In our continued examination of in-camera (closed) meetings at the Town of Midland, we turned our gaze at the Police Services Board. In a MidlandCommunity.ca article titled January Council Highlights from February 2014, Roy Ellis and Stewart Strathearn wrote one of many articles complaining of the lack of transparency at the Police Services Board. They commented that “George Dixon recently made a deputation to the Police Services Board in which he expressed his view that the Board is holding meetings behind closed doors in violation of the Police Services Act. ” This article perpetuates the theme established by Midland Community that in-camera meetings deprive the community of information and reflect poorly on the participants namely the previous Members of Council that disagreed with them. They openly criticize the previous Council and Police Services Board for in-camera meetings saying they are unnecessary and indicate a lack of transparency.
Keeping this in mind, and following our review of in-camera uses (or “abuses” as Ellis, Dixon and Strathearn have said before they were the ones on the committees & boards) in 2015, we read every set of minutes for the Police Services Board since January 2015. What shocked us is that in January of 2015 George Dixon and Stewart Strathearn were given the opportunity to fix the perceived lack of transparency when Midland Council appointed them both to the Police Services Board. They were even selected as Chair and Vice-Chair giving them their big opportunity to avoid in-camera meetings and remove any evidence of secrecy. Since that time they have held 13 Police Service Board meetings and every single meeting has had an in-camera portion to the meeting. Not one meeting was without an in-camera item.
Is the Chair George Dixon, breaching the Police Services act as he suggested was the case for the previous Board?
Is the Board, led by George Dixon and Stewart Strathearn conducting improper meetings and depriving Midland citizens of information they should have?
Where is all the negativity from Roy Ellis in his monthly rebukes of Council and Boards now? Perhaps the reality cheque just arrived on time, along with our future. Now that MidlandCommunity.ca’s founding members are on so many boards, Council and committees, we don’t hear or read much whining anymore other than about wages and benefits of those who are in the trenches actually keeping the town working.
The truth of it is, we don’t think it is wrong to hold in-camera meetings. We understand that some things need to be private. However, it is clear that Mr. Ellis, Mr. Dixon and Mr. Strathearn use allegations of secrecy or breaching the Police Services Act to improperly criticize previous Members of Council and the Police Services Board to forward their own agendas.
Midland Community.ca January 2016 Council Update
“As you may know, MidlandCommunity.ca has been critical of some recent staff discussions and recommendations, including the 3-year non-unionized staff management agreement which we believe is rich and begs for much needed change, the perplexing withdrawal from the Midland Fire arbitration process and the resulting generous agreement, a staff that is seemingly paralyzed when faced with the task of attacking the fiscal budget to reduce spending and taxes, and the ambitious meeting schedule of current IBEW labour negotiations which could only be described as bizarre; perhaps all contributed to a change at the top. “