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Vanderhoof to go before Human Rights Tribunal this summer

The BC Human Rights Tribunal will hear a case between the District of Vanderhoof and their former Economic Development Coordinator.

Erin Siemens, who has also filed a civil claim in BC Supreme Court, has lodged a complaint with the Tribunal alleging she was fired due to her political beliefs.

She says her personal relationship with former mayoral candidate Jessi Wilson drew so much ire from Mayor Gerry Thiessen and his Councillors that they eliminated her position within the District, terminating her in January 2015.

Siemens alleges that during her termination meeting the the District CAO, (Evan Parliament at the time) told her “these seven men’s egos can’t accept what happened” and that the “optics” were just not right, referring to the fact that Siemens appeared with Wilson at public events leading up to the election in 2014.

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The District of Vanderhoof attempted to have the complaint thrown out on the grounds that the Mayor and Council were not even aware of Siemens political affiliation and were simply restructuring the District in response to a slowing resource economy.

They also stated that recently hired CAO Evan Parliament’s economic development experience made Siemens’ position redundant. Parliament has since left the District and former community development director Tom Clement has moved into the position.

In his reply to the application for dismissal, Tribunal Chair Bernd Walter stated the District “provided no document trail which would allow me to clearly conclude when the District’s restructuring strategy was planned or implemented”

“In my view, on the basis of all the materials filed, Ms. Siemens’ complaint rises well above speculation or conjecture. I am left unable to conclude the complaint has no reasonable prospect of success.” Walter stated.

The hearing is scheduled for June 20-24th, 28-30th and July 4-5th at a location to be determined.

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