WINNIPEG — Jeff Browaty has resigned as the chairman of the Winnipeg Police Board following comments he made about residential schools.
This comes a day after the police board called for Mayor Brian Bowman to replace Browaty as its chair. The recommendation was made after Browaty made comments in December that questioned the need for city staff to received education about the residential school system.
He said he didn’t think it was necessary for “a grass cutter, payroll clerk or pothole filler to take this training.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Bowman sent a response to Browaty’s resignation.
“In light of councillor Browaty’s decision to resign, I will now turn my attention towards identifying a new chair of the Winnipeg Police Board,” he said.
READ MORE: Police Board Wants Browaty Replaced
On Tuesday the police board released a letter to the mayor asking for Browaty’s resignation.
“The board feels that the relationship between its Indigenous Council and Councillor Browaty, who chairs our Board and its Indigenous Liaison Committee, is not conducive to a good working relationship,” the letter stated.
Browaty issued a statement Wednesday, saying while he has spoken ‘frankly and from the heart” in private to the Winnipeg Police Board, he is offering his resignation to the mayor.
“If there was confusion for what I said in council in December, I have said I am sorry. I meant no harm or offence to any individual or group.,” Browaty stated on Facebook.
“I felt that if training is to be paid for by taxpayers, I wanted to fully know where said funds were coming from and how much it was going to cost. My framing of the issue was less than eloquent, and for that I apologize.”
Statement By Councillor Jeff Browaty
Unfortunately, while I have spoken frankly and from the heart to the Winnipeg Police Board in private, consistent with my position in this statement, they have accepted the recommendation of the Indigenous Council on Policing and have asked Mayor Bowman to remove me as Police Board Chair. For this reason, I am offering my resignation to the Mayor.
If there was confusion for what I said in Council in December, I have said I am sorry. I meant no harm or offence to any individual or group. In these supposed days of openness and transparency, and continued new and growing taxes, I felt that if training is to be paid for by taxpayers, I wanted to fully know where said funds were coming from and how much it was going to cost. My framing of the issue was less than eloquent, and for that I apologize.
Like many in Winnipeg, my family story is one of immigration. Most immigrant groups have been exposed to racism, bigotry and prejudice.I deplore andoppose all forms of racism. It is for this reason that the bigotry and hate that those of Indigenous descent face today is a blight on us all.
I believe in an inclusive society that respects and treats people fairly and equitably regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or ability. In a meeting in late December with the Indigenous Liaison Committee of the Police Board, which I felt was very positive, Im ade a commitment to work with the Indigenous Council on policing to find ways to reduce the disproportionately high number of Indigenous people involved in the criminal justice system. Building stronger community relations between the Police service and the Indigenous community has to be a priority. I also believe that police need to uphold laws and that they should apply to everyone. The application of the law must be blind to race and gender.
The one item of contention in my meeting with the Indigenous Liaison Committee was that they took offence to my suggestion that if members of any community break the laws of the land they should be held to account. Shauna Fontaine, Co-Chair of the Committee replied that these weren’t “their” laws. The fact is, in Canada we have one set of laws, and they apply to all citizens and visitors equally.
Let me be clear. I have over and over again stated my position that all groups and individuals, no matter race or creed or colour, are equal and should be treated with equal rights under the law and by our community. Clearly I am not as sophisticated as the Mayor on Indigenous issues, but I know right from wrong and that is why I serve. My commitment to take the City’s residential school training stands, and I am committed to taking it in March. I love my family. I love my community. I love North Kildonan. I love Winnipeg. I look forward to continuing to serve North Kildonan and all of Winnipeg.
Statement By Mayor Brian Bowman
“I received an email earlier this morning in which Councillor Browaty confirmed his decision to resign as Chair of the Winnipeg Police Board.
The Winnipeg Police Board represents a group of community leaders with diverse backgrounds.
The matters raised with me by the Winnipeg Police Board, and the unanimous recommendation they brought forward yesterday, were unprecedented and serious.
My preference was to speak directly to Councillor Browaty in person upon his return about the concerns raised and the unanimous recommendation brought forward to me.
In light of Councillor Browaty’s decision to resign, I will now turn my attention towards identifying a new Chair of the Winnipeg Police Board.”