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."

Scandals reveal conflict, corruption and cult of personality

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:17 pm

Scandals reveal conflict, corruption and cult of personality surrounding Doug Ford

Back when Toronto police were flying their fixed-winged Cessna to keep tabs on his little brother, Mayor Rob Ford, during the now-infamous crack video scandal, Doug Ford practically dared police chief Bill Blair to arrest his brother or shut the fuck up.

Doug could dare to be mouthy. While police higher-ups were keen to dig up dirt on Rob, ostensibly to force him out of office, the Fords had the force’s rank-and-file on their side to run interference.

Out in the Fords’ Etobicoke backyard where the investigation was focused, old family friend Superintendent Ron Taverner was in charge at 23 Division and could be counted on to make sure that little brother Rob got home safe and sound when he was too hammered to drive.

Last week, Taverner was rewarded for his loyalty when Ford appointed him commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. The decision raised eyebrows – and ethical questions – and not just because others within OPP ranks who are better qualified for the job were passed over.

Ford’s PCs are still at the centre of investigations by York Regional and Hamilton police over voter fraud allegations that date back to nomination battles during Patrick Brown’s time as PC leader. And the OPP will most likely be the force responsible for any investigation should the York and Hamilton police determine that the actions of any current members of the government need to be probed.

Questions of political interference hang in the air over Taverner’s appointment. And on Tuesday they got louder, with revelations that requirements of the OPP job were mysteriously downgraded to clear the way for Taverner. Doug ran from that one when reporters caught up with him at Queen's Park yesterday, denying he had anything to do with Taverner's hiring. He changed his story later saying there was no legal requirement for him to recuse himself from the hiring process. He's wrong.

THE C-WORD

When he was first seeking elected office to Toronto city council in 2010, Doug loved to throw around the c-word, as in corruption – and as in all the alleged wrongdoing that was allegedly running like gravy through the corridors of power at city hall. It has been a staple of Ford's political repertoire to throw as much shit as possible at the wall to see how much sticks. And its served him well.

Then he became a Toronto city councillor and instead of fighting all that alleged corruption, Ford used his political office to advance his personal agenda and the interests of the Ford family labelling business. That would be the other c-word in this tale – conflict, as in "conflict of interest." The trend has continued as premier. Taverner is just one of a number of recent appointments by Ford of close friends to key positions that's quickly turning Queen's Park into the Family Compact.

The patronage appointments started the day after he took office with the $350,000 plum handed Rueben Devlin, Ford’s former campaign adviser, to privatize health care under the lofty title of “Chair & Special Advisor Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare & Ending Hallway Medicine.”

Recently it was also revealed that Ford wants to make Toronto Hydro boss Anthony Haines, who faced questions about his million-dollar salary in 2017, head of Ontario Hydro. The Hydro board wants no part of that and has hired a lawyer to stop the move. That would be the same board that replaced the board that resigned en masse after Ford forced former Hydro One boss Mayo Schmidt out the door shortly after the election over his $1 million bonus.

That ill-advised move cost taxpayers some $10 million in retirement pay for Schmidt and touched off a crisis of confidence at the public utility, which caused its credit rating to be downgraded. On Wednesday, there was more fallout. Washington state regulators rejected Hydro One's $6.7 billion takeover bid of U.S. utility Avista citing Ford's political interference in Schmidt's firing. Shocking.

There have been questions, too, about the $500,000 it cost taxpayers to remove Brown’s former chief of staff, Alykhan Velshi from his position as a VP at Ontario Power Generation, reportedly by order of the Premier’s right-hand man and former campaign manager Dean French, another Ford pal from Etobicoke who has been earning a bad reputation for himself as a political enforcer for DoFo, kicking ass and taking names.

According to a recent Star report, it was French who instructed underlings “to direct police to raid outlaw cannabis shops [and] to get video of ‘people in handcuffs’” the day after legalization came into force, to spin some good PR for Dofo. The Star says that “one staffer who questioned the directive was subsequently fired.”

And it’s French who has seen to the building of a cult of personality around Ford, up to and including keeping tabs (and calling out onto the carpet) those in the PC caucus who don’t jump up to their feet and clap enthusiastically at the Supreme Leader’s every utterance in the Legislature. And we wonder why Doug thinks he can do pretty much anything he wants and get away with it?

BRAND FORD

There is no PC party anymore. There is only brand Ford. And that’s clearly already gone to the head of the premier who ordained at his swearing in that his would be the first government in Ontario “for the people.” He’s been running roughshod over his political enemies (real and perceived) ever since, starting with his interference in Toronto’s elections by cutting council in half. For Ford, politics is personal. The government's cancellation of a new hospital and post-secondary school in Brampton, for example, has been widely viewed as payback by Ford against his predecessor Brown, who now serves as Brampton mayor.

With each new revelation of Ford’s power tripping, there have been questions from the opposition benches and media – and stony silence of government backbenchers, most notably from Ford's former PC leadership rivals Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott.

Fissures are beginning to show in caucus discipline. Amanda Simard quit the caucus to sit as an independent last week over the Ford government’s plan to axe the office of the French language services commissioner. More may follow.

The Star has reported that as many as half a dozen PC MPPs may be planning to bolt and join the Liberals. That’s why Ford raised the minimum seats required for official party status from eight members to 12 – the Libs currently have seven elected MPPs – or so the speculation goes. There are more than a few former Brown acolytes in Ford's caucus who may be wavering.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s unravelling so quickly for Ford. But the leaks about Ford's outrageous behaviour are coming fast and furious and they're coming from inside his own government.

We saw a similar trajectory when Rob was mayor and Doug was calling the shots behind the scenes as the so-called “brains of the operation.”

It took a year into Rob’s scandalous tenure as mayor before the wheels started coming off and Rob became a lame duck leader, no good to anybody. Doug is on his way. His decisions are not only bringing the workings of government into disrepute, they're costing taxpayers a bundle. That shit-eating grin he’s been walking around with since election day has turned into a sneer. Doug is looking a little nervous. And now he has declared war on the Queen's Park "media party," so it's only bound to get uglier. Question is, who's going to stop him?

https://nowtoronto.com/news/doug-ford-opp-hydro/
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'No concerns' about hiring of Ron Taverner to head the OPP

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:31 pm

'No concerns' about hiring of Ron Taverner to head the OPP, says Ontario Safety Minister Sylvia Jones

Premier Doug Ford says there “was no better choice” for OPP commissioner than family friend Ron Taverner — and that he “didn’t know that decision until the day it was made” as questions continued to swirl around the controversial hiring.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the premier should have declared a conflict and recused himself from the decision given the close ties.

Both the NDP and Liberals are now asking the province’s integrity commissioner to investigate.

“Throughout a process in which a close friend of the premier was given a job, another close friend sat on the selection committee and the job description was rewritten in a way that would allow the premier’s friend to apply, is the premier saying that no one, at any point, flagged any concerns about possible conflict of interest?” Horwath said in the legislature.

Ford said morale among OPP officers is low and “we need someone in there who connects with front-line people, who connects with communities, who has a record of going after guns and gangs.”

“There was no better choice — a transparent choice, by the way, that I wasn’t involved in whatsoever,” he said.

“He’s going to change the OPP … this goes back to reforming the OPP, not going with all the insiders, the brass and everything,” the premier thundered.

Taverner’s appointment, which the premier has confirmed he signed off on, has come under fire because of his long-standing friendship with the Ford family. It was later revealed that the job qualifications were watered down after the position was posted. Taverner would not have been eligible otherwise.

Former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis has called the hiring “a travesty,” and said “the fix was in.”

Sources said Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans, who retires in January, was among those vetted for the OPP commissioner’s job. It is unclear if Evans was on any short list.

And at least one would-be candidate — a Toronto police veteran who qualified under the earlier, more stringent job requirements — chose not to apply because of perceptions that Taverner had the inside track, another police insider said.

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said the three-person hiring panel was independent, and that she is confident in the process.

However, Jones’ own deputy minister sat on the committee, and “he also is a close acquaintance of Ron Taverner’s and his former supervisor” at the Toronto police service, Horwath said.

Ford accused Horwath of “trashing” Taverner.

“This man is a man of integrity. He’s a man of honesty,” he said.

Jones said the NDP “should be ashamed of taking a five-decade candidate and suggesting that there was anything inappropriate about him applying and ultimately receiving” unanimous support at all levels.

“I have no concerns about the hiring process,” she told reporters. “I think the independent process did what it was supposed to do. We have an excellent candidate and I think when Mr. Taverner is in place Dec. 17 we will find a revitalized OPP.”

Deputy Minister Mario Di Tommaso was Taverner’s former boss at Toronto police, but in the new position reports to the secretary of cabinet, she said.

“So I don’t think there’s any conflict there,” the minister said.

Ford has defended the hiring in the legislature, but after Thursday won’t face any questions in the house as MPPs voted to rise for their winter break. They return Feb. 19.

https://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/90 ... via-jones/
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MPPs not concerned after Ford calls media ‘official oppositi

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:51 pm

MPPs not concerned after Ford calls media ‘official opposition’ party

Local MPPs with the Progressive Conservative Party are praising their relationship with Ontario’s news media, after their leader described the media as “the official opposition” party.

During a news conference at Queen’s Park on Monday, Premier Doug Ford was repeatedly asked about his role in signing off on the recent appointment of Ron Taverner as commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. Taverner is a long-time friend of Ford, and his promotion as the top cop with the OPP has come under scrutiny by political rivals and in the media. As things became heated, Ford accused the media of taking over from the Liberals and the NDP as the official opposition to his government.

“The NDP and the Liberals can’t keep up with us because we’re doing a great job. And now, the official opposition is the media, you see it today. And good luck over the next three and half years, I look forward to working with the media party,” Ford said before ending the news conference by walking into his office.

The comments led to criticism from the media and the NDP, as well as comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump who has repeatedly referred to the American news media as “the enemy of the people”. In the past, Ford’s combative tone and tactics with the news media have also extended to using political staffers to drown out reporters’ questions with applause and creating Ontario News Now, an online platform on which the PC government makes statements and releases information in the style of a TV-news report.

“Our government has no issue with journalistic freedom,” said Rick Nicholls, the PC MPP for Chatham-Kent Leamington, in a statement sent to BlackburnNews.com. “We encourage media literacy, hoping people become aware of loaded language and selection bias regardless of where it comes from. We encourage people to make up their own minds on important issues.”

Despite what critics allege is an adversarial approach Ford seems to have taken with the media, Nicholls maintained during a follow-up phone interview that his party wants to be open and transparent. He said the problem is that sometimes, people just don’t understand what is being reported by the news.

“People need to understand, and they don’t. A lot of the time, people don’t fully understand the stories or the messages behind the stories. And that’s not the media’s fault, it’s just that they read whatever they want to read into it,” he said.

When asked if he felt the media has a “selection bias” in terms of what topics it covers, Nicholls said, “I don’t mean the media.”

“People have a bias, a certain leaning, and they’ll lean things more towards their preferred party… sometimes that distorts the actual meaning itself. That’s what I meant by that,” he said.

“I understand the role of media,” he said, adding that he served seven years as an MPP when the PCs were the opposition party. “Now we’re the government, and so it’s just going to take, I believe, some adjustment on all sides to come to the understanding that we need to work together.”

Nicholls said Ford’s comments do not concern him at all, and he has worked hard over the years to build “a very positive working relationship with all the media” within Chatham-Kent-Leamington as well as outside the riding.

“I have no complaints with the media whatsoever,” he said.

The PC MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Monte McNaughton, echoed Nicholls’ lack of concern over Ford’s behaviour towards the media or his “media party” comments, and said he supports the premier. However, he admitted he had not seen the news conference where Ford had made the comments.

“I didn’t see that press conference myself but I can just speak to how I view the media and I am very respectful to my local media and the Queen’s Park gallery,” he said and maintained that everyone in his party is very accessible to the media. “I value what the media do and how they participate in making our democracy in Canada a success.”

However, not everyone at Queen’s Park supports how Ford has handled the news media since the PCs were elected as a majority government in June.

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, a member of the NDP, said the premier’s comments were an attempt by Ford to change the topic, “rather than answering to the people of this province.”

“I think that [with] the premier, there’s been some language that’s been concerning when we talk about our media. But the premier knows better than calling the media the official opposition,” said Gretzky. “The media has a role to make sure all politicians, not just the government, are being held accountable for the things that we are saying and we are doing… He should be well aware of that and he really should not be making the comments that he’s been making.”

https://blackburnnews.com/london/london ... ion-party/
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OPP interim commissioner asks ombudsman to investigate Taver

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:08 am

OPP interim commissioner asks ombudsman to investigate Taverner's appointment

The interim commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is calling on the province's ombudsman to investigate "questions of political interference" in the recent appointment of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the service's next commissioner.

Brad Blair, who has been leading the force on an interim basis since Vince Hawkes resigned as commissioner on Nov. 2, filed a formal request on Tuesday amid growing concerns about the hiring process, which he claims has "deeply affected the morale of the rank and file."

"It is clear to me that as the current commissioner I must put my service to the OPP ahead of personal ambition in order to repair the apprehension of bias over this process and the potential damage to the reputation of the OPP," Blair wrote in a nine-page letter to ombudsman Paul Dubé.

His chief complaints include the impact on the "perceived independence and integrity of the OPP" along with public confidence in the service as an "independent policing agency."

Taverner, a close friend of Premier Doug Ford's family, was named the OPP's next commissioner last month and will assume his post on Dec. 17, serving a maximum three-year term.

The original posting for the next commissioner required interested candidates to hold, at minimum, the position of deputy chief or assistant commissioner. Those requirements were lifted two days later.

Despite sitting two levels below the rank of deputy chief in the Toronto Police Service, Taverner was tapped by Ford's cabinet at the unanimous recommendation of an independent, three-member hiring panel.

"The facts of the hiring process ... raise a legitimate question as to whether the OPP's integrity has been compromised and whether the public can have confidence in and respect for the OPP going forward," said Blair.

Just days after Taverner was awarded the top job at the OPP, the Ford government admitted it lowered the requirements for commissioner to attract a wider range of candidates for the job amid controversial reports that the premier had meddled in order to appoint a friend.

With more than 6,000 uniformed officers and 2,400 civilian employees, the OPP is Canada's second biggest police service.

"Of the 27 applicants, only four, that I am aware of, did not meet the original threshold requirements," Blair said in the letter.

While he applied to lead the OPP, Blair said his request for an independent review of the selection process has "nothing to do" with his desire to remain commissioner.

Ontario Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones maintained last week that Taverner was appointed according to his own merits, and the cabinet's decision was made independently.

Ford has repeatedly stressed his long relationship with Taverner was not a factor in the decision.

"We're friends. I'm friends with thousands of people," Ford said last week, while noting he was in the cabinet meeting that hired the longtime Toronto commander.

Taverner, a 51-year Toronto police veteran in charge of Etobicoke divisions, is well respected within the service for building relationships with marginalized communities. CBC Toronto reached out to him for comment, but did not hear back.

Yet Blair contends the hiring process "remains enveloped in questions of political interference" that are eroding the foundations of the OPP.

"I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the OPP remains independent," Blair wrote to the ombudsman.

"To have this new command assumed without addressing this matter will cause dysfunction in the service and undermine the command."

CBC Toronto reached out to Ford's officials Tuesday evening, but has not received a response.

Security detail questions

Blair outlined incidents relating to the premier's security detail that he contends escalate concern about Taverner's impartiality.

In the letter to the ombudsman, he alleges Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP to purchase a "large camper-type vehicle" from a "sole source" and have it "modified to specifications the premier's office would provide us," the expense of which should be "kept off the books."

The request, at minimum, violates the province's financial policies, Blair says.

CBC also tried to reach French, but has not yet received a response.

He also cited a dispute between Hawkes, the OPP's former commissioner, and Ford shortly after the Conservative Party won the June 7 election.

Blair claims the premier requested a face-to-face meeting with Hawkes over shared security detail with the Lieutenant Governor, during which he asked that specific officers, ones he "would feel comfortable with," be in that detail.

Ford stated if the then-commissioner "would not address the issue, perhaps a new commissioner would," he said.

"Ultimately, the premier's request was approved and implemented by the OPP."

The letter goes on to say that shortly after the PC's announcement that Taverner would be the next commissioner, Blair met with Taverner on Dec. 2. The pair went over the transition and reviewed some challenges the force faces at a Swiss Chalet, he said.

During that meeting, Blair claims that Taverner said that following his Nov. 20 job interview, he was approached by a reporter who said that he had seen the Toronto officer leaving Ford's office.

Blair says in the letter that Taverner told him that "he asked the reporter to hold off on any story in exchange for providing this reporter with a first interview in the near future."

He, however, could not remember the reporter's name.

Delay Taverner's appointment, Blair urges

To rectify the problem, Blair suggests delaying Taverner's installation as commissioner until a review can be completed.

"Given the current cloud of perceived bias and inappropriate political interference in the process, it cannot be in anyone's interest to place Supt. Taverner in the position, as it would only serve to undermine command and diminish the public confidence in the OPP," Blair said Tuesday in a joint letter to Jones, the safety minister, and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney.

Groups such as Democracy Watch have also sought other avenues to address concern that Ford interfered in the hiring process and violated the Ontario Legislature's Members' Integrity Act.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of the national organization that advocates for government accountability, requested Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake to probe the circumstances behind Taverner's hiring.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.4941995
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OPP interim commissioner asks ombudsman to investigate Taver

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:09 am

OPP interim commissioner asks ombudsman to investigate Taverner appointment

The Ontario Provincial Police interim commissioner Brad Blair is asking the the province’s ombudsmen to investigate the recent appointment of Ron Taverner as commissioner.

OPP confirmed to CityNews Brad Blair has called for an investigation into Taverner’s appointment, but couldn’t expand on any of the details. It has also confirmed Blair has hired a lawyer.

The request filed by Brad Blair claimed that there are “growing concerns over the hiring process” which he claims has “deeply affected the morale of the rank and file, according to a letter obtained by the CBC.

Taverner, a veteran Toronto police officer and a close friend of Premier Doug Ford, will be taking over the position on December 17 for a term of 3 years.

His appointment was announced back on Nov. 29 in a statement from Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones, who said his appointment by the Ontario cabinet was based on the “unanimous recommendation of a selection committee comprised exclusively of members of the Ontario public service.”

Ford has been insistent that he was “absolutely not” involved in Taverner’s appointment to the top job at the provincial police force.

Critics have been calling for an investigation into the hiring of Taverner but Ford said the selection process was a fair one.

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/12/11/ ... tment-cbc/

https://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/90 ... rference-/

https://www.bttoronto.ca/2018/12/12/opp ... pointment/
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OPP chief, friend of Doug Ford, dogged by 'bias' allegations

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:20 am

Incoming OPP chief, friend of Doug Ford, dogged by 'bias' allegations

Interim OPP commissioner, Ontario NDP call for probes into Ron Taverner's appointment

The interim commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is calling on the province's ombudsman to investigate "questions of political interference" in the recent appointment of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the service's next commissioner.

Brad Blair, who has been leading the force on an interim basis since Vince Hawkes resigned as commissioner on Nov. 2, filed a formal request on Tuesday amid growing concerns about the hiring process, which he claims has "deeply affected the morale of the rank and file."

"It is clear to me that as the current commissioner I must put my service to the OPP ahead of personal ambition in order to repair the apprehension of bias over this process and the potential damage to the reputation of the OPP," Blair wrote in a nine-page letter to ombudsman Paul Dubé.

His chief complaints include the impact on the "perceived independence and integrity of the OPP" along with public confidence in the service as an "independent policing agency."

Taverner, a close friend of Premier Doug Ford's family, was named the OPP's next commissioner last month and will assume his post on Dec. 17, serving a maximum three-year term.

The original posting for the next commissioner required interested candidates to hold, at minimum, the position of deputy chief or assistant commissioner. Those requirements were lifted two days later.

Despite sitting two levels below the rank of deputy chief in the Toronto Police Service, Taverner was tapped by Ford's cabinet at the unanimous recommendation of an independent, three-member hiring panel.

"The facts of the hiring process … raise a legitimate question as to whether the OPP's integrity has been compromised and whether the public can have confidence in and respect for the OPP going forward," said Blair.

Just days after Taverner was awarded the top job at the OPP, the Ford government admitted it lowered the requirements for commissioner to attract a wider range of candidates for the job amid controversial reports that the premier had meddled in order to appoint a friend.

With more than 6,000 uniformed officers and 2,400 civilian employees, the OPP is Canada's second biggest police service.

"Of the 27 applicants, only four, that I am aware of, did not meet the original threshold requirements," Blair said in the letter.

While he applied to lead the OPP, Blair said his request for an independent review of the selection process has "nothing to do" with his desire to remain commissioner.

For his part, Ford has repeatedly stressed his long relationship with Taverner was not a factor in the decision.

"We're friends. I'm friends with thousands of people," Ford said last week, while noting he was in the cabinet meeting that hired the longtime Toronto commander.

Government 'stands by' appointment

Taverner, a 51-year Toronto police veteran in charge of Etobicoke divisions, is well respected within the service for building relationships with marginalized communities. CBC Toronto reached out to him for comment, but did not hear back.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said in a statement Wednesday that the government is "not going to comment on Mr. Blair's motivations for using the office he holds to raise these issues.

"The government stands by the process leading to the appointment of Mr. Taverner as the next commissioner of the OPP," she continued, adding that Taverner has five decades of policing experience.

"It is unfortunate that this service has been unfairly maligned by unfounded allegations about the appointment process," Jones said.

She concluded by saying that Queen's Park would "respect any decision made by the ombudsman about an inquiry into this matter and would co-operate with any such review."

NDP calls for multiple investigations

In an address to reporters on Wednesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath backed Blair's call for a review by the ombudsman's office and added that she'd like to see a non-partisan emergency select committee carry out its own investigation. The committee would have the power to call witnesses and subpoena any relevant documents.

"The independence of police forces is fundamental to the health of our democracy," Horwath said.

"Mr. Taverner's appointment cannot go ahead under this cloud of suspicion."

She also asked Taverner to step aside while his appointment is reviewed, imploring him to "do the right thing."

During her own remarks, Liberal MP Marie-France Lalonde echoed the call for Taverner to delay his installation. Lalonde said that if he refuses, Ontario's solicitor general should step in to, at the very least, postpone his appointment.

Horwath, who leads Ontario's Official Opposition, similarly wants the province's integrity commissioner to carry out his own investigation in the circumstances of Taverner's appointment.

"I'm concerned that it might have been Doug Ford himself who determined who would be the next commissioner of the OPP," she said.

In his letter, Blair contends the hiring process "remains enveloped in questions of political interference" that are eroding the foundations of the OPP.

"I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the OPP remains independent," Blair wrote to the ombudsman.

"To have this new command assumed without addressing this matter will cause dysfunction in the service and undermine the command."

Security detail questions

Blair outlined incidents relating to the premier's security detail that he contends escalate concern about Taverner's impartiality.

In the letter to the ombudsman, he alleges Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP to purchase a "large camper-type vehicle" from a "sole source" and have it "modified to specifications the premier's office would provide us," the expense of which should be "kept off the books."

The request, at minimum, violates the province's financial policies, Blair says.

CBC Toronto tried to contact French, but did not receive a response.

In her address at Queen's Park, Horwath called for the RCMP to probe the request for a customized camper.

He also cited a dispute between Hawkes, the OPP's former commissioner, and Ford shortly after the Conservative Party won the June 7 election.

Blair claims the premier requested a face-to-face meeting with Hawkes over shared security detail with the Lieutenant Governor, during which he asked that specific officers, ones he "would feel comfortable with," be in that detail.

Ford stated if the then-commissioner "would not address the issue, perhaps a new commissioner would," he said.

"Ultimately, the premier's request was approved and implemented by the OPP."

The letter goes on to say that shortly after the PC's announcement that Taverner would be the next commissioner, Blair met with Taverner on Dec. 2. The pair went over the transition and reviewed some challenges the force faces at a Swiss Chalet, he said.

During that meeting, Blair claims that Taverner said that following his Nov. 20 job interview, he was approached by a reporter who said that he had seen the Toronto officer leaving Ford's office.

Blair says in the letter that Taverner told him that "he asked the reporter to hold off on any story in exchange for providing this reporter with a first interview in the near future."

He, however, could not remember the reporter's name.

Delay Taverner's appointment, Blair urges

To rectify the problem, Blair suggests delaying Taverner's installation as commissioner until a review can be completed.

"Given the current cloud of perceived bias and inappropriate political interference in the process, it cannot be in anyone's interest to place Supt. Taverner in the position, as it would only serve to undermine command and diminish the public confidence in the OPP," Blair said Tuesday in a joint letter to Jones, the safety minister, and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney.

Groups such as Democracy Watch have also sought other avenues to address concern that Ford interfered in the hiring process and violated the Ontario Legislature's Members' Integrity Act.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of the national organization that advocates for government accountability, requested Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake to probe the circumstances behind Taverner's hiring.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.4941995
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Acting head of Ontario police asks for investigation

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:22 am

Acting head of Ontario police asks for investigation into hiring of Ford family friend as new commissioner

Days after Tavernier's appointment, the Ford government admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates for the job

The interim commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is asking the province’s ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Premier Doug Ford’s family friend to the force’s top job.

Brad Blair, who has been leading the force since November, filed a formal request on Tuesday “amid growing concerns of political interference” in the hiring process of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner.

In a letter to ombudsman Paul Dube, Blair says the hiring process has deeply affected the morale of rank and file officers.

Blair says he wants to repair the apprehension of bias over the process and the potential damage to the reputation of the OPP.

Taverner, who is 72 and currently commands three divisions within the Toronto Police Service, was named as the next OPP commissioner last week and is to start his new job Monday.

Days after his appointment, the Ford government admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates for the job.

Blair’s letter says the original commissioner job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher, in a major police service — a threshold Taverner did not meet.

He says of the 27 candidates, only four did not meet the original threshold requirements.

“OPP officers have shared with me their concerns that the process was unfair and their feelings that the independence of the OPP is now called into question,” Blair’s letter reads.

Last week, the Ford government maintained that Taverner was appointed according to his own merits. Ford himself also repeatedly stressed his long relationship with Taverner was not a factor in the decision.

But Blair says the hiring process “remains enveloped in questions of political interference” and should be addressed by impartial review.

“I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the OPP remains independent,” he writes.

“To have this new command assumed without addressing this matter will cause dysfunction in the service and undermine the command.”

Blair, who was also in the running for the job, suggests delaying Taverner’s installation as commissioner until a review can be completed.

Opposition leaders have also called for an investigation into the hiring process, as well as advocacy group Democracy Watch.

Blair also notes concerns about the relationship between premier’s office and the OPP. He alleges Ford asked for “a specific security detail, staffed with specific officers,” and told then-commissioner Vince Hawkes that if he couldn’t meet the request, “perhaps a new commissioner would.”

Blair writes the request was later fulfilled.

He also alleges Ford’s chief of staff asked the OPP to purchase a “larger camper type vehicle” and have it modified to the specifications of the premier’s office.

Blair says the chief of staff then provided specifications and costs via a document from a company to an unnamed OPP staff sergeant and asked that the costs associated with the vehicle “be kept off the books.”

The premier’s office was not immediately available for a comment Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Ontario ombudsman said she could not confirm or comment on whether the office has received a specific complaint.

https://leaderpost.com/news/politics/ac ... 8b6d970bce

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/interim-o ... -1.4214528

https://www.sudbury.com/local-news/acti ... er-1157824
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Brad Blair, Acting Head Of Ontario Provincial Police, Calls

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:25 am

Brad Blair, Acting Head Of Ontario Provincial Police, Calls For Probe Into Doug Ford Hiring Family Friend

He says Ron Taverner did not meet the requirements for the position until the Ford government lowered the threshold.

TORONTO — The man about to become Ontario's new top cop should step aside while a probe is conducted into allegations of political interference from Premier Doug Ford's office into his hiring, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday, while the government continued to stand behind its pick for the new OPP commissioner.

The leader of Ontario's official Opposition called on Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, who was named the new head of the OPP last month, to "do the right thing'' a day after the force's acting chief joined a growing chorus in questioning the appointment.

Acting OPP Commissioner Brad Blair sent a letter to ombudsman Paul Dube on Tuesday night asking him to probe Taverner's hiring, saying officers in the force expressed concerns the selection process was unfair and could raise doubts about the police service's independence.

Blair also suggested in the letter that Taverner's appointment be delayed until an investigation could be conducted by the ombudsman — a proposal the NDP leader supported.

"You know that this requires your action since Mr. Ford and the government ... are not prepared to act,'' Horwath said, directing her comments at Taverner.

"So, I'm asking you straight up, you have to act here. You have to step aside for the sake of the organization of policing that you've dedicated your whole career to. This is the time you have to show your integrity.''

Taverner, a longtime Ford ally who initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position, did not immediately respond to request for comment. He is set to take on his new role on Dec. 17.

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones defended both his appointment as commissioner and the process that led to it. She said the government fully disputed the contents of the acting OPP commissioner's letter.

"We are not going to comment on Mr. Blair's motivations for using the office he holds to raise these issues,'' she said in a statement. "The government stands by the process leading to the appointment of Mr. Taverner.''

Jones also said the government would respect any decision the ombudsman makes around opening an investigation and would co-operate if a review gets underway.

Horwath, meanwhile, called on the RCMP to investigate allegations in Blair's letter that Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP to purchase a "larger camper type vehicle'' and have it modified to the specifications of the premier's office.

'Pimped out ride'

Blair alleged the chief of staff then provided specifications to an unnamed OPP staff sergeant and asked that the costs associated with the vehicle be "kept off the books.''

The allegations appear to violate the province's financial rules, Horwath said.

"We also have to deal with the nonsense around the pimped out ride that Mr. Ford has requested from the OPP. And (allegedly) hiding it from the books,'' she said. "This is not what people wanted.... They did not ask for this kind of behaviour from the new government.''

Taverner's appointment has come under heightened scrutiny since it was revealed in November.

Days after naming Taverner as the new commissioner, the Ford government admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates for the job.

Blair's letter said the original commissioner job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher, in a major police service — a threshold Taverner did not meet. Of the 27 candidates, Blair contended only four did not meet the original threshold requirements.

He said Taverner's hiring process "remains enveloped in questions of political interference'' and should be addressed by impartial review.

"I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the OPP remains independent,'' Blair writes. "To have this new command assumed without addressing this matter will cause dysfunction in the service and undermine the command.''

Liberal legislator Marie-France Lalonde said the allegations in Blair's letter are shocking and Taverner should step aside while an investigation is conducted. She lauded Blair for coming forward, in spite of the risk to himself and his career.

"I know how difficult it must have been for him to do this and truly demonstrate his character,'' she said.

The premier did not address the allegations swirling around Taverner's hiring Wednesday, making no mention of the controversy during a brief speech at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Toronto. Ford also did not stop to speak with reporters gathered at the event.

Last week, the Ford government maintained Taverner was appointed according to his own merits, a claim Jones reiterated Wednesday while stressing his five decades of service with Toronto police.

Ford has also repeatedly stressed his long relationship with Taverner was not a factor in the decision.

With files from Michelle McQuigge

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/12/1 ... _23616132/
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Doug Ford’s friend was named Ontario’s new OPP chief.

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:28 am

Doug Ford’s friend was named Ontario’s new OPP chief. Why that’s now causing political uproar

Did Ontario Premier Doug Ford interfere in the naming of the new head of the Ontario Provincial Police?

That is the question currently consuming provincial politics and that prompted the interim head of the force, Brad Blair, to issue a letter on Tuesday night calling on the Ontario ombudsman to review the appointment of longtime Ford family friend Ron Taverner to the top police job.

That appointment came after the job criteria, which Taverner did not initially meet, were changed.

Ford has denied any involvement in the hiring process and on Wednesday, Sylvia Jones, the provincial community safety minister, said her office will co-operate with any review if the ombudsman decides to pursue one.

But Jones also questioned Blair’s motivation for raising the issue in her statement, arguing the allegations are “unfounded” and have “unfairly maligned” the Ontario Provincial Police.

Ford did not address the matter or take questions from reporters following a speech on Wednesday morning.

However, the matter is expected to dominate the political conversation until Taverner is sworn in on Dec. 17.

Here is everything you need to know about the uproar.

Who is the new commissioner?

Rob Taverner, 72, is a divisional superintendent from northwestern Toronto and serves with the municipal police force.

His career spans more than 50 years and includes work spent working on organized crime and intelligence cases.

Mark Saunders, current chief of the Toronto Police Service, praised his appointment, as did Althea Martin Risden, director of health promotion at Rexdale Community Health Centre.

He has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, which recognizes exceptional service by Canadian police force members.

But he is also a longtime friend of both Ford and his family and has spent years policing in and around Etobicoke — the Fords’ home turf.

Why does that have some concerned?

Blair and opposition critics argue potential bias stemming from that friendship could be a problem if the Ontario Provincial Police ever has to investigate activities by either Ford, his associates or his government as the force did when it took over Project Brazen 2 from Toronto police in 2014.

That investigation saw the provincial police target both the late Rob Ford and his friend, Alessandro Lisi.

Lisi was charged with extortion and drug-related offences in connection with the Rob Ford crack-smoking incident of 2013.

He was acquitted of the drug charges in 2015 and in 2016, the extortion charge was withdrawn.

Blair also raised questions in his letter about potentially problematic relations already existing between Ford’s team and the provincial police force.

In his letter to the ombudsman, Blair pointed to two specific cases he argued raised red flags.

He said Ford’s requests were subsequently approved.

However, it is not clear why Ford may have had concerns about how comfortable he was with existing security details or why he wanted specific officers assigned to his detail.

As well, Blair also alleged Dean French, chief of staff to Ford, asked the provincial police to buy a “large camper-type vehicle” for the premier, then have it customized and the costs “kept off the books.”

How did Taverner get the top cop job?

Ask Blair, and the suggestion is “political interference.”

But ask the premier or his government, and the answer is because he was the best-qualified candidate.

The issue at the heart of the matter is that Taverner got the job after the criteria initially set out for the posting were lowered.

Why they were lowered remains unclear.

In his letter to the ombudsman, Blair wrote that the original job posting that went online on Oct. 22 listed two core requirements for applicants.

First, a successful candidate would need to be an “experienced executive with a background in police.”

Second, they needed a “track record and demonstrated ability to provide executive leadership in a complex policing organization at the rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher in a major police service.”

Both have been requirements in place for OPP commissioners since 2006, Blair wrote.

Yet on Oct. 24, the second criteria, setting out specific rank experience, was removed from the posting.

Jones says that change was made by the hiring firm in charge of the process in order to “make sure that the best person to head our OPP was going to apply” and to “broaden the potential pool of applicants,” of which there were 27.

Only four, Blair wrote, did not meet the original rank criteria.

What happens next?

Barring any changes, Taverner will be sworn in as commissioner on Dec. 17.

His term will last three years.

No decision has yet been announced from the ombudsman as to whether the office will launch the investigation requested by Blair.

But Global News has learned the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario has opened up an investigation into Taverner’s appointment.

That investigation comes after both NDP MPP Kevin Yarde and Liberal interim leader John Fraser filed formal complaints.

The results are yet to be determined.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4754529/doug ... an-review/

http://canadanewsmedia.ca/2018/12/12/do ... obal-news/
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With Doug Ford, Ontario is open for (monkey) business

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:30 am

Globe editorial: With Doug Ford, Ontario is open for (monkey) business

One of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s favourite slogans – and Mr. Ford loves slogans as only a literal label-maker can – is “Open For Business.”

The Premier has inserted the phrase into his ministers’ talking points, printed it on two dozen signs placed near border crossings, and even named a piece of legislation after it – the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.

But Mr. Ford has a habit of acting in ways that eviscerate his favourite mantra. His impulsive, highly personal style of decision-making is just the sort of thing that repels investors. Rather than putting up placards, he should try showing the world that Ontario is run by a cool head, according to clear rules. You know, conservatism.

We are already beginning to see the consequences of Mr. Ford’s tinpot approach to government. Last week, a Washington state regulator killed Hydro One’s bid to buy the U.S. energy company Avista Corp. over concerns about the Premier’s meddling in Hydro’s affairs.

Those concerns are well founded. This summer, Mr. Ford forced out the utility’s CEO, Mayo Schmidt, as a populist sop over Mr. Schmidt’s $6.2-million pay packet; that in turn triggered the resignation of the firm’s entire board. Now, the Premier and his chief of staff are reportedly at odds with the new board over whom to hire as chief executive, with Mr. Ford favouring the head of Toronto Hydro because the two have worked together before.

Not only does the $4.4-billion Avista deal look to be dead, its dissolution would cost Hydro One close to $200-million in fees and commissions. The Premier’s costly intervention is all the more remarkable when you remember that Hydro is only 47-per-cent owned by the province. Mr. Ford has cost not only ratepayers, but shareholders, too.

The green-energy sector might also have something to say about the Premier’s interpretation of “Open For Business.” It has been smarting ever since the Progressive Conservative government cancelled more than 750 renewable-energy contracts this summer in an effort to drive down electricity bills, while swatting away compensation claims. Reforming the Liberal’s terrible energy policy is one thing, but the wholesale shredding of hundreds of contracts hurts companies and chills the business climate.

Tesla didn’t feel Ontario was open for its business earlier this year either, when it successfully sued the province for phasing out electric-car rebates in a way that discriminated against the firm. For an ostensibly pro-business Premier, Mr. Ford has spent a rather large part of his short time in office being sued, spurned and derided by, well, businesses.

That’s not because he has a principled aversion to corporate welfare either – at least not for firms with ties to him and his party. Maple Leaf Foods, the recipient of $34.5-million in provincial largesse for a poultry-processing plant in London, Ont., last month, is a long-time client of Mr. Ford’s family company, Deco Labels.

There is no proof of anything illegal in that bit of industrial policy, but the optics aren’t good and risk feeding a perception that Ontario is open for business above all if you’re a Ford ally. That’s poison for companies operating in Ontario, who inevitably want to make sure the rules of the game are the same for everyone, and won’t suddenly change.

Enter Ron Taverner, Mr. Ford’s long-time family friend and choice to head the Ontario Provincial Police. On Tuesday, OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, the interim chief of the force, asked the provincial Ombudsman to investigate the many irregularities in the process for selecting a new top cop at the OPP. Deputy Commissioner Blair added to the growing list of questionable government actions, alleging that Mr. Ford’s office asked police to purchase “a large camper type vehicle” for the Premier’s use, without public tender, and off the books.

Alleging political interference with policing, conflict of interest and possibly law-breaking, Deputy Commissioner Blair has hired a lawyer and effectively become a whistleblower against the sitting government.

This is unprecedented and it’s the latest situation that leaves Ontario looking like a banana republic. The implications are ominous for the province’s economy. Companies rely on the integrity of contracts, freedom from government meddling and the rule of law. If Mr. Ford truly wants to make Ontario open for business, he should try a few of those ideas on for size.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... -business/
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Ford government urged to delay Ron Taverner’s OPP chief appo

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:30 am

Ford government urged to delay Ron Taverner’s OPP chief appointment

Premier Doug Ford’s government is facing growing pressure to delay the appointment of his family friend, Ron Taverner, as the next Ontario Provincial Police chief after allegations of political interference made by acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair.

Deputy Commissioner Blair has asked the province’s Ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Toronto Police Superintendent Taverner, which is to take effect next Monday. Oppositions parties echoed his request on Wednesday, arguing Supt. Taverner should hold off on assuming the role until the appointment is reviewed.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also said she will be referring allegations about interference by the Premier’s office to the RCMP.

"Mr. Taverner’s appointment cannot go ahead under this cloud of suspicion,” Ms. Horwath told reporters. “I’m concerned that it may have been Doug Ford himself that determined who would be the next commissioner of the OPP and that the Premier’s office made it happen.”

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said her government “fully and completely” disputes the claims made in a letter from Deputy Commissioner Blair and sent to Ontario’s Ombudsman Paul Dubé this week, in which the Deputy Commissioner cited growing concerns about the hiring process that led to Supt. Taverner’s appointment. Mr. Ford has said he had nothing to do with the appointment and the hiring was recommended by a three-member independent panel, which included Supt. Taverner’s former boss.

“The government stands by the process leading to the appointment of Mr. Taverner as the next commissioner of the OPP,” Ms. Jones said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that this service has been unfairly maligned by unfounded allegations about the appointment process.”

Supt. Taverner, 72, did not respond to a request from The Globe and Mail for comment on Wednesday. Mr. Ford gave a speech in Toronto on Wednesday morning, but bypassed reporters as he left a downtown Toronto hotel. His office said Ms. Jones’s statement stands.

The nine-page letter from Deputy Commissioner Blair calls into question the independence of the hiring process for the OPP commissioner, including the fact that qualifications for the job were changed two days after it was first posted, making it possible for Supt. Taverner, a mid-level Toronto police commander, to apply. Deputy Commissioner Blair also alleges that recent interactions between Mr. Ford’s office and the provincial police force “add to the concern about maintaining the independence and integrity of the OPP, free from undue political influence.”

Ms. Horwath said she will be asking the RCMP to look into allegations made in Deputy Commissioner Blair’s letter that Mr. Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, requested that the OPP purchase a “large camper type vehicle” and have it modified to specifications from the Premier’s office, and keep the costs “off the books.”

“The idea that a premier is going to tell the Ontario Provincial Police to keep something off the books, to me that’s deserving of an investigation because there may in fact be wrongdoing,” Ms. Horwath said.

A spokesperson for the RCMP said the force cannot confirm or deny that an investigation is taking place.

In his letter, Deputy Commissioner Blair said, “Approaching an individual company as a sole source and asking for the monies spent to be hidden from the public record is at a minimum a violation of the Ontario government’s financial policies.” Ms. Horwath said she would also be asking the Treasury Board to conduct an internal investigation.

Supt. Taverner told the Toronto Sun on Wednesday it was not a camper van but an extended-size van that would provide more room for Mr. Ford and his team to work on the road. He said he wasn’t aware of how it would be purchased or modified, but said details about the Premier’s security arrangements should not be revealed publicly. Supt. Taverner also said he expects to take his post on Monday.

Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter called for Mr. French to be dismissed. “What’s clear is the Premier’s chief of staff is the source of multiple ethical problems. He’s behaved unethically and has no place working for the government of Ontario,” she said in a statement.

Deputy Commissioner Blair, who was also in the running for the OPP job, is also asking that Supt. Taverner’s appointment be delayed until a review is complete and has hired a lawyer, Julian Falconer, to represent him in his complaint.

“OPP officers have shared with me their concerns that the process was unfair and their feeling that the independence of the OPP is now called into question,” Deputy Commissioner Blair wrote in the letter.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... pointment/
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How Doug Ford turned the OPP into the Ontario Premier’s Poli

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:31 am

Loyalty to the leader is paramount.

Fidelity to law enforcement comes second.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/politi ... olice.html
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End the suspicion of political interference in OPP

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:31 am

Of all the destructive things that Doug Ford has wrought since his government took office at the end of June, surely none is worse than the damage he has inflicted on the credibility of Ontario’s most important police force.

Of course, there’s an awful lot of competition. Weakening rules on the environment, axing crucial watchdog positions, sabotaging Toronto’s municipal election, undermining Hydro One... the list goes on.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editori ... n-opp.html
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Is police independence at risk in Ontario?

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:35 am

Kent Roach holds the Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and advised the Ipperwash inquiry and other inquiries on police-government relations.

A premier’s chief of staff makes it known that he expects to see people who run unlicensed cannabis stores in handcuffs by the evening news.

A premier makes it known that he wants protesters out of the park.

A president asks the police to lay off the investigation of an adviser or charge someone for leaking information.

They all claim, with some justification, that they represent the people. The police work for the people and by implication for them.

Police independence is a poorly understood and sometimes abused concept. But that does not mean that is not fundamental to democracy and the rule of law.

The appointment of Ron Taverner as Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner has been met with controversy because of his friendship with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his family. While there are concerns over whether there was interference in the hiring process of Ontario’s top cop, the fundamental concern should centre around the threat of populism on police independence and the rule of law.

What is police independence? It started as a common-law concept that recognized that each police constable should be able to exercise their own discretion in deciding who to investigate and who to charge.

In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada elevated it to a constitutional principle related to the rule of law. It concluded that the police were not “the servant or agent” or subject to “political direction” by the government of the day. It also indicated that police independence was not absolute.

A premier who directs how the OPP enforces the law will create a police state. An OPP that can do whatever it wants, however, equally will be a police state.

Populism makes the rule of law vulnerable to claims that justice experts – whether they be the police, prosecutors, judges or professors – who are highly paid and have pensions are “out of touch.” They are not responsive to the demands of elected leaders, who despite their own wealth and power, claim that they represent “the people.”

Populist anger needs and feeds on scapegoats.

Take what happened in 1995 at Ipperwash, a former Ontario provincial park. Protesters occupied the park saying they were protecting ancient Indigenous burial grounds. Protester Dudley George was killed by an OPP officer in the dispute. The officer was convicted of manslaughter.

Critics allege then-premier Mike Harris’s words and actions during the occupation put pressure on police to end the conflict quickly.

The Ipperwash inquiry was appointed to determine if there had been improper political direction.

It found that the lines between the politicians and the police had been dangerously blurred. It concluded that s.17(2) of Ontario’s current Police Services Act inadequately protects and could “obliterate” police independence by simply making the OPP commissioner subject to ministerial direction.

It recommended spelling out the precise parameters of the law enforcement independence of the police and ensuring that legitimate ministerial direction to the OPP be published in order to promote transparency. In other words, democratic but transparent ministerial direction of Canada’s second largest police service responsible for much First Nations policing and major crime investigation.

Kathleen Wynne’s government implemented the Ipperwash recommendations with section 62 of Ontario’s Police Service Act, 2018, providing that the minister can only make directions to the OPP commissioner. Moreover, the minister may not do so “with regards to specific investigations, the conduct of specific operations, the discipline of specific police officers, [or] the routine administration of the OPP.” The minister must publish directions. The commissioner may refuse illegal regulations or to provide personal information.

The problem is that this new provision will not come into effect until Jan. 1, 2020. Even that date is uncertain because the Ford government has threatened to gut the whole act because of its emphasis on police oversight.

It might be too late in 2020 to avoid another Ipperwash. Even if section 62 survives and eventually becomes law, it depends on the integrity and independence of the OPP commissioner and the responsible minister. The Ford government, like many others, governs from the centre. It has already switched the minister responsible for the OPP. It has dismissed others who have raised objections. In practice, ministerial directions could be dictated by the Premier or his political aides.

Ipperwash or worse could happen again. The Premier’s enemies could be targeted and his friends sheltered if there is not better protection of police independence. This is the way that a democracy committed to the rule of law dies.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... n-ontario/
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'SOUR GRAPES': Ford responds to interim OPP commish complain

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:37 am

Premier Doug Ford thinks OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair’s complaints about not getting the commissioner’s job is merely “sour grapes.”

OPP officers were using words like “witchhunt, childish, self-serving, bitterness and mutiny” to describe allegations that process employed to choose the provincial force’s top cop — Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner — was tainted.

“It’s sore loser stuff,” said one officer, adding the furor over Taverner’s appointment is really just an attempt to prevent outsiders from seeing the internal problems at the OPP — from failed investigations to member suicides.

Blair, the OPP’s interim commissioner, told the Ontario ombudsman that on moral grounds, he feels the swearing in of Taverner should be delayed until the selection process is probed — with him remaining at the helm.

Blair’s letter said the original commissioner job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher, in a major police service — a threshold Taverner did not meet.

Of the 27 candidates, Blair, who was an applicant himself, contended only four did not meet the original threshold requirements.

He said Taverner’s hiring process “remains enveloped in questions of political interference” and should be addressed by impartial review.

Blair cited allegations that job requirements were lowered to suit Taverner — a Ford family friend — Taverner was seen leaving the premier’s office during the interview process, and that Ford’s chief of staff Dean French had asked for a “camper” van to be purchased and the cost kept off the books.

Sources told the Toronto Sun there will be no delay. Taverner will be sworn in Monday and insiders say Blair will not be part of his executive team.

Inaccuracies in allegations about the premier, his chief of staff and Taverner will also be corrected. First of all it was never a “camper van” as described in the letter but an extended van, according to a source.

“Dean French never used the words ‘off the books,’” added a source. “It doesn’t make any sense. You can’t hide a van that will be on the road.”

All that was being conveyed was the security and communications for the van would not be shared, said a premier’s office source.

“Every premier that comes in has a need for a specific vehicle,” said an OPP officer. “Mike Harris needed a suburban for his (family) … Ernie Eves liked the Yukons and Dalton McGuinty wanted hybrids. Kathleen Wynne wanted discrete cars. They all have different needs.”

And there is nothing wrong, he said, with asking for those needs to be met.

But people close to Ford say the new ride only came up when he was told his current SUV would have to be replaced.

“He asked if they had used vans and asked if seats could be put in which would be cheaper than replacing one of the SUVs, but also create in essence a moving executive office,” said a staffer. “He’s on the road for hours at a time and as a big guy was looking for some more room to be able to meet with this staff or be able to change his shirt in privacy before going into a venue.”

The comments that Taverner was seen leaving the premier’s office were not correct. Taverner will not comment until sworn in as OPP commissioner but I feel it’s important to report he did say Wednesday he was “not in the premier’s office” but “interviewed in a room on the same floor.”

Meanwhile, some OPP officers are reaching out to offer support for Taverner, a 50-year member of the Toronto Police.

“I told the premier today the reason they don’t want Taverner there is because he will change the fiefdom that is already in place,” said an officer.

Another officer said he was “dumbfounded” about the controversy since as a rank-and-file officer have heard nothing but good things about Taverner.

The officer added “the interim commissioner states ‘morale is low’ as a result of the announcement. The only place morale is low is at HQ in Orillia where people who have ridden on other’s coattails to the top are now scrambling because Mr. Taverner represents the great unknown.

No matter how much some are trying so stop it, that unknown begins Monday.

— With files from The Canadian Press

https://www.thewhig.com/news/provincial ... 8aec0e7583
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