years, on a volunteer basis.
Jerry Newman told us further that as a result of what transpired his fellow firefighters will be turning in their pagers en masse at 7 p.m. (as what the Coleman firefighters did yesterday) this evening in front of municipal hall. Unless, Jamie Margetak is reinstated to his former position along with a letter of apology.
In the meantime, the Ratepayers Association, by a unanimous show of hands, elected to bring their concerns, effective today, for how this municipality is being managed to the attention of Municipal Affairs. In addition, and irregardless of whether the firefighters walk or not, to go ahead with a petition to have the Mayor and CAO removed from office. As well, a letter calling for these peoples immediate resignation will be given to them today.
This afternoon, starting at 2 p.m., there will be a protest march in front of municipal hall. People are encouraged to show up with banners and placards in hand to show their support.
Media who were on-hand at this meeting are aware of all the above and will be covering this protest this afternoon, as well. Also, I have just been contacted by way of email by CBC Radio... "Just wanted to get in touch with you in regards to the fire department situation in the Crowsnest - I've been reading your blog, and you seem to be plugged in to the issue"... and will be responding to them immediately after this post.
The time has come to say enough is enough!
Well over 100 people showed up (many with signs) for what had to be the biggest protest this community has seen since the forties, when proud socialist hordes marched down Tim Buck Ave. in solidarity and support for the working man. :-)
Bill Kovach had a brief meeting with mayor and council, and administration, when we left our protest at municipal hall to go up to MDM where these guys were hiding out (kidding, new carpets were being installed at the municipal hall so they were doing their business here). He told them we were asking for their resignation, a petition was in the works, and that Municipal Affairs had been informed as to what was going on here. Mayor and council agreed to a meeting of a delegation from our group, which will be taking place this Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.
Another protest gathering is planned for this evening at Municipal Hall for 7 p.m. as a show of solidarity, when it is anticipated the Hillcrest and Bellevue firefighters will be handing in their pagers.
The Ratepayers executive and myself met with dozens and dozens of firefighters at the Bellevue Fire Hall this evening at which time Jerry Newman made it clear that he and his fellow firefighters at the Bellevue and Hillcrest fire halls will be turning in their pagers in protest for the dismissal of the Blairmore fire chief Jamie Margetak, much as what firefighters at the Blairmore and Coleman Fire Halls have already done. “We are not quitting, we are not giving up on the community,” said Hillcrest fire chief Jerry Newman. “We’re just taking ourselves out of service until the situation is resolved."
In the meantime, they will be providing a skeleton crew to ensure the public does indeed continue to have fire protection, and in this regard, some firefighter pagers will remain active.
When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.