The City of Nanaimo has denied that a former senior manager was fired because of his refusal to hide his boss’ expenses, recently filed court documents show.
Brad McRae, the city’s former chief operations officer, filed a civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court this past September, accusing the city of firing him without cause.
McRae, who was fired in January, made numerous accusations against his former employer in his civil claim, alleging that he was fired because he refused to “co-operate” in covering up purchase card use by Tracy Samra, the city’s former chief administrative officer. McRae also accused Samra of telling him to deny a request from a journalist specifically seeking copies of her purchase card statements, as well as those of former chief financial officer Victor Mema.
McRae’s claim accused the city of singling him out as the one responsible for cost overruns associated with the automated garbage collection rollout, even though Samra was “aware” of the financial issues and that the city’s manager of sanitation was the person “directly responsible for the project.”
However, the city denies those allegations, according to the response to the civil claim. McRae, according to the city’s version of events, was fired with cause because he was responsible for the implementation of the automated waste collection project.
The city claims McRae breached his contract by “permitting the project to proceed in a manner which was inconsistent with the plan approved by council, including exceeding the budget.” He also wasn’t “truthful” during his explanation for why the project went over budget, according to the city’s response.
Prior to filing a civil claim against the city, McRae filed a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal earlier this year, claiming the city violated his human rights by firing him without cause following a termination hearing that he could not attend.
In the city’s response to McRae’s civil claim, it claims that the former chief operations officer had used all of his “short term sick leave benefits” and that the city had provided him with extra sick leave benefits.
McRae’s civil claim also specifically accused former city councillor Jerry Hong of libel due to comments he made to the News Bulletin in August. Hong’s comments about McRae were related to his decision to file a human rights tribunal complaint against the city.
According to the city’s response, Hong’s comments were not defamatory toward McRae, but were “fair comment on the matter of public interest,” and that they were “based on facts.”
The city claims that because Hong was an elected official at the time, his comments were of interest to the public since they were regarding “legal proceedings which were publicly known” according to court document, which also denies that Hong acted with malice when he made those comments.
John Van Horne, the city’s director of human resources, told the News Bulletin that the city will be covering Hong’s legal fees associated with the case because he was a councillor at the time and is named as a part of the overall suit.
Both Van Horne and Hong said they couldn’t comment on the case specifically. McRae declined to comment.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. McRae’s tribunal case is ongoing.