FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is decrying the last minute cancellation of the Police Services Board meeting scheduled for next Monday, February, 28th. Public delegates were scheduled to speak, but the meeting has instead been rescheduled without any delegations. This is an “insulting breach of democracy” and an attempt to cover up any criticism of the Ottawa Police Services, the Mayor, and Ottawa City Council after three weeks of intense condemnation following their mishandling of the convoy occupation.
The cancellation is especially concerning because of events that happened the previous week. A tenuous special meeting featured the ousting of former Police Services Board Chair Diane Deans, replacing her with Watson loyalist and former Board Chair Eli El-Chantiry, as well as the resignations in solidarity of her colleagues Rawlson King, Carol Anne Meehan and Sandy Smallwood. The move was largely seen by many as a power grab by Mayor Jim Watson and an attempt to silence his critics. The move to cancel Monday’s meeting, scheduled to see many delegates likely to be critical of the City and police response to the convoy, hints that the PSB also seems to be headed in an anti-democratic direction.
“It is quite obvious to us why this meeting has been canceled—and it isn’t because of procedure—it’s because the new Board Chair, Eli El-Chanitry wants to shield the mayor from any public criticism.” Said Sam Hersh, Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. “Just when you think the Watson Club could not sink any lower, they throw you an anchor.”
The reasons the Board Assistant Director, Hannah Logan, gave for canceling the meeting was as a result of “ongoing operations.” However, critics assert that these operations should not exclude democratic participation and public delegations. In a press release, they also said that “new” board members, El-Chantiry and Suzanne Valiquet, needed “orientation on their new roles” despite both members having served on the Police Board for many years prior.
“Ottawa residents have gone through enough in the past month. They deserve responsible representation, not political theater” said Hersh. “Canceling this meeting is nothing short of insulting to everyone across our city who just wants some shred of accountability out of this crisis.
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