Who Can End The Police Dispute?


The Ottawa Police Service is a critical part of this city.

That’s self-evident. So the fact that there is a huge gulf between the police executive and the rank-and-file must be concerning to all residents.

The Ottawa Police Association has pulled out of ceremonial duties and voluntary joint committees. The OPA believes the situation surrounding the OPS executive is untenable.

The OPA says its membership is tired of being treated unfairly.

So now Ottawans need to know who will stand up for the citizens of this community?

Mayor Jim Watson has lost his mediating ability when he told officers that if they are unhappy they can move to another force. Not the finest management technique. The OPA after that is unlikely to take much the mayor will say seriously.

The Police Services Board has repeatedly sided with the OPS executive and has slavishly avoided dealing with controversial decisions. The PSB has lost its ability to bring the two sides together.

So who can lead to mediate this dispute? Watson can’t. The PSB can’t.

Who’s left?

Who will lead?


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9 thoughts on “Who Can End The Police Dispute?

  1. Is there anyone who hasn’t burned bridges and has the experience to sit down with these folks? Brian Ford comes to mind – I don’t know what he’s doing these days. He was the Chief for a number of years but was a guy who came up through the ranks from Constable. He was well-respected within the force and in the community and might be able to get somewhere.
    The other person I thought of is Paul Dewar who has years of experience dealing with people who may not want to talk to each other.
    This is a real shame coming on the heels of the first negotiated pay deal in many, many years. I had hoped that was a sign of better relations between the two groups.

    1. Brian Ford actually started as a Cadet (age 18 to 21, no gun) when the OPS had those positions. He may have been Bordeleau’s boss at one time and he also ran against Lisa MacLeod as a Liberal, so these two factors might work against him.
      Nothing against Paul Dewar, but sad day when Ottawa has only one or two names when things hit the fan.
      It was always my understanding that Police Officers took an oath on joining the OPS which put duty first, not their egos, agendas, etc.
      Should service continue to disintegrate, believe it may be up to the Ontario AG to fix it.

  2. When Chief Vern White left for the Senate, the Ottawa Police Services Board opted to fill the vacancy from within, rather than seeking a new leader from outside the force. Apparently the top two choices were Bourdeleau and Flanagan, with Bourdeleau getting the nod.

    When this sort of thing happens in private enterprise, the person who does not get the promotion usually seeks employment elsewhere. That person wants to be a CEO, so she/he must look for greener fields. The new CEO is quite happy with the departure of her/his rival, as the individual who was not chosen will have her/his supporters in the organization.

    This did not happen at the OPS. Flanagan is still there, he has his supporters, and they hold leadership positions in the union.

    In short, this problem is not going to go away anytime soon.

    1. Ron,
      I must somewhat disagree with “usually seeks employment elsewhere”. While that is what often does happen, it should not be what happens. An employee owes his loyalty and fidelity to his/her employer – period. If one feels unwilling to carry on performing his/her duty, after not being picked, then leave. Otherwise, stay and work for the benefit of the organization you serve.

      99.9% of the time, I would not hire a job applicant that left his/her employment because of hurt feelings about being second choice.

      1. Chaz,

        I think loyalty and fidelity are also part of the issue, employees are favoring the union more then they favor the employer.

        1. Kosmo,
          Yes, that can happen too. In another comment I started with the term ” us versus them “. That is a problem.
          It should be a we.
          Some adults need to read the book – ” All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum


  3. I have been involved in us versus them negotiations. One thing I can say, with utmost certainty, is that Mr. Watson definitely put his big ole foot in his big ole mouth when he made that like-it-or-lump-it comment to the rank and file. Comments, such as that one, are very difficult to be over-looked. Even after apologies, that comment will still leave a bad taste.

    Here is my advice – start off with a fresh start meeting. Each side must agree to hold a refresh it meeting. Shaking of hands, nods, smiles, apologies,coffee a neutral chairperson ( like perhaps Mr. K ) and a big old fashioned black board are needed.. Mr. Watson must be at the meeting, he must have made an apology but neither he or the chief or the head of the oversight board can chair.

    Then people start talking like they are intelligent human beings. They must talk TO each other and not AT each other. Before any negotiations start , the chairperson starts writing things on the black board as they are uttered. When the civilized exchange of words is over, they look at the black board. Look for what you agree on, look for what you some-what agree on and look at what you are polarized on.

    Now, with an acknowledgement of where you are in agreement move to the some-what in agreement items. Solve those points first and then move on to the final nitty-gritty.

    Show only complete respect for each other. No yelling, no name calling and no snide side-ways glaces or eye rolling. With only one thought in mind – your duty to work for the citizens of the city that you serve, negotiate.

  4. I’m not sure who I have less confidence in. Bordeleau has not distinguished himself during his tenure; Skof has only one audience in mind: his members; El-Chantiry lacks the backbone to represent the city and the citizens when it comes to the crunch; and Watson has soiled his bedding. What a conundrum.


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