Former bylaw supervisor breaks silence on firing

by Sidney Cohen - April 17, 2018

A former supervisory constable at municipal enforcement is breaking the silence about his alleged wrongful dismissal in 2012, which resulted in a $140,000 settlement paid out by the city.

In accordance with the settlement, Doug Norrad was barred from talking about the terms of the agreement and from making any negative comments about his former employer and superiors in the city’s department of Public Safety.

Doug Norrad a former supervisory constable at MED, sued the city for alleged wrongful dismissal after he was fired in 2012. A $140,000 settlement was reached out of court. Sidney Cohen/NNSL photo

Now Norrad is speaking up — contravening his deal with the city — largely because he has lost confidence in the inquiry into allegations of workplace misconduct at the MED.

In limiting the inquiry’s scope to allegations made in 2014, Norrad says the city is ignoring the mistreatment he endured in 2011 and 2012, and the experiences of several other former officers who came out to the press with allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying at MED dating back to the early 2000s.

Norrad also said he recently received confirmation from the senior administrative officer, Sheila Bassi-Kellett, that the city would not sue him for speaking about the settlement to friends and family.

Going public with his story is a risk Norrad is willing to take.

“They’ve taken everything from me,” he said of the city.

“Even if they get a judgment, there is absolutely nothing they’re going to collect on. I’ll work under the table for the rest of my life if I have to.”

Norrad worked as a constable and a supervisor at MED from 1999 until November of 2012.

‘Living beyond his means’

He said up until 2011, he and his manager Doug Gillard were close friends.

Norrad said he learned in 2011 that Gillard had accused him of stealing up to $30,000 a year from city parking meters and bus fares.

According to RCMP documents obtained by Yellowknifer, Gillard told investigators that Norrad appeared to be “living beyond his means.”

Gillard stated on a salary of $85,000, Norrad was buying a brand new vehicle every year or two, paying a monthly mortgage of around $1,500, and travelling to Mexico a few times a year.

Norrad had “snowmobile’s (sic), quads and other toys,” stated Gillard, and he took Norrad’s explanation — that he had some inheritance money — to be “false and misleading.”

The RCMP investigated and determined that Norrad was innocent.

Indeed, police could find no evidence that a crime had actually been committed.

The investigation caused Norrad significant stress, and he talked about the situation with three of his officers in October 2012, even though he was instructed not to do so by the city.

“They can’t stop me talking about (the RCMP investigation), because this is something that happened to me personally … It had nothing to do with my employment,” said Norrad.

The investigation affected his personal life and in Norrad’s view, discussing the matter with colleagues was no different than talking about a breakup, or the death of a loved one.

“We all spoke as a family, as a brotherhood,” he said.

Discussing the RCMP investigation with colleagues after being warned against doing so was one justification Gillard gave for firing Norrad.

In Norrad’s letter of termination, obtained by Yellowknifer, Gillard wrote that Norrad threatened to have his co-workers fired for insubordination if they told anyone about the conversation involving the RCMP investigation.

Norrad said he had a “generic conversation” with his officers about the investigation and denies threatening them.

Shayne Pierson, one of the former MED officers Norrad spoke to about the RCMP investigation, did not recall feeling threatened by Norrad.

“I just remember more of just a venting in the back office,” Pierson said on Monday.

Pierson made a formal complaint against MED management after he was fired by the city in 2014, in which he alleged Gillard rubbed spit on officers’ sunglasses, hit officers in the groin, bullied MED staff and made sexual comments about women who worked at the city.

The allegations contained in Pierson’s complaint, and the manner in which his complaint was handled, are focal points of the city’s inquiry.

Norrad’s letter of termination included other reasons for his firing.

One is that Norrad had already been given a last-chance letter of discipline arising from a separate incident in which Norrad was accused of accessing a subordinate’s email without permission, and being “untruthful” about it.

Norrad denies going into another officer’s email.

The other reason had to do with an incident that occurred nine days before his firing on Nov. 26, 2012, at the Santa Claus Parade.

Norrad was accused of assault after allegedly trying to pull a seat-belted woman from her vehicle while her two grandchildren were in the car.

After two RCMP investigations, the Crown prosecution’s office determined in July of 2013 that it would not lay charges.

Dennis Marchiori, the city’s director of public safety, told Yellowknifer in February, 2013, that “the RCMP confirmed with us earlier this year, I believe it was in mid-January, that the officer involved (Norrad) was cleared of any wrong-doing.”

He told the reporter that Norrad was no longer employed by the city but that his departure was unrelated to the incident at the Santa Clause Parade.

In Norrad’s termination letter however, Gillard writes: “We also have concerns with respect to the incident at the parade on November 17th which upon further investigation may give cause for termination.”

Well before the RCMP concluded its investigation, said Norrad, “Mr. Gillard (had) already deemed me guilty.”

Norrad said because he was on a management contract, he wasn’t part of the Union of Northern Workers, which represents city employees.

“I’m sure the union would have fought this tooth and nail,” he said.

Norrad sued the city for alleged wrongful dismissal and in 2015, the city settled with him out of court.

Recordings of sworn statements by two former MED officers, gathered in 2014 as part of Norrad’s lawsuit, contained allegations that Gillard used city security cameras to look at women.

On July 2, 2015, Jonathan Rossall, the city’s lawyer, sent a letter to Alan Regel, Norrad’s lawyer, about Norrad’s dismissal suit.

In it, Rossall writes that he sees “strong evidence to justify the termination, none of which relating to the RCMP investigation into the alleged theft of coins.”

However, Rossall adds, “clearly matters relating to the allegation and investigation of theft could have been handled differently by the City and, in retrospect, had an apology been issued to your client, perhaps we would not be having this conversation.”

Rossall states that in the interest of putting the matter to rest, the city is prepared to settle.

On August 20, 2015, Norrad and the city, which denied liability in his firing, signed a $140,000 settlement.

Yellowknifer asked city administration and Gillard to respond to a number of questions relating to Norrad’s lawsuit and the unfounded claim that Norrad stole meter change and bus fare.

City declines to comment

In an email Tuesday, Kerry Penney, the city’s director of Policy, Communications and Economic Development stated, “It is inappropriate for the City to comment on personnel matters or legal files.”

After paying legal fees, money owed to Revenue Canada and other debts, and reimbursing friends who loaned him cash during that time, Norrad said he didn’t see a penny of the cheque cut by the city.

“In the end it was almost $450,000 is what I lost over everything,” he said. “I have $21,000 in debt and it climbs with interest.”

Norrad said his life has spiralled downward after being fired.

“Lost the house, the truck, the boat … the Ski-Doos, pension’s gone, RRSP’s gone, investments are gone — those are all used up because I couldn’t get the employment for two years and was still paying legal fees,” he said.

Beyond losing his assets, Norrad said his relationships with friends and family suffered, he couldn’t get work in his field, and he fell into a deep depression.

“Losing the house was probably the rock-bottom moment for me,” he said.

“I’m not going to deny that suicidal thoughts were there.”

Apart from a two-and-a-half year stint with Konge Construction, the contracting company owned by city councillor Niels Konge, Norrad has been out of work since he lost his job at MED more than five years ago.

In the eight months following his dismissal, Norrad was the subject of an active criminal investigation resulting from the Santa Clause Parade incident, which prevented him from applying for another job in law enforcement.

After 13 years of employment, he said, the city refused to provide him a letter of reference.

“I was on the plan for retiring at 55,” said Norrad.

“I turn 50 next year and now I’m looking at starting from scratch with absolutely no pension, no retirement in my future.”