Ferguson hopes to soothe relationship between city and police board
Ancaster councillor replaces suspended member Terry Whitehead
Coun. Lloyd Ferguson says he hopes to use some "quiet influence" to repair the relationship between council and Hamilton's police services board.
City council voted Wednesday to appoint the Ancaster councillor to the board that governs Hamilton Police Service. Ferguson will serve in the interim during the suspension of Coun. Terry Whitehead, who is being investigated by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Ferguson wants to improve the relationship between the two bodies. He plans to sit down with chair Nancy DiGregorio and Chief Glenn De Caire for some "quiet dialogue," he said.
"You can't keep punching each other," he said. "You've got to be compromising and I'm going to use that approach when I get to the board."
The relationship strain began earlier this year during a disagreement over the police budget. The initial draft asked for a 5.25-per cent increase over the year before. At council's request, the service eventually trimmed it to a 3.53-per cent increase.
The board is comprised of three city appointees, three provincial appointees and Mayor Bob Bratina. The board is keeping mum on the reason for Whitehead's suspension, citing the ongoing investigation.
Whitehead speculates accusations against him include public arguments with De Caire and former board appointee Jim Kay, as well as throwing some papers on a desk during a meeting and his candour with the media.
For now, he's just awaiting the results of the investigation.
"Basically under the legislation, when a probe is initiated, the individual that is the subject of that probe has to step aside from his responsibilities until the probe is concluded," he said.
Council passed a resolution Wednesday asking the province for either total control to appoint the board or for council to govern the service.
Ferguson sees that as "another tool in my toolbox" to help improve the relationship.
"This is an example of what happens if you don't get a better working relationship," he said.