Ottawa

Ottawa AG to take on review of police, city response to convoy protest

The City of Ottawa's auditor general has agreed to review the municipal response to the truck convoy, and take over reviews requested by both city council and the police services board.

Review will include consulting public on areas of focus, AG says

'My office will take the necessary time required to perform a thorough audit,' Ottawa's auditor general said in a memo to city officials Tuesday. (Jean-Francois Benoit/CBC/Radio-Canada)

The City of Ottawa's auditor general has agreed to review the municipal response to the truck convoy, and take over reviews requested by both city council and the police services board.

City council had directed staff to look into an independent investigation of the city's response, and on Monday the police services board had requested that the auditor general pick up the review.

In a memo sent Tuesday to city officials, including the Ottawa Police Services Board, Nathalie Gougeon says at the request of city manager Steve Kanellakos, her office could take on both reviews.

Kanellakos said given the police was the lead organization, her audit "will ensure city council and the Ottawa Police Services Board will benefit from an integrated and holistic understanding of what happened and what lessons might be learned, in particular for future integrated operations."

On Monday night, the police services board had requested the review and repeated the request that it be done in time to inform preparations for Canada Day, something several members said was likely not feasible.

Gougeon, however, noted the magnitude of the requested review with regards to how quickly it may be completed.

'It is my intention to be as transparent as possible throughout the course of our audit,' says Nathalie Gougeon, the city's auditor general. (CBC)

"While my office will keep both the city manager and interim chief of police informed of issues or lessons learned as they are observed throughout the course of our work (to inform potential future events), my office will take the necessary time required to perform a thorough audit," her memo said.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who represents Ward 12 Rideau-Vanier, said he doesn't think the review should be rushed.

"I think if there are obvious short-term operational elements that need to be adopted and implemented, that's on the city of Ottawa and Ottawa police services to make sure that is in place ahead of Canada Day," he said in an interview with CBC after the memo was issued.

But he said public inquiries like this are about more than just operational matters, and need to look at how decisions were made at the highest levels. 

'I think the communication, information, processes, all of that would be better served if it was conducted in one fulsome review rather than one at the municipal level,' says Coun. Mathieu Fleury of the auditor general's review. (Simon Lasalle/CBC)

Fleury also said he thinks the municipal review "still falls short," noting a federal inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act has already been called.

"It's nothing personal to the mandate of the [Ottawa auditor general], but I think by the situation of our city in the capital and the actions or inactions of different levels of government, I think an integrated public inquiry would serve residents in a capital much better," he said.

"I think the communication, information, processes, all of that would be better served if it was conducted in one fulsome review rather than one at the municipal level."

Consulting the public

Gougeon said the review will involve consulting city residents about what the areas of focus should be, something the police services board proposed after members of the public raised concerns at Monday's meeting.

"It is my intention to engage with members of the public to better understand the impacts of the demonstration on all aspects of the city," she said in the memo.

"It is my intention to be as transparent as possible throughout the course of our audit."

The memo didn't indicate when the work of the review will begin, or if it already has in some capacity.

With files from Guy Quenneville

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