Indigenous

Lawyer overseeing Thunder Bay police board involved in law society investigation that faced rebuke

The lawyer appointed to temporarily oversee the Thunder Bay police board was once tasked with an Ontario law society investigation that was ultimately dropped because it didn't meet the society's "high standards" of fairness, according to records.

First Nations leaders say appointment of Thomas Lockwood done without consultation

Thomas Lockwood, the Toronto-area lawyer appointed by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to administer the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, says the board will receive training in writing policies to create the proper oversight of the police service. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

The lawyer appointed to temporarily oversee the Thunder Bay police board was once tasked with an Ontario law society investigation that was ultimately dropped because it didn't meet the society's "high standards" of fairness, according to records.

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission's (OCPC) executive chair Linda Lamoureux appointed Thomas J. Lockwood last week to temporarily oversee the Thunder Bay police board for a year.

The appointment followed a report done on behalf of the OCPC by Sen. Murray Sinclair that found the police board failed in its oversight of the Thunder Bay police amid persistent allegations of systemic racism — which was bolstered by a separate report by Office of the Independent Police Review Director on the police service itself.

Sinclair called for the board to be disbanded and run in the interim by an outside administrator.

Lockwood has an extensive history working for administrative bodies, including Ontario's law society, the OCPC and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada where he has acted as chair of disciplinary panels, according to the public record.

Lockwood and his firm's involvement with a law society investigation over a case against a prominent lawyer-businessman drew a rebuke in 2000 from the law society disciplinary panel.

"We have no doubt that in this case the high standards of the Law Society were not met," wrote Roger Yachetti, the chair of the disciplinary panel, in a decision essentially dismissing the case which began in 1989.

'Entirely wasted'

In the decision, Yachetti criticized Lockwood and his firm's, Lockwood and Associates, handling of the case. Lockwood and his firm were retained in 1990 by the law society to investigate the case.

Yachetti said Lockwood "apparently delegated" the investigation to an associate named Eric Fournie.

"Over the next two years, there is no evidence that the Lockwood firm did a single thing to further the investigation," said Yachetti.

Sylvie Hauth, (centre) chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service, confers with chair Celina Reitberger (left), administrator Thomas Lockwood (second from left) and Thunder Bay city clerk John Hannam on Tuesday. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

When the firm did begin working the case, Yachetti said Lockwood's associate began a wide-ranging probe involving issues unrelated to the initial complaint at the "instigation" of an individual who had "adverse interest" to the target of the investigation.

About a month after Lockwood and Fournie provided their final investigation report to the law society, the law society then appointed Edward Greenspan to conduct the same investigation all over again, said the ruling.

"The four and a half years of investigation that preceded Greenspan's appointment as investigator had been entirely wasted," wrote Yachetti.

Lockwood did not respond to several requests for comment.

He was also involved in a number of high profile cases, including the law society investigation of disgraced former NHL Players Association president Alan Eagleson, and represented the wife of former Brian Mulroney cabinet minister Sinclair Stevens during a public inquiry into conflict of interest allegations.

Chiefs criticize appointment

Lockwood is an unknown to First Nations leaders in Ontario who question his appointment to oversee the embattled Thunder Bay police services board at such a sensitive time.

Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald blasted the appointment of Lockwood this week.

AFN Ontario regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald said Thomas Lockwood's appointment was done without consultation. (Supplied/Laura Barrios)

Archibald said in a statement that the appointment did not meet Sinclair's recommendation that it should be done in consultation with the Indigenous community.

"We have to address this immediately," said Archibald.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler released a statement earlier this week saying Lockwood's appointment was "unacceptable" and that he was "hastily selected without any consultation" from the Indigenous community.

The OCPC said in a statement that Lockwood, who was involved in Sinclair's investigation, met all the "recommended attributes" set out in Sinclair's recommendations.

"Mr. Lockwood is a well-respected lawyer with significant experience in governance, policing, the justice system and public law," said the statement.

The statement said the recommended attributes were "reviewed in consultation" with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty 3 and Rainy River First Nations through their lawyer Julian Falconer.

Falconer called the OCPC's suggestion his clients were consulted "utterly false, the opposite of true."

Falconer said he wanted to know how Lockwood was chosen and who created the job description.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler criticized the appointment of Thomas Lockwood to oversee the Thunder Bay police board. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The OCPC would not explain the process for Lockwood's selection. The OCPC said Lockwood did have a previous "professional relationship" with Lamoureux, who heads the OCPC.

"There is no conflict of interest," said the statement.

Sinclair's report stated that Lockwood had done previous work for OCPC and that he acted as a liaison with the OCPC during the investigation.

Thunder Bay Police Services Board chair Celina Reitberger recently told CBC News that she was looking forward to working with Lockwood and that he had some "good ideas."

Reitberger did not return a request for comment.

About the Author

Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. He works for CBC's Indigenous unit based out of Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter @JorgeBarrera or email him jorge.barrera@cbc.ca.