The Ottawa Police Services Board has named B.C. RCMP assistant commissioner Eric Stubbs as the city’s new chief of police.
Stubbs will assume his responsibilities as head of the Ottawa Police Service on Nov. 17.
The announcement comes just days before Ottawa’s municipal election, which will be held on Monday, and means the new chief will begin work two days after the new city council takes office.
Eli El-Chantiry, the chair of the police board and an outgoing city councillor, said the board felt it was their duty to select a new chief to avoid any delays that would come with waiting for a new police board to make the appointment.
Former chief Peter Sloly resigned in February, about three weeks into the “Freedom Convoy” protests that paralyzed the city’s downtown core.
Steve Bell, the former deputy chief, has been interim chief since Sloly’s resignation.
Mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney congratulated the chief-elect in a tweet and expressed concern over the timing of the appointment.
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“It is inappropriate how this process has unfolded days before an election, during a national inquiry into the convoy occupation,” McKenney said.
McKenney and fellow mayoral candidate Bob Chiarelli sent a letter to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission on Tuesday, raising similar concerns.
They asked the commission to investigate whether it is a conflict of interest for El-Chantiry — who is part of the mayoral campaign for Mark Sutcliffe — to be overseeing the hiring of a new chief.
“The public’s confidence in the Ottawa Police Service was shaken to its core as residents experienced hardship, both physical and mental, as demonstrators illegally occupied our city for weeks on end without effective intervention by the police and city of Ottawa officials,” the letter read.
“To build a city hall that you can trust, we must restore trust in the Ottawa Police Service, and this includes an ethical hiring of the new chief.”
El-Chantiry said there is no conflict of interest and defended the decision to appoint a new chief.
“During a municipal election period, the board continued its work. It’s not a lame-duck board,” he said Friday.
“We felt it was unacceptable for the service or the community to be expected to wait for the next iteration of the board to confirm a permanent chief.”
A public inquiry is underway into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14. Senior officers from the Ottawa police and Ontario Provincial Police testified in public hearings this week that there was “dysfunction” and “disorganization” within the Ottawa police ranks as it tried to get a handle on the protests.
Stubbs said one of his priorities will be to dig deeper into what happened within the police force during the convoy protests.
“The OPS will learn and, going forward, be better,” Stubbs said.