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Police union leader calls for Halifax council to respond to no-confidence vote on chief

Nov. 8 council meeting didn't address 96% vote against Kinsella

3 min read
caption Halifax Regional Council meets on Nov. 8. The city's police union wants council to address its concerns about Chief Dan Kinsella.

The head of Halifax’s police union is calling on regional council to do more to address last month’s vote of no-confidence in Chief Dan Kinsella.

Dean Stienburg wants municipal and provincial leaders to address the union’s concerns over safety for both officers and residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

He’s concerned that councillors did not address the vote in their 10-hour open meeting on Nov. 8. That was council’s first meeting since the vote of no-confidence.

The Halifax Police Association held an online vote for its members between Oct. 14 and Oct. 30. There was an 84 per cent turnout, with 96 per cent voting no-confidence in Kinsella’s leadership.

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“I would like to see council, the CAO’s [chief administrative officer] office, and the [Halifax] Board of Police Commissioners, even the provincial government and minister of justice to look at this and see we’ve got a problem in policing,” Stienburg said in an interview Sunday.

He is calling for an internal review of Halifax Regional Police by an independent organization with experience in police management.

“If council aren’t prepared to move the chief along, I would really like to see council engage an independent company to do a review of the leadership and HR practices within HRP … I think that would then give both council and the Board of Police Commissioners an objective, unbiased report on what is occurring, and then they can make a decision from there.”

Coun. Patty Cuttell said she wants to see a briefing memo on the issue, but council doesn’t have the authority to direct police or address management issues.

“People are looking for action from council, and I think it’s important that they understand council’s limitations in directing the police,” she said on Tuesday.

She said a briefing memo would be useful in January when council exercises its one area of authority around Halifax police — approving the budget.

In an interview after the Nov. 8 council meeting, Deputy Mayor Pamela Lovelace said she believes council is equipped to respond to policing challenges.  She said the last two years have been very difficult for policing in the city.

“I think that there’s definitely a change that needs to take place. Perhaps it’s a generational change. But for me, it comes down to policy development,” Lovelace said.

The Halifax board of police commissioners provides governance and oversight on policing in the HRM.

At the regional council meeting, Coun. Lisa Blackburn was re-elected to the police board. She said the board is not in a position to address the vote.

“The chief isn’t our employee. He’s hired by council,” she said in an interview on Nov. 8. “I don’t think (the board) is really the right body to report or to speak to that.”

Coun. Lindell Smith, chair of the police board, agreed that issues surrounding the chief’s contract are the concern of council, and not the police board. Stienburg said he plans to contact the board.

“There is a process to get in front of the board of police commissioners that anyone can use. So that would be the same process that residents would use if they want to have meetings with us,” Smith said on Nov. 8.

Dean Stienburg urged regional council to take public safety seriously.

“Any time that the council actively attempts to avoid a serious public safety issue, [that is] a problem for the residents of HRM,” he said.

Provincial Justice Minister Brad Johns declined to comment on Stienburg’s request for provincial support.

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Katie McKenna

Katie grew up on the Mira River in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She launched Social Justice Radio on CFXU 93.3 FM The Fox in 2010 at St. Francis...

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