Council changes direction on police board appointment

Members of the London City Council have decided to suspend the appointment of new members to the Metropolitan Police Commission following heavy criticism this week.

Mayor Josh Morgan’s motion to return the appointment to the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC) was approved by a 13-2 vote at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Morgan and some of his city council colleagues were criticized for voting to appoint Ryan Goss, who had served as the mayor’s campaign manager, to the board.

The Council will now interview the five candidates selected by the SPPC and select from this group.

“I hope we can find someone who has the broad support of the council,” Morgan told the meeting.

Morgan’s motion was seconded by MP Skylar Franke, who told her colleagues the referral would “give us all an opportunity to reflect on this important decision.”

Only Paul Van Meerbergen and Elizabeth Peloza voted against returning the appointment process to the SPPC. Van Meerbergen said the committee had already decided on Gauss, while Peloza said she was concerned the new process would yield the same result.

At the SPPC meeting on March 28, Goss was passed by an 8-6 vote in the second round of voting.

In the first round, Morgan backed Zeba Hashmi — who also ran on his campaign — while Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis and councilors Peter Cuddy, Susan Stevenson, Jerry Pribil, Steve Lehman, Van Meerbergen and Steve Hillier voted for Gauss.

Councilors Hadleigh McAllister, Sam Trosow, Corrine Rahman, Anna Hopkins, Skylar Franke and David Ferreira voted for Atlosha Executive Director Joseph Wabegijig, who previously served on the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service Council. Métis woman Pelosa was absent from the meeting.

In the final ballot, Morgan voted for Goss, who then secured the necessary support from eight MPs and was appointed to the post.

Gauss then voted 14 to 0, so the committee can get a unanimous recommendation.

However, the community reacted quickly to Gauss’ selection.

Currently, the Police Service Commission includes five white members and one chair, Ali Chahbar, who is a person of color.

A seventh position was vacant when Susan Toth, also a person of color, resigned earlier this year. She had just been appointed by the city council in December and asked the council to replace her with someone from a minority group.

After Goss was selected by the SPPC, Todt was a member of the Media Critic Committee.

“I never wanted to hold back the power of pause and reflection. Yet many of the comments continue to show a lack of understanding of EDI and representation and truth and reconciliation. Even though this has become part of city policy,” Toth said when asked for comment on Tuesday. “It is still troubling that it took so much effort by the BIPOC community and allies to get the council to take a fresh look at what happened. So while I am glad they are taking this seriously, the damage has been done that needs to be repaired .”

Goss was unavailable for comment when contacted by London Today.

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