Edmonton Police Association president Staff Sergeant Michael Elliott accused Mayor Amarjeet Sohi of not supporting the police in a recent letter after Sohi didn’t attend a police officer memorial event. Sohi says he was not invited to the event.
“It is becoming increasingly evident, through your actions (or lack thereof) you do not support your police service or officers who sacrifice so much to keep the City of Edmonton safe. As far as I am aware, no one from your office attended, recognized, or connected with the Edmonton Police Service on this important day,” the letter reads.
The event in question, the Police and Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony, took place on Sept. 26 at the Alberta Legislature grounds. The letter goes on to do a scan of the Mayor’s social posts and then notes that while Sohi was notably absent at the memorial ceremony Elliott did appreciate Sohi’s attendance at the Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Expo on Sept. 25.
Poster for Police and Peace Officers Memorial Day.
“You may not support us, but your office should at least pretend to respect our members and give the appearance you care as Mayor who represents the people of this city. They have earned it,” the letter reads.
Elliott also addressed his complaint about Sohi to Edmonton Police Commission chair John McDougall, Edmonton police chief Dale McFee and Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.
But Sohi’s office told the Progress Report on Wednesday that the mayor had not even been invited to this event.
“Mayor Sohi was not aware of the event and was not formally or informally invited to attend. Staff in his office looked into this and it appears that the Mayor’s Office has not been invited to attend this event in at least the past 6 years,” a spokesperson for the mayor told the Report in an emailed statement.
“After he heard about the Police and Peace Officers Memorial ceremony last week, our office reached out to the Solicitor General’s office to ask if the Mayor could visit the Memorial Wall at the Alberta Legislature to pay his respects to the officers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their community. He did this recently and was moved by the memorial space.”
Staff Sergeant Michael Elliott, left, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, right.
Temitope Oriola, a criminology professor at the University of Alberta, called the letter from the police association to the mayor a rush to judgment and “overcooked and unprofessional.”
“An organization cannot afford to write public or private letters petulantly. Every statement must be weighed for impact, accuracy and reasonableness.”
Oriola said the letter suggests that the police association has a below par public relations unit or limited strategic thinking. “If this is a bargaining tactic, it does not make sense.”
The Edmonton Police Association are currently in mediation in their negotiations with the city of Edmonton.
“We must be careful to not impugn the integrity or intentionality of those we disagree with. That only fosters toxic relations. It appears that the hardliners have won the battle for the soul of the Edmonton Police Association,” said Oriola.
The letter also isn’t the first example of the Edmonton Police Association going after a member of Edmonton city council. Earlier this year Elliott complained to the city’s integrity commissioner over 24 tweets written by Councillor Michael Janz that Elliott thought violated the city’s code of conduct. The complaint was dismissed.
The Edmonton Police Association did not respond to our inquiries.
Editor's note: Page one of Elliot's letter can be found here, page 2 is here.