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'I can’t be a part of these dirty politics’: Meehan resigns Ottawa police board despite vote to keep her in

After a heated and emotional city council meeting on Wednesday, February 16 that saw chair of the police board Coun. Diane Deans ousted, Coun. Carol Ann Meehan was voted to stay.
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Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan, December 2018. Mike Vlasveld/ OttawaMatters

Despite a vote to keep her on Ottawa’s Police Services Board, Coun. Carol Ann Meehan ultimately made the decision to resign from her post in protest to chair Diane Dean’s ousting. 

The special city council meeting was held on Wednesday, February 16, starting at 4 p.m. and lasted three hours. Tempers and emotions flared and continued to flare after Coun. Scott Moffat brought forward a motion to decide the fate of Deans, Meehan, and the rest of the board. 

The motion was brought forward when city council members expressed dismay at the board’s decision to hire a new interim police chief to help with the truck convoy demonstration. 

Ultimately, Deans was voted out as chair in a vote 15-9, while Meehan was voted to stay in with a vote of 13-11, much to her surprise. 

Calling the move by Moffat a “dirty motion,” Meehan decided couldn't go on in her role on the board. 

“I can’t be part of these dirty politics,” she told the Rob Snow Show on Thursday, February 17. “I don’t want to be part of a new police services board that’s being installed at the whim of a Mayor that has been anything but a leader in this crisis.”

Adding, “And we’ve been scapegoated by a mayor who is an expert at dirty politics.”

Meehan said she regretted how the city council meeting unfolded last night but firmly believed the Police Services Board did everything in its power to fix the situation and help the police.

And voting Deans out, she said, was a mistake.

“Coun. Deans has done everything that we are afforded under the Ontario Police Services Act to try to solve this crisis,” she said. “She has been a leader through some of the toughest times that this city has ever seen in a time of changed politics and in a time when it comes to change in policing in Canada and in Ottawa. We can’t police the way we used to. It’s ironic, actually, that we’ve had this move towards policing that is more police service rather than police force — that’s why we brought chief Sloly in to shepherd us into this very interest process that we have going. Now we just want police to go in to crack heads. That’s not the answer to this.”

Despite the belief of some, Meehan said the board doesn’t have “superpowers,” and is not able to tell police how to do their job. 

The board, she explained, is a provincial oversight body governed by the governor solicitor’s office. All the board can do is make sure police have everything they need. 

Deans was replaced by Eli El-Chantiry who previously held the position of chair of the Police Service Board.

But for Meehan, there’s not much else that needs to be done because all the heavy lifting has already been carried through.

“The police has a plan and it’s obvious from what I’m hearing this morning, it’s starting to roll out. I’m sure Eli El-Chantiry he’s a lot of experience when it comes to the police services board. He’s installed now at a very opportune time. He’ll be able to say he’ll be able to lead this fort going forward. The tough work has been done.”

The big concern for Meehan, however, is that the situation with the protesters isn’t going to end well.

“There’s an awful lot of people down there who you can’t resign with and they’re gunning for a fight. I am concerned, but that’s why the police services board acted quickly to try to get the command some additional resources in the short term, which was well within the board’s rights, mind you.”

And in all this, it’s facts and truth that have been sacrificed, Meehan said. 

We did not go and hire a new chief to undercut Steve Bell. I think ultimately Steve Bell is going to be the chief of police in this city, but we needed a short-term solution and that’s what we did and it was well within our rights. Then to have the mayor of this city skew the facts and leak it out to use it against us and twist it. He’s morally bankrupt.”

After trying to plead with Mayor Jim Watson during Wednesday night’s city council meeting, referencing the years they’ve known each other and talking to his softer side that didn’t work, Meehan is left with a bad taste in her mouth. 

“When times get tough he hides. But when it suits him, he’ll come forward and try to make political points with the people who are trying their hardest. That’s exactly what he did in this situation. And Scott Moffat doing the mayor’s dirty work, again? I don’t even have the words. You wonder why good people aren’t going to run for politics anymore, it’s because of this.”

Listen to the full interview with Coun. Carol Anne Meehan on CityNews' The Rob Snow Show:

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