Berthiaume, The Board And The Bulls

As mentioned in a previous post, Amherstburg Police Chief Berthiaume’s presentation to the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG), incorporated the group’s questions about the police contract.

A section of Berthiaume’s presentation includes a slide titled Future Challenges, Contract Negotiations that is followed by:

Slide 18: Does this mean the board is gambling?

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Slide 20 is titled “1 Against 5,” presumably the Board against the 5 contracts.

Police Board Against 5 Bulls A huge bull is prominently displayed in slide 21, with no title, but one can speculate its meaning with the bull’s label: Police Arbitration System Ontario.

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It is unclear if Berthiaume’s presentation represents his position as chief, one of the bulls.

The Police Association of Ontario (PAO) acknowledged some organizations’ position that “Ontario’s arbitration system is broken and needs to be fixed” and how they are very quick to blame the arbitration system for local tax increases saying that “so many of our collective agreements are determined through interest arbitration.”

The PAO’s Interest Arbitration Facts, asks if the criticism is based on facts. The Backgrounder contains one little known fact: The Arbitration Commission is a neutral body that is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. It is balanced by members from both Associations and Police Services Boards.

According to the Ontario Police Arbitration Commission website, its “main function involves the appointment of conciliators and arbitrators to assist police associations and police services boards in the resolution of disputes arising out of the negotiations and administration of their collective agreements. The Arbitration Commission is a neutral body and does not become involved in the issues between the parties and does not influence the outcome of conciliation or arbitration.”

ONTARIO REGULATION 268/10 made under the POLICE SERVICES ACT limits political activity of police officers and since the Chief is not a party to contracts between the Board and the Association, the Board should have answered questions from ratepayers.

Current Council Candidates and Amherstburg Police Services Board members Frank Cleminson, Pauline Gemmell and John Sutton are campaigning, but have not answered questions about the contract: if it is currently being negotiated, if a consultant was hired and if there was a competitive process.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

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