Point was made about police board's choice of words, Merulla says

Coun. Sam Merulla says he's made his point when it comes to the use of the word "unlawful" regarding the police services board.
Coun. Lloyd Ferguson will serve on the Hamilton police services board. At Wednesday's council meeting, Coun. Sam Merulla said he wanted an apology for how it transpired. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Coun. Sam Merulla says he's made his point when it comes to the use of the word "unlawful" regarding the police services board.

Merulla brought up at council Wednesday that he wanted the Hamilton Police Service board to apologize for saying the appointment of Coun. Lloyd Ferguson to the board was "unlawful." He tried to introduce letters between third parties as correspondence as a way into making the point.

Councillors didn't accept the correspondence, saying it was against the rules. But Merulla said his point — that the city deserves an apology for the word and the fact that it was released in a public statement — was made anyway.

"It's public knowledge," Merulla said. "My point has been made. Mission accomplished."

Council appointed Ferguson to replace Coun. Terry Whitehead, who is suspended during an investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. Ferguson will be a temporary member during the investigation.

But on June 17, Hamilton Police Service released a statement saying that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services had advised that the appointment was unlawful.

Coun. Sam Merulla says the city deserves an apology. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

All parties agreed Wednesday that Ferguson's appointment is valid. He will attend the next meeting.

Ferguson said at Wednesday's council meeting that he didn't like the use of the word "unlawful." But afterward, he said he's ready to move past this.

"I think the point was made," Ferguson said. "I want to put it behind me now."

The ministry official used the word "unlawful," said chair Nancy DiGregorio in an email.

"There was no confusion," she said. "I repeated what was told to me by the ministry official.

"The Hamilton Police Services board has never challenged the appointment of Coun. Ferguson. As a matter of fact, he was sent the board package on June 14, when all the other board members were sent their packages."

The last meeting was postponed pending a legal opinion from the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, DiGregorio said. To date, the board has not received that opinion.