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Morriseau files 4th human rights complaint against Police Board

The latest complaint filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleges Thunder Bay Police Services Board administrator Malcom Mercer is continuing the conduct of past complaints and Morriseau is seeking $300,000 in damages, upping the total damages sought to more than $1 million.
Georjann Morriseau
Georjann Morriseau ( file photograph)

THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay Police Services Board member Georjann Morriseau has filed a fourth human rights complainant against the board and several individuals, including the recently appointed administrator, Malcom Mercer, alleging harassment and discrimination.

“When Mr. Mercer was appointed in April 2022, we were very pleased. We had been requesting an administrator since filing our original complainants in October 2021,” said attorney Chantelle Bryson, who is representing Morriseau.

“But since that time we have been nothing but disappointed by his actions, which are upholding the conduct complained of and have continued some of that conduct, some of which by his own hand.”

The most recent complainant filed by Morriseau with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on Monday lists the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, Mercer, chief Sylvie Hauth, Thunder Bay Police Service legal counsel Holly Walbourne, board secretary John Hannam, Bernardi Law, and the Hamilton Police Service.

The complaint alleges discrimination on the part of the parties listed against Morriseau based on race and ethnic origin, as well as reprisal or threat of reprisal.

Morriseau filed the first human rights complainant in October 2021 alleging discrimination and harassment.

According to the most recent complaint filed with the HRTO, Morriseau met with Mercer in June 2022, shortly after he was appointed as administrator of the board in April.

“He expressed no concern for her complaints or the valid concerns for her personal safety and suggested to her that the subject matter of her complaints, which had caused her to take leave from the Board, was a 'personality dispute,’” the complaint reads.

It goes on to say that Mercer issued two memos to Morriseau alone regarding allegations she breached confidentiality and was in conflict of interest in October 2021.

“As detailed to the Board, Board counsel and Mr. Mercer on multiple occasions and without any meaningful response, Member Morriseau did not disclose confidential Board information other than in her legal pleadings which is permitted to exercise her rights at law,” the complaint reads. “Mr. Mercer and Board counsel continued to refuse to provide a meaningful response to Member Morriseau and her counsel about the false nature of these allegations.”

It is also alleged the board did not disclose Morriseau’s human rights complaint, along with 21 other HRTO complaints to the expert review panel that was appointed earlier this year to review policing in Thunder Bay, and Morriseau was not invited to participate in consultations.

“All of that together, we finally came to the conclusion in discussing these matters with Morriseau and other complainants, that we need to file a further discrimination, harassment, and retaliatory complaint,” Bryson said.

“This is all about a safe workplace and a better and more effective police service for our community. This is not what an administrator should do. Mr. Mercer is acting like a defense litigator, not an administrator.”

The latest complaint filed with the HRTO is also seeking $300,000 in damages. According to Bryson, previous complaints filed by Morriseau are seeking damages of a similar amount and believes the total is more than $1 million.

“We set the numbers very high given the history of the Police Services Board, the Broken Trust report, the Sinclair report, the previous administrator,” Bryson said. “The complete running out of an indigenous representative on a repeat basis. We’ve set the numbers very high in that context.”

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