THUNDER BAY - For the second time, an administrator has been appointed to oversee the Thunder Bay Police Services Board for what the Ontario Civilian Police Commission is calling an "emergency" in the board’s oversight of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
The Ontario Civilian Police Commission announced on Tuesday that it has appointed Malcolm Mercer as the administrator who is to be in place for six months.
“The Administrator’s role is to restore proper governance, to ensure that the TBPSB is providing sufficient oversight of police services in Thunder Bay, and to re-establish public confidence in the TBPSB and Thunder Bay Police Service's ability to deliver adequate and effective policing services in the community,” a spokesperson with the OCPC said in a statement.
The move comes following two letters received by the OCPC in December 2021. The first letter from former Police Services Board chair Georjann Morriseau, received on Dec. 15, 2021, called for the appointment of an administrator.
A second letter received on Dec. 18, 2021 from board members excluding Morriseau brought forward issues concerning her alleged disclosure of information provided in closed sessions.
Morriseau has previously filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against the Thunder Bay Police Service and board alleging systemic discrimination.
In February 2022, the OCPC launched an investigation into the senior administration of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
Sean Weir, chair of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, said in his order issued Tuesday that an emergency exists in the Police Services Board and it is not able to work effectively as a board, similar to a time of an earlier recommendation from Senator Murray Sinclair’s previous report into misconduct on the part of the board, which also saw the implementation of an administrator.
Administrator Thomas Lockwood sat on the Police Services Board until June 2020 after being appointed in December 2018 following the release of Sinclair’s report.
“It is reasonable to conclude that this continued public display of fundamentally divergent opinions among TB Board members will have created significant doubt in the Thunder Bay community of the TB Board’s ability to provide adequate oversight of the TB Police Service,” Weir wrote.
“There are allegations of reprisals by one TB Board member against the rest of the TB Board coupled with allegations of improper disclosure of confidential information and breaches of conflict of interest by those Board members against another member.”
Mercer is currently the chair of the Law Society Tribunal and the former treasurer of the Law Society of Ontario, a past chair of the Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee of the Canadian Bar Association, and general counsel and litigation partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
Weir said his term as administrator may be extended beyond the six months if necessary.