Fearful councillors steer clear of filling Olivia Chow's seat on police services board
Current police board members
Norm Gardner (chair) city councillor term expires: 2000 city appointee
Mel Lastman mayor term expires: 2000 city appointee
Jeff Lyons (vice-chair) lawyer, lobbyist term expires: 2000 provicial appointee
Sylvia Hudson Ryerson administrator term expires: 2002 provincial appointee
Sandy Adelson law student term expires: 2001 city appointee Rating: NNNNN
This is the summer of our discontent. So-called community action policing is in full swing, rave promoters and poverty activists are on the run, and the lone, outspoken progressive voice on the police services board, Olivia Chow, has been wacked for opening her mouth on police conduct at the Queen’s Park riot.
Police accountability in Toronto? That’s a joke.
On Monday (July 17), city council’s influential striking committee will pick a councillor to replace Chow on the board (and council will vote on the recommendation in August).
As I write this, not a single progressive councillor has put his or her name forward. That’s sad.
One councillor tells me the thinking — post Judy Sgro and Chow — is to wait it out. Why spend the next three months bashing the cops on the board, only to be targeted by the Police Association come election time? Some councillors are calling the board a political graveyard.
But we could see a whole different dynamic come the end of November. Pro-cop board chair Norm Gardner is fighting for his political life against John Filion in North York. And now that the new chief has been chosen, Mayor Mel might opt to step down from the board and put a proxy in his place.
Yet whoever wins Chow’s seat could use this summer’s experience to angle for an easy reappointment after the election. Besides, we’re starving for a brave, independent voice on the board now.
Here are pros and cons about the pols already in the hunt and those who should be stepping up to oppose the police cheerleaders.
PROS: A serious contender. The protege of Scarborough’s late, great mayor Frank Faubert, Duguid has shown signs that he’s got the independence to stand up to the cops. He blew the whistle a while back on absenteeism in the fire department.
CONS: Will his future political aspirations (mayor?) cause him to start pulling his punches?
PROS: Often cited as a great progressive hope. He’s respected by his fellow councillors and is also a possible future mayoral candidate.
As a councillor from Parkdale, he’s no stranger to the tensions between inner-city neighbourhoods and police.
CONS: He’s busy on the TTC board.
Come on, David. It’s time to put that lawyer’s mind to good use and show some desperately needed leadership on the police board.
PROS: He’s a fiscal tightwad, and keeping tabs on police spending (especially with Tom Jakobek exiting) counts for something.
CONS: A Tory, the former Etobicoke mayor certainly wouldn’t be the most progressive light on the board. He was stomped by Olivia Chow last time he went for the position.
PROS: Kyle isn’t afraid to speak his mind and is constantly working the cops on policing in the gay community. He’s got the chutzpah to stand up to head cop Julian Fantino and union head Craig Bromell.
CONS: His enthusiasm for some aspects of target policing (hey, where did all the squeegee kids go?) worries us.
PROS: He’s in a nasty re-election race against lefty Joe Mihevc, and the profile boost wouldn’t hurt.
CONS: All his talk about community policing aside, is he really the guy who’s going to go to the wall for police accountability? Too slippery.
PROS: He’s up for the job.
CONS: He’s already chair of the works committee, which is trying to wrap up a huge city garbage contract this summer.
He’s also in a tight re-election battle against David Miller, and has been sticking close to the mayor’s side. The last thing we need is another yes man on the board.
PROS: Hard-working, no-nonsense style might be just the tonic to shake up the freewheeling cop shop. Go for it, Pam!
CONS: Outspoken, progressive women haven’t fared well on the board lately.
PROS: She’s cuckoo for community action policing and has known chief Fantino for a long time. She’s already written a letter to the mayor making her case this time around.
CONS: As in the past, key support isn’t there. Her brother John is the biggest potential threat to the mayor’s smooth re-election bid, and the thought of his sibling in a sensitive, high-profile post will likely give Mel reason to thwart her bid. Too small fry.
PROS: He’s a safe interim bet for the establishment.
CONS: This Tory’s already busy as deputy mayor, and he’s a got a tough re-election battle in East York to gear up for.
PROS: Another soft touch who could get the mayor to November without a fuss. He’s told Mel he’s interested in the job and would seek a board position if re-elected.
CONS: While the Parkdale councillor is well aware of community policing issues and maintains he would have no problem speaking his mind on the board, he seems a little too eager to please the mayor.
PROS: Says she “would love to do it,” and had no problem taking the chief to task at council over shutting down safe raves.
CONS: While she may seek a board seat if re-elected, she doesn’t have the mayor’s support. She’s said she feels Fantino is aloof, and he has already pegged her as unsympathetic to the police.