Human Rights hearing resumes for officer accusing Windsor police of gender bias

The Human Rights hearing for a staff sergeant who's accused Windsor Police of passing her over for promotions resumed Tuesday.

Bissonnette filed a 39-page complaint

Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette leaves the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing at Windsor city hall on Thursday September 13, 2017. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing for an officer who has accused Windsor police of passing her over for promotions resumed Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette filed a 39-page complaint to the HRTO, naming the Windsor Police Services Board and Chief Al Frederick, as well as former senior officers Rick Derus, Vince Power and Rick Facciolo. 

Bissonnette alleges she was passed over for several promotions because of her gender, and that promotions were based on popularity. She also says she wasn't given the same training opportunities as her male colleagues.

At Tuesday's hearing, Suzanne Porter, the lawyer representing police, argued against Bissonnette's request for notes from different members of Windsor police, calling it "cumbersome and time-consuming."

While Porter said the "chief doesn't have a notebook," Bissonnette also had not yet been provided notes from former deputy chief Rick Derus and former superintendent John St. Louis. 

According to Bissonnette, she began requesting documents from WPS in 2015. She said she knows some of the documents she's asking for are "available with the press of a button," and that there's no reason they shouldn't be provided.

WPS lawyer Porter countered that "turnaround time is what it is," for some of the documents and that they found it "offensive" that Bissonnette was attacking their efforts.

Among the documents requested by Bissonnette are some that relate to the promotional process that existed in 2013. She claimed it would make it "really clear to you the discriminatory practice," and she argued to have it admitted as evidence. Porter argued against and the adjudicator opted to review notes before deciding. 

Bissonnette proceeded with her testimony despite not having the notes. She discussed a WPS board meeting where she was to present information, but then the board meeting was moved to a time when she was already scheduled to take a vacation. It meant she was unable to attend that board meeting.

The hearing resumes Wednesday with WPS legal counsel beginning their cross-examination.

With files from Jason Viau