Nfld. & Labrador

Volunteer firefighters resign over election rules

Members of the volunteer fire department in the Port au Port resigned en masse this week to show support for one of their own who was not going to be able to run for mayor in the upcoming municipal election.
Michael McCann, the Port au Port fire department's liaison to the town, says he was surprised at the show of support from his fellow firefighters. (CBC)

Members of the volunteer fire department in Port au Port East resigned en masse this week to show support for one of their own.

Michael McCann, the fire department's deputy chief and liaison to the town, wanted to run for mayor. But residents do not elect their mayor in Port au Port East. Instead, the five elected council members make the choice, a process that's been in place for about 60 years.

McCann wanted to change that system, but when council wouldn't change its stance, his fellow firefighters resigned in protest.

"I'd like the people to have the ability to vote for mayor every election, not just this one — every election," McCann said. "It keeps everybody in check."

He said the support from the firefighters was overwhelming.

"They all came in and said, 'We're done. If you're not going to be there, we're not going to be there,' " McCann said.

"It was very heartfelt and it still gives me chills, really."

He didn't enter his name before the nomination deadline on Thursday night, and the five people who did offer for council were acclaimed. The council will elect a mayor Tuesday night.

For now, there is no volunteer fire department in the town, so the Kippens volunteer department will fill the void.

McCann said if there's a fire in his town, the local department would not respond.