Thunder Bay police services board member removed, chief wants mayor gone, too

The newest addition to the Thunder Bay police services board has been removed just days after being appointed.

Thunder Bay lawyer John Cyr was appointed to the board by the province on Tuesday but calls for his resignation were almost immediate after a March, 2017 letter to the editor of the local paper resurfaced.

In it, Cyr wrote that comments made at the time by Senator Lynn Beyak were “balanced and thoughtful.”

A Senate ethics committee recently found letters posted by Beyak on her website were racist.

When she refused to remove them she was suspended for the during of Parliament.,

Following Cyr’s appointment to the police board, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in a statement, “it is unacceptable and insulting that a person who has expressed support for Senator Beyak’s racist actions would be appointed by the province to the board tasked with restoring the trust of this city’s troubled police service with the Indigenous community.”

Fiddler wrote “policing is in crisis in Thunder Bay, and there is no place for a residential school apologist to service a community that is struggling to rebuild the relationship between its police service and the Indigenous population.”

On Friday, Cyr was gone.

A statement provided by the Ontario Office of the Solicitor General says in part, “our government values its relationship with Ontario’s Indigenous people and are committed to making it a meaningful partnership.  John Cyr’s views do not align with those of our government.

“That’s why as soon as we became aware of Mr. Cry’s past views, the government acted to remove Mr. Cyr from the Thunder Bay police services board.”

Chief Peter Collins of the neighbouring Fort William First Nation welcomed the news.

“You don’t put people in place that support that kind of tone or that kind of discussion,” Collins said in a phone interview.

“The problems we have is the very reason why he shouldn’t be sitting there.”

Collins is also calling on the removal of Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro from the police board.

He wrote the solicitor general and the administrator of the police board.

In the letter, Collins wrote, “I have come to the conclusion that in light of the persistent failure by the Mayor of Thunder Bay to acknowledge, by his actions and words, the seriousness of systemic racism that exists, there is an inherent conflict of interest in the Mayor’s seat on the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

“I believe it requires that they Mayor be removed from the Thunder Bay Police Services Board and replaced by further indigenous representation.”

Collins says the mayor’s actions and remarks are inconsistent with the recent investigation into the police board by Senator Murray Sinclair.

Sinclair’s report found the trust in police among Indigenous people has eroded in part by a series of incidents “demonstrating the presence, if not the prevalence, of racist attitudes within the TBPS.

One of those incidents involves the current mayor’s brother, Sgt. Jim Mauro who on Christmas day in 2006, placed a prank 9-1-1 call while on duty imitating a First Nation’s woman.

Mauro was disciplined with a four day suspension and required to issue an apology.

Bill Mauro did not respond for a request for an interview.

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