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‘Political grandstanding’: Smith names provincial appointees to Calgary Police Commission

UCP leader Danielle Smith said Calgary city council is playing political games with a refusal to make bylaw changes to accommodate provincial changes to the Police Act.

Earlier this week, Calgary city council defeated a motion to massage city bylaws for Calgary Police Commission (CPC) appointments to align with changes made to Alberta’s Police Act.

Chief among those changes was the ability of the province to appoint three members to the CPC. Councillors heard on Tuesday that the CPC only learned of the appointments on May 1 after the selections were made via ministerial order on April 24.

While council did defeat the motion, provincial law supersedes city bylaws and the appointment process would take effect as of the next Calgary city council organizational meeting in October.

Smith named the three people that have been appointed: Dr. Rob Tanguay, Kelly Ogle and Dan Agapi.  (During Tuesday’s council meeting, CPC executive director Heather Spicer said they would not yet be making the names public until they went through the appropriate security checks.)

“I would love to know the specific objection that Ms. Gondek has to an addiction psychiatrist, as well as two individuals, including one First Nation individual who has lived experience, in helping us deal with the mental health and addiction crisis,” she said.

“Because quite frankly, I think that this is just political grandstanding. We need to work together.”

Smith said she’d made sure that then-Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz talked with the affected municipalities. Smith said it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to cities.

“I’m not apologizing for it, and I think it’s unfortunate that (Mayor Gondek is) mischaracterizing how this all came down. I thought that we were working together on this,” Smith said.

Appointees with political and law enforcement connections

In Tuesday’s meeting, councillors objected to the lack of consultation with the CPC and the apparent lack of vetting before the appointments. Many said the process itself is political interference and overt government overreach.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said at the very least, the CPC should have been involved.

“Although (the CPC is) very calm about this, I, on their behalf, I’m not too impressed,” the mayor said.  

“If you don’t want to talk to council because you feel we don’t have a role to play, that’s fine. But you do not appoint three people to commission without at the very least understanding what the commission feels is in the best interest of the public that they serve and the members that they represent.”

Coun. Andre Chabot didn’t object to provincial appointments and saw some potential benefits.

“I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing. I think this way they’ll fully understand our needs from a financial perspective and why we require some of that additional fine revenue, and maybe increase the per capita amount,” he said.

Dr. Tanguay is associated with the University of Calgary as a clinical assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine. He’s also the Chief Medical Officer of a company called the Newly Institute, which specializes in “innovative mental health, addiction and pain treatment.” This company boasts the Calgary Police Service and the City of Calgary among its partners.

A CBC story also shows that Dr. Tanguay was appointed to the Covid review commission headed up by Preston Manning.  

The CPC said, in response to conflict of interest questions, that commissioners are bound by the bylaws to not participate or vote in discussions of this nature. Further, an assessment of connections to the CPS are disclosed so conflicts can be managed, they said. 

The CPC also reiterated they were not a part of the vetting or selection process.

Kelly Ogle is an entrepreneur and trained at the Global Affairs Institute and Canada, and the Canadian Center for Strategic and Military Studies. Smith said he has an interest in public safety. Dan Agapi is the director of community engagement with Recovery Coaches Alberta.