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Politics

Hamilton police board appointment surprises, disappoints diversity advocates

Matthew Green, Executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, is among those critical of city council for failing to address diversity concerns on the police services board.
Matthew Green, Executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, is among those critical of city council for failing to address diversity concerns on the police services board. Ken Mann/Global News

The membership of Hamilton’s police services board continues to be a topic of controversy.

Diversity advocates, including Evelyn Myrie who spoke with CHML’s Bill Kelly on Monday morning, say the city has missed an opportunity after retired Zip Signs president Fred Bennink was appointed to fill its vacancy on the board.

READ MORE: Diverse communities hope to be better represented on Hamilton Police Services Board

Myrie, who is the president of the Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association, says she has nothing against Bennink, but argues there were qualified candidates with organizational skills and relevant experience who represent diverse communities.

In the wake of recent community discussions about a lack of diversity and inclusion on the primarily male, white police services board, Myrie admits that she’s “surprised” by the selection.

LISTEN: Bill Kelly talks to Evelyn Myrie about the appointment Fred Bennink to Hamilton’s police services board 

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READ MORE: Hamilton Police Services board gets new look

Specifically, she notes that Ameil Joseph, who is a McMaster University researcher and whose work deals with forensic mental health, the courts and the justice system, was a candidate for the position.

She adds that “I really thought it might have been him” that would be chosen, given his background.

Myrie was also a candidate to fill the vacancy, but insists that her comments are not sour grapes.

WATCH: (March 1) Impaired driver blows 4 times over legal limit of alcohol in crash on County Road 28: OPP

Impaired driver blows 4 times over legal limit of alcohol in crash on County Road 28: OPP
Impaired driver blows 4 times over legal limit of alcohol in crash on County Road 28: OPP

Executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and former city councillor Matthew Green has also expressed disappointment.

The appointment, he says, is “another example of city council protecting the status quo.”

READ MORE: Bill Kelly: Pat Mandy should be new Hamilton Police Services board chair

Bennink will join three members of city council on the police board, Mayor Fred Eisenberger and councillors Chad Collins and Tom Jackson.

There are also three provincial appointees, Don MacVicar, Robert Elms and Pat Mandy, who is Indigenous and a former CEO of Hamilton’s Local Health Integration Network.

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