FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa was appalled at the proceedings of last night’s City Council meeting. The adoption of Councillor Scott Moffatt’s motion saw the unseating of three current members of the Ottawa Police Services Board, including its chair, Diane Deans. The motion, which clearly came from Mayor Jim Watson’s office, was seen by many as an irresponsible power grab that will further destabilize the only oversight Ottawa residents have over the OPS in the middle of an ongoing crisis that all three levels of government call an emergency.
The motion sought to replace three members, including some who had resigned as a result of the Mayor’s heinous actions, with those more closely aligned with his office including Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, Councillor Jan Harder and citizen appointee Suzanne Valiquet.
All three appointments not only have strong ties to the Mayor but are also in of themselves questionable for several reasons. El-Chantiry as previous Board Chair had close ties with the police, even having attended former Police Chief, Vern White’s wedding while acting as Chair. On her part, Harder has faced many criticisms around remarks considered to be racist, which she later defended, when she referred to a 2003 incident in her ward as having been caused by “non-whites.” Some at the meeting last night remarked that this may not be helpful when one of the prime tasks of the Board is tackling systemic racism within the force.
As for Valiquet, she is the founder of Momentum Planning and Communications, the planning firm that was directly complicit in the mass evictions at Heron Gate and notably played a significant role on the controversial Chateau Laurier extension design.
“The irresponsible power grab from the Watson Club proves again that Mayor Jim Watson only cares about one thing - himself.” Said Sam Hersh, a Board member of Horizon Ottawa. “There is a national crisis right here in our city and all this Mayor is doing is thinking of ways he can further cement his stranglehold over our City Council in the dying days of his mandate to protect his subpar legacy.”
The attempt to seize additional power came after the resignation of embattled, now-former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly. Moffatt, the mover of the motion, said he was moving it because of a decision by the Police Board to look into hiring a new Chief without consent of council. According to the Police Services Act, however, the Board already has the ability to act on this issue. Many members of council saw through this excuse, and noted this was a clear move by Watson to subvert any criticism laid against him.
“Those who defended the Mayor last night need to be held accountable at the ballot box this October.” Said Hersh. “As for the Mayor, he has proven that he is unfit to lead this city and the only way he can show accountability is by tendering his resignation immediately.”
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