Leduc firefighter resigns in scathing speech in front of city council

In a passionate and poignant speech in front of Leduc city councilors Monday night, Megan Wright ended the seven year career she had grown up dreaming of.

The firefighter and paramedic stood up and offered her resignation from Leduc Fire Services over harassment allegations she and at least two other female firefighters have publicly made.

“I thought, if I stood up and spoke about what was happening around me, people would listen. There would be meaningful change,” Wright told councilors.

She said that over her time with the service, she brought her allegations of sexual misconduct to superiors. She said those complaints were not realized.

“[I thought] if HR, the protective services manager, the city manager knew what was going on, they would do something. They would intervene as it goes against the mission, vision and values ​​of the City of Leduc. I was met with interrogation, not support.”

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Wright’s resignation comes weeks after Leduc Fire Services Chief George Clancy resigned.

Before that, two female firefighters were named in a lawsuit against the City of Leduc levying similar allegations of harassment, bullying, discrimination and abuse. The lawsuit does not identify by name the persons alleged to have perpetrated the harassment, bullying or abuse.

The allegations made in the lawsuit and by Wright have not been proven in court and the City of Leduc has not filed a statement of defence.

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At the end of her emotional 11-minute speech, Wright held up her first responder badge.

“When I received this badge, I was full of pride. Now when I look at it, all it is is a symbol of my trauma and a symbol of an unsafe workplace.”

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Wright left that badge with city council Monday.

“I hope that you use it as a reminder of your responsibility to the public and to the City of Leduc employees.”

On Tuesday, Wright told Global News her speech and resignation lead to the best sleep she has had in years.

“It felt amazing to say that to those people and then just leave.”

Former city councilors weigh in

Dana Smith served on Leduc city council from 2004 until 2017.

While the firefighters say they made complaints to t

heir superiors during that time, Smith told Global News she was never aware of the allegations.

“One of the words I use is I’m gobsmacked.”

In 2021, Leduc city administration commissioned a third party report into the allegations. That was delivered in its entirety to the city in January but still has not been made available to city council.

“This is not the city that I thought I was working for.”

Smith believes the funded taxpayer report should go to council as it contains recommendations for improving Leduc Fire Services and preventing similar allegations from ever happening.

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She said while the staff at the city are incredible and the city is well served, there needs to be more transparency.

Smith called the women who have come forward “heroes” and called on the city to act on the recommendations and to publicly apologize.

“The staff are watching. And they are waiting to see what will happen.”

In an open letter sent to the local newspaper, Dave MacKenzie, another former City of Leduc councilor echoed Smith’s thoughts.

The letter obtained by Global News prior to distribution states, “If sexual impropriety or abuse can have even the possibility of arising in such a reputable organization, it can clearly happen anywhere.” MacKenzie urged any and all organizations to double-check their own policies, processes and their physical environment to eliminate all possibility of abuse.

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Council orders new review

Leduc Mayor Bob Young told Global News “this isn’t an easy time for us.”

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Young said he was shocked and saddened by Wright’s resignation Monday.

He also admitted the city needed to work to be more transparent about the situation but said there was only so much he and the city could disclose.

“The employee privacy legislation, and when it goes before the courts, it really makes this difficult for us to really comment on anything,” explained Young.

Young admitted city council has not received the third-party report but said administration has updated council multiple times on the situation.

He said he will not push for it to be released as it focuses on incidents of the past.

“I don’t think the report is important for for council. I think at the end of the day, I want… we have to do better.”

Instead, he said he was committed to making the city a safe place to work.

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson wrote “disciplinary action that balances an appropriate penalty against the level of misconduct has taken place.”

Exactly what action was taken was not disclosed. Two members did leave the service last week but the city will not say whether they were fired or if they resigned.

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The city also said it was ordering a new review.

“An external firm is being secured to conduct a top-to-bottom culture review of the organization and to create an action plan to ensure holistic culture change,” the spokesperson wrote.

When asked how that review would differ from the unreleased report, the spokesperson said the report was to deal with specific allegations while the new review would look at the organization as a whole.

“You’re going to see is that our administration is going to bring some recommendations forward and we’re going to announce the steps that we’re taking,” explained Mayor Young.

He did not say whether the recommendations from the third-party report would be implemented.

Wright does want the third-party report released and for the recommendations to be put in place.

“This is about meaningful change. And for them to take responsibility for what has happened and to say sorry,” she said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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