Sudbury

Firefighters union accuses Sudbury city councillor of conflict of interest

The Sudbury firefighters association is accusing a city councillor of conflict of interest and calling for him to resign as chair of the emergency services committee. But Rene Lapierre says he has done nothing wrong.

Also raise questions about councillor's son getting summer job in fire deparment

Greater Sudbury Ward 6 city councillor Rene Lapierre (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

The Sudbury firefighters association is accusing a city councillor of conflict of interest and calling for him to resign as chair of the emergency services committee.

But Rene Lapierre says he has done nothing wrong.

The firefighters association is primarily concerned about the councillor for Hanmer and Val Therese's day job, as coordinator of the paramedic program at College Boreal.

Incoming president Kris Volpel says he should declare a conflict whenever firefighter and paramedic issues are discussed at city council and and should step away from the new emergency services committee. 
Kris Volpel is the incoming president of the Sudbury Professional Firefighters Association. (Kris Volpel)

Volpel is also troubled by e-mails obtained through freedom of information requests, in which Lapierre asks city staff about upcoming provincial consultation on firefighters taking on more medical duties, normally associated with paramedics.

"Just making sure this is not part of your plans," Lapierre writes to Trevor Bain, the chief of fire and paramedic services.

"It seems to me that there's an influence here that is just inappropriate," says Volpel. 

"And I believe it clearly demonstrates a conflict."

Done nothing wrong, says councillor

Lapierre says the association is misunderstanding his intentions.

He says in that e-mail he wasn't trying to influence staff, just trying to clarify the plans for reforming the emergency services department, including how many firefighters and paramedics the city needs and the balance between full-time and volunteer fire stations.

"Right now, I'm just trying to understand whether that's on the radar or not," says Lapierre, who worked for the city as a paramedic before being elected to council.

As for his work training new paramedics, Lapierre says it's not a conflict because he doesn't have any direct influence over who gets hired.

"I don't think that makes any kind of difference whatsoever," he says.

Councillor says son got city job on his own

Lapierre's son is actually employed by the fire department, working as a student labourer the past two summers.

"I couldn't comment on that at all," says Volpel.

"I'm not sure that the type of inappropriate influence behind the scenes that we're seeing in these e-mails carried over to securing his son's employment."

Lapierre says he can understand why some might assume that he helped get his son that job, but says it is not true.

"He applied like everyone else. I had absolutely nothing to do with it," says Lapierre.

Lapierre says he'd be happy to discuss these concerns with the firefighter's association, but says they have yet to contact him.

With files from Erik White. Edited/packaged by Casey Stranges

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