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Oakville’s mayor resigns from police board after approving Halton chief’s trip to Florida amid pandemic

Don Mitchell / Global News

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says he has resigned his position as the chair of Halton Regional Police (HRPS) board for not recommending against chief Stephen Tanner’s trip away from Canada amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burton says he notified Halton’s regional chair, Gary Carr, of his resignation on Monday afternoon, saying he was ‘deeply regretful’ of the decision to let Tanner attend to personal business matters abroad.

Read more: Halton region police chief travels to Florida amid COVID-19 pandemic

“I am resigning now as a member of the Halton Police Board, deeply regretful for my response to the chief’s proposed trip, proud of what we have accomplished in my years as chair, and hopeful for the continued nation-leading success of the HRPS and its Board,” Burton said in his statement.

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“I regret sincerely that I focused at the time on the ways the chief’s trip qualified as essential travel. I should have recommended against it because it could generate public concern about me not setting a higher example than the rules and guidelines actually called for.”

On Friday, Tanner admitted he travelled to Florida with the “knowledge and support” of chair Burton last week.

Click to play video 'Halton police chief apologizes after being caught abroad during coronavirus lockdown' Halton police chief apologizes after being caught abroad during coronavirus lockdown
Halton police chief apologizes after being caught abroad during coronavirus lockdown – Jan 8, 2021

“My decision to travel in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation was a poor decision, and one that I deeply regret,” Tanner said.

The head of the union that represents close to 700 police officers in Halton Region says the whereabouts of the Chief came to light when he did not appear at a memorial for Det. Const. Mike Tidball from the regional fraud unit who died suddenly on Wednesday.

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Clayton Gillis, president of Halton Regional Police Association, confirmed to Global News that Chief Tanner travelled to Florida despite pleas from the province’s medical officials telling Ontarians to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Halton’s police board is set to meet Friday to discuss Tanner’s travel to the U.S. following his return to Canada this weekend. Tanner has begun his mandatory quarentine, according to the acting chair.

Oakville councillor Jef Knoll has assumed the role of acting chair.