Ex-Thunder Bay police chief charged by OPP with obstruction, breach of trust

Former Thunder Bay police chief Sylvie Hauth has been charged with obstruction and breach of trust by Ontario Provincial Police, it was announced Friday.  (Sinisa Jolic/CBC - image credit)
Former Thunder Bay police chief Sylvie Hauth has been charged with obstruction and breach of trust by Ontario Provincial Police, it was announced Friday. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC - image credit)

Ontario Provincial Police have charged a former chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) as their investigation into the service brings forward more counts against current and former members of the force.

Sylvie Hauth has been charged with:

  • Obstruction of a public officer or peace officer.

  • Breach of trust by a public officer.

  • Two counts of obstruction of justice.

Hauth was suspended in 2022 after the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) brought misconduct charges against her under the Police Services Act. She retired in 2023 before those allegations could be tested in a hearing.

In a statement, Hauth's lawyer, Scott Hutchinson, said the OPP's decision to charge her was "both disappointing and regrettable."

"Chief Hauth is confident that the people of Thunder Bay will not rush to any judgment and will respect the presumption of innocence. She looks forward to her trial where she will present her defence. She is confident she will prevail," Hutchinson said.

Hauth is the third current or onetime member of the Thunder Bay Police Service who's been charged by OPP in recent months.

Earlier this week, the OPP said it had charged former Thunder Bay police lawyer Holly Walbourne with obstruction and breach of trust offences, and Staff Sgt. Michael Dimini was charged in December with assault, breach of trust and obstruction of justice.

WATCH | CBC's Michelle Allan breaks down charges against former TBPS chief Hauth: 

Hauth's last year on the job was marked by intense scrutiny and pressure from multiple directions. It included:

  • The creation of an expert panel that produced a 200-page report in 2023 aimed at addressing the erosion of trust and police morale.

Hauth has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court in Thunder Bay on May 7, the OPP said, and its investigation remains ongoing.

TBPS's current chief says force co-operated with OPP

Current Thunder Bay police Chief Darcy Fleury and the Thunder Bay Police Service Board released statements on Friday afternoon.

Fleury said the force welcomed the investigation and has co-operated fully with OPP.

"It is another step toward resolution of this matter and our ability to wholly move forward as a police service," Fleury said. "It is my hope that community members will not allow the results of this investigation to overshadow the ongoing dedication and quality service provided by our TBPS.

"As the justice process is carried out, we will continue on our path forward, learning from the past in order to make the most of our future."

Marc Doucette/CBC
Marc Doucette/CBC

The statement from the oversight board "thanked the Ontario Provincial Police for its investigation" and said board members "remain seized with our mandate and collective responsibility to ensure the Thunder Bay Police Service is governed effectively so the city can have confidence in its police service.

"As a police service board, it is our job to oversee how policing is provided to the people of Thunder Bay," the statement said. "Among other roles, it is our responsibility to create policies to ensure good governance, ask critical questions to ensure the highest standards are being met and monitor the performance of the chief of police."