OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

If the drift of Canada towards a police state has not yet affected you directly, you would do well to recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, writing in Germany before his arrest in the 1930s: "The Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant, so I didn't speak up....by that time there was nobody left to speak up for anyone."

Doug Ford stands by remarks that prompted defamation lawsuit

Postby Thomas » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:47 am

Doug Ford stands by remarks that prompted defamation lawsuit by fired OPP deputy commissioner

Premier Doug Ford is not backing down from remarks that prompted a $5-million defamation lawsuit against him by a former Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner

Brad Blair, who was fired from the OPP after revealing Progressive Conservative efforts to get the premier a police van with $50,000 in customized upgrades including a reclining leather couch, sued Ford last week for stating on several occasions that Blair had breached the Police Services Act.

Blair has not been charged with or convicted of anything under the legislation that governs police conduct.

Ford faced questions on the lawsuit Monday following an announcement at an Etobicoke car dealership.

“When I say something, I usually stick by it,” the premier told reporters after first saying, “I have no comment on that because it would be in front of the courts and the courts will decide.”

Blair’s lawsuit has not been tested in court. It says Ford’s statements were “grossly negligent,” “malicious” and “demonstrably false” when he said Blair violated the Police Services Act.

Blair launched a separate lawsuit in December aimed at forcing Ontario’s ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Ford’s friend Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner, which Blair argued put the independence of the country’s second-largest police force at risk.

Court filings in that case included OPP documents and emails about the van in correspondence with the premier’s office. Details included the desire for a 32-inch TV, Blu-ray DVD player and mini-fridge.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones has accused Blair of improperly using “confidential private information for his own personal gain.”

The government fired Blair on March 4.

Blair applied and was interviewed for the commissioner’s job but did not get it. Ford has dubbed Blair’s call for an investigation into Taverner’s selection as a case of “sour grapes.”

Ford’s office has said the Progressive Conservative Party will pay the premier’s legal fees in the defamation case. Ford’s lawyer has not yet filed a statement of defence.

“The premier’s concern is and always has been protecting and supporting the front-line OPP officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities,” spokesman Simon Jefferies said last week.

“As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Taverner withdrew his name from consideration for the OPP’s top job on March 6 after months of controversy about his close relationship with the premier. An ethics investigation cleared Ford of any political interference in the appointment, but found “troubling aspects” and “flaws” in the hiring process.

The government later appointed York Regional Police deputy chief Thomas Carrique, who did not know Ford, as commissioner of the provincial police force.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... wsuit.html
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Ford defends comments that landed him in a $5 million libel

Postby Thomas » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:48 am

TORONTO—Premier Doug Ford appears to be standing by comments that led to a $5-million libel suit against him from a fired deputy OPP commissioner.

On March 15, former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair launched the lawsuit, alleging Ford was “malicious” and “grossly negligent” when he claimed numerous times that Blair broke the Police Services Act.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Ford was asked at a Monday press conference if he regrets making those statements. In response, he said: “Usually when I say something, I usually stick with it.”

Asked what information or proof he had to justify the comments, Ford said, “It’s in front of the courts and I can’t comment right now.”

Last December, Blair filed a complaint with the province’s ombudsman requesting an investigation into the hiring process for the OPP commissioner that led to Ford friend Ron Taverner’s appointment. Blair was the interim head of the force at that time and had been overlooked for the permanent gig.

Ombudsman Paul Dubé rejected the request, and Blair is now locked in a legal battle with Dubé as he tries to force the ombudsman to investigate his allegations of an unfair process and possible political interference in the force.

As that was playing out in December and January, the premier made repeated comments about Blair that court documents say caused “damage to his character and reputation, personally and professionally.”

Blair was fired from the police force by Community Safety Deputy Minister Mario Di Tommaso on March 4. His lawyers say he is considering a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

On March 6, Taverner withdrew from the appointment and, on March 11, the government announced Thomas Carrique had been appointed to the top job.

The next week the province’s integrity commissioner found the process used to hire Taverner was flawed.

The court documents say Ford “intentionally, deliberately and maliciously” made the comments “without due regard for the consequences of his conduct.”

The documents detail a series of times when Ford told journalists that Blair broke the law.

“I could give you a list of all the Police Act that was broken throughout that whole letter, but none of you want to report on that,” Ford told reporters at a press conference in December in reference to Blair’s letter to the ombudsman.

And according to the documents, Ford told CP24 in January: “It’s unfortunate that one person has sour grapes, and it is very disappointing, actually, and reacting the way he’s been reacting and breaking the Police Act numerous times. Someone needs to hold him accountable.”

The documents say Blair sought clarification on whether a complaint had been filed against him, or an investigation started, under the Police Services Act, and he never received a response.

The documents also note that Ford has never retracted the comments despite being served with a notice of action on Jan. 23.

Ford has 20 days to respond to the defamation claim.

https://ipolitics.ca/2019/04/01/ford-de ... ibel-suit/
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Doug Ford files statement of defence in $5M libel lawsuit

Postby Thomas » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:59 pm

Doug Ford is denying accusations he defamed Brad Blair, the Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner who was fired after exposing the Progressive Conservatives’ attempt to get the premier a customized police van.

On Friday, Ford’s lawyers filed a 38-page statement of defence in Blair’s $5-million libel action against the premier, arguing it was Blair who launched a “malicious and unprovoked personal and political attack and assault” against Ford.

“Brad Blair ... improperly used his public position as interim commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, the highest-ranking police officer in Ontario, as a platform for such personal and political attacks designed to harm Premier Ford and advance Mr. Blair’s personal and private interests,” the court filing states.

Blair was sacked from the OPP on March 4 after revealing government efforts to get Ford a police van with $50,000 in customized upgrades, including a reclining leather couch, a 32-inch TV with Blu-ray DVD player, and a mini-fridge.

The premier’s statement of defence disputes Blair’s claim that Dean French, Ford’s chief of staff, wanted the cost of the tricked-out “camper van” kept “off the books.”

“These accusations are a malicious, personal attack and assault against both Premier Ford and collaterally Mr. French ... and are knowingly false,” said the statement prepared by lawyer Gavin Tighe.

“The statement attributed to Mr. French is pure fiction created and authored by Mr. Blair to serve his personal agenda and purposes. These false accusations, made with malice, suggest, either directly or by way of innuendo, that Premier Ford and Mr. French were engaged in unethical and criminal or quasi-criminal conduct.”

But the defence statement does not dispute that a request for a customized police van was made by the premier’s office.

Last month, Blair served the premier with a notice alleging libel and defamation, charging Ford was “malicious” and “grossly negligent” for stating incorrectly that the veteran police officer had breached the Police Services Act.

Neither the allegations against Ford nor his claims about Blair have been proven in court.

Blair’s dismissal came after he took legal action to contest the hiring of Ford’s friend Ron Taverner, a 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent, as the OPP commissioner.

His court filings in that case included internal OPP documents and emails about the customized van, which the government claims were improperly used.

The 21-page statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said Ford’s remarks included the “demonstrably false” comment that Blair had “issued” retirement papers, along with accusations he broke the Police Services Act, when no charges were ever laid under the act governing police conduct.

Blair’s suit alleged Ford “was grossly negligent and failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of his public statements prior to making them, particularly in light of the weight attached to the premier’s office.”

Despite being twice warned the remarks were false, the statement of claim said, the premier “persisted in disseminating the defamatory remarks and took no steps to issue a public, full and final retraction.”

“Mr. Blair has suffered, and will continue to suffer, damage to his character and reputation, personally and professionally, within the policing community and the community at large. As well, Mr. Blair has been subjected to embarrassment, scandal, ridicule and contempt,” it said.

In the statement of defence, Tighe said Ford’s comments “do not mean ... that Mr. Blair has been found to have committed misconduct under the Police Services Act” or “that Mr. Blair is an individual who breaks the law.”

The lawyer added that his client uttered the “the impugned words ... at two media press conferences at which Premier Ford had no control over the questions asked by journalists.”

When Taverner was appointed as commissioner on Nov. 29, Blair was serving as interim commissioner and was a front-runner for the job.

Amid an ethics investigation that would ultimately clear Ford of wrongdoing, Taverner withdrew his name from consideration on March 6.

York Regional Police deputy Chief Thomas Carrique was appointed OPP commissioner on March 11.

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, did not return messages seeking comment on Friday.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... wsuit.html
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Doug Ford’s lawyers defend premier against defamation suit b

Postby Thomas » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:01 pm

Doug Ford’s lawyers defend premier against defamation suit by Brad Blair

TORONTO – Doug Ford‘s lawyers claim the premier was defending himself against “malicious” public attacks when he made comments last year about a former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer who is now suing him.

The legal team claimed Ford’s remarks about Brad Blair were not defamatory and constituted fair comment, urging a court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the former deputy commissioner of the provincial force.

“Premier Ford pleads that his response to Mr. Blair’s malicious, political and personal attack against him was not malicious, but on the contrary was reasonable if not reserved,” the lawyers said in a statement of defence filed Friday.

Blair launched the lawsuit in March, claiming Ford smeared his reputation for political gain by saying the officer violated the Police Services Act when he publicly raised concerns about the appointment of a longtime friend of the premier as OPP commissioner.

Blair, who was also in the running for the commissioner job, had said the selection process around Toronto Supt. Ron Taverner’s hiring was unfair and could raise doubts about the force’s independence.

He also asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment, raising concerns about political interference

Taverner has since withdrawn from the job, citing the controversy surrounding his appointment. The government has named Thomas Carrique, a deputy chief for York Regional Police, to the post.

Blair asks for $5 million in damages and alleges in his suit that Ford’s comments subjected him to “embarrassment, scandal, ridicule, and contempt,” and were meant to intimidate the veteran officer.

Blair was fired last month. The government has said that decision came from the public service because it found his court filings in the ombudsman case contained confidential OPP information.

The former officer’s lawyer has said his client never received notice of a complaint under the Police Services Act or any findings that he violated it, and alleged that the premier’s words would lead an average person to believe Blair is someone who breaks the law.

Ford’s lawyer’s allege that Blair improperly used his platform at the provincial police service to attack the premier.

“Mr. Blair improperly used his public position to achieve his own private purposes of attempting to politically and personally harm Premier Ford and at the same time advance his own personal and career ambitions,” Ford’s lawyers say.

They claim Blair’s lawsuit is an abuse of process.

https://globalnews.ca/news/5209247/doug ... t-defence/

https://www.cp24.com/news/ford-s-lawyer ... -1.4397230

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/04/26/ ... tion-suit/

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ford-s-lawye ... -1.4397209

https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/ford-s-lawyer ... -1.4398046

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/c ... ir-comment
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Ford defends himself against $5M defamation claim by Brad Bl

Postby Thomas » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:03 pm

Ford defends himself against $5M defamation claim by Brad Blair, calls it an attempt to 'muzzle' him

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is firing back after being hit with a $5 million defamation lawsuit by former OPP deputy Brad Blair, denying he did anything wrong by claiming Blair violated the Police Services Act.

Ford's lawyers said the premier was defending himself against "malicious" public attacks when he made comments last year about the former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer who is now suing him.

In a statement of defence filed Friday at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Ford said his comments came "in response to a calculated, widely publicized, public, malicious and unprovoked personal and political attack," by Blair.

Blair alleged Ford smeared his reputation for political gain when the premier said the officer violated the act by publicly raising questions about the appointment of Ron Taverner, a long-time Ford family friend as OPP commissioner.

Ford's statement said his comments were true, justified, spoken on an instance of qualified privilege and represented an opinion and fair comment. It also said Blair's defamation claim is an attempt "to muzzle Premier Ford from speaking as the duly elected Premier of Ontario."

The "attack," according to the statement of defence, refers to a letter written by Blair to Ontario's Ombudsman, Paul Dubé, on Dec. 11 2018. The premier said that letter amounts to Blair "improperly" using his position to advance his interests.

Taverner appointment led to controversy

Blair, who was up for the OPP's top job, had sought an investigation into the OPP's appointment of Taverner as the force's new commissioner, saying the original job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher in a major police service — a criteria Taverner didn't meet.

Taverner later withdrew from the appointment process, citing the controversy surrounding his appointment. The government has named Thomas Carrique, a deputy chief for York Regional Police, to the post.

Blair also made headlines as the whistleblower who revealed Ford's plans to spend $50,000 customizing a van through the OPP.

He has now been fired from the provincial police force. The government has said that decision came from the public service because it found Blair's court filings in the ombudsman case contained confidential OPP information.

The former officer's lawyer has said his client never received notice of a complaint under the Police Services Act or any findings that he violated it, and alleged that the premier's words would lead an average person to believe Blair is someone who breaks the law.

Ford's lawyers said Blair's lawsuit is an abuse of process and are asking for it to be dismissed.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.5113123
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‘No indication’ that Doug Ford influenced OPP firing

Postby Thomas » Wed May 08, 2019 4:10 am

‘No indication’ that Doug Ford influenced OPP firing, ethics watchdog says

Ontario’s ethics watchdog is citing “insufficient grounds” in refusing to investigate a New Democrat allegation Premier Doug Ford broke the law by approving the firing of OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

“To commence an inquiry in these circumstances would be tantamount to embarking on a fishing expedition,” provincial integrity commissioner J. David Wake said Tuesday in a five-page report.

New Democrat MPP Kevin Yarde charged in March that Ford breached the Members’ Integrity Act by using his office to influence the decision to terminate Blair, a veteran Ontario Provincial Police officer who was passed over for the commissioner’s job initially given to Ford family friend Ron Taverner.

Blair was fired after revealing that the premier’s office had pushed the OPP to provide Ford with a customized travel van outfitted with a reclining leather sofa, flat screen television, Blu-ray DVD player, lounge chairs and a fridge at an estimated cost of $50,000.

“Mr. Yarde has not provided any information in his affidavit to describe specifically how the premier was involved in this decision,” Wake wrote.

He noted Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones has told the Legislature the decision to fire Blair was made by the nine-member Ontario Public Service Commission.

Jones said Wake’s decision is a vindication and maintained there was nothing questionable about the firing.

“What is questionable to me is that a person who clearly had sour grapes and was angry that they did not get the job they applied for continued to use his position in an inappropriate way, and he was dealt with,” she told reporters.

“I think if anyone needs to look back and study their actions it would be Mr. Blair.”

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, blasted Wake for a “mystifying” decision not to investigate.

“No one looking objectively at the circumstances of the Ron Taverner appointment and the ultimate firing of Brad Blair could help but wonder about whether his termination was an act of reprisal by a premier who was prevented from installing his friend as commissioner,” Falconer told the Star.

“It does not surprise me he gave Premier Ford a clean bill of health since he never went looking into the problem. Respectfully, this really does raise the question of the resourcing and qualifications of this particular public official,” he added in a shot at Wake.

Wake declined interviews Tuesday but added in his report “there is no indication from Mr. Yarde that any of the members of the Public Service Commission or the cabinet were improperly influenced by the premier to arrive at their decision.”

Opposition parties cautioned the government from reading too much into Wake’s refusal to investigate.

“It’s not an exoneration, it’s simply the limits of the integrity commissioner’s power,” said interim Liberal leader John Fraser.

“I don’t think there’s a single person in Ontario, as a matter of fact, who doesn’t think that that entire debacle, whether it was the hiring of Mr. Taverner or the firing of Brad Blair, stunk to high heaven,” added NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“That whole process was a stinking mess.”

Blair has filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against Ford, alleging the premier stated on several occasions that Blair had breached the Police Services Act. Blair has not been charged with or convicted of anything under the law that governs police conduct.

The allegations in Blair’s lawsuit, which calls Ford’s statements “grossly negligent” and “malicious,” has not been tested in court.

Ford denies the accusations in his statement of defence, arguing it was Blair who launched “a malicious and unprovoked personal and political attack and assault” against him by “improperly” using internal police information in a court case to contest the hiring of Taverner, a 72-year-old Toronto Police superintendent.

When Taverner bowed out of the OPP appointment following widespread concerns about his close relationship with Ford, the government chose York Regional Police deputy chief Thomas Carrique to head the force.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... -says.html
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Integrity commissioner says there are no grounds to investig

Postby Thomas » Wed May 08, 2019 4:11 am

Integrity commissioner says there are no grounds to investigate OPP deputy’s firing

Ontario's integrity commissioner says there are no grounds to support an inquiry into the firing of OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair.

J. David Wake says he has no evidence to suggest Blair was fired at the suggestion of Premier Doug Ford, or that Ford was involved in any way.

Following the announcement that longtime Ford family friend and Etobicoke Toronto police superintendent Ron Taverner would be the new head of the OPP in Sept. 2018, Blair took a number of steps to challenge the decision.

Blair, who also sought the job, sought a court order to compel the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate Taverner’s hiring, alleging it was fixed to ensure Taverner’s success.

He also released OPP documents indicating Ford wanted a custom van outfitted for his official travel, at a public cost of $50,000.

In a separate report, Wake said no rules were broken in the hiring of Taverner but that the process was “troubling.”

Blair’s termination was announced on March 4 and Taverner withdrew his name from consideration for the OPP Commissioner position two days later.

Blair filed a defamation suit against Ford on March 27, seeking $5 million in damages for comments Ford made suggesting Blair broke the law by releasing documents on the customized van.

Originally from Essex, Blair is graduate of the University of Windsor where he obtained a sociology degree.

He joined the OPP in 1986 and worked his way up from Constable in rural and northern Ontario, serving in detachments including Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Chatham.

https://windsor.ctvnews.ca/integrity-co ... -1.4412092
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‘No indication’ that Doug Ford influenced OPP firing, ethics

Postby Thomas » Wed May 08, 2019 4:12 am

‘No indication’ that Doug Ford influenced OPP firing, ethics watchdog says

OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair was fired after revealing that the premier’s office had pushed the OPP to provide Ford with a van that had been customized with a leather reclining sofa and TV.

Ontario's integrity commissioner is citing "insufficient grounds" to investigate an NDP allegation that Premier Doug Ford violated ethics legislation by approving the firing of OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

New Democrat MPP Kevin Yarde charged in March that Ford breached the Members' Integrity Act by using his office to influence the decision to terminate Blair, a veteran Ontario Provincial Police officer who was passed over for the commissioner's job initially given to Ford family friend Ron Taverner.

Blair was fired after revealing that the premier's office had pushed the OPP to provide Ford with a van that had been customized with a leather reclining sofa and TV.

"Mr. Yarde has not provided any information in his affidavit to describe specifically how the premier was involved in this decision," Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake said Tuesday in a five-page report.

Wake noted Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones has told the Legislature the decision to fire Blair was made by the nine-member Ontario Public Service Commission.

"There is no indication from Mr. Yarde that any of the members of the Public Service Commission or the cabinet were improperly influenced by the premier to arrive at their decision," Wake added.

"To commence an inquiry in these circumstances would be tantamount to embarking on a fishing expedition."

When Taverner bowed out of the OPP appointment following widespread concerns about his close relationship with Ford, the government chose York Regional Police deputy chief Thomas Carrique to head the force.

https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9341 ... hdog-says/
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Watchdog rejects NDP request to investigate Ford’s role in O

Postby Thomas » Wed May 08, 2019 4:14 am

Watchdog rejects NDP request to investigate Ford’s role in OPP firing

TORONTO—Ontario’s integrity commissioner says there are no grounds to investigate Premier Doug Ford’s possible involvement in the firing of an outspoken OPP deputy commissioner.

Deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair was fired on March 4. He had been in the running for the top job, as OPP commissioner, and spoke out last December after Ford friend Ron Taverner was awarded the position.

At the time, Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the decision was made by the Public Service Commission and then cabinet revoked the order-in-council appointing him deputy commissioner. NDP MPP Kevin Yarde questioned whether that was an independent process and asked Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake to investigate Ford’s involvement.

On Tuesday, Wake released a report saying there were “insufficient grounds to conduct an inquiry.”

He said starting an inquiry based on the information provided by Yarde would amount to a “fishing expedition” because there was “no indication” from Yarde that the commission or cabinet were “improperly influenced by the Premier to arrive at their decision.”

Jones told reporters Tuesday the decision shows the NDP are out of touch with the issues that matter to voters and shows the opposition “continue to spin their wheels.”

She saved her most critical comments, however, for Blair himself.

When asked if Blair’s firing by the government was at all questionable, Jones said: “What is questionable to me is that a person who clearly had sour grapes and was angry they did not get the job they applied for, continued to use his position in an inappropriate way and he was dealt with.”

Blair has launched a lawsuit trying to force the province’s ombudsman to investigate Taverner’s hiring. Taverner’s appointment was delayed and then he quit it entirely. The province has since appointed Thomas Carrique to the OPP commissioner post.

Blair also launched a $5 million libel suit against Ford.

“If anyone needs to look back and study their actions it would be Mr. Blair,” Jones said.

Blair’s lawyer did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters that no matter what Wake decided, most Ontarians think Blair’s firing “was a stinking mess.”

https://ipolitics.ca/2019/05/07/watchdo ... pp-firing/
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