FEBRUARY COUNCIL UPDATE
This is a brief update on this month’s Council and Police
Services Board meetings.
The February Council meeting was held on February 18, a week
earlier than normal. There were two
notable items involving Policing dealt with that night.
The first was a deputation
by the Midland Police Services Board concerning their proposed 2014 budget for
the Midland Police. The Board Chair
informed Council that the Board would ultimately submit a 2014 budget increase
of at least 3.7% following a 2013 increase of 5.6% - despite Council’s
requirement that all Midland departments present both 0% and 2% budgets for
The Board Chair was combative when responding to questions
from Councillors about what if anything the Board has done to attempt to
deliver a budget that meets the targets every other Town department has
met. The basic message was there was
nothing the Board was prepared to do to change that situation now or in the
future and if Council didn’t like it, then the Board would waste more tax money
battling our own elected representatives at the Ontario Civilian Police
We recognize budgets can sometimes be challenging and
sometimes there is no instant fix. Fair
enough, but what is the excuse for ignoring the same challenges year after year?
Our current system for Police oversight is so broken that
nobody takes responsibility for protecting the public interest. A majority of the current Board members see
themselves only as champions of Police Department leadership and not champions
of the public interest. They should seriously
consider whether it is fair to dump these kinds of increases on residents
without earnestly trying to fix the problems.
The second notable item saw Council make a temporary
appointment to the Police Services Board because Deputy Mayor Kramp is unable
to act due to a complaint from the Board majority (nice way to silence someone
you might not agree with). The
discussion was interesting. Four
Councillors thought it was just fine to leave Mayor McKay as the only elected
member on the Board until Council later decided to make the temporary
appointment. Then the same four thought
it would be beneficial if one of them filled the position instead of Councillor
Canning who might actually try to protect the taxpaying public. Ultimately Council appointed Councillor
Canning by a narrow 5-4 vote.
That is not the end of the story however. The very next day, February 19, was the
scheduled meeting of the Midland Police Services Board. Councillor Canning arrived to take his seat
at the 4:00 pm meeting. About the same
time, the Board Chair and 2 other Board members slipped out of the meeting room
with the Police Chief and Board secretary to have a discussion which was not
audio recorded. They then returned to
the meeting room to announce the Board had decided it would not allow
Councillor Canning to take his seat because they had not received any ‘official
notification’ of his appointment.
The Board is legally bound to hold its meetings in public
but they slip out of the meeting room and come back to announce they have made
a decision. Some may think it’s OK to
ignore the law as long as you’re the Police Services Board. But you sure have to wonder how those same
people can insist others comply with invented rules about ‘official
notification’ when they know perfectly well Councillor Canning was appointed to
the Board the night before.
If the Police Services Board doesn’t stop playing games and
playing fast and loose with the rules then it’s time they step aside. Midland simply deserves better.
Midland what are your views on the effectiveness of the
Police Services Board? Do you feel they are focused on the right things? Is it
time to put an end to this petty behaviour and start becoming more accountable
to the people and to Council?
Well Midlanders, it’s your town and you’re the customer.
Let’s hope the PSB wakes up in time to realize whose paying the freight.
As always, we welcome your opinions - contact
us at Midlandcommunity.ca
or join us on Facebook
George Dixon and Roy Ellis
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on behalf of Midlandcommunity.ca.