Time's Up Matt Skof President - Ottawa Police Association needs to RESIGN or be TERMINATED

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The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition and a group of leading feminist activists are calling on the immediate resignation and termination of Matt Skof, President of the Ottawa Police Association for his alleged misogynistic comments to a woman member of the Coalition

The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition (Coalition) is calling for the immediate resignation and termination of Matt Skof, an Ottawa Police Service officer and President of the Ottawa Police Association. In a recently released audio recording, Mr. Skof allegedly called a woman member of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition a “f*-king c-nt” in relation to her interaction with the Ottawa Police Service members in the immediate aftermath of Abdirahman Abdi’s death (Summer 2016). While it is yet to be confirmed that the audio is the unedited voice of Mr. Skof, we have yet to hear otherwise despite calls for comment. It is atrocious that a police union leader, who represents all police officers in our city, engaged in such a despicably misogynistic comment. This comment is part of a long tradition in Canada of dehumanizing Black women and demeaning their public contributions.

Mr. Skof, as head of the OPA, represents  members of the Ottawa Police Service, excluding senior officers. In January 2019, Skof was suspended after he was criminally charged by the Ontario Provincial Police for breach of trust and obstruction of justice. During his suspension, Skof remained as OPA president, with the confidence of his board of directors. Despite these criminal charges, Mr. Skof has been democratically re-elected by a large majority of our city’s police officers. With this kind of overwhelming support, we can only conclude that Mr. Skof’s comments are representative of the ongoing corruption and culture of racism and misogyny that plagues the Ottawa Police Service (OPS). Even more troubling is that Matt Skof’s behaviour suggests that the 2017 Gender Audit and gender-specific training, policies, and procedures have failed. The complacency of OPS leadership in light of Skof’s alleged statements demonstrate how deep and pervasive sexism and racism are embedded in the policing institution. 

Mr.Skof's disgraceful words highlight that police union leadership present an equally troubling obstacle for victims of gender-based violence police brutality and overreach here at home. In the Gender Audit of the OPS, the vast majority (85%) of the officers described the organizational culture within the OPS in negative terms. Members have described the organization as an “OBC, old boys club”. The findings of this report were shocking. Terms such as demoralizing, unfair, disorganized and toxic were used to characterize the OPS culture. As an elected representative, Matt Skof is given the duty to uphold the highest level of integrity, values and ethics espoused by the OPS. He has wholeheartedly failed and has breached the trust of the entire community. Women and other marginalized communities cannot feel safe with Skof as head of the OPA.

This recent example follows a pattern of Mr. Skof’s disparaging comments about racialized political leaders and police officers in our city. We are even more deeply concerned given the history of sexual violence within the OPS, including in the last three years, 14 women officers have reported sexual harassment or assault and at least 4 OPS cases in front of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in the last two years allege racial discrimination. This demonstrates Mr. Skof’s troubling pattern of dehumanizing statements of which this newly released recording is only the most recent example.

It is horrifying that the most senior representative of the OPS can be allowed to make comments like this and remain in authority. Time’s Up! As a coalition of groups representing a diversity of women's voices across this city we are demanding the following:

  1. The immediate resignation or termination of Matt Skof as an Ottawa Police Officer and President of the Ottawa Police Association.  Anything short of this constitutes an acceptance and willingness on the part of the OPS and OPA of institutionalized misogyny and racism.
  2. Bill 175, Safer Ontario Act was voted on and passed in Ontario. If it came into force in 2018, among many other accountability frameworks, it would have allowed chiefs of police to suspend without pay a police officer who is a member charged with a serious offence, as defined in the regulations, under a law of Canada. This legislation was quickly rolled back. We are demanding Bill 175 to be implemented immediately.
  3. A public update by OPS on the progress since the 2017 Gender Audit and the implementation process of an internal gender program and the GBA+ framework. This update should focus on the experiences of women members of the force. 
  4. Establish and review internal mechanisms within the OPA to support their members who are survivors of sexual violence, harassment, racism and other forms of discrimination, with the input of those who are most at risk.

This issue is only one of many troubling problems the Coalition and its partners are fighting against. We urge all Canadians to join us in demanding an end to the culture of institutionalized racism and misogyny in our city. Women do not feel safe with a misogynist as the head of a police institution who has failed his responsibility to keep all of us safe.

Sign the petition and let your voices be heard.

Supporting organizations

  1. The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition
  2. 613/819 Black Hub
  3. United Nations Person’s of African Decent (UNPAD) Push Coalition
  4. National Council of Canadian Muslim
  5. J’Nikira Dinqinesh Education Centre
  6. Muslim Family Services of Ottawa
  7. Chelby Marie Daigle, Author of the Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Ottawa Report
  8. Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women
  9. Somerset West Community Health Centre
  10. Ottawa Muslim Association 
  11. Britannia Woods Community House
  12. Black Agenda Noir
  13. Somali Centre for Family Services
  14. Centre for Resilience and Social Development
  15. Jo and team, Little Jo Berry’s
  16. Ottawa Women’s March
  17. City for All Women Initiative
  18. Horizon Ottawa
  19. Courage Ottawa
  20. The Coalition Against More Surveillance
  21. Rev. Cheryle R.C. Hanna