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Ottawa police board hired new chief without competition: sources

The chair of the Ottawa police services board hired a new police chief without going through a competition, sources told CTV News Ottawa.

Coun. Diane Deans went to the board to fire previous police chief Peter Sloly, sources said. After that, she and the board tried to hire a new interim chief from southern Ontario without a competition, sources told CTV News Ottawa.

The board moved to hire former Waterloo police chief Matthew Torigian, sources said.

Torigian is a fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

He served 29 years with the Waterloo Police Service, including seven as chief from 2007 to 2014. He then joined the Ontario public service.

No council member was told of the sole-sourced hiring, sources told CTV News.

Mayor Jim Watson offered Deans the chance to resign when he learned of the plan, but she refused, sources said. As a result, Watson led an effort to oust her from the board.

Four of the Ottawa police services board's seven members are appointed by city council. Council can vote to remove them.

The move comes in the midst of the unprecedented occupation of downtown Ottawa that has reached its 20th day.

Sources also said Deans paid out the remainder of Sloly’s contract in full as part of his departure. Sloly’s annual salary in 2021 was nearly $360,000. His contract was due to expire in 2024.

Deans explained to council why the Ottawa police services board decided to go with an interim police chief.

"The board made a decision to go with an interim that would bolster the senior command and assist with the plan to end this crisis as soon as possible," Deans said.

"The entire board was unanimous. It was made in consultation with the office of the solicitor general, our advisor who has said to us that he believes it was the best challenge."

Deans insists an interim chief would not change Interim Chief Steve Bell's role in the organization.

"It was the board's decision to make, it was made thoughtfully and I'm just actually gobsmacked that council, who have very little understanding of the very complex world of police, have decided to use this political ploy to second guess the people that serve on that board."

Responding to a question from Coun. Mathieu Fleury, Deans said she briefed Watson on the plan the board decided.

"Out of courtesy and respect for the office of the mayor, I briefed him this morning on what transpired at the board meeting and he decided to use that as a political ploy to unseat me and other members of the board," Deans said.

Watson told reporters after the council meeting that she asked Deans not to sign a contract with the new police chief during a meeting on Wednesday.

"She said she would not sign the contract and then a few hours later she informs everyone that the contract has been signed. I don't know what the legal repercussions are," Watson said.

"A sole-sourced contract is not acceptable for something this important, and not having any idea how much this is costing is another concern concern I think a lot of taxpayers have."

On Wednesday morning, Deans told CTV Morning Live that the board was working to find Sloly's replacement.

"We're working now to find a semi-permanent replacement for Chief Sloly, and we should be announcing that very soon," she said, adding that the hire would likely be a shorter-term contract given the municipal election in the fall.

"We're looking at a contract that may be just a couple of months to maybe the end of the year so the new police board can make a decision about the new chief."

A member of the Ottawa police services board resigned from the board before Wednesday's council meeting.

City Council citizen appointee Sandy Smallwood confirmed to CTV News Ottawa he resigned as a member. Smallwood said recent comments by Coun. Eli El-Chantiry in an article that questioned the actions of the board prompted him to resign.

"As a former chair, his opinions are of concern to me," Smallwood said in an email.


Watson says the new chief has signed a contract with the Ottawa Police Service, and it includes bringing consultants with him. The mayor hopes there's a possibility the new members of the police services board can stop the signed contract from moving ahead.

"Obviously, the new board will have to meet and look at what the agreement was that Coun. Deans signed with this individual. I think they will do their due diligence and determine whether this is a good deal for the city of Ottawa, what are the consequences financially and otherwise getting out of this arrangement," Watson said.

"Within a span of 24 hours, we went from one interim chief to another interim chief, who is not even from Ottawa, doesn't even know our city particularly well, as I understand it, and is promising to bring a number of consultants with him – I don't know what they'll be consulting on.

"We're in the midst of the greatest crisis our city has ever faced and the eyes of the world are on us and I have full confidence in acting Chief Bell to see us through the next little while, which I know are going to be very, very challenging times for every one of our first responders and our citizens."


Deans has been removed as chair of the Ottawa police services board, while Coun. Rawlson King, Carol Anne Meehan and Sandy Smallwood resigned from the board.

Coun. Scott Moffatt moved a motion during a special council meeting to remove Deans and Meehan as council appointees on the board.

"I feel the public has lost confidence in the actions of the police services board and the ability to lead," Moffatt said when asked why he tabled the motion.

Moffatt's motion proposed Coun. El-Chantiry replace Deans, while Coun. Jan Harder would take over Meehan's place on the board.

Under the motion, Coun. Rawlson King would have remained on the Ottawa Police Services Board. However, King resigned as a member of the board shortly after Council emerged from an in-camera meeting.

Council voted 15 to 9 for El-Chantiry to replace Deans. Council voted to have Coun. Jeff Leiper take over King's seat on the board.

Suzanne Valiquet would replace Smallwood as the council appointee to the Ottawa Police Services Board.

The motion to remove Meehan from the board was defeated, and she would have stayed on the board. However, at 10:47 p.m. Meehan resigned from the board. 

Deans accused Watson and council colleagues of playing "ugly, dirty politics in the middle of the biggest crisis in the city's history" with the vote to replace her on the board.

"No matter what Chair Deans says, this stupidity by the board has destabilized this place, more than Sloly resigning," Harder said.

"It was absolutely irresponsible to hire some random guy who hasn't policed in eight years."

Moffatt's motion notes Council expects the hiring of a new police chief "will be done following meaningful and constructive consultation with the community, and in particular, with marginalized communities who have been over-policed."

According to the Police Services Act, the board is responsible for the recruitment and appointment of the chief of police and any deputy chief, "and annually determine their remuneration and working conditions."


Vote for Eli El-Chantiry to replace Diane Deans

Yeas: Curry, Dudas, Moffatt, Gower, Darouze, Cloutier, Fleury, Kitts, El-Chantiry, Hubley, Harder, Tierney, Luloff, Egli, Watson

Nays: McKenney, Kavanagh, King, Meehan, Deans, Leiper, Brockington, Chiarelli, Menard

Vote for Jan Harder to replace Carol Anne Meehan (Meehan resigned at 10:47 p.m.)

Yeas: Curry, Dudas, Moffatt, Gower, Darouze, Cloutier, El-Chantiry, Hubley, Harder, Tierney, Watson

Nays: McKenney, Kavanagh, King, Meehan, Deans, Fleury, Kitts, Leiper, Brockington, Chiarelli, Menard, Luloff, Egli

Vote for Suzanne Valiquet to replace Sandy Smallwood


Dissent: Menard, Chiarelli and King

Vote for Jeff Leiper to replace Rawlson King


Dissent: Fleury, Meehan Top Stories

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