Halifax police union passes no-confidence vote on chief, union president calls for resignation

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella shown at his swearing-in ceremony on July 5, 2019. (Brett Ruskin/CBC - image credit)
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella shown at his swearing-in ceremony on July 5, 2019. (Brett Ruskin/CBC - image credit)

The majority of union members in the Halifax Regional Police force no longer have confidence in Chief Dan Kinsella.

The Halifax Regional Police Association held a vote this week in which 96.6 per cent of ballots checked the no-confidence option on his leadership. The turnout was 84 per cent of members.

"They don't think he has the capacity to do the job, the ability to do the job and I don't know how you lead from that position," said Dean Stienburg, the president of the association.

Stienburg said the chief should resign. He said Kinsella did a poor job planning for Hurricane Fiona and the Dalhouse University homecoming street party. Stienburg said the chief isn't doing enough to keep the force properly staffed.

Morale is low and the workplace is hostile, Stienburg said.

Stienburg said he's asked for a meeting with Halifax's chief administrative officer and the board of police commissioners, though neither commented Wednesday on the union's vote. It's also not clear what the CAO, board of police commissioners or regional council will do as a result of the vote.

CBC
CBC

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns says he's aware some officers with Halifax Regional Police are dissatisfied with the chief, but he doesn't think public safety is at risk in Halifax.

"I've heard from friends of mine who are HRP officers that there have been concerns, but once again, as long [as] there is safety — and my priority is Nova Scotian safety — I think whether individual officers like or dislike the chief has nothing to do with the safety concerns," Johns said.

Coun. Lindell Smith, who is chair of the police board, said he's concerned about a vote of no confidence against Kinsella, but said the issue is a labour relations or personnel matter, and council should not get involved just yet.

"Should we be discussing the chief's contract next week? I don't believe so. But I do believe we should consider this when ... we look at the overarching aspect of the chief's contract in reviewing it," Smith said.

Kinsella has been police chief since July 2019. Prior to his work in Halifax, Kinsella was deputy chief of operations for the Hamilton Police Service in Ontario. He has 35 years of policing experience. When he was hired, then-regional councillor Steve Craig, who is now an MLA, said Kinsella's "wide experience" set him apart from other candidates.

Statement from police chief

Kinsella said he wouldn't comment on the union vote, but he did provide a written statement to CBC News.

"I have taken on our challenges very seriously and have focused on effective service delivery, accountability, our engagement with diverse communities, and have continued to work proactively to address staffing and member wellness issues," he wrote.

He said the union leadership and Stienburg have resisted positive change "at every step," and have "attacked my character repeatedly over these years, spread false information and acted divisively instead of trying to be part of much-needed cultural change."

Kinsella said work has to be done to improve employee morale.

"It is a difficult time to be a police officer right now and our members continue to deliver in the midst of a sentiment that isn't always favourable to those in policing or one that values traditional police work," he wrote.

"We have work to do to continue to support members, make them feel heard and improve engagement and morale. As we move out of the pandemic, we are steadfast in moving forward with that and to prioritize in-person engagement."

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