Lethbridge Police Commission delays decision on public inquiry requested by MLA Shannon Phillips’ lawyer – Lethbridge


The Lethbridge Police Commission will be taking another month to decide whether or not to commit to a public inquiry, requested after whistleblower letters alleged retaliation against Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips and others.

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The request for a public inquiry was made by Calgary defence lawyer Michael Bates — who represents Phillips and another Lethbridge resident — after whistleblower letters received in June allegedly suggested possible retaliation measures against the MLA and a member of the media.

That request was made to the police commission at its meeting on Sep. 29, and on Wednesday, commission chair Rob Van Spronsen said more time is required to make a decision.

“We haven’t said that we’re not going to go ahead with one. What we said is we need some more time to decide whether or not we’re going to do it,” Van Spronsen told Global News following the meeting.

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“There’s a lot of different factors that go into making a decision to go into an inquiry, so we want to take some time.

“We just got some advice from our legal counsel on Oct. 22, so we just need some more time to process and work it through. We didn’t want to make a quick and hasty decision.”

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Phillips responded to Wednesday night’s non-decision on Twitter following the meeting: “We have waited, patiently and quietly, for a full month. We are being asked to wait yet again. We are examining our legal options.”

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Phillips was the subject of unauthorized police surveillance by Lethbridge Police Service officers in 2017 when she was the NDP environment minister.

The MLA added that she will not be providing further comment on the matter until she has consulted further with Bates.

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Van Spronsen was asked if he believes processes are being followed properly and if LPS is being held accountable.

“I honestly do. We met with the chief, we talked about it, we looked into it. The policies are in place, and where there are breaches, there are processes in place,” the chair said.

“When we talk about accountability, we all have different definitions of what accountability is. Again, that’s why we think process is extremely important. If there’s a process in place, and the steps are there — and so if we follow the steps to its conclusion, we follow the process — there is accountability. We’re accountable to making sure we follow the process.”

Van Spronsen says the LPC expects to have a decision on or before its next meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 24.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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