Diane Deans picked as police board's 1st female chair

Ottawa city council veteran Diane Deans is set to become the first female chair of the Ottawa Police Services board. She says her first order of business will be to try to increase the force's budget.

1st order of business to increase police budget, veteran councillor says

Coun. Diane Deans is set to become the first female chair of the Ottawa Police Services board. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Ottawa city council veteran Diane Deans is set to become the first female chair of the Ottawa Police Services board, and says her first order of business will be to try to increase the force's budget.

Over the last four years, council has directed police to formulate a budget based on a two per cent annual increase.

"That's not enough money," the Gloucester-Southgate councillor. "So my first job will be to get the police the resources they need to tackle street violence in our community."

I think the police services board needs strong leadership, and they're about to get it.- Coun. Diane Deans

The guidelines for drafting the 2019 budget call for the police budget to be increased by three per cent, but Deans said even that's not enough, and said she'll move a motion to strike that recommendation from the guidelines at Wednesday's council meeting.

"I'm very happy to take on this challenge," Deans said. "I think the police services board needs strong leadership, and they're about to get it."

She'll replace Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, who had been on the board since 2003 and served as chair for most of that time. He told CBC several weeks ago that he wanted to move on from that role.

Deans was one of the city officials at a community meeting last week addressing gun violence in Ottawa's south end, an area that accounted for about half the shootings in the last year.

"Almost 300 people showed up," Deans said. "People are concerned about the escalation of street violence. Safety is the No. 1 issue in this city, we all need to feel safe where we live."

She wants to see more money for Ottawa's guns and gangs unit from other levels of government — an issue raised by Mayor Jim Watson during his meeting earlier this week with Premier Doug Ford — the restoration of community policing, and more attention paid to preventing young people from getting involved in crime.

A new face is set to lead the Ottawa police board. We ask Diane Deans exactly what her plans are for the board. 8:35

Hiring new chief early in term

One of the most important issues for the police board this term will be the hiring of a new chief, as Chief Charles Bordeleau's contract runs out this spring.

Deans said it's too early to say whether the board will ask for applications from within the force or across the country, but she said she's interested in police leadership that reflects the makeup of the community.

"We'll be looking for people that have experience and knowledge, I think we should be looking at diversity if that's possible," said Deans. "But ultimately, we'll pick the best person for the job."

Marion Dewar held the role of Ottawa-Carleton Police Services board chair in the mid-1990s, prior to amalgamation.

Coun. Theresa Kavanagh expressed surprise that as part of the nominating committee, she had no say in naming committee chairs. (CBC News)

Nominations go to council Wednesday

Watson announced his picks for committee and board chairs at Tuesday morning's nominating committee meeting, which sorts out which councillors will sit on what committees. The mayor's office directs the process, based in part by input from councillors about which committees they wish to serve on.

Bay ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh expressed surprise at the process, assuming that it would be the nominating committee that would do the nominating.

"I found it strange that as part of the nominating committee, that I'm not part of the selection. I guess that's a misnomer," said Kavanagh, who was named council's liaison for women and gender issues.

"I'm just approving what you put forward somewhere else."

Watson responded that the nominating committee, as well as council, which must approve the nominations at its meeting Wednesday, was free to vote against his recommendations. In reality, the mayor's choices are virtually always rubber-stamped by council. 

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced his picks for committee chairs at the nominating committee meeting Tuesday. Those choices must be confirmed by council. (CBC News)

The mayor's picks for standing committee and commission chairs do not include any downtown councillors. His choices are:

  • Agriculture and Rural Affairs: Coun. Eli El-Chantiry.
  • Audit: Coun. Jean Cloutier.
  • Community and Protective Services: Coun. Jenna Sudds (first-time councillor).
  • Environment and Climate Protective Services: Coun. Scott Moffatt.
  • Finance and Economic Development: Mayor Jim Watson.
  • Planning: Coun. Jan Harder.
  • Transit: Coun. Allan Hubley.
  • Transportation: Coun. Stephen Blais.
  • IT subcommittee: Coun. Jeff Leiper.
  • Built heritage subcommittee: Coun. Glen Gower.

The mayor's choices for boards are:

  • Ottawa Police Services Board: Coun. Diane Deans.
  • Ottawa Public Library Board: Coun. Tim Tierney.
  • Ottawa Board of Health: Coun. Keith Egli.
  • Hydro Ottawa Holding: Coun. Jan Harder.
  • Ottawa Community Housing Corp: Coun. Mathieu Fleury.
  • Ottawa Community Lands Corp: Coun. Tobi Nussbaum.