Levy says sorry to Polish community, ends months of police board in-fighting

Madeleine Levy says she couldn't apologize about comments she made about Polish people while an Ontario Civilian Police Commission review was ongoing. However, she says it's been "weighing on me for quite some time."

The vice chair Madeline Levy says this has been weighing on her, but she couldn't speak until now

Madeleine Levy, police services board member, has apologized for disparaging remarks she made about Polish people late last year. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Madeline Levy has finally apologized for comments she made about Polish people that caused nearly a year of in-fighting on Hamilton's police services board.

The vice chair says she couldn't apologize until Thursday because the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) was reviewing the case. But she's sorry for telling fellow member Walt Juchniewicz that Polish people killed Jews during the holocaust.

"I am genuinely sorry that the incident happened," she said at a board meeting. "I recognize that it was out of place to speak in this manner.

"I realize that I hurt members of the Polish community, and for this, I am truly, truly sorry." She added that she's tried "many, many times to amicably resolve this issue," and the matter "has been weighing on me for quite some time."

The apology marks the end of nearly a year of drama on the board that oversees the Hamilton Police Service.

Walt Juchniewicz wrote to the city manager about his concerns about the board, and included councillors in the email. From left to right are Juchniewicz, member Don MacVicar, member Stanley Tick, member Madeleine Levy and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Last year, Juchniewicz was telling another member about Polish Christmas traditions when Levy interjected with the bombshell.

Juchniewicz wrote to chair Lloyd Ferguson about it, then city manager Chris Murray. The Polish community got involved, along with several members of the Muslim community.

The board asked the OCPC to investigate. Last month, the OCPC said the matter was a "distraction," and that the board should move on with other business. It also recommended the board get cultural competency training, which it will do.

"This was a matter that the board itself should have been able to address quickly and effectively before it got out of hand," OCPC director Linda Lamoreux said.

Ferguson, who is an Ancaster city councillor, told Lamoreux in a Nov. 9 letter that it wouldn't have dragged on if the OCPC hadn't taken eight months to look into it.

He asked the OCPC to attend a future board meeting, but the commission declined in a letter this week.

Levy said she'll be an enthusiastic participant in the cultural competency training.

On Thursday, the board passed a motion to consider this matter closed. 

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca