Change to Hamilton police board selection process passes — with 1 contentious amendment

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Published September 28, 2022 at 3:00 pm

All three downtown Hamilton councillors dissented today with a slight change to the composition of the new selection committee that will shortlist candidates for the citizen representative on Hamilton Police Services Board.

Ultimately, the committee will have six members representing equity-seeking groups, which was what was recommended in a recent City of Hamilton staff report, following extensive consultations. But an amendment that passed 11-3 at the final council meeting before the Oct. 24 municipal elections that calls for six councillors being on the selection committee, rather than five proposed initally. That creates potential for tied votes.

“It will encourage collaboration and consensus,” Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson said of having an even number.

Overall, the new policy passed 14-0. Couns. Maureen Wilson (Ward 1), Jason Farr (2) and Nrinder Nann (3), who are each running for re-election, voted against the amendment.

The city’s committee against racism was among the stakeholders who recommended a 6-to-5 ratio on the selection committee. The latter’s task is advising on who will best represent the general population of Hamilton on policing and public safety issues.

The 16-member city council will still select one board member from two candidates chosen by the committee. Changing that step was never on the table.

Both a 6-6 and 5-5 balance — which would have resulted in input from one less community advocate — were bandied about during debates.

The police services board (PSB) is a seven-member committee. Three other board members are appointed by the province, and three councillors also sit on it.

Pat Mandy, an Indigenous health advocate who is a member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and a member of the Order of Canada, has chaired the PSB since last November. The geographical footprint of Hamilton is on traditional territories of the Mississaugas, Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee.

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