Ottawa city council has voted to oust Coun. Diane Deans as chair of the local police services board amid the so-called “freedom convoy” protests that have taken over much of downtown Ottawa for weeks.
The move on Wednesday night came at a special city council meeting to address the ongoing blockade of the city’s downtown core, now nearly three weeks old.
Deans, a city councillor planning to run for mayor later this year, confirmed earlier reports that she and the police board had sought to hire a new interim chief of the local force after former Chief Peter Sloly resigned from his post on Tuesday.
Deans said she let Mayor Jim Watson know about the hiring as a “courtesy” earlier in the day but defended the move, saying the police board is legally distinct from council and able to hire new chiefs without the elected body’s consultation.
Vice-chair Sandy Smallwood, Coun. Carol Anne Meehan and Coun. Rawlson King also resigned their seats on the board Wednesday. Councillors Jeff Leiper and Eli El-Chantiry were meanwhile installed on the board, as was citizen member Suzanne Valiquet.
Some on council also suggested the board was not effective in its oversight of the Ottawa police, who have faced heavy criticism for its inaction in the ongoing demonstrations in the city. Coun. Scott Moffatt, who moved the motion to replace Deans, said he had “lost confidence” in the police services board’s handling of the crisis.
Wednesday marked 20 days since the so-called “Freedom Convoy” began its encampment in downtown Ottawa.
Watson previously set up a “backchannel deal” with organizers of the convoy to relocate trucks from residential streets and park them on Wellington Street near Parliament, where many people also live.
— with files from The Canadian Press