The Hamilton Integrity Commissioner has handed down down a 15-day suspension of pay for Councillor Esther Pauls who was ruled to be in a conflict-of-interest for voting on the Police Services budget while having a family member on the service. In rendering the decision the IC wrote that they are not recommending Pauls leave the police services board, noting that policing matters are “a matter of significant concern to her constituents.”
But, when you look at the Procedural Bylaw and the Code of Conduct for members of the Police Services Board, you could argue that if one wishes to influence policing, the last place to successfully carry out that work is as a member of the Police Services Board. Only members of the Police Services board are constrained from talking about police operational matters—anybody else is free to do so.
While the integrity commissioner said it was legal for a person to serve on the board even if they had a family member employed by the police service, the ruling against Pauls suggests it doesn’t make sense for councillors or citizens with such a conflict to serve on the board. If they are unable to vote as a councillor on one of the key responsibilities of a Police Services Board—the setting of a budget—should they be able to vote on it at the Police Services Board?
The Hamilton PSB’s code of conduct says members “shall discharge their duties in a manner that will inspire public confidence in the abilities and integrity of the board,” which if taken literally, would suggest they shouldn’t vote on the budget either on council or on the board.
Councillor Pauls’ integrity is not in question. She has proven to be a passionate and caring advocate for her constituents. The matter that resulted in the sanction against her was tolerated for years in the past—unchallenged by fellow councillors or the media. But with the clear ruling of the Integrity Commissioner now available, no one with a family member on the police service should serve on its board of governors.
Calgary Police Commission goes farther – no ex cops nor civilian members can sit on our Commission.
It only required a wee amendment to the muni bylaw, at a time when one candidate running for council was an angry and bitter ex cop. He lost the election, but, I was relieved the bylaw was still in place when disreputable ex cop Sean Chu was elected last term.
I would encourage your Council to ✨future proof your police commission✨ by having the tough conversations today. Please don’t play politics. Having commissioners with vested interests helps no one, regardless of whether these are real or perceived.
Your police service likely has a mission around public safety – to deliver policing services to your citizens will take the very best they have, collectively. You commission is a huge part of this team as they provide governorship and oversight.
All hands need to be paddling the canoe, as my dad would say as we navigate the white water ahead to learn how to provide the changing police services 21st Century Can Adrian’s are now demanding.
Council amend the bylaw after having the tough conversations and stop having commissioners with a vested interest. I have no idea how Ms Paul ended up being placed in this position.
Even if she were scrupulous and never talked policing with any family, it won’t work. And she will be ineffective.
This has no benefit to your citizens, your City or your police service.
Any decision she supports will be viewed with suspicion as tpshe is perceived as not being neutral. Any votes cast are discounted as she is perceived as not wanting to upset the apple cart with police leadership.
No councillor in this position will be perceived as not being neutral. And this stings, Canadians need every female elected official to punch above their weight. After voting on a mending your muni bylaw, pls remove the two week suspension. We need solid elected officials.
Protect your service, your police members and your citizens by having a neutral impartial commission who hold police leaders’ feet to the fire. Your police leaders will rise to the challenge to do their difficult job leading your police service. Especially difficult in these days of so-tight budgets when everyone hast to squeeze budgets so hard the nickles squeak.
Ensure the best for your citizens, your communities and your employees.
Policing is a tough career. Today’s heart rendering funerals in Edmonton for our two fallen officers, killed in the line of duty, proved this and my tears like many readers were shed today.
All your sworn and civilian police colleagues deserve the very best police commission you can provide. Your City employees, especially your first responders deserve the very best police commission you can provide.
This amazing councillor can bring their skills to the table by serving on a police foundation, providing leadership on a community service committee and other forms of liaison as we struggle to learn the best way to provide policing services to 21st Century Canadians. We need every friend and ally.
Your citizens deserve the very best police commission you can provide.
Please don’t play politics
Thank you (my views are my own and not my employers)