Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie Should Stay on the Peel Police Board

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If you're a fan of Mayor Bonnie Crombie's work on the Peel Police Services Board, you might disappointed to hear she might soon be leaving to be replaced by Ward 10 City Councillor Sue McFadden.

Back in 2014, Crombie agreed that she would represent Mississauga on the police board from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016, then Councillor McFadden would take over starting on January 1, 2017. Now that 2017 is around the corner, McFadden believes Crombie should abide by the deal so she may be allowed her turn on the board. But Crombie is now hesitant to step aside because she's engaged in some important work.

Try looking at it this way: Have you ever volunteered for a project at work or just on your spare time for a charity or your church and found that the tasks involved were more than you realized, and that you ended up putting in more time than you originally agreed to? Mayor Crombie has been busy on the police board; moving a motion to conduct an independent, third-party audit to examine the force's hiring and promotion practices, as well as gender and sexual harassment issues and equity performance. And how could we forget about street checks/carding? Is it possible to brief someone on two years of work and expect them to continue that line of advocacy on those issues with the same energy and effectiveness?

I also considered another question: Are mayors who are elected to represent an entire city inherently more qualified to sit on a police board than a councillor who represents one ward? Here is a brief comparison to other police boards around Mississauga.

  • Toronto Police Services Board: one of Mayor John Tory's campaign promises was that he himself would sit on the police board, instead of designating one councillor to represent him on his behalf. Tory will stay in his police board position for the duration of this council term until 2018.
  • York Region Police Board: Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson serve respectively as chair and vice chair on the board.
  • Halton Region Police Board: Oakville Mayor Rob Burton is the current chair of the Halton Police Board.
  • Durham Region Police Board: The chairman of Durham Region, Rogers Anderson, also sits as chair of the police board.

So it's not unprecedented that a mayor or head of a council should sit on the board, let alone take on a greater role such as chairing the body as well. Mississauga's mayor represents close to 800,000 people, while a councillor represents around 70,000 people. Both jobs are important, but when it comes to dealing with a city-wide issue such as policing, there should not be a false equivalency between Mayor Crombie and Councillor McFadden.

I don't doubt Councillor McFadden's desire and commitment to serve on the police board and do her best in that role. But to be honest, Councillor McFadden is one of the quieter councillors I've seen when it comes to city-wide policy. She either goes with the flow of her colleagues or repeats something that has already been said. Her criticism seems to be that the mayor herself has not been transparent enough on what she has been doing on the police board on Mississauga's behalf. But the fact that the media has been documenting the issues surrounding the board makes the councillor's accusations ring rather hollow.

The police are a huge expenditure for any municipality, and if a mayor doesn't take even a role on the police board then he or she isn't taking the job seriously. The Peel Regional Police's operating budget is $372,823,580 and the capital budget is $259,624,000, so that's a lot of money to examine and scrutinize.

Can Councillor McFadden get up to speed on the fiscal matters at hand at the board? Would it not make more sense to let the person who is already embedded in the work continue it? The latter point in my opinion is the more sensible approach for Mississauga taxpayers.

Follow me on Twitter at @thekantastic

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