Winnipeg police board still short on two members
Coun. Ross Eadie has previously said he's worried the two-member shortage will hamper the police board's effectiveness.
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Nearly two months after the Winnipeg Police Board lost its chairperson to resignation in the face of controversy, the role is still left unfilled.
Coun. Jeff Browaty resigned from the post Feb. 8 following a call from the board itself for his removal, which in turn was prompted by a lack of confidence expressed by the Indigenous Council on Policing and Crime Prevention.
The council called for his dismissal over comments he made publicly questioning why civic employees should be required to take a half-day training session on the legacy of residential schools.
"If there was confusion for what I said in council in December, I have said I am sorry. I meant no harm or offence to any individual or group," Browaty said in a statement following his resignation.
Since his exit, finance chairperson Derek Johannson also resigned to focus on other volunteer roles, including that of the vice-chairperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
Coun. Ross Eadie, council’s lone remaining representative on the police board, said in late March he was worried the two-member shortage would hamper effectiveness.
“I don’t think it’s right,” Eadie said, adding, “the board needs leadership.”
This week, Mayor Brian Bowman said he’s still working at filling the seat Browaty vacated, but also being careful “to make sure we (get) the best person for the role.”
“When Coun. Browaty resigned I said I would be taking my time,” Bowman said. “My designate was Coun. Browaty, and my hope when he was first appointed was that he would be able to fulfill those duties and maintain the confidence of this board.
“As you know, that wasn’t something that ultimately happened, so now we’re in a position where we have to find a new chair… but we have excellent people to choose from.”
When asked if Johannson’s resignation is forcing him to accelerate the process at all, Bowman said, “obviously sooner than later I’d like to get these appointments made, and they will be, but at the same time the board is continuing to conduct its work and they’ve got ample representation now to carry on for the interim.”
“But the sooner we can have those positions filled the better.”
In an email statement responding to similar comments Bowman made on CBC radio April 4, Eadie said the board “needs a chairperson’s leadership yesterday!”
His concern is that the board “does not want to lose ground” in the implementation of the police service’s 2015 to 2019 strategic plan.
Bowman said he recognizes “it is a demanding board to be on.”
In an earlier interview, Browaty conceded the same, saying it was “more of a time commitment than anticipated.”
Bowman said he believes there’s room for improvement on that front.
“I think there’s an opportunity for the new chair to better rationalize their time, but that’s a decision of the new chair and board in terms of frequency of meetings and so on,” Bowman said. “But it’s an incredibly important board as mandated by the province… so we’ll get some good people in there and they’ll continue to do really important work on behalf of the city.”