‘Worst kept secret’: New Cornwall police board member ready but province slow off the mark

In this March 2016, file photo, Cornwall police board member provincial appointee Pat Finucan speaks during a meeting at city hall. Finucan's seat has been vacant on the police board for nearly two years. Police Chief Dan Parkinson says the province has indicated it won't be filled until after the June Ontario election. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to delete the reference to Brian Snyder. Under the Police Services Act, a justice of the peace cannot sit on a police board.

CORNWALL – Cornwall’s police board has had an empty chair for nearly two years and by all indications the province isn’t in a hurry to fill it.

The five member Cornwall Community Police Services Board has two provincial appointees. The last appointment was Michel Payette in June 2016. His term is set to expire on June 21, 2018.

The second vacant seat, once held by Pat Finucan, has been empty for almost two years.

The vacancy does put somewhat of a strain on the board as it has to have a minimum of three members in attendance in order for a meeting to take place.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Police Chief Dan Parkinson says the person is really to fill the void.

“It’s probably the worst kept secret about who. But he hasn’t been officially appointed by the province. We’ve been told that the paperwork is on the minister’s desk, it’s been there for a while,” Parkinson said.

“I think the last information we got was anything on the minister’s desk now is not going to be acted upon until after the election,” Parkinson said.

The chief said they are comfortable with the person who will be appointed, calling him a “serial pillar” in the community and that he recently spoke at his retirement. “I maintain that this person, a very visible member of a number of community and social organizations, that have served the benefit of this community for a long time.”

When asked about the delay in the appointment, Dorijan Najdovski with the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, sent the following statement:

“Strong and effective civilian governance is fundamental to policing in Ontario. Provincially appointed police services board members are selected through a transparent and fair process and are rigorously screened for suitability to the position. Our thorough selection process helps to ensure police services boards meet community needs. Once selected, provincial appointees are publicly posted on the Public Appointments Secretariat’s website.”

A check today (Monday) of the Public Appointments Secretariat website still shows the board appointment space as vacant.

A PAS official declined to provide any details on the delay in filling the vacancy.