OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

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

Doug Ford blasts OPP deputy commissioner for Ron Taverner co

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:25 pm

Doug Ford blasts OPP deputy commissioner for Ron Taverner complaint

Premier Doug Ford is accusing Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair of violating the Police Services Act for complaining about Ron Taverner’s controversial appointment as the next OPP commissioner.

Rallying behind his embattled chum Taverner, Ford lashed out at Blair, who served as interim OPP commissioner until Saturday, for suggesting there was political interference in elevating a 72-year Toronto police superintendent to run the provincial force.

“There’s a lot of misinformation going out there,” the premier said Tuesday of Blair’s formal complaint to the Ontario ombudsman.

It was Ford’s first news conference since the Taverner debacle erupted again last week over concerns about potential conflicts of interest for an OPP boss who is a pal of the premier. The appointment is in limbo while Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake investigates whether Ford personally played a role in the hiring of Taverner, who has attended family barbecues and Ford Fest events.

“I could sit here and give you all the items that weren’t accurate in that letter and there’s endless ones. I could give you a list of all the Police (Services) Act that was broken throughout that whole letter, but none of you want to report on that,” Ford said, blasting the media for being “a little slanted” in its coverage.

The Police Services Act lists the duties of police officers and governs how police services operate in Ontario.

Blair’s letter alleged the premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP “to purchase a large camper-type vehicle ... modified to specifications the premier’s office would provide us” and keep the costs “off the books.”

But the premier called that “a baseless claim without merit” during an event at Amazon’s new Toronto offices.

“That’s just not accurate whatsoever. I asked if they had a used one,” admitted Ford.

He did not say why he needed the van or why his office allegedly wanted the costs of customizing the vehicle kept hidden.

“He never sat on the board,” the premier said, suggested Blair is a disgruntled also-ran for the commissioner’s post.

“I get it that he’s upset he didn’t win a fair process. I understand. Did he step over the line on a lot of things? I’m going to let the media decide that and I wish you would look into that,” he said.

“So what I’m going to do is take the high road and I’m going to let the review go through.”

In the meantime, Ford said, “We’re looking forward to Ron Taverner becoming the OPP commissioner. Let’s get through the (integrity commissioner’s) review and see what happens.”

He also praised Taverner as “a cop’s cop” and insisted OPP officers have been ringing his phone off the hook.

“My number’s public and I’ve never received more calls from front-line OPP officers ever, ever,” Ford said. “They are so excited about having Ron Taverner as their commissioner and too bad we couldn’t have a straight-up vote because Ron Taverner would win with 95 per cent of the front-line OPP officers.”

At Queen’s Park, New Democrats are keeping the pressure on over the Taverner appointment, calling for a full public inquiry.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is asking Wake to invoke rarely used powers under the Public Inquiries Act that are usually reserved for the premier and cabinet.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Horwath said in a statement Tuesday. “The investigation into Doug Ford’s interference in Ontario’s police force, and the attempt to install an insider as commissioner, can’t only happen behind closed doors.”

Wake’s review prompted Taverner to request on Saturday that the appointment be “postponed” until a final report is completed.

Questions were raised after qualification requirements were lowered during the application period, clearing the way for Taverner to submit his resume. On Monday, Taverner returned to his job at Toronto police heading divisions in northwest Toronto, including the Ford family stomping ground of Etobicoke.

Former commissioners of the RCMP and OPP, among others, have sounded the alarm over potential conflicts of interest if a friend of the premier heads the police force, particularly if the force has to investigate anything related to the government — as occurred several years ago in the scandal over a previous Liberal regime’s cancellation of two gas plants. Criminal charges and a conviction resulted.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones rejected the NDP calls for a full public inquiry, saying Wake’s review will suffice.

“The investigation has begun ... I look forward to the report,” she told MPPs in the legislature’s daily question period.

“There was nothing wrong with the process and Ron Taverner is an excellent choice for OPP commissioner.”

Jones added she expects the integrity commissioner’s report to “reinforce why Ron Taverner is an excellent choice for OPP commissioner.”

Among others, Taverner was chosen over Blair and a former senior Mountie who headed the RCMP’s Ontario operations.

The NDP move came a day after Ford’s Progressive Conservative government rejected a motion to establish a select committee of MPPs to investigate the hiring.

That’s why a full public inquiry should be the next step, said Horwath, calling it “critical to continued public confidence in the OPP.

“An investigation of this importance ... has to be an open, transparent process.”

A full public inquiry would include powers to summon witnesses and request documents.

Taverner has not replied to interview requests from the Star.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... -boss.html
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Ron Taverner will take command of OPP: Premier Doug Ford

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:26 pm

Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake has launched an official inquiry into what role Premier Doug Ford may have played in the appointment of Ron Taverner to the position of Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

Taverner has already stepped aside and resumed his role as a superintendent at Toronto Police Services while the matter is reviewed.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said Taverner was the unanimous choice of an independent hiring process, but she will wait for the independent Integrity Commission’s report.

“I am confident that at the end of the day we will have Ron Taverner as the OPP commissioner,” she said.

“But I am not in any way presupposing what the report will find.”

In a statement Tuesday, Wake said his inquiry was in response to a request from NDP MPP Kevin Yarde, and will be conducted under section 31 of the Members Integrity Act, which empowers the commissioner to take this action after giving the subject “reasonable notice.”

Taverner’s appointment to the top job has been under a cloud since it was revealed that the Ford family friend was eligible to apply only after the job requirements were suddenly changed.

The Ford government has defended the appointment, calling Taverner as a seasoned police officer with the respect of frontline officers.

Ford says the hiring of a family friend as the province’s top cop will move forward despite allegations of political interference in the process and that Taverner will become the head of the OPP after the integrity commissioner wraps an investigation into his appointment.

NDP MPP John Vantof said the official opposition want the Integrity Commissioner to hold a public inquiry given the seriousness of the issue and “the smell that surrounds it.”

The changing of qualifications after the job had been posted raised the possibility that the Premier had become involved in the hiring process, he said.

“And there’s nothing more important in a democratic system than the separation between political and the police,” Vanthof said. “Because at some point the police might have to investigate the political and people have to have confidence… in the OPP.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the integrity commissioner’s ongoing investigation into the hiring of Taverner can’t only happen behind closed doors.

https://ottawasun.com/news/provincial/n ... 937627b791
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Ron Taverner will take command of OPP: Premier Doug Ford

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:28 pm

TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the hiring of a family friend as the province's top cop will move forward despite allegations of political interference in the process.

Ford says Ron Taverner will become the head of the Ontario Provincial Police after the integrity commissioner wraps an investigation into his appointment.

Taverner, a veteran Toronto police officer, was set to start in his new job on Monday but announced over the weekend that he would wait until the probe into his hiring was complete.

Ford said he believes that review will take four to six weeks and praised Taverner for delaying his move into the role.

Meanwhile, Ontario's official Opposition is calling for a public inquiry into Taverner's appointment.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the integrity commissioner's ongoing investigation into the hiring of Taverner can't only happen behind closed doors.

https://www.cp24.com/news/ron-taverner- ... -1.4222606
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Doug Ford defends friend's appointment as OPP commissioner d

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 19, 2018 4:21 pm

Doug Ford defends friend's appointment as OPP commissioner despite probe

TORONTO - Doug Ford defended Tuesday the appointment of a family friend as Ontario's police commissioner, despite an ongoing investigation into the premier's role in the hiring process.

Ron Taverner, a 72-year-old superintendent with the Toronto police, did not initially qualify for the job, but the government has said it lowered the requirements to attract a wider range of candidates.

Now, the province's integrity commissioner is investigating an Opposition complaint that Ford violated the Members' Integrity Act by participating in the cabinet decision to appoint Taverner, a longtime friend of the premier's family.

"You know my friends, this is going to move forward," Ford told reporters after attending the opening of an Amazon office in Toronto. "Let the review take place, and I can tell you one thing, once it gets done, he will be the best commissioner the OPP has ever seen."

Taverner was set to start his new job on Monday, but over the weekend he announced that he would wait until the integrity commissioner's probe was complete. In the meantime, Taverner has returned to his previous job with the city police.

His appointment as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks after the forces' acting commissioner, Brad Blair, alleged political interference from the premier's office.

In a nine-page letter, Blair called on the provincial ombudsman to investigate Taverner's appointment, alleging the premier's chief of staff, Dean French, had asked the OPP to purchase a "larger camper type vehicle'' and have it modified to the specifications of the premier's office.

Blair, who is now deputy commissioner, further 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.''

Ford, who has acknowledged that he did not recuse himself from the cabinet decision to approve Taverner's hiring, said Tuesday that some of the allegations made by Blair were false, including the request for a new vehicle.

"That's just a baseless claim without merits," he said. "It's not accurate ... I asked for a used one."

A lawyer for Blair, who wants the courts to order the ombudsman to investigate Taverner's appointment, said Ford's comments Tuesday were "personal shots" at his client.

"No amount of intimidation or insult will deter the deputy commissioner from seeking a full airing of these issues," Julian Falconer said in a statement.

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called for a public inquiry into Taverner's appointment, saying the integrity commissioner should expand the probe into a full public inquiry.

Horwath said two rarely used subsections of the Public Inquiries Act allow the integrity commissioner to launch a public inquiry — a power usually reserved for the premier and his cabinet. That power would allow for a wider look at the allegations of political interference surrounding Taverner's hiring, not just Ford's participation in the cabinet decision.

"An investigation of this importance...has to be an open, transparent process," she said. "That's why I'm urging the integrity commissioner to call a full public inquiry with the power to summon witnesses, request documents, and ensure witnesses are protected from self-incrimination and discipline or retribution from their employer."

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said even with Ford's endorsement, it will be difficult for Taverner to eventually assume the OPP commissioner's role.

"The premier saying he has confidence doesn't instill confidence in the people of Ontario," he said. "This is actually about the perception of conflict. That perception exists and is likely to still exist after there's an integrity commissioner's (investigation)."

https://www.cp24.com/news/ron-taverner- ... -1.4222606

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Ford backs Taverner as OPP head, takes aim at deputy

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 19, 2018 4:22 pm

Premier Doug Ford declared Tuesday that his family friend Ron Taverner will be the “best commissioner the OPP has ever seen” even as a review of the appointment gets under way.

At the same time, Mr. Ford took aim at the senior OPP officer who has publicly challenged Mr. Taverner’s appointment, alleging without providing evidence that Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair violated the Police Services Act.

Amid allegations of political interference in the appointment, Mr. Ford told reporters he last spoke with Toronto Police Superintendent Taverner “probably last week,” and defended his government’s decision to name the 72-year-old mid-level commander to the post last month.

Supt. Taverner, who was to start the job on Monday, put his swearing-in on hold and asked for his resignation from the Toronto force to be rescinded until the Integrity Commissioner’s review of whether Mr. Ford had a conflict in the matter is complete.

“We look forward to having Ron Taverner as the commissioner of the OPP,” Mr. Ford said on Tuesday. “This guy’s given his life to policing. Let the review take place and I can tell you one thing, once it gets done, he will be the best commissioner the OPP has ever seen.”

Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday that any member who has left the service and wants to be hired can apply in writing to the police chief. When asked why Toronto police chief Mark Saunders approved the request, Ms. Gray said she would not have another chance to speak with him on Tuesday. “I’m not certain there’s a more elaborate answer other than it’s his prerogative to do so,” she said.

Mr. Ford said he gives Supt. Taverner credit for delaying his appointment. Supt. Taverner, a 51-year veteran of Toronto police, returned on Monday to his job as a unit commander of three divisions in the city’s northwest. “He’s not going to sit around for four to six weeks or how ever long a review is going to take, doing nothing,” Mr. Ford said.

Mr. Ford also made his first public comments on Tuesday about a bid by OPP Deputy Commissioner Blair, who had also sought the commissioner’s job, to get the provincial Ombudsman to investigate the appointment process. The Premier accused the high-ranking officer of breaking the Police Services Act when he publicly complained about Supt. Taverner’s appointment in a letter to the Ombudsman.

“I could give you a list of all the police act [provisions] that [were] broken throughout that whole letter, but none of you want to report on that,” Mr. Ford said. “I’m going to take the high road and I’m going to let the review go through.”

Mr. Ford’s office did not immediately elaborate on which sections of the act he meant.

Last week, Deputy Commissioner Blair released the letter, which asked Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé to delay and review Supt. Taverner’s appointment. Two days later, Deputy Commissioner Blair filed a legal application in Superior Court after he said the Ombudsman’s office refused his request, saying it was not within its mandate.

Deputy Commissioner Blair, who was until Monday the interim leader of the OPP, argues in his legal application that the Ombudsman has a duty to review any potential “inappropriate political interference or cronyism” that could have factored into the government’s decision to hire Supt. Taverner. Deputy Commissioner Blair’s lawyer said the Ombudsman has a much broader purview and powers to probe the matter than the Integrity Commissioner, who is looking into whether Mr. Ford was in a conflict of interest in the OPP matter.

In the letter released last week, Deputy Commissioner Blair alleges Mr. Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP to buy a “large camper type vehicle” and have it modified to specifications from the Premier’s office, and that it be kept “off the books.”

Mr. Ford said on Tuesday the allegations are false. “That’s just a baseless claim without merit. It’s just not accurate whatsoever,” he said.

“I asked … if they had a used one,” he said, without explaining why he would need a used van.

Mr. Ford also suggested Deputy Commissioner Blair was unhappy about being passed over for the top job, and accused him of submitting his retirement papers and then pulling them back. However, after the officer’s lawyer called it a falsehood, the Premier’s office later said Mr. Ford misspoke.

“I get it that he’s upset that he didn’t win a fair process. I understand. Did he step over the line on a lot of things? I’m going to let the media decide that and I wish you would look into that,” Mr. Ford said.

Deputy Commissioner Blair’s lawyer said his client never tried to retire and accused the Premier of trying to intimidate him.

“A simple inquiry of the OPP would bear out that Deputy Commissioner Blair has never, and I repeat never, submitted retirement papers. This is simply a falsehood," Julian Falconer said in a statement.

"As for the personal shots by the Premier, no amount of intimidation or insult will deter the Deputy Commissioner from seeking a full airing of these issues.”

Mr. Ford’s defence of the appointment came as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath asked the Integrity Commissioner to trigger a rarely used power to launch a public inquiry.

“The investigation into Doug Ford’s interference in Ontario’s police force, and the attempt to install an insider as commissioner, can’t only happen behind closed doors,” she said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Integrity Commissioner David Wake said the office would not make any public comments, but a report will be filed with the Speaker of the Legislature and online.

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Ford, Taverner, Saunders met for dinner months before OPP ap

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:40 am

Ford, Taverner, Saunders met for dinner months before OPP appointment

Premier Doug Ford had a private dinner with Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner and Police Chief Mark Saunders four months before Taverner was appointed OPP commissioner, according to Ford’s schedule.

The private calendar maintained by the Premier’s Office shows the three men sat down at Posticino, a high-end Italian restaurant in Etobicoke, for 90 minutes on July 30th.

The meeting came five days after Ford sat down with then-OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes, who announced his retirement in early September.

Ford’s schedule, which is not released to the public, was obtained by the NDP through a freedom-of-information request and distributed to the media. Neither the Premier’s Office nor the Toronto PoliceServicehave responded to questions regarding the purpose of the dinner or whether anyone else was present at the time.

Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s solicitor general, says the dinner doesn’t “in any way” leave her with concerns because the premier constantly attends meetings.

“The premier meets with literally hundreds of people in the course of a week.” Jones told reporters. “Where he meets and who he meets is something that is very open to public scrutiny.”

The portion of the schedule released to the media from July 25th until the 30th shows a range of public events attended by Ford as well as phone calls made to U.S. governors.

Other than civil servants and Premier’s office staff, the only official meetings scheduled during that period were with Hawkes, Taverner, Saunders and Mike McCormick, President of the Toronto Police Association.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath questions why Ford dined with Taverner five days after meeting with Hawkes and whether the Premier was aware of Hawkes’s intention to retire.

“Was the issue discussed that there would be a vacancy at the OPP commissioner’s level?” Horwath asked “These are questions that Mr. Ford should answer.”

The dinner adds another layer of questions to an appointment that is already shrouded in controversy.

Ontario’s integrity commissioner David Wake has launched an inquiry into whether the premier broke any conflict rules by appointing an old family friend to the post and the official opposition is calling for a public inquiry into the matter.

On Saturday,Taverner asked to have his appointment to the force delayed until after the integrity commissioner is finished with his investigation.

One day later,Taverner rescinded his resignation from Toronto police, which Saunders accepted,allowing Taverner to resume his old job as superintendent.

Ford has denied any interference in the interview or appointment process.

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ford-taverne ... -1.4224763
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Mulroney says government will follow Integrity Commissioner’

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:41 am

Mulroney says government will follow Integrity Commissioner’s recommendations on Taverner

Ontario Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney says her government will abide by any recommendations made in an investigation into the appointment of Premier Doug Ford’s friend, Ron Taverner, as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

The province’s Integrity Commissioner is probing whether Mr. Ford was in a conflict of interest when his government named Toronto Police Superintendent Taverner, a 72-year-old mid-level commander, to the post last month.

On Wednesday, Ms. Mulroney said her government respects Integrity Commissioner David Wake’s work and awaits the results of the review. The Integrity Commissioner’s office has not said when a final report will be issued.

“We will of course abide by the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner,” Ms. Mulroney told reporters at Queen’s Park. “We will respect the outcome of his investigation.”

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, however, wouldn’t commit to following Mr. Wake’s recommendations. “I’m not going to presuppose anything that happens,” she said.

The opposition parties have been calling for a public inquiry into the matter, after a high-ranking OPP officer publicly released a letter last week alleging political interference in the appointment.

Ms. Mulroney suggested a public inquiry is not necessary as the Integrity Commissioner reviews the matter. “The Integrity Commissioner is doing the work that is required, looking into the process. If it’s his determination that a public inquiry is necessary, those are recommendations that we will look forward to receiving,” Ms. Mulroney said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has asked the Integrity Commissioner to trigger a rarely used power to launch a public inquiry into allegations of political interference by Mr. Ford and his office. Mr. Wake’s office on Wednesday had no comment on the matter.

“What we need to do is get to the bottom of this,” Ms. Horwath said on Wednesday. “This is the only way the people of Ontario will get the truth.”

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said Ms. Mulroney should appoint a retired judge to probe the matter publicly, who he said would have a broader scope than the Integrity Commissioner.

“Mr. Taverner will not be able to take this job until the air is cleared. Because it will be a very, very difficult job for him to do, because there will always be a perception of conflict,” Mr. Fraser said.

Supt. Taverner, who was to start the job on Monday, put his swearing-in on hold and asked for his resignation from the Toronto force to be rescinded until the Integrity Commissioner’s review is complete.

Mr. Ford, who was not in the legislature to answer questions on Wednesday, told reporters this week that Supt. Taverner will be the "best commissioner the OPP has ever seen,” and took aim at Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, the senior OPP officer who has publicly challenged Supt. Taverner’s appointment.

In a letter released publicly last week, Deputy Commissioner Blair alleged that Mr. Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP to modify a camper van for Mr. Ford and keep it “off the books."

Mr. Ford called it a “baseless claim” and Ms. Jones said Wednesday the insinuation of keeping a van off the books is “completely false.”

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Tories send mixed signals on probe into OPP appointment

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:01 pm

One cabinet minister repeatedly declined to say Wednesday whether the government would accept the integrity commissioner’s findings, while another said “we respect his work and we will respect his recommendations.”

Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives are sending mixed signals about whether the government will abide by the integrity commissioner's ruling on its controversial appointment of Ron Taverner as commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake is expected to rule within four to six weeks whether Taverner, a Ford family friend, received a political patronage plum.

On Wednesday, Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones repeatedly declined to say whether the Tories would accept findings from Wake's probe into whether the premier played a role in the hiring of the Toronto police superintendent.

"I'm not going to presuppose anything that happens. I'm going to wait for the integrity commissioner to report," said Jones.

But Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said "we respect his work and we will respect his recommendations."

"We will of course abide by the recommendations of the integrity commissioner," said Mulroney.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she is hopeful Wake will use his powers to strike an independent inquiry into Taverner's hiring.

"I wrote to the integrity commissioner, asking him to use his power under the Members' Integrity Act to conduct a full, public inquiry into this matter," said Horwath.

"Given the importance of the OPP commissioner's position, only a full, public inquiry can ensure full, public confidence and give the public the answers they deserve," she said.

Ford, meanwhile, was under fire Wednesday for seeking what the New Democrats are lampooning as an OPP-supplied, "off-the-books personal pleasure wagon."

But Jones insisted Ford only wanted the OPP to give him a van — instead of the customary SUV — so he could do work on the road.

With the premier ducking the legislature's daily question period to avoid the opposition barrage over the appointment of Taverner, it was left to the minister to defend the government.

She insisted Ford wanted "a used van because he wants some space to work so that he can call constituents and he can continue to work."

In a letter last week to the Ontario ombudsman, OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair alleged the premier's chief of staff, Dean French, asked the force "to purchase a large camper-type vehicle ... modified to specifications the premier's office would provide us" and keep the costs "off the books."

Ford, who blasted Blair on Tuesday for complaining about Taverner's appointment, has called that "a baseless claim without merit," and said he merely "asked if they had a used one" for him.

Jones told reporters "that the accusation that was made about having it off the books was categorically false."

Asked if she thought Blair was "lying," the minister said, "I'm saying that he is suggesting something that didn't occur."

Through his lawyer, Julian Falconer, the OPP deputy commissioner declined to weigh in on Jones' comment.

The minister, meanwhile, refused to say whether one of the customized features sought by the premier was a "swivel chair" for the police van.

NDP MPP Taras Natyshak (Essex) implored the Tories to "stand up to this premier and tell the premier that providing an off-the-books personal pleasure wagon is not the job of the Ontario Provincial Police."

Taverner, a 51-year Toronto police veteran, is awaiting the results of an integrity commissioner report on whether there is any conflict of interest in his appointment before being sworn in.

Horwath, whose party obtained Ford's schedule through a freedom of information request, wondered about the appropriateness of the premier dining with Taverner and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders on July 30 at Posticino Ristorante in Etobicoke.

That dinner at the swish trattoria was held five days after the premier met privately with then-OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes.

"I would think that that meeting with Vince Hawkes was one where the commissioner of the day had probably informed the premier that he would be announcing his retirement shortly," the NDP leader said. "Very coincidental then that five days later, Mr. Ford's calendar includes a dinner with Mr. Taverner."

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser said Ford is emerging as "the chief conductor on the gravy train."

"The premier's chief of staff has ... requested that the OPP provide a special sole-sourced vehicle for the premier and for it to be kept off the books and out of public scrutiny," said Fraser.

Taverner has not returned repeated requests from the Star seeking comment.
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To end the OPP scandal, Doug Ford has to make a U-turn

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:04 pm

Globe editorial: To end the OPP scandal, Doug Ford has to make a U-turn

My friends, as Premier of this great province, I want to clear the air on this whole Ron Taverner thing. I don’t want the people of Ontario to think, for even one second, that my government, the Government for the People, would do anything to undermine the independence of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Our cops are tops, and I don’t want there to be a shadow of a doubt about their integrity. No way. Should the day ever come when the OPP has to investigate this government – because, you know, governments sometimes bend the law – I don’t want people wondering if the head cop is in the pocket of the Premier. Of course I don’t want that.

So I’ve asked that my friend Ron – Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner – remove himself as a candidate for the job of OPP chief.

As I’ve said time and again, I had nothing to do with the decision to hire him. The fact that an independent process, which I was not involved in, ended up choosing my old buddy from the old neighbourhood is a total coincidence.

And the fact that the job requirements were lowered after they were posted, making my friend, a 72-year-old police officer of mid-level rank, eligible to apply, is also a coincidence. I had nothing to do with that, either.

But I know it doesn’t look right. Folks, I get it: It looks terrible. The guy in charge of the provincial police can’t be someone people think got the job because he’s best buds with the Premier. If Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals were still in government and the shoe were on the other foot, I’d be screaming bloody murder.

If they had done something like this, I’d be demanding that her buddy step aside. I’d demand that the whole hiring process to be restarted, under an arms-length panel. And most importantly, to find out if anyone in government bent the ethics rules or broke the law, I’d demand a full and independent investigation.

If Ontario Premier Doug Ford could bring himself to say some of the above, it would defuse the atmosphere of scandal and crisis that continues to surround what, in a normal government, would have been a routine hiring decision.

Instead, Mr. Ford has refused to abandon the idea that Supt. Taverner will be sworn in as the OPP’s chief. The appointment is on hold, apparently at Supt. Taverner’s request, until the integrity commissioner reports. But once that happens, the Premier said on Tuesday, “we look forward to having Ron Taverner as the commissioner of the OPP.”

The Premier is vociferously defending the choice of a 72-year-old, underqualified crony – while simultaneously insisting that it wasn’t his choice. He refuses to acknowledge the mounting evidence that something was terribly wrong with the hiring process, and with his office’s relationship with the OPP. And he refuses to recognize that someone so close to the head of government cannot be the province’s head police officer.

Instead, Mr. Ford has smeared his critics. On Tuesday, he claimed that the former acting head of the OPP, Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, was a law-breaker, and that by writing a whistleblowing letter alleging unethical and possibly illegal behaviour in the Premier’s dealings with the OPP, he had broken the Police Service Act. The Premier told journalists that there were “endless” inaccuracies in the letter, and that “I could give you a list of all the Police Act that was broken throughout that whole letter.”

The Premier then declined to provide such a list, because “none of you want to report on that.”

The people of Ontario deserve answers, not personal attacks on those raising questions.

Why were the job qualifications for OPP chief lowered two days after being posted, just enough to make room for Supt. Taverner? Was the Premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, involved in that decision? Was the Premier?

Who was on the hiring panel? Who made the hiring decision? And what about Deputy Commissioner Blair’s allegation that the Premier’s chief of staff asked the OPP to procure a “camper-type vehicle” for the Premier, without putting the contract out to tender, and keeping the spending off the books and hidden from the public? If true, that may be a crime. Is it true?

It’s clear the Ford government will only answer questions asked by those it does not have the power to bully, silence or ignore. There has to be an independent inquiry, led by an independent party like a retired judge, with the power to subpoena witnesses. Nothing else will do.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... -make-a-u/
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford is the author of his own misfortun

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:06 pm

Opinion: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is the author of his own misfortune

Six months after finding a path to victory, Doug Ford's Tories are losing their way.

Every government stumbles early on. But it's hard to recall a party in power that has fallen so far, so fast.

Our embattled premier is uniquely accursed because he is so often the author of his own misfortune.

At year-end, Ford keeps running the ball into his own end zone — colliding with allies, trampling on teammates, fumbling at every turn, blinded by hubris.

Emboldened by a landslide victory, Ford imagined himself an all-powerful disrupter who could demolish the Liberal legacy in a flurry of pronouncements. But slogans are no substitute for strategies.

To this day, Ford's greatest weakness is that he imagines himself powerful enough to defy reality, the laws of political gravity, even the laws of the land: defying Ottawa on carbon pricing; defying Toronto on the size of city council; demonizing the courts when they ruled against him; dismissing charter rights when threatening to override them; defying corporate governance by firing top executives of government-controlled companies; alienating francophones by undermining minority language protections; and disrespecting the police by interfering with their independence.

Ford immediately proclaimed himself leader of "Ontario's first government for the people." It was an unprecedented claim to a mandate unique in history, under any party in the past (including his Progressive Conservatives), by a premier unlike any predecessor.

For no premier before him had ever rebranded his or her mobile phone number as a kind of public trust, as if proving a special bond with the people. Just call me (or text me) — anyone, any time.

The myth of the mobile link may be popular for those prone to the personal touch — provided you don't do the math for all 13 million Ontarians with access to a phone. Equally, the promise of roadside signs declaring "Ontario is open for business" has a certain visual and rhetorical appeal — provided you don't do the math for businesses deciding on multibillion-dollar investments.

"My friends, a new day will dawn in Ontario, " Ford pledged solemnly at his swearing-in ceremony.

"You have trusted us to keep our word, to work tirelessly every day on your behalf with integrity and transparency."

Today, those early promises have been held hostage to hyperbole:

Disturbing news reports about political interference by the premier's office in the upper echelons of policing in this province have sparked an independent inquiry, forcing the premier to (temporarily) backtrack on a brazen attempt to install an underqualified crony, Ron Taverner, as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner. The Toronto Star also detailed how Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, demanded that police arrest outlaw cannabis retailers and parade them "in handcuffs" as a publicity stunt.

Ford's capricious decision to downsize Toronto's city council in the middle of a municipal election was not only unprecedented, but went unmentioned in his own provincial election campaign. The subsequent court battle brought out the worst in the premier, who trash-talked our independent judiciary and tried to rewrite the history of our written Constitution.

The premier's impetuous plan to reduce French-language protections for Ontario's francophone minority placed his government in double jeopardy — unable to account for any specific savings, while foolishly trying to put a price on language rights that are part of our history.

The sacking of Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt — dubbed the "Six Million Dollar Man" by the Tories on the campaign trail — ended up costing the government-controlled company more than $150 million in unforeseen fees when the province's meddling prompted U.S. regulators to scotch a planned takeover bid of a U.S. utility.

The Tories' environmental policies have been poisoned by the political environment. By dismantling Ontario's cap-and-trade program, and disavowing carbon pricing in any form, Ford is spoiling for a futile court fight with the federal government, which has every legal right to impose a national carbon tax as a backstop. In his most peculiar pronouncement to date, the premier boasts about wasting more than $30 million in taxpayer funds on lawyers waging political war in a legal setting.

In all these areas, the common theme is defiance and disruption, with little to replace the destruction — beyond roadside signs and bumper stickers. It is a road map for more U-turns, more climbdowns, more own-goals, more about-faces, more losing face.

If Ford doesn't slow down, take stock, learn lessons and change course, he is destined to sink even further. The challenge is not so much ideology as competency — and personality.

Perhaps the premier imagined himself in a bowling alley, where hurling a ball brings the pins crashing down — only to be righted again, automatically and reliably, by the mysterious machinery behind the walls. In reality, the machinery of government is not quite so predictable, and the province not so indestructible.

Years ago, politicians could act out such fantasies by lacing up their bowling shoes and padding down to a bowling alley hidden in the basement of Queen's Park. But the bowling alley closed long ago, and the people of this province are not a set of pins so easily set right again.

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics.

https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9 ... isfortune/
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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:07 pm

A narrow review of the Taverner appointment is not enough to clear the air

Alok Mukherjee is a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University, and the co-author of Excessive Force: Toronto’s Fight to Reform City Policing. He was chair of the Toronto Police Services Board from 2005 to 2015.

The request by Toronto police Superintendent Ron Taverner, chosen to be the next Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner, to delay his swearing-in until the air had been cleared around the selection process, clears the ground to investigate the complaint by Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair.

What are the questions for this inquiry?

As chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, I was involved in the hiring of two police chiefs and numerous deputy chiefs for Canada’s largest municipal police force with a staff and budget only a little less than that of the OPP. Odgers Berndtson, the executive search firm involved in the OPP Commissioner’s selection, assisted us in searches for both chiefs and at least half a dozen deputy chiefs.

Looking at what transpired with the OPP position from that vantage point, several questions arise, beginning with the job call.

The Ontario government has admitted that it changed qualification requirements two days after the original posting. Sylvia Jones, the minister responsible, claimed that this was done to broaden the applicant pool. Premier Doug Ford said that Odgers Berndtson recommended the change. A spokesperson for the firm declined to comment to The Globe and Mail owing to confidentiality.

This is most unusual. Much thought, consultation and deliberation go into preparing a job call, especially for such a critical position. Who was involved in the conversation? Did Ms. Jones’s human-resources people provide expert advice?

Sometimes a job call is reissued with revised qualifications. This normally happens after the initial call has run its course and the response is unsatisfactory. How was it decided a mere two days after the position was posted that this job call had limited the applicant pool? Who made that decision? According to reports, the original call had elicited more than two dozen applications. And what was the exact role of Odgers Berndtson?

The specialized services of a firm such as Odgers are retained for specific purposes, all with the client’s direction and approval: to prepare an information package to advertise the position and, using its database, seek out potential candidates; to conduct preliminary screening and propose a long list; to assist in developing an interview process; and to facilitate the final decision. During its numerous engagements with the Toronto Police Services Board, the firm did not play any determinative role in that decision, though its representative offered feedback as an observer.

Decisions are made by the employer.

Mr. Ford has created much confusion about the role of Odgers in the selection process with his statements. This is a matter that cries for examination.

The interviews themselves are also an issue. The interview panel seems to have changed from one round to the next. The Premier’s Chief of Staff, Dean French, was initially a member and then withdrew. In what other parts of the process up to that point was he involved? Did he consult with, take direction from and provide regular updates to the Premier?

And what about the newly minted Deputy Minister, Mario Di Tommaso? He assumed his position only a few days before participating in the final round of interviews.

Who besides Mr. French and head of Ontario public service, Steve Orsini, participated in the process before Mr. Di Tommaso? What information was provided to help Mr. Di Tommaso take part in the final round?

But more importantly, did Mr. Di Tommaso obtain any legal advice about any potential conflict of interest on his part? He had been a colleague of Supt. Taverner as a superintendent and his junior in terms of years of service at the Toronto police. Later, promoted to staff superintendent, he became Supt. Taverner’s direct boss.

Then there is the final decision which is mired in much confusion. Appointing Supt. Taverner was solely and exclusively for the cabinet to decide based on recommendations of the interview panel comprised of Mr. Di Tommaso and Mr. Orsini.

On Nov. 28, reporters were expecting a decision at the full regular cabinet meeting. After the meeting, when asked by reporters, Ms. Jones said that no decision had been made.

Then on Nov. 29 the Order in Council, a public document, came out stating that the decision was “approved and ordered” on that date.

So what day was the decision made? And more importantly who was present to make that decision?

These queries need to be answered.

Which brings up the last question: the role of Mr. Ford.

He has insisted that he had absolutely nothing to do with Supt. Taverner’s selection. But two facts are well established.

He has not denied his close personal friendship with Supt. Taverner. And he has admitted his participation in the only decision that mattered, namely Supt. Taverner’s appointment by the cabinet.

Mr. Ford’s direct or indirect role at several points in the recruitment, selection and appointment process must be reviewed.

There is a smell permeating the manner in which Supt. Taverner was chosen to be the next head of one of the country’s most important police forces.

A narrow, limited review by the Integrity Commissioner will not remove it. A full inquiry will.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... clear-the/
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Premier Doug Ford skips question period for third day in a r

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:18 pm

Premier Doug Ford skips question period for third day in a row over Taverner controversy

Premier Doug Ford skipped question period in the legislature for the third straight day as opposition parties raised more concerns about the appointment of his friend Ron Taverner to OPP commissioner.

“The premier has refused to answer basic questions in this house,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said, repeating calls for a full public inquiry into the controversial hiring as MPPs prepared to head off on their Christmas break.

“The people of Ontario need to have confidence in police and in the integrity of government.”

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the continued pressure reminded her of the movie Groundhog Day and said the government is awaiting the results of an investigation by provincial integrity commissioner J. David Wake into whether Ford played a role in the hiring in contravention of the Members Integrity Act.

“I am awaiting the report,” said Jones, who insisted the process that resulted in the job offer to Taverner, 72, was “the same used in every previous OPP commissioner hiring.”

However, critics have pointed out that qualifications for the job leading Canada’s second-largest police force were lowered two days after the posting, allowing Taverner, a veteran Toronto police superintendent, to apply.

Horwath said Ford’s responses to Wake will be confidential and a full public inquiry is the best way to shed light on the hiring.

Jones accused the New Democrats of “trying to chase headlines.”

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser filed an affidavit to Wake asking for an opinion under section 30 of the Members Integrity Act as to whether the premier “used his office to seek to influence a decision made by the person or persons responsible for the process” to hire a new OPP boss.

Fraser asked that Wake specifically look into how the qualifications for the job were lowered and whether Ford “failed to disclose a conflict of interest and failed to withdraw” from a cabinet meeting where the Taverner appointment was approved.

“There should be no conflict of interest or even an appearance of conflict of interest involving the premier and the OPP commissioner’s appointment.”

Fraser also hand-delivered a letter to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney in the legislature asking her to appoint an “independent investigator” into the Taverner hiring, saying the scope of the Integrity commissioner’s probe is too narrow.

“Legislation limits the power of the Integrity Commissioner to investigate political staff like Mr. French and publicly disclose the findings,” he noted, referring to Ford’s chief of staff Dean French.

Taverner, who on Saturday asked his appointment to the OPP be “postponed” until Wade’s probe is completed, has returned to his Toronto police job heading three northwestern divisions that include the Ford family’s neighbourhood in Etobicoke.

Former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, among others, has warned Taverner is too closely linked to Ford to effectively lead the OPP, particularly if the force has to investigate the government — as happened under a previous Liberal regime with the scandal over deleted documents related to the close of two gas plants before the 2011 election.

That probe led to criminal charges and a conviction of former premier Dalton McGuinty’s chief of staff, David Livingston, who was sentenced to four months in jail. He is free on his own recognizance pending an appeal. McGuinty was not a subject of that investigation and co-operated with police.

Taverner has not replied to repeated requests for comment from the Toronto Star.

https://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/90 ... ntroversy/
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Ethics watchdog mum on probe of Taverner’s controversial app

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:01 pm

Ethics watchdog mum on probe of Taverner’s controversial appointment to head OPP

The province’s ethics watchdog is keeping a tight lid on his investigation into the Progressive Conservatives’ controversial appointment of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner to head the OPP.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake is looking into whether there was any political interference in the hiring of Taverner, a long-time family friend of Premier Doug Ford.

“The office will not comment on an ongoing inquiry. I can tell you that the inquiry is in progress. I do not have any information on timelines,” Michelle Renaud, a senior adviser in the commissioner’s office, said Tuesday.

The Tories appointed Taverner, 72, as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner last November.

But the posting triggered a firestorm of criticism because of the 51-year police veteran’s close relationship to the Ford family and concerns about the independence of the OPP, Canada’s second-largest force.

NDP MPP Kevin Yarde (Brampton North) formally requested Wake investigate the appointment.

Taverner, who did not return messages from the Star on Tuesday, voluntarily returned to his old job overseeing three police divisions in Etobicoke, while the integrity commissioner’s probe is ongoing.

While Ford insists he had nothing to do with his friend’s hiring, he has indicated he wants him to run the OPP.

“We look forward to having Ron Taverner as the commissioner of the OPP,” the premier said at his most recent new conference on Dec. 18.

“You look at his credentials, speaks for itself, 50 years of policing around the province. Again, he’s a front line police officer … a cop’s cop as they say. And that’s what is desperately needed at the OPP right now,” he said.

“There has never been a more popular police officer in this province than Ron Taverner.”

Ford, who has said he expects Wake’s review to take four to six weeks, added it was “a real shame” that the media “are chasing this gentleman down like I’ve never seen.”

Taverner’s most recent public comments on the controversy came Dec. 15.

“Out of the greatest respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed,” the superintendent said.

His decision to delay the OPP move was welcomed by critics who questioned why qualification levels for the commissioner’s position were lowered two days after the job was posted.

That last-minute change to the threshold allowed Taverner to meet the criteria.

The New Democrats are hopeful Wake will use his authority to call for an independent public inquiry with open hearings.

Experts have warned Taverner’s appointment could raise questions about the OPP’s ability to conduct investigations into the provincial government — as the force did into deleted documents related to a previous Liberal administration’s closure of two gas-fired power plants.

That probe resulted in criminal charges and a conviction against a top political staffer.

Questions about potential conflicts of interest would always linger with Taverner as commissioner, retired RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson told the Star last month.

“Every investigation of the government is going to be tarred,” he added. “It just sounds like a mess.”

OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, who applied for the commissioner’s job, has also asked for a review of Taverner’s appointment and any “potential political interference.”

Blair is headed to court to force Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé to investigate the hiring.

Dubé’s office has declined to do so, insisting it is beyond his jurisdiction. Blair was serving as interim commissioner after the retirement of commissioner Vince Hawkes last fall. He has since been replaced by Gary Couture.

In Blair’s complaint to the ombudsman, he alleged the premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP “to purchase a large camper-type vehicle … modified to specifications the premier’s office would provide us” and keep the costs “off the books.”

The premier called that “a baseless claim without merit.”

“That’s just not accurate whatsoever. I asked if they had a used one,” Ford said last month.

He did not say why he needed the van or why his office allegedly wanted the costs of customizing the vehicle kept hidden.

Like all premiers, Ford is currently ferried in an OPP SUV.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... d-opp.html
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The new OPP commissioner: To be or not to be?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:02 pm

Columnist Renae Jarrett says the hiring of an OPP commissioner has been handled poorly

The current situation with Ron Taverner — veteran cop with the Toronto Police Service and would-be OPP commissioner — is a great reminder to me of two things: One, unchecked desires can lead us into things we can’t handle and two, just because something is offered to you doesn’t mean you should take it.

Taverner is a distinguished police officer who’s served with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) for more than 50 years. He’s 72 years old and has had no intention of retiring, although his current situation may cause him to reconsider. He recently rescinded his resignation as superintendent with the TPS after being appointed as the new OPP commissioner in the fall.

From the get-go, this appointment came into question because of Taverner’s relationship to Premier Doug Ford. But with the discovery that he didn’t initially qualify for the position, and that a new job posting had lowered the qualifications, suspicion grew and rightly so.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair requested the Ontario ombudsman conduct a probe into the hiring of Taverner, but when that request was declined, he went to the courts to have the ombudsman follow through.

Regarding Blair, Ford said, "I get it that he’s upset he didn’t win a fair process. I understand. Did he step over the line on a lot of things? I'm going to let the media decide that and I wish you would look into that," he said.

And with that, we have the premier making an appeal to the media. What a mess! Some might say Taverner didn’t know this was going to happen. But this is what can happen when you can’t say no to yourself and others. This is what can happen when ambition rules over wisdom.

Now because of this he’s referred to as Ford’s longtime friend instead of who he is and his own track record; because of this, he’s neither here nor there. He’s back with the TPS, but is he really there? This should have been the time when Taverner finished one season strong in order to begin another — perhaps not retirement, but not this either.

I hope he’s gained clarity over the holidays and if by returning to the TPS he is withdrawing his name as the next OPP commissioner, this should be clearly stated. If not, heaven help him and us.

https://www.durhamregion.com/opinion-st ... ot-to-be-/
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OPP deputy’s complaint over Taverner hiring headed to court

Postby Thomas » Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:45 pm

OPP deputy’s complaint over Taverner hiring headed to court Monday

An Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner is headed to court to force the ombudsman to investigate the appointment of a friend of Premier Doug Ford to head the OPP.

Brad Blair, who served as interim commissioner until going public with complaints about the Progressive Conservatives’ controversial hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, will get his first day in court Monday.

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, filed an application to Divisional Court “to determine and enforce the jurisdiction” of ombudsman Paul Dubé to review the OPP commissioner hiring process on an “expedited” basis.

Dubé has declined to investigate, insisting it is beyond his jurisdiction.

There is “serious concern of the nefarious effect that perceived political interference would have on the perceived impartiality and integrity of the OPP, a matter of great public importance,” Falconer says in a notice of motion.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake is already conducting a probe into the controversial hiring following a complaint by New Democrat MPP Kevin Yarde (Brampton North).

Wake is examining whether there was any political interference in the appointment of Taverner, 72, whose Toronto police command in the northwest corner of the city includes the Ford family turf of Etobicoke.

But Falconer argues that report will not be “an effective vehicle” in this situation.

“Any recommendations by the integrity commissioner will be put before the MPPs, in assembly, to decide, via a vote,” he writes. “Such a vote is final and conclusive. As the government of the day holds a majority … it would be unlikely that any findings of wrongdoing would be upheld.”

“If the ombudsman does not review the complaint, the independence of the OPP will continue to operate under a cloud of suspicions,” Falconer warns.

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

Indeed, the force was called on to investigate deleted documents related to a previous Liberal government’s closure of gas-fired power plants before the 2011 provincial election. Last April, a top Liberal political aide was sentenced to four months in jail, pending an appeal.

Speaking for Dubé, lawyer Frank Cesario of the firm Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP, said in court documents there is no need to “jump the Divisional Court’s normal queue for cases.”

“The appointment with which Mr. Blair takes issue has been put on hold … pending the integrity commissioner’s inquiry. That inquiry could take months.”

Ford’s government named Taverner as OPP commissioner on Nov. 29, sparking concerns about the independence of the force, which has investigated provincial governments in the past.

The 51-year police veteran asked his appointment be postponed and has returned to his old job overseeing three police divisions in Etobicoke during the integrity commissioner’s review.

Ford has said he did not push for his long-time chum to be hired, but he has criticized Blair for complaining.

Last month, the premier said it was “sour grapes” because the 32-year OPP veteran was a runner-up to Taverner.

“There is a lot of misinformation going out there,” said Ford, pointing to Blair’s explosive nine-page letter to Dubé on Dec. 11.

“I get it that he’s upset that he didn’t win a fair process. I understand. Did he step over the line on a lot of things? I’m going to let the media decide that — and I wish you would look into that actually,” he told reporters.

In his missive, the OPP deputy commissioner alleged the premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the force “to purchase a large camper-type vehicle …modified to specifications the premier’s office would provide us” and keep the costs “off the books.”

On Dec. 18, Ford called that “a baseless claim without merit.”

“That’s just not accurate whatsoever. I asked if they had a used one,” he said at his most recent news conference.

The premier did not say why he needed the van or why his office allegedly wanted the costs of customizing the van kept hidden. He is currently driven around in a police SUV.

Blair served as interim commissioner after the retirement of commissioner Vince Hawkes last fall.

In the wake of his letter to Dubé he was replaced by Gary Couture.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... onday.html
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