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London, Ont. councillors select candidates for vacant police board seat

London, Ontario's city hall as seen in October 2021. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

In a second attempt to fill the vacant seat on the city’s police board, London, Ont., councillors have selected five candidates to interview for the role.

The candidates selected for interviews are Gita Canaran, Joseph Wabegijig, Ryan Gauss, Stephen D’Amelio and Michele Anderson.

The five were selected during a Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC) meeting Tuesday evening; all councillors are members of the SPPC.

In a motion introduced by Mayor Josh Morgan, a special meeting of the SPPC will be called at a later date to accommodate as many councillors as possible to interview the five candidates.

Interviews will be conducted in-camera, so they will not be for public viewing.

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Canaran is a clinical psychologist and trauma therapist in London, with her work focusing on the treatment of first responders. Canaran also has experience on various boards and committees related to her career.

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The executive director of Atlohsa Family Healing Services, Wabegijig also serves on the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Services Board and previously worked in the Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services.

Gauss is the director of operations and personnel for Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos and has previously worked in multiple civilian roles for the RCMP. Gauss is the chair of the Bethanys Hope Foundation Board of Directors.

D’Amelio is a package handler for UPS and has served in various roles with the London Pride Festival. D’Amelio also serves on committees with the Thames Valley District School Board and the London AfroCentric Community Association.

Anderson is the associate director of student experience-academic support and engagement at Western University and currently serves as the vice-chair and Ontario representative for the Inter-University Disabilities Issues Association.

This marked the second time the SPPC has attempted to fill the empty citizen seat after former chair Susan Toth announced her resignation from the police board on Jan. 19.

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The committee’s initial selection of Gauss, who served as campaign manager in 2022 for Morgan, faced backlash from both the community and former board members.

Critics argued the person filling the seat should bring a lived experience from a marginalized and overpoliced community on top of their qualifications. Gauss was one of three finalists in the original selection process alongside Wabegijig and Zeba Hashmi.

At its April 4 meeting, council decided to reverse course in a 13-2 vote to send the appointment back to the committee level for a more comprehensive process of finding Toth’s replacement.

The motion passed by the committee to recommend the five candidates for interviews will still need the approval of regular council at a later date.

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