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."

Ontario government stands by OPP commissioner appointment

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:47 pm

Ontario government stands by OPP commissioner appointment, Horwath demands probe

TORONTO — The man about to become Ontario’s top cop should step aside while a probe is conducted into allegations of political interference from Premier Doug Ford’s office in his hiring, the leader of the Opposition said Wednesday as the government stood firm on the appointment.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner — a Ford family friend who was named Ontario Provincial Police commissioner last month — to “do the right thing” a day after the force’s acting chief joined a growing chorus in questioning the Progressive Conservative government’s choice for the job.

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 Horwath supported in comments she directed at Taverner.

“You know that this requires your action since Mr. Ford and the government … are not prepared to act,” Horwath said. “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. The 72-year-old is set to take on his new role on Monday.

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 Blair’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. “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.

Meanwhile, Horwath also 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.

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.”

Days after naming Taverner as the new commissioner in late November, 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, 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.

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, despite the risk to himself and his career.

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 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.

University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach said the controversy shows there is a need for stronger firewalls between the police and the premier’s office. He said the Taverner situation also raises broader concerns about public trust in the police that the Tory government will now be forced to confront.

“I don’t think this is going to go away,” he said. “Even if it somehow did … with respect to the appointment, I would still think there are some lingering and troubling questions about police/government relations going forward.”

— with files from Michelle McQuigge.

https://saultonline.com/2018/12/ontario ... nds-probe/
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Ford government urged to delay Ron Taverner’s OPP chief appo

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:50 pm

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://canadanewsmedia.ca/2018/12/13/f ... -and-mail/
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Tories blast OPP commissioner’s ‘unfounded allegations’

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:53 pm

Tories blast OPP commissioner’s ‘unfounded allegations’ about Taverner hiring

Interim OPP Commissioner Brad Blair wants Taverner’s installation as OPP commissioner to be delayed pending a review by the Ontario ombudsman of the appointment.

Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives are attacking interim OPP Commissioner Brad Blair for formally complaining to the Ontario ombudsman about the controversial hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner.

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is urging Taverner, who is to be sworn in Monday as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, to temporarily stand down.

Horwath on Wednesday called upon the RCMP to probe Blair's "allegations of political interference by Doug Ford" and the premier's office's apparent desire to have taxpayers buy a customized "pimped-out ride" for Ford.

Despite the political heat, Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the Conservatives are sticking with Taverner, 72, a long-time Ford pal.

"We are not going to comment on Mr. Blair's motivations for using the office he holds to raise these issues. We will explore the appropriate venue to review the content of a letter that we fully and completely dispute," Jones said in a statement.

"The government stands by the process leading to the appointment of Mr. Taverner as the next commissioner of the OPP," the minister said.

"Mr. Taverner has more than 50 years of exemplary police service. It is unfortunate that this service has been unfairly maligned by unfounded allegations about the appointment process," she said.

"We would respect any decision made by the ombudsman about an inquiry into this matter and would co-operate with any such review."

Jones' 10:15 a.m. statement was the first government comment after more than 14 hours of silence from Ford's embattled administration.

The premier himself ducked reporters after a speech to the Toronto Global Forum at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and was holed up in his Queen's Park office for most of the day.

In a text to the Toronto Sun, Ford dismissed Blair's complaint as "sour grapes."

Horwarth, calling Jones' statement "shameful" and "disgusting," implored him to come clean with Ontarians.

"Premier, you've got to 'fess up," she said.

Alleging "potential political interference" in Taverner's appointment, Blair filed a complaint late Tuesday requesting that Ontario's ombudsman, Paul Dubé, probe the hiring of his successor.

Dubé's office declined to comment on the status of the complaint. An ombudsman's report could not thwart Taverner's appointment but could prove politically embarrassing to the government.

The 51-year veteran Toronto police superintendent was a surprise choice to helm the OPP. He had never applied for a job at the provincial force before.

Blair wants Taverner's installation to be delayed pending a review of the appointment.

The 32-year OPP veteran and the only deputy commissioner to apply for the top job also makes serious allegations against Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, in his submission to Dubé.

He alleges French specifically requested that the OPP purchase a "large camper type vehicle" that could be modified to certain specifications and that the request be "kept off the books."

The RV was to be customized to the premier's specifications with the work done by a company allegedly chosen by Ford's top aide via a "sole source" contract.

Blair's letter maintained that asking for "monies spent to be hidden from the public record" is a violation of the Ontario government's financial policies.

The premier's office has not responded to numerous requests from the Star over the past two days seeking comment about those specific allegations.

Liberal MPP Marie-France Lalonde, solicitor general until the Liberals lose the June 7 election, said she was stunned at the alleged demand for a vehicle.

"Honestly? Wow," said Lalonde (Orleans), adding "the appearance of collusion is significantly important."

Blair's letter says Taverner's appointment raises "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."

The acting commissioner's lawyer said Blair came forward with the explosive complaint "amidst a growing sea of controversy."

Julian Falconer said the officer spoke out because of his belief the OPP "is an organization whose credibility is worth protecting."

Blair, who was appointed to his post by the Conservative government via an October order in council, knows his decision to question the hiring process of his successor means he will "now be under no minor light of scrutiny," the lawyer said.

In his letter, he states he was viewed by members of the OPP as a "front-runner candidate" for the full-time post.

He maintains the decision to name Taverner as commissioner was made prior to the Nov. 29 cabinet meeting where the government has claimed it was reached; that the job posting was "changed without convincing justification;" and that the hiring panel had "questionable authority."

Blair's letter come after another former OPP commissioner, Chris Lewis, voiced his concerns about Taverner's hiring, telling CP24 that "the fix was in."

His complaint is not the first formal one to be levelled in the Taverner affair. Integrity Commissioner David Wake's office said a request for a probe into the Taverner appointment has been filed.

"I can confirm that a request has been made by MPP Kevin Yarde … and it is under review by this office. The office will have no further comment on the matter," said Wake's spokesperson Michelle Renaud, referring to the Brampton North NDP MPP's letter to the office.

After an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Prince Edward Viaduct, Mayor John Tory was asked by reporters about the controversy swirling around Taverner.

Tory praised the superintendent's decades of service to Toronto as an "excellent" police officer, but welcomed a review of the process which led to Ford's cabinet choosing him to become OPP commissioner.

"I always think that if there are questions that rise in these kinds of appointment processes it is best in the interests of confidence in police and confidence in the overall process that those things should be looked into so the public can see there is either a reason to be concerned or there isn't."

With files from David Rider and Rob Ferguson

https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9080 ... er-hiring/
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Hiring of Ford’s friend Ron Taverner to head OPP must be rev

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 14, 2018 2:21 am

Editorial: Hiring of Ford’s friend Ron Taverner to head OPP must be reviewed

Someone must listen to the OPP’s acting head Brad Blair, who earlier this week called for Ron Taverner’s appointment to head the OPP be delayed until Ontario’s Ombudsman examines it.

Monday is set to be the biggest day in Ron Taverner's working life.

It's the day he's supposed to become head of the Ontario Provincial Police and assume the vast power and prestige that come with the job. It's the day that would leave him bursting with pride as it caps a distinguished and decorated law enforcement career spanning more than five decades.

But as much as he wants the job and believes he deserves it, Taverner should call a time out. Difficult though it may be, he should decline taking over as OPP commissioner until a thorough public review of how his appointment happened.

Taverner, you see, is a good friend of Doug Ford's family, and this connection, along with other factors, has fuelled concerns that Ontario's premier or his office interfered with the appointment for his own political benefit.

No less a figure than the OPP's acting head, Brad Blair, shares these concerns and earlier this week called for Taverner's appointment to be delayed until Ontario's Ombudsman examines it.

Someone should listen to Blair. Ontario is supposed to be a mature democracy, not a banana republic. In a mature democracy, there must be a clear, unbreachable boundary between the politicians who make the laws and the police who enforce them.

It's possible that sometime in the coming years, the OPP could find a need to investigate the actions of the Progressive Conservative government, Ford's colleagues or even the premier himself. Remember, the OPP acted in a similar capacity when it investigated the previous Liberal government's gas plant scandal.

The OPP and its commissioner must not only be free of bias, they must be seen to be free of bias. But the process that preceded Taverner's hiring has led Blair, an OPP deputy commissioner, to argue "the independence of the OPP is now called into question." Other OPP officers agree with him, Blair says, adding that the force's morale is suffering.

The problems go beyond the strong personal connection between Ford and Taverner. Taverner was appointed after the job criteria, which he did not initially meet, were subsequently changed so he qualified.

The original job posting required the successful candidate to have at minimum served as a deputy police chief or an assistant police commissioner. Taverner, a Toronto police superintendent, never achieved either of those lofty ranks. However, two days after the original job posting, those requirements for previous experience were dropped. And this mid-level officer was eligible. Blair says that of the 27 applicants to become commissioner, "only four did not meet the original threshold requirements."

Naturally enough, Ford denies interfering with Taverner's appointment. Indeed, he dismisses Blair's allegations as "sour grapes" because Blair also wanted the job. But Blair's motivations are irrelevant. What matters is answering the questions he raised.

It would be a grave mistake for Taverner to take over as OPP commissioner with such clouds of controversy swirling around him. It would undermine his credibility as commissioner, leave him and the OPP vulnerable to future charges of political bias and erode public confidence in this vital law enforcement agency.

The Ford government seems willing to accept this fallout. But if the Ombudsman doesn't quickly announce a review, Taverner should call a halt to his swearing-in ceremony until the suspicions about his hiring are addressed. This would serve his interests as well as the public's.

As it stands, he faces a tainted tenure as commissioner. That's no way for Taverner to lead or enjoy what should be his career's biggest day.

https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9 ... -reviewed/
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Province must investigate how Ford government hired Ontario’

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 14, 2018 2:23 am

Globe editorial: Province must investigate how Ford government hired Ontario’s new top cop

On Monday, Ron Taverner is scheduled to be installed as Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. That must not happen.

If Ontario Premier Doug Ford has any respect for the integrity of the justice system, he will put this appointment on hold and give an investigation time to clear the air.

As for Toronto Police Superintendent Taverner, if he wants to preserve his reputation as a police officer of more than 50 years, he will decline to be sworn in. To do otherwise would destroy public trust in the independence of the OPP.

The process by which the head of the OPP is appointed is supposed to be impartial and arms-length. There has to be daylight between government officials and police officers who may one day be called on to investigate them.

Police must be independent, and they must also be seen to be independent. Police interactions with government, and government interactions with police, must happen in such a way that there is zero public perception of collusion or conflict of interest.

That’s something Progressive Conservatives should understand, in their bones. What is more conservative than respect for the rule of law and vigilance against abuses of government power? Conservatives believe in keeping an eye on government, not giving it carte blanche.

There are far too many problems with Supt. Taverner’s appointment. He’s a long-time friend of Mr. Ford and the Ford family, and has spent much of his career in Etobicoke, Mr. Ford’s home turf.

At 72 years of age, he’s 16 years older than his predecessor as OPP chief. Yet he’s still only a superintendent, several rungs below the most senior levels of the Toronto police.

Despite his advanced age, he was too junior to apply for the OPP job, according to job requirements in place since 2006, and which were included in a job posting made public on Oct. 22. However, on Oct. 24, those requirements were mysteriously downgraded.

Mr. Ford says he had nothing to do with that, or with anything else in a process that somehow just happened to pick an old friend from the old neighbourhood.

So why is the Premier so aggressively defending the choice he says he didn’t make?

Why did former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis react to Supt. Taverner’s appointment with dismay, saying that “the fix was in from Day One”?

Why did OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair – the acting head of the force – write to the provincial ombudsman and lay out irregularities in the hiring process, including evidence that the decision to hire Supt. Taverner was made before the cabinet meeting at which the decision was allegedly reached? Why has Ontario’s top cop hired a lawyer and effectively become a whistle-blower against the government?

And what about Deputy Commissioner Blair’s allegation that the Premier’s office was interfering in police business from the get-go, including demanding that Mr. Ford be allowed to pick the officers who would serve on his security detail, threatening the previous head of the OPP if he resisted and telling the OPP to buy “a large camper-type vehicle" for the Premier’s use, with the purchase kept off the books?

Why did Mr. Ford react to these allegations of unethical and illegal behaviour in his office by calling them nothing but “sour grapes"?

And why did Supt. Taverner defend the Premier? Instead of looking into the substance of these very serious allegations, including a claim the Premier’s office asked police to break the law, the man on the verge of becoming Ontario’s top cop appears to have focussed his inquiries on what really matters: the size of the van.

He told the Toronto Sun that the vehicle Mr. Ford’s office wanted was more of an “extended-size van” than a “large camper van." And anyhow, the Premier – the man who didn’t hire him – is “a big guy and it would have more room for he and his team to work while on road.”

Great detective work, chief.

If the goal was making the head of the OPP look like a government lapdog, then Mr. Ford and Supt. Taverner have done an excellent job.

The province’s ombudsman and integrity commissioner must investigate what happened here. So must a parliamentary inquiry. Get rid of the stain on the administration of justice. Don’t name a new OPP chief until the spot is gone.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... ent-hired/
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Doug Ford’s Ontario: Open for (the family) business

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:48 pm

Tabatha Southey: Ontario’s premier has hired a close family friend to run the OPP and doled out millions to a big client of Deco Labels. We sense a trend.

The appointment of close Ford family friend Ron Taverner to the top position in the Ontario Provincial Police didn’t exactly leave anyone who follows Toronto politics reeling. The process by which Taverner was selected looks as shady as a crooked three-dollar bill tucked under an oak tree in the Greenbelt that Doug Ford absolutely promised he was not going to open up for development, and how’s that going?

But Ontario, after all, elected Doug Ford, a one-term city councilor who Toronto’s integrity commissioner found had broken city council’s code of conduct by using his influence as a councillor to benefit two companies, both of which had long-standing business relationships with Deco Labels. Deco is—wait for it—owned by the Ford family. Taverner is to start the job on Dec. 17, it might as well have a bow on it, and this is the kind of familial shenanigans, and now drama, the province signed up for.

Nepotism is nothing new, of course, but Taverner’s appointment feels very much on trend. In general there is a politics afoot just now that doesn’t even attempt to make the argument that, “Trust me, this is the right thing to do,” relying more on a kind of bilateral knavery. This is politics with a shrug, and an “Oh, come on, you’d do the same too if you had the chance,” and so forget ethics, even optics are irrelevant.

Who is to say why $34.5 million in provincial funds was doled out to Maple Leaf Foods in aid of a new $660-million poultry-processing plant in London, Ont., in late November? Yes, that would be the same Maple Leaf Foods that has long been a client of none other than Deco Labels, and it is “the largest investment in food processing ever in Canada,” as Ford himself said.

None of which is to say the allocation of funds is necessarily untoward or a bad idea. The federal government ponied up $20 million as well, but the question, “Which came first, the chicken processing plant or the label on the chicken?” does come to mind.

On Tuesday acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair, who has hired a lawyer and seems to mean business, requested that Ontario ombudsman Paul Dubé investigate Taverner’s hiring, which Ford insists he had nothing to do with and we are asked to believe was the the perfectly correct outcome of some kind of tea party, a three-person panel that included Taverner’s and his former boss.

Officers within the OPP have raised concerns that the process that appointed the new head was improper and that this might undermine the integrity on the force. “If the hiring process remains enveloped in questions of political interference” wrote Blair, “the result will be irreparable damage to police independence…”

Taverner has never held a high-ranking position within the OPP or headed a police force, and it seems there may be members of the OPP who are apprehensive about the appearance, real or illusory, that the premier of the province has acquired a set of handy pocket police.

Blair also alleges that Dean French, Ford’s chief of staff, asked that police buy “a large camper-type vehicle” and customize it for the premier to tool around in, and that the cost of the camper be “kept off the books.”

Many, understandably, look forward to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario’s “If the Van’s a Rockin’ Don’t Come a Knockin’ ” 2022 campaign.

The Toronto Sun‘s Joe Warmington blustered in a column, “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 was “dumbfounded” about the controversy since as a rank-and-file officer he “heard nothing but good things about Taverner.” To hear Warmington tell it, no one should even bother calling the OPP just now. They’re just too busy non-stop baking cakes for the man who will rise several ranks from his position of friendly local police commander in Ford’s Etobicoke neighbourhood to be head of a police force second in size to only the RCMP, and their new boss.

They’re working on a musical number for the Baroness.

Curiously, an earlier version of the column quoted none other than, we’re assured, the entirely independent Taverner himself, defending the vehicle purchase—the details of which he seemed peculiarly familiar with. “ ‘I am told it’s not a camper van but an extended-size van,’ Taverner told the Sun,” the article read, for a time. “He’s a big guy and it would have more room for he and his team to work while on the road.”

A somewhat later version of the column, which the Sun noted was edited at 6:59 p.m. the day it was posted, ever so discreetly removes this, potentially damaging to the soon-to-be commissioner, bit of quotation. This particular defence is left up to a mere “staffer” quoted as saying pretty much what the vanished Taverner had said. “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 his staff or be able to change his shirt in privacy before going into a venue.”

It appears that the selected head of the OPP was swapped out for a “staffer.” Or is it six of one, half a dozen of the other these days? Will Ford next announce that the hiring process in the future will be streamlined so that all key positions in the province will be filled by “Some buddies of mine, why you gotta be so nosy?”

Will the qualifications for all positions be lowered to better accommodate Ford’s affections?

Will anyone care as long as those “Open For Business” signs Ford had put up remain along Ontario’s border as part of the Ford government’s apparent mission to rebrand the province as “Ontario, the outlet mall of provinces”?

I think we have the answer to the question “How bad can a Doug Ford government be?” And it’s “How much time do you have?”

https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/ontaria ... -show-now/
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Former RCMP head Bob Paulson calls for review of hiring Tave

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:50 pm

Former RCMP head Bob Paulson calls for review of hiring of Doug Ford’s friend Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner

Former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson says there are “reasonable concerns” about the appointment of Premier Doug Ford’s family friend, Ron Taverner, as the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and there should be an independent inquiry into the matter to preserve the integrity of the force.

Mr. Paulson, a 32-year veteran of the RCMP until his retirement in June, 2017, is joining the chorus of calls for a third-party investigation into Toronto Police Superintendent Taverner’s appointment, which is set to take effect on Monday.

This week, acting OPP Commissioner Brad Blair, echoed by the opposition parties, wrote to the province’s Ombudsman to ask for a delay and review of the appointment, which Deputy Commissioner Blair said is “enveloped in questions of political interference.” The NDP said on Thursday the Ombudsman has deferred complaints to the province’s integrity commissioner.

“I think there should be a third-party investigation as to how this worked. And people should answer questions,” Mr. Paulson said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Thursday.

“What you need here is someone with complete integrity and confidence to be able to go in and review the whole process, all of the outstanding issues, and report publicly to say, ‘No, no, you’ve got it all wrong, this is a good guy, he’s the guy.’ Or, ‘This stinks and ought not to have ever happened.’”

Mr. Paulson said there are still lingering questions about the hiring process that led to Supt. Taverner’s appointment, including why qualifications were lowered two days after the job was initially posted.

“The questions that have been raised are reasonable questions and they need time to be sorted out, because it sounds as though there are some reasonable concerns,” he said.

“It’s too risky to have the OPP’s independence impugned.”

He also said the nature of the relationship between Mr. Ford and Supt. Taverner needs to be clarified before Supt. Taverner takes on the new role.

“If there is a long-standing personal relationship between the new commissioner and the Premier, that needs to be fully understood and fully explored before he’s appointed,” Mr. Paulson said.

If Supt. Taverner’s appointment goes ahead on Monday, it could result in a loss of public confidence in the OPP, Mr. Paulson said.

“If that is lost because people doubt the independence, then the whole thing is a sham – and it’s no good,” he said. “That sense of integrity of the institution has to be preserved.”

Mr. Ford’s office declined to comment on Mr. Paulson’s remarks, pointing to a previous statement from Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones in which she said the government stands by its hiring process. She also said the government would respect any decision made by the Ombudsman about an inquiry and would co-operate with a review.

The nine-page letter from 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."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she will be asking the RCMP to look into allegations 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.”

Mr. Paulson said it’s not unreasonable for the Premier’s office to weigh in on how the Premier will be protected and supported by the OPP.

“The suggestion that things be kept off the books is another … concern. That’s very concerning,” he said.

“If there’s allegations of criminality, supported by some substantial evidence, then that’s a whole other question and that needs to be reviewed. And that would require, I think, a separate force to do that.”

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Acting OPP boss asks court to force investigation into succe

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:08 am

Acting OPP boss asks court to force investigation into successor's hiring

The acting Ontario Provincial Police commissioner is asking the courts to order the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of his successor, which has been plagued by allegations of political interference.

Brad Blair, the province’s current top cop, has applied to Ontario’s Divisional Court to force an investigation into the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the new OPP commissioner, Blair’s lawyer said. Earlier this week, Blair asked Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to probe the controversial hiring process that saw Taverner get the job, but he said Friday the watchdog had turned down his request.

“We don’t agree on the views the ombudsman takes of his role,” said Julian Falconer, Blair’s lawyer, adding Dube’s office is the appropriate place to conduct the probe. “If not there, where? How does this issue, which obviously is troubling a great many Ontarians, get resolved?”

Falconer said the ombudsman won’t investigate because he believes the matter is out of his jurisdiction since the hiring was ultimately a decision made by cabinet. Falconer said Blair wants the watchdog to probe the hiring process conducted by a three-person committee tasked with selecting the new commissioner, who is a family friend of Premier Doug Ford.

Linda Williamson, a spokeswoman for Dube, said the watchdog’s office won’t comment on the matter at this time.

“Our office will respond to the court application,” she said.

Taverner, a longtime Ford ally who initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The 72-year-old is set to take on his new role on Monday.

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

Earlier this week, Blair said in a letter to Dube that the original 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.

Falconer said Blair’s push for an investigation is aimed at clearing the cloud of suspicion around the hiring process — and in turn the provincial police service itself. The acting commissioner is not doing this for personal gain, he said.

“This is a significant personal sacrifice to him and his career,” Falconer said. “This is not a great career boost for him. This is a tremendous amount of pressure, a true feeling of peril for him.”

Falconer said he is hopeful the case will be heard in January or February but acknowledged it will not formally stop Taverner from assuming the role next week. But in a letter to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, the lawyer calls on the government to postpone Taverner’s transition into the role until a full investigation can be conducted.

“Suffice to say that while we cannot at this stage predict what the minister and the attorney general will do, that is certainly what Commissioner Blair is urging,” he said.

When asked for comment Friday, Premier Doug Ford’s spokesman Simon Jefferies referred The Canadian Press to comments made by Jones earlier in the week defending Taverner and the process that led to his appointment.

She said the government fully disputed the contents of Blair’s original letter.

“We are not going to comment on Mr. Blair’s motivations for using the office he holds to raise these issues,” Jones said Wednesday. “The government stands by the process leading to the appointment of Mr. Taverner.”

https://www.680news.com/2018/12/14/opp-taverner-court/
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Court asked to look into Taverner hiring

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:13 am

Acting OPP boss asks court to force investigation into successor's hiring

TORONTO - The acting Ontario Provincial Police commissioner is asking the courts to order the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of his successor, which has been plagued by allegations of political interference.

Brad Blair, the province's current top cop, has applied to Ontario's Divisional Court to force an investigation into the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the new OPP commissioner, Blair's lawyer said. Earlier this week, Blair asked Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to probe the controversial hiring process that saw Taverner get the job, but he said Friday the watchdog had turned down his request.

"We don't agree on the views the ombudsman takes of his role," said Julian Falconer, Blair's lawyer, adding Dube's office is the appropriate place to conduct the probe. "If not there, where? How does this issue, which obviously is troubling a great many Ontarians, get resolved?"

Falconer said the ombudsman won't investigate because he believes the matter is out of his jurisdiction since the hiring was ultimately a decision made by cabinet. Falconer said Blair wants the watchdog to probe the hiring process conducted by a three-person committee tasked with selecting the new commissioner, who is a family friend of Premier Doug Ford.

Linda Williamson, a spokeswoman for Dube, said the watchdog's office won't comment on the matter at this time.

"Our office will respond to the court application," she said.

Taverner, a longtime Ford ally who initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The 72-year-old is set to take on his new role on Monday.

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

Earlier this week, Blair said in a letter to Dube that the original 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.

Falconer said Blair's push for an investigation is aimed at clearing the cloud of suspicion around the hiring process — and in turn the provincial police service itself. The acting commissioner is not doing this for personal gain, he said.

"This is a significant personal sacrifice to him and his career," Falconer said. "This is not a great career boost for him. This is a tremendous amount of pressure, a true feeling of peril for him."

Falconer said he is hopeful the case will be heard in January or February but acknowledged it will not formally stop Taverner from assuming the role next week. But in a letter to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, the lawyer calls on the government to postpone Taverner's transition into the role until a full investigation can be conducted.

"Suffice to say that while we cannot at this stage predict what the minister and the attorney general will do, that is certainly what Commissioner Blair is urging," he said.

When asked for comment Friday, Premier Doug Ford's spokesman Simon Jefferies referred The Canadian Press to comments made by Jones earlier in the week defending Taverner and the process that led to his appointment.

She said the government fully disputed the contents of Blair's original letter.

“We are not going to comment on Mr. Blair's motivations for using the office he holds to raise these issues,” Jones said Wednesday. “The government stands by the process leading to the appointment of Mr. Taverner.”

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/opp-commissi ... -1.4218661

http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/ ... 66841.html
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Interim OPP commissioner asks court to order ombudsman inves

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:15 am

Interim OPP commissioner asks court to order ombudsman investigation into Taverner appointment

Interim Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Brad Blair wants an Ontario court to order the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Premier Doug Ford's family friend Ron Taverner as the new OPP commissioner.

"If the Ombudsman does not review the complaint, the independence of the OPP will continue to operate under a cloud of suspicion," Blair said in his application to the court.

"This is a serious matter as the independence of the OPP — a body that can be called in to investigate provincial politicians — must be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the citizenry."

Blair sought Ontario ombudsman Paul Dubé's review of the hiring process for the position of the OPP commissioner on Tuesday and said Dubé twice refused his request.

Blair now wants Divisional Court to determine if the ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate the hiring.

"We don't agree on the views the ombudsman takes of his role," said Julian Falconer, Blair's lawyer, adding Dubé's office is the appropriate place to conduct the probe. "If not there, where? How does this issue, which obviously is troubling a great many Ontarians, get resolved?"

Falconer said the ombudsman won't investigate because he believes the matter is out of his jurisdiction since the hiring was ultimately a decision made by cabinet. Falconer said Blair wants the watchdog to probe the hiring process conducted by a three-person committee tasked with selecting the new commissioner.

Linda Williamson, a spokeswoman for Dubé, said the watchdog's office won't comment on the matter at this time.

"Our office will respond to the court application," she said.

Horwath demanded investigations

On Wednesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath​ demanded that the government create a new committee to look into what role Ford played in Taverner's appointment.

"The independence of police forces is fundamental to the health of our democracy," she said. "Mr. Taverner's appointment cannot go ahead under this cloud of suspicion."

Horwath said police forces must be free of real or perceived political influences.

"That is why I'm calling for the creation of a select committee of the legislature, a committee with equal representation from government and non-government MPPs and the full power to call witnesses and subpoena any relevant documents," she said.

Horwath appealed to Taverner directly, asking him to delay assuming control of the OPP and "do the right thing." He is expected to assume his post on Dec. 17.

She also backed Blair's call for a review of Taverner's appointment by the ombudsman's office and called on the province's integrity commissioner to carry out his own investigation into the circumstances of the appointment in light of allegations of political interference.

She made the comments in a press conference in which she called on the RCMP to investigate an allegation that Ford's office asked the provincial police force to buy him a specialized "camper-type vehicle."

Province admitted to lowering requirements

Taverner, a longtime Ford ally who initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The 72-year-old is set to take on his new role on Monday.

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

Earlier this week, Blair said in a letter to Dubé that the original 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.

Falconer said Blair's push for an investigation is aimed at clearing the cloud of suspicion around the hiring process — and in turn the provincial police service itself. The acting commissioner is not doing this for personal gain, he said.

"This is a significant personal sacrifice to him and his career," Falconer said. "This is not a great career boost for him. This is a tremendous amount of pressure, a true feeling of peril for him."

Falconer said he is hopeful the case will be heard in January or February but acknowledged it will not formally stop Taverner from assuming the role next week. But in a letter to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, the lawyer calls on the government to postpone Taverner's transition into the role until a full investigation can be conducted.

"Suffice to say that while we cannot at this stage predict what the minister and the attorney general will do, that is certainly what Commissioner Blair is urging," he said.

When asked for comment Friday, Premier Doug Ford's spokesman Simon Jefferies referred The Canadian Press to comments made by Jones earlier in the week defending Taverner and the process that led to his appointment.

She said the government fully disputed the contents of Blair's original letter.

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

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.4947354
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New OPP Commissioner Ron Taverner on standby

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:18 am

New OPP Commissioner Ron Taverner on standby as legal battle ensues over top cop appointment

After 51 years as a Toronto cop, Supt. Ron Taverner cleaned out his 23 Division office Friday preparing for the “exciting” move to Orillia where he’s scheduled to start as OPP commissioner Monday.

However, robust opposition forces are hard at work trying to delay, and even stop, him from moving into his new role.

What should have been a special day for the 72-year-old copper, turned out to be one of unknowns.

The unclear nature of his future may continue up until the 8 a.m. Monday when he’s supposed to report to OPP headquarters.

It’s stemming from OPP Interim Commissioner Brad Blair calling for the province’s Ombudsman to investigate what he feels was a biased hiring process that saw Taverner — a friend of Premier Doug Ford — win the post over himself.

Through lawyer Julian Falconer, Blair is asking for a court to order the Ombudsman to investigate.

“If the Ombudsman does not review the complaint, the independence of the OPP will continue to operate under a cloud of suspicion,” said Blair’s submission.

If a court hears the request Saturday it could put Taverner’s start date in limbo.

The OPP media person originally informed media of a “photo op” for 8 a.m. Monday but is now referring calls to the Ministry Of Community Safety.

Ford, Blair and Taverner were unavailable for comment.

But one policing source said some ministry people are recommending holding back giving Taverner the reins until early next year to allow for a fair process — while keeping Blair on as interim commissioner.

Opposition and NDP leader Andrea Horwath asked Taverner to “do the right thing” and delay the move until a committee can be formed.

However, Toronto Police officers close to Taverner were encouraging their mentor to remain ready to answer the bell Monday.

“The guy cleaned out his desk after 50 years of public service and they are treating him like this,” said one longtime copper. “What a disgrace.”

“This whole thing is nothing but ugly politics and it’s obvious somebody does not want Ron Taverner to ever head the OPP,” the officer added.

In the meantime, a wild card in this mess was a statement from the Ontario Provincial Police Association in reaction to the Toronto’s Sun’s revelation Friday that the RCMP had interviewed current and retired senior OPP officers at the commissioner, deputy commission and superintendent levels over an allegation from a female staffer and superintendent supervisor who is now a chief of police in a Canadian city.

They allege over a period of years she was sexually harassed and stalked by a high-ranking officer.

The OPP acknowledge the Mounties investigation wrapping up in 2017 but say no criminality was found.

“Members of the OPPA have the right to a workplace that is free of discrimination and harassment,” OPPA President Rob Jamieson said in a statement. “When presented with an allegation such as this, OPP management must respond appropriately and ensure that our members have the ability to report issues, without fear of reprisal and with the knowledge that their allegations will be taken seriously.”

The statement added: “While this incident was investigated by the RCMP and no criminality was found, we look forward to being advised of the results of the OPP’s Professional Standards Bureau report on this allegation.”

But there may not be a report to cite.

Speaking on behalf of the OPP, Staff-Sgt. Carolle Dionne said: “If allegations are made involving a commissioner and or deputy (the) Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) will investigate” while lower ranks “are investigated by the Professional Standard’s Bureau. For this particular incident, it was referred to the MAG, so you’d have to follow up with them for status.”

There does not appear to have been a Police Services Act probe into the senior officers alleged to either be involved directly or in covering it up.

Jamieson said that would not happen if it were a constable interviewed by the RCMP — he or she would be internally probed.

OPPA members are expected to talk to new commissioner Taverner about this on Monday — if he is the commissioner.

https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news ... 6f2120b8ed
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Appointment of incoming OPP commissioner Ron Taverner postpo

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:19 am

The appointment of incoming OPP commissioner Ron Taverner has been delayed until the province’s integrity commissioner finishes a review of Premier Doug Ford involvement in the hiring process, CTV News Toronto has learned.

The postponement was requested by Taverner in an email to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones.

“While the government has full confidence in Mr. Taverner, we will respect his request for a delay in his appointment, until such time as the Integrity Commissioner has conducted a review of the selection process,” Jones wrote in a statement.

NDP MPP Kevin Yarde asked the integrity commissioner to investigate Premier Doug Ford and Taverner’s appointment under the Members’ Integrity Act. It is not clear how long the investigation will take.

The appointment has been heavily scrutinized given Ford’s longtime friendship with Taverner, who until Friday was a superintendent with the Toronto Police Service.

Ford previously said he had “zero influence” in Taverner’s appointment.

Last week, Interim OPP Commissioner Brad Blair formally asked Paul Dubé, the province’s ombudsman, to look into the hiring.

In Blair’s letter to the ombudsman, he said there are “growing concerns” from the public and members of the legislature about the process.

The initial job posting required applicants to have served at the rank of deputy police chief or higher or assistant commissioner or higher in a major police service, experience Taverner did not have.

The government later lowered the experience required for the position after the job was posted.

“If the hiring process remains enveloped in questions of political interference, the result will be irreparable damage to police independence in the third largest deployed police service in North America,” Blair wrote in his letter to Dubé.

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said on Friday that the watchdog had turned down the request.

Falconer filed an application with the Ontario Divisional Court to force the ombudsman to investigate.

Sources tell CTV News Toronto that cabinet has now decided to relieve Blair from the role of interim commissioner.

Gary Couture, who is currently the deputy commissioner and provincial commander for field operations, is expected to take over the position of interim commissioner until at least the end of March, sources say.

Taverner was originally expected to assume the role of commissioner on Dec. 17.

On Saturday, in a statement to OPP members, and shared with the media, Blair acknowledged his removal.

“I have already had discussions with Deputy Commissioner Couture who assumes command effective Monday, December 17, 2018. I will be fully supportive in assisting his transition,” the statement noted.

“I do not regret a single step I have had to take.”

Blair will return to his post as deputy commissioner of Traffic Safety and Operational Support Commend. Falconer confirmed on Saturday that the court application will proceed.

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Saturday, NDP MPP Sara Singh said there are still many “unanswered questions” regarding Taverner’s hiring.

“I think that people in this province deserve to have a government that is going to be accountable and that’s going to be transparent. Appointing your friends and your insiders is not I think what people in this province expect of our leadership,” she said.

Singh said in addition to the integrity commissioner’s investigation, the NDP is calling for an emergency select committee to be struck that would include members of the government as well as other members of the legislature.

“I think we need to understand how this was allowed to happen, how rules were changed in order to have somebody appointed to a position. I think these investigations, along with potentially the RCMP’s investigation, will help provide some clarity for us here in the province,” she added.

https://www.cp24.com/news/appointment-o ... -1.4219501
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Ontario government delays controversial OPP commissioner app

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:19 am

TORONTO -- The Ontario government is delaying the appointment of the man set to become the province's top cop until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process is complete.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones says the government will respect Ron Taverner's request for a delay in his appointment, which was supposed to take place on Monday.

Instead, acting commissioner Brad Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force's deputy commissioner.

"I understand the preference for an alternative Interim Commissioner and will co-operate in every respect," Blair said in a statement released on Saturday.

Blair's lawyer, Julian Falconer, said in a conference call with media on Saturday that his client will be "regressed" from his role as interim commissioner on Monday.

On Friday, Blair asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner's hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

Falconer said Saturday that Blair will continue with the legal proceedings.

Taverner, a longtime family friend of Premier Doug Ford, currently commands three divisions within the Toronto Police Service. The 72-year-old did not initially qualify for the role, but the government has said it lowered the requirements for the job to attract a wider range of candidates. Blair, who was among 27 candidates up for the commissioner position, has contended that only four did not meet the original threshold.

However, the Progressive Conservatives have repeatedly denied that the premier's office had anything to do with Taverner's hiring.

Taverner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the delay, which he requested in an email to Jones that was obtained by The Canadian Press.

"Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed until as such time the integrity commissioner has completed his review," he wrote in the email.

Falconer said he understands how it could look like Blair's push for an investigation is about his "personal agenda" but he said the commissioner is doing it to maintain the reputation and integrity of the OPP.

The Opposition NDP said on Saturday that in addition to the integrity commissioner's investigation, it is calling for an emergency select committee of the legislature to look into the process.

"We are relieved that Mr. Taverner will not be appointed on Monday," said NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh. "However, we are still very concerned. I think this step will allow us to have some integrity and trust maintained within the Ontario police service."

Falconer said he believes a committee of MPPs could also be a beneficial avenue to investigate the possibility of political interference.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ontario-g ... -1.4219548
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New OPP boss Taverner delays hiring until integrity probe do

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:20 am

Presumptive OPP boss Ron Taverner has put his appointment on hold.

The veteran Toronto cop who was named OPP commissioner by Premier Doug Ford has asked that the decision be delayed until the integrity commissioner conducts a probe into the hiring process.

Taverner requested the delay in an email to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones.

“Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as Commissioner be postponed until as such time the Integrity Commissioner has completed his review,” he wrote.

Jones issued a statement accepting Taverner’s request.

“While the government has full confidence in Mr. Taverner, we will respect his request for a delay in his appointment, until such time as the Integrity Commissioner has conducted a review of the selection process,” Jones wrote.

Sources also told CTV that the cabinet has decided to relieve interim commissioner Brad Blair of his duties.

Blair has been vocal — and wrote a letter of complaint to the ombudsman — about Taverner’s appointment.

Taverner is a longtime friend of Doug Ford and that has triggered an outcry that the selection process was skewed in his favour.

The premier has claimed he had “zero influence” over the longtime Toronto cop’s appointment.

Taverner’s last day with Toronto Police was Friday after 50 years on the job.

In Blair’s letter to the ombudsman, he claimed there were “growing concerns” from the public and members of the legislature about the process.

The original job posting stated that applicants had to have served at least as a deputy chief to be considered. Taverner was superintendent of the city’s 12, 23 and 31 divisions.

But bureaucrats lowered the experience bar after the posting went up.

“If the hiring process remains enveloped in questions of political interference, the result will be irreparable damage to police independence in the third largest deployed police service in North America,” Blair wrote.

Current OPP deputy commissioner and provincial commander for field operations Gary Couture will take over as interim boss until at least the end of March, sources told CTV.

Taverner had been expected to take up his OPP duties on Monday.

https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news ... 46b96779a1
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Controversial appointment of Taverner as OPP commissioner de

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:21 am

The Ontario government is delaying the appointment of the man set to become the province’s top cop until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process is complete.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones says the government will respect Ron Taverner’s request for a delay in his appointment, which was supposed to take place on Monday.

Instead, acting commissioner Brad Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force’s deputy commissioner.

“I understand the preference for an alternative Interim Commissioner and will co-operate in every respect,” Blair said in a statement released on Saturday.

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said in a conference call with media on Saturday that his client will be “regressed” from his role as interim commissioner on Monday.

On Friday, Blair asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner’s hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

Falconer said Saturday that Blair will continue with the legal proceedings.

Taverner, a longtime family friend of Premier Doug Ford, commanded three divisions within the Toronto Police Service until he resigned on Friday.

The 72-year-old did not initially qualify for the role, but the government has said it lowered the requirements for the job to attract a wider range of candidates. Blair, who was among 27 candidates up for the commissioner position, has contended that only four did not meet the original threshold.

However, the Progressive Conservatives have repeatedly denied that the premier’s office had anything to do with Taverner’s hiring.

Taverner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the delay, which he requested in an email to Jones.

“Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed until as such time the integrity commissioner has completed his review,” he wrote in the email.

Falconer said he understands how it could look like Blair’s push for an investigation is about his “personal agenda” but he said the commissioner is doing it to maintain the reputation and integrity of the OPP.

Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said Saturday she welcomed the delay in Taverner’s appointment.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” she said. “We can’t allow the credibility and integrity of the OPP to be put at risk by Mr. Ford.”

The NDP said in addition to the integrity commissioner’s investigation, it is calling for an emergency select committee of the legislature to look into the process.

“We are relieved that Mr. Taverner will not be appointed on Monday,” said NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh. “However, we are still very concerned. I think this step will allow us to have some integrity and trust maintained within the Ontario police service.”

Falconer said he believes a committee of MPPs could also be a beneficial avenue to investigate the possibility of political interference.

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/12/15/ ... missioner/
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