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Post subject: Fire hall homophobia 'intolerable' sez BC firefighter  PostPosted: Apr 11, 2007 - 12:05 PM

Joined: Sep 06, 2006
Posts: 1195
Location: Valhalla Mountains, British Columbia, Canada
(Pemberton, BC) A gay Pemberton councillor who works as an on-call firefighter has complained to the human rights tribunal that the local fire chief has repeated homophobic jokes and made the work environment intolerable.

David MacKenzie said he felt he had no choice but to take his complaint to the provincial body in January after the alleged misconduct of Chief Russell Mack. "It is based on a joke that is said continually in my presence over the last couple of years," MacKenzie said Tuesday, adding that he has numerous witnesses who have heard the joke. "The culture that is there is ridiculous."


MacKenzie, who heads the local tourism board and is the general manager of the Pemberton Valley Lodge, said it was not an easy decision to file the complaint and go public with it. "To live in a small community and put it really out there in the media, 'Hey I am a gay man,' it is really unfair to me," he said.

MacKenzie said in his complaint that he has been passed over for a temporary "acting chief" position, which he thinks is because of anti-gay bias.

"I have been told by others in the fire department that the chief has said, 'I would not want someone like that in an officer's position,'" MacKenzie's complaint states. And it says that Mack's offensive remarks have been "made while several firefighters were in attendance and it made me feel extremely uncomfortable."

The tribunal confirmed in a March 21 letter that it has accepted MacKenzie's complaint on the basis of discrimination based on sexual orientation, meaning it would either go to a hearing or mediation.


Mack, who has been with the Pemberton fire department for about a decade, is out of the country on vacation. He was formerly with the Richmond department, which became embroiled in controversy last year when a female former firefighter went to court alleging discrimination there.

MacKenzie said he talked to people he worked with informally about his concerns, but the municipality did not have a formal mechanism in place to deal with harassment complaints.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy says the village just became aware of the complaint, and is now putting a complaint process in place. Gee... 'bout time, I'd say.

"The dignity of an animal is measured by his capacity to revolt in the face of oppression." -- Mikhail Bakunin
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