Claude McIntosh - Mac's Musings

First the provincially-appointed chair of the Cornwall Police Services Board resigned. Then the secretary resigned, followed by the bombshell announcement that Chief Shawna Spowart, 20 months into the job, had checked out on sick leave, and that Deputy Chief Vincent Foy had been elevated to acting chief.

First of all, we wish the chief a speedy and full recovery. On a personal note, always found Chief Spowart a pleasant person to deal with.

That Foy, hired last year after a long and distinguished career with the RCMP, has been named acting chief might indicate that Chief Spowart is expected to be away for an extended period. In most situations, the acting title kicks in after a chief has been absent for more than four weeks. Some believe that a lengthy stay on sick leave will morph into retirement.

A third-party survey of association members commissioned by the police association lit the fuse. If not alarming, the results are concerning and raise a huge red flag. The survey contained a strong vote of non-confidence in the chief, something never before seen in the service. It shouldn’t be ignored by those in a position to act.

The results zeroed in on the chief’s alleged lack of leadership. Only 31 per cent of the 120 members who participated expressed confidence in her ability to run the 135-person force.

To use a sports analogy, this is akin to the players losing confidence in the coach. It’s hard to put the horse back in the barn, as they say.

At the other end of the survey, Foy had a whopping 86% favourable rating. That is about as good as it can get. Translated: Most of the force would prefer him as chief.

Oddly, the force’s human resources department (not to be confused with the city’s human resources department) had an approval rating lower than the chief’s … a rock-bottom 21%.

Meanwhile, rank-and-file members expressed a high degree of confidence in their immediate supervisors – sergeants, staff sergeants and inspectors. That is a positive.

A source said the association executive did not want the results made public. Instead, it wanted to sit down with the board to discuss the serious issues raised in the survey and to lay the ground work to mend fences and boost sagging morale, especially among front-line officers. It didn’t happen.

It needs to happen ASAP.


Back in the 1950s there was a television game show called “What’s My Secret?”

Fast forward to 2023 and the moved and shaken in Cornwall Police Service (CPS) have their own version when it comes to releasing (public) information.

It was learned that back in December the CPS leadership team – chief, inspectors, staff sergeants and a couple of civilian staffers – quietly slipped out of town to spend a couple of days at a pricey retreat/spa somewhere in Eastern Ontario.

It was billed as a training/team building exercise. Yes, yes. Of course it was.

The CPS information gate-keeper (aka director of corporate strategy and communications) was asked what seemed to be a couple of harmless questions: 1) Where was the event held? 2) How many members of CPS attended? 3) What was the bill? (CPS is the recipient of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.)

The civilian director of corporate strategy and communications (the position once had the mundane title of media spokesperson but I’ve learned that the bigger the title the bigger the pay cheque) decided that this information is so ultra-sensitive to the security and well-being of CPS that it requires a teeth-pulling exercise called filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act. A yes-or-no reply could take days to weeks.

Understandably, one’s first re-action could be, “Okay, what are they trying to hide?”

LOOKING BACK AT 1958 – Beach Furniture Ltd. at Sydney and Ninth streets was sold to city businessmen George Kaneb and Ralph Whitehead. The new owners planned to use part of the building for a warehouse and retail space. … Howard Smith Paper Mill announced a $12.5 million expansion that included a new paper machine, new wood yard north of Second Street, a steam boiler and enlarged finishing room. The company’s Montreal-based 12-person engineering department was moved to Cornwall. … The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirmed that Prime Minister John Diefenbaker would take part in the official opening of the first of 10 wading pools – Memorial Park – funded by the Kinsmen Club. … City council agreed the salary of newly-hired recreation director Bob Turner should be increased to $5,200 from $4,500 in the new year. … Teachers Mrs. Patricia Hall, Mrs. B. Barton, Mrs. Catherine Hall and Ray Thompson were given contracts by the Cornwall Public School Board. … A traffic vehicle count showed that Cornwall’s busiest peak-hour streets were Second west of Brookdale (1,374), Montreal Road (1,222), Water east of Pitt (1,185) and Pitt and Second (1,027). … Louis Emard Gas Bar opened on St. Andrew’s Road north of the city. Pump price was 38 cents a gallon. … Keith MacGregor had a no-hitter as Howard Smith Paper Mill blanked Emard Lumber 2-0 in a North End Fastball League game. He struck out eight of the 22 batters he faced.

TRIVIA This well-known Canadian sports broadcaster launched his career with the University of Western Ontario radio station. 1) Mike Duthie TSN, 2) Bob McKenzie TSN, 3) Dan Schulman, Blue Jays, 4) Ron McLean HNIC, 5) Gord Miller TSN.

TRIVIA ANSWER Before refrigerators were a common household appliance, ice harvested on Cornwall Canal was stored in an ice house and used for refrigeration. In its heyday, blocks of ice were delivered to 5,000 homes in Cornwall and area. The last blocks were delivered in 1973.

THIS AND THAT My most expensive trip this summer will be to the grocery store and filling up at the gas station on the way home. … Somebody told me that he filled up for $22. Granted, it was for his lawn mower. … Congrats to Cornwall’s most humble personality, Angelo Towndale, on turning 86. … There are about 300 trees in the park where I keep my trailer. Guess which one Woody Woodpecker picks to hammer on at 5 a.m.?

QUOTED “An acquaintance is someone whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.” – Ambrose Bierce.

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