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Mayor Daryl Bennett Media Release For Immediate Release February 4, 2013
Statement by Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett
On February 1, 2013, I was advised by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission of their decision to inquire into and report on my conduct as a Member of the Peterborough Lakefield Police Services Board. A hearing will be held to determine if I have “… engaged in conduct that discredits and compromises the integrity of the Board or the Peterborough Lakefield Police Service.” I wholeheartedly reject this proposition. This decision does not arise as a result of a request by any citizen, nor from the Police Services Board or any of its Members; it is initiated by a provincial Commission on its own motion and for its own purposes. From the outset, I have attempted to clearly state my views as a Board Member on matters of importance to the people of Peterborough. I have done so with the support of City Council, and in furtherance of my responsibilities both as a Board Member and Mayor. I believe that the intent of this action is to attempt to remove me from the Police Services Board, and thereby prevent me from continuing to express my views. There are nine briefly stated causes for the action, none of which describe what would constitute inappropriate conduct. They range from the sharing of an email with City Council; to engaging in budget discussions with the Chief of Police; to disagreeing with a Police Service hiring decision; to requesting that the term of a former Board Member not be extended; to expressing concern about the conduct of a former Board Member; to criticism of the Commission’s investigative process; to choosing not to be interviewed by the Commission without prior disclosure of the accusation made against me. In my opinion, none of these rise to meet any minimum test of wrongdoing or misconduct. Taken together, they appear to me to be a scattered attempt to prevent me from speaking out on matters that I believe to be important to City Council and the community.
500 George Street North, Peterborough, Ontario, K9H 3R9
Mayor Daryl Bennett
In a description of what I believe to be the undemocratic conduct of the Commission, I did make one spoken reference that I regret. My comparison of the Commission’s powers to those that existed in prewar Germany was unfortunate on my part, and I sincerely apologize if it was deemed to be offensive to anyone in this community. The comment was made to reinforce the need to protect democratic institutions and civil rights. My belief that the procedures of the Commission flout the democratic process remains intact. I believe that these causes fail to properly distinguish and recognize my responsibilities as Mayor. I do not accept that my status as a member of the Police Services Board should prohibit me from speaking on certain policing or budgetary matters as Mayor. I head a Council that is responsible for the expenditure of taxpayer dollars on the police service, and I take that responsibility seriously. I also believe that some of these causes overstep what should be the proper jurisdiction of the Commission. It is inappropriate, in my view, to attempt to undermine or chill the right to the free expression of views by elected officials, and particularly those views having to do with the powers and procedures of an appointed Commission. It is surely inappropriate that an investigative body, having refused to provide information to the accused on the nature of an accusation, should then view criticism of its procedures as a form of punishable misconduct. My counsel, Richard Taylor, will provide a separate release today having to do with the Commission hearing process. He will address inquiries on my behalf. The cost for his services are being borne by me personally. -30-
Contact: Richard Taylor 705-876-7791 firstname.lastname@example.org