Rookie Coun. Kevin Klein to replace David Asper as police board chair

Rookie Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Kevin Klein has been tapped to be the new chair of the Winnipeg Police Board.

Fellow newcomer Coun. Markus Chambers due to replace Ross Eadie on board, as well

David Asper, left, will see his term as chair of the Winnipeg Police Board end next month. Council is slated to appoint rookie Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Kevin Klein, right, as the next chair of the board. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Rookie Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Kevin Klein has been tapped to be the new chair of the Winnipeg Police Board.

Mayor Brian Bowman announced Friday he has nominated Klein for the role currently occupied by lawyer David Asper, who has served as police board chair since April 2017.

Asper's term is up in December. Pending council approval next week, Klein will be the fifth chair of the police board since it was created during former mayor Sam Katz's final term.

Klein will succeed former St. James Coun. Scott Fielding, North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty, St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham and Asper, the only non-elected official to assume the role.

Under Asper's leadership, the police board streamlined its oversight of the Winnipeg Police Service. Council reduced the number of public and private meetings held by the board, which also rescinded several policies it approved under previous chairs.

Asper said the provincial legislation governing police boards is ambiguous and said he tried to interpret that legislation to the best of his ability in order to restrict the board's scope.

"If you try to know what's going on, it's like drinking from a fire hose," Asper said at city hall. "It's not within the jurisdiction of the police board to fill a legislative gap."

Klein said he hopes to replicate what he described as Asper's success.

"He brought a calmness to the board. He brought a level of security to the board," Klein said of his predecessor.

Bowman said he selected Klein because the former Winnipeg Sun publisher made public safety one of his major objectives and because Klein served on the police board in Cobourg, Ont.

Klein is also Métis and thus will become Winnipeg's first Indigenous police board chair. He said while that has no bearing on his ability to serve as chair, it does demonstrate the city's commitment to inclusion.

During the election campaign, the Winnipeg Police Association — which has been at odds with Bowman — attended a town hall with Klein.

Bowman said that had no bearing on his decision.

"The election is over and now is the time to lead," Bowman said.

Klein's appointment will be formalized at a Nov. 14 council organizational meeting. Council is also expected to remove Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie from the police board and replace him with Winnipeg deputy mayor Markus Chambers (St. Norbert-Seine River), another council rookie.

Chambers attended the announcement of Klein's appointment but left without commenting.

Eadie said he was disappointed his fellow councillors did not allow him to continue serving on the police board.

The other members are Barry Tuckett, Mary Jane Loustel, Brian Scharfstein and Alicja Szarkiewicz. Tuckett and Loustel are due to the leave the board.