Can employees organize the visit of a high-profile personality to the workplace without following protocol?
Such was the case with the visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
to one of Winnipeg’s busiest fire halls during a cross-Canada tour in July.
The incident is now being treated as an HR issue, CBC
News reports, especially since it was revealed two fire response vehicles were put on out-of-service status – meaning they could not be dispatched in the event of a call – around the time of the visit.
Trudeau and federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr visited Osborne Village fire hall and spoke with union officials from the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg and on-duty firefighters.
City officials and the fire chief, however, were not made aware of this until after the fact.
UFFW president Alex Forrest did not follow the rules when he organized the event, said the city’s chief corporate services officer, Michael Jack.
"We would expect Alex, who completely understands how the fire paramedic service works, to have followed proper protocols and processes. Fair to say he did not in this instance," said Jack.
A city spokesperson also confirmed the unavailability of two vehicles for two hours but did not say whether this was related to the prime minister’s visit.
News requested information on organizing an event with the head of government, but there were no records – emails and text messages – from the staff present at the time.
Officials of other cities, like Regina, that hosted an event with the prime minister were all notified and involved in the planning process, CBC
Mayor Brian Bowman welcomed the prime minister’s visit but questioned the process followed in arranging it. He has also not said anything about firefighters and apparatus being made unavailable during Trudeau’s visit.
In his defence, Forrest wrote: "It is absolutely vital that our decision-makers understand the services and value we provide to the city we proudly serve.
“We believe this is the first time the Prime Minister of Canada has visited a Winnipeg fire station to say ‘thank you’ to the brave men and women of the Winnipeg Fire Department in its 135 year history. This visit is something every citizen of Winnipeg should be proud of.”
Forrest also questioned the wisdom of the criticism. “When we have so many other important issues in Winnipeg such as a opioid overdoses, homelessness, poverty, arson, and the number of fires in general causing devastation for those affected, is this really a major issue for the media and public to be concerned about?”
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