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SJPA files complaint against city councillor for ‘misleading’ earnings comments

WATCH: A city councilor publicly criticized the earnings of a handful of first responders. As Callum Smith reports, the comments have caused some controversy.

The Saint John Police Association says it has filed a code of conduct complaint against Coun. David Merrithew after he publicly criticized a handful of first responders for making more than $200,000 in 2018.

“The chairman of the city’s finance committee, Coun. David Merrithew, publicly stated ‘these people are making too much, they’re greedy, they don’t care about our city,'”  Duane Squires, president of the Saint John Police Association, told a news conference Thursday.

READ MORE: N.B. Police Association says binding arbitration reform a distraction from Saint John’s real issues

Squires said in addition to filing the complaint, the association is calling for the councillor’s removal from his position as chair of the city’s finance committee.

The comments are “misleading,” according to Squires, partially due to budget cuts made by the financially-strapped city.

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READ MORE: Saint John police, fire decry planned 2018 budget cuts

Merrithew, who represents Ward 4, declined a request for an interview but in a brief statement told Global News that he is “tired of cutting services in order to fund ridiculous wage demands.”

Dave Merrithew, a Saint John city councillor representing Ward 4, has come under fire for comments made about earnings of first responders in 2018.
Dave Merrithew, a Saint John city councillor representing Ward 4, has come under fire for comments made about earnings of first responders in 2018. Credit: City of Saint John
The Saint John Firefighters Association didn’t speak publicly at the press conference held by the police association, but said in a Facebook post: “We take great exception to [Merrithew’s] comments and cannot sit idly as you attack the integrity, commitment and sacrifices of our members.”

The statement goes on to say, in part, “Saint John Firefighters volunteered more than 2,000 hours in 2018 helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars for programs directly affecting citizens in SJ.”

Saint John financial action plan criticized by police association
Saint John financial action plan criticized by police association

The comments have caused plenty of controversy and even the city’s deputy mayor is among those pushing back. Shirely McAlary says the comments were offside and don’t look good on the city, especially with police and fire contracts up at the end of 2019.

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“I think the comments were completely out of place,” she says.

“To me, it’s just so disrespectful.”

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Shirely McAlary, the city’s deputy mayor, says the comments are “out of place.”
Shirely McAlary, the city’s deputy mayor, says the comments are “out of place.” Callum Smith / Global News

However, she says it’s doubtful Merrithew would face any code of conduct disciplinary action as a result of the comments.

The police association’s full letter to council can be found here.