Scotchtown native Vern White

January 8, 2012

After 30 years of working to make a difference in the community’s he’s served, Vern White is ready to make a name for himself on a national level.

The Scotchtown native and current chief of the Ottawa Police Department was one of seven new Conservative Senate appointees named on Friday.

“In Scotchtown we had many dreams, but dreaming of being a senator in Canada was not one of them,” the 52-year old said who had previously been touted as a candidate for RCMP commissioner.

“I never saw this coming.”

His surprising elevation to the Senate came between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when the Prime Minister’s office phoned him to gauge his interest in a senate post.

A call from Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed a short time later.

“He just said I know your background, I think you’ll bring some exciting things to the senate, you understand the issues that face Canadians and I think that will be helpful to us.”

White began a 24-year career with the RCMP at the age of 20. He became chief of the Durham, Ont. force in 2005 before being chosen as Ottawa’s chief in 2007.

Although looking forward to his new career, he said leaving policing will be tough.

“There hasn’t been a day I haven’t said that ‘I love being a police officer.’ Regardless of the rank there’s been challenges and controversies in policing of course, but there’s not been a day when I haven’t said ‘I love it,’ so I will miss that for sure.”

As a senator, he plans to utilize the experience he gained as a police officer.

In particular, he noted his 19 years working in aboriginal communities and his experience working on mental health and addiction issues.

He also hopes to put a renewed focus on Canada’s fastest growing youth populations — First Nations and new Canadians.

The posting also means another voice for Cape Breton in Ottawa, he said.

“I was born there. I will always be a Cape Bretoner and I’ll always be a supporter for Cape Breton.

White will step down as Ottawa’s police chief before taking his seat Feb. 20.

He’s planning a return to Cape Breton in March.

From the Sydney Post, Sydney, Cape Breton, N. S.

gmcneil@cbpost.com

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