A Hamilton police report labels Enbridge Inc as “notorious”. That’s unfair says a citizens’ group critical of the company’s pipeline expansion plans. The Hamilton 350 Committee wants an apology issued to Enbridge. The group also says its complaint that the Police Services Board accepted money from Enbridge has been improperly characterized by police and incorrectly investigated.
The police report summary of the group’s complaint claims that a member of the group “alleges that the Hamilton Police Service accepted a bribe from the notorious oil company Enbridge.” The climate change action group “strongly disagrees” with this description.
“It is unfair to Enbridge Inc to refer to them as ‘notorious’; it is inaccurate to refer to them as an ‘oil company’; and it is unfair and inaccurate to characterize the Hamilton 350 letter of complaint as ‘alleges that the Hamilton Police Service accepted a bribe’,” says a reply letter from the committee. “We have not accused anyone of accepting a bribe. Further we have filed no complaint against the Hamilton Police Service. Our complaint was made regarding a decision of the Hamilton Police Service Board.”
The committee’s complaint focused on the decision of the board to accept $45,000 from Enbridge and argued that it was unethical and that the monies should be returned.
“Justice is supposed to be blind and the police are supposed to treat everyone fairly and equally,” stated the letter of complaint to the Board. “It is difficult, then, to understand how accepting donations from private individuals and corporations could not contribute to undermining the principle of fairness and equality before the law.”
The complaint was delivered on June 6, but has never been on the public agenda of the Police Services Board. Instead, the Board’s administrator sent it to a provincial review agency who ordered an investigation that was subsequently handed to the professional standards branch of local police.
The Hamilton 350 Committee argues that was a mistake because that branch examines the conduct of individual police officers not the actions of the Police Services Board.
“We also think it inappropriate for you to refer our complaint to the Professional Standards Branch and treat the complaint as if it concerned the inappropriate conduct of a sworn officer. Rather, ours is a policy complaint about what we perceive to be the inappropriate conduct of the Hamilton Police Services Board in accepting donations from individuals and corporations.”
The committee is now asking that written apologies be issued, including to Enbridge, and that their original complaint be publicly considered at the next meeting of the Police Services Board and “dealt with expeditiously and in an appropriate fashion.”
The police report dismisses the committee’s complaint and finds “that the Hamilton Police Service has adhered to the guidelines of the Ontario Police Services Act and the City of Hamilton Procurement Policy.” It argues that the police are required to have a budget plan, and that the Enbridge donation “allowed the Hamilton Police Service to achieve one of the goals of the business plan” which includes “developing different ways to supplement the funding of services by taking advantage of funding opportunities.”
It describes how the ATV unit purchased with Enbridge funding has proved helpful and concludes that “no policy or procedure was breached.”
The report doesn’t directly address the Hamilton 350 Committee allegations that police accepting monies from private corporations contradicts the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but it does include a sentence in the conclusion that “the Hamilton Police Services Board and the Hamilton Police Services believe in the importance of safeguarding the fundamental rights guaranteed” by the Charter. V