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."

Ford government fires OPP deputy challenging Taverner hire

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:57 pm

The government has fired an outspoken OPP commander who launched a lawsuit after being passed over for the police service’s top job in favour of a friend of Premier Doug Ford.

Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair had been the acting commissioner of the police force and had hoped to keep the job atop Canada’s second-largest police organization permanently. Instead, last fall the government announced the hiring of Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner, prompting a legal battle.

Deputy Minister of Community Safety Mario Di Tommaso made the decision to fire Deputy Commissioner Blair, a spokeswoman for the OPP said.

“I can say that at this point that Deputy Commissioner Blair was terminated today on Monday, at the direction of the deputy minister …. as approved by the public service commission," said Staff Sergeant Carolle Dionne, an OPP spokeswoman. "We don’t have why he was terminated, just that he was terminated.”

She added that OPP commissioners and deputy commissioners are order-in-council appointments who serve at the pleasure of the government. A replacement is anticipated soon.

Commissioner Gary Couture, the acting head of the OPP, circulated a notice to all members of the provincial police force on Monday morning informing them of the move.

“I want to advise you that Brad Blair is no longer a Deputy Commissioner with the Ontario Provincial Police effective immediately," it said.

In December, Deputy Commissioner Blair launched a legal suit, challenging the government’s decision to give the OPP’s top job to Supt. Taverner. He has alleged Mr. Ford inappropriately interfered in police operations and wants a court to order the provincial ombudsman to review the hiring.

A memo obtained by The Globe shows that last Friday Mr. Di Tommaso, the deputy minister, wrote a “confidential” update to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, saying that he met with several senior bureaucrats and together they recommended the Progressive Conservative government fire Deputy Commissioner Blair.

"I am writing to inform you that earlier today, after careful consideration of legal advice, I recommended to the Public Service Commission that the Commission .... terminate the employment of Deputy Commissioner William Bradley Blair," Mr. Di Tommaso wrote in his March 1 letter.

He said he recommended this course of action because Deputy Commissioner Blair did not heed the written caution that Mr. Di Tommaso sent him on Dec. 28. That correspondence advised the career OPP officer to cease citing internal police correspondence in the documents he was filing into court to support his case.

Such disclosures were "contrary to his legal and ethical responsibilities," Mr. Di Tommaso wrote, before telling his minister that "termination was the only acceptable recourse."

In his March 1 letter, Mr. Di Tommaso urged the Progressive Conservative cabinet to revoke the executive order that gave Deputy Commissioner Blair his OPP command role.

“The decision will be held in strictest confidence until it is communicated to Mr. Blair on Monday,” his letter said.

Deputy Commissioner Blair’s lawyer had responded to the Dec. 28 letter by saying that it was inappropriate, arguing that Mr. Di Tommaso is too enmeshed in the controversy to have direct dealings with his client. Before being hired by the Progressive Conservative government last October, Mr. Di Tommaso was a staff superintendent at the Toronto Police Service. He served for nearly 40 years and was Supt. Taverner’s commanding officer when he left.

Mr. Di Tommaso was part of the three-person committee that selected Supt. Taverner for the top job.

Supt. Taverner has deferred taking the position pending a continuing investigation by the integrity commissioner into the hiring process that led to his appointment. Mr. Ford has said he believes the committee selected the best person for the job, and that he did not interfere in the hiring process.

Deputy Commissioner Blair, who was also a front-runner for the position, went public with his concerns in December, alleging that “inappropriate political interference or cronyism” could affect OPP operations. In his filings and correspondence, he alleged the Premier’s Office directed a sole-sourced “off-the-books” request for the OPP to refit an executive van for the Premier’s use. He further alleged the Premier relayed to police that he wanted a meeting with then-OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes to ask him to replace a rotating security detail for Mr. Ford with permanent bodyguards and, if not, “perhaps a new Commissioner would.”

Deputy Commissioner Blair’s most recent court filings, made on Feb. 15, include internal e-mails about Mr. Ford’s concerns about his police bodyguards and an estimate for the van overhaul. The Premier’s Office says, however, he should not be accessing those records and making them public.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath during Question Period on Monday asked the government to justify the firing of Deputy Commissioner Blair.

“The deputy commissioner has brought key details of the deeply flawed appointment process to light,” Ms. Horwath said. “It was a brave thing for this person to do, to come forward, and it looks like that bravery has lost him his job.”

In response, Ms. Jones said it wasn’t the government’s decision.

“The public service commission, in consultation with the OPP, made a decision independently … to terminate the employment of Mr. Blair. I will not be commenting, nor should anyone else, on private HR issues,” Ms. Jones told the legislature.

The disclosures recently made as part of the Deputy Commissioner Blair’s court case appear to have had fallout for other OPP careers.

Last week, the union head who represents rank-and-file OPP officers wrote to Mr. Di Tommaso to express concerns about a police-officer bodyguard of Mr. Ford’s being suddenly reassigned.

On Thursday, the officer “was advised that he was being stood down from his duties,” Rob Jamieson, president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, wrote in a Feb. 28 letter to the deputy minister.

The police union head said that “we can only assume that this action is the direct result of his name being mentioned in several media reports” flowing from the lawsuit by Deputy Commissioner Blair.

In a July e-mail written just weeks after Mr. Ford took over as premier, the officer relayed to OPP headquarters Mr. Ford’s displeasure with his security detail.

He quoted the premier as saying that “I have not formed the trust with them. I have asked for my own detail of officers who I trust already. It feels like I’m not being heard, like I’m getting f***ed around by the OPP, and I’m getting more pissed off.”

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... rner-hire/
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OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair fired from force

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:59 pm

OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair fired from force, police confirm

TORONTO -- An Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner who expressed concerns about a friend of the premier's appointment as the province's top cop was fired Monday, but the corrections minister insisted there was no political interference.

Brad Blair has asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a long-time friend of Premier Doug Ford, as the new OPP commissioner.

He is also threatening to sue Ford, alleging that the premier damaged his reputation when Ford accused him of breaking the Police Services Act by speaking out against Taverner's hiring.

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said the decision to fire Blair came from the public service.

"There was zero political influence on this decision," Jones said. "For me to start questioning my deputy minister would have been absolutely inappropriate."

Deputy minister Mario Di Tommaso wrote in a memo on Friday that he had recommended the termination to the Public Service Commission because Blair had contravened "his legal and ethical responsibilities as a deputy commissioner and senior public servant."

A day earlier, the president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association had written to Di Tommaso expressing concern that Blair's public court filings, including internal OPP documents, have had adverse impacts on his members, in particular a protection officer for Ford.

Di Tommaso is also a former boss of Taverner's and was part of the three-person hiring panel that selected Taverner as OPP commissioner.

Jones rejected suggestions that Di Tommaso's involvement in Blair's firing was inappropriate, saying he is in charge of the ministry's public safety division.

"It makes imminent sense that he would be involved in OPP hiring, in OPP decisions, in OPP oversight," she said.

Liberal Nathalie Des Rosiers asked the chair of the legislature's justice committee to call Di Tommaso to testify.

Taverner's appointment has been delayed until the integrity commissioner completes an investigation.

Blair initially requested an ombudsman investigation in December, amid what he called "growing concerns of political interference" in the hiring process. He said it had deeply affected the morale of rank and file officers.

The veteran officer, who was also in the running for the commissioner's job, was acting OPP commissioner at the time he originally started his legal case, but soon after was removed from that position.

Blair's lawyer Julian Falconer has alleged that Ford's comments were meant to intimidate his client. Falconer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Blair's firing.

A Ford spokesman has denied that the premier's statements were a reprisal against Blair.

Taverner, 72, initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position. The Ford government has admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates.

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/opp-deputy-c ... -1.4321388

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/03/04/ ... een-fired/

https://www.cp24.com/news/deputy-opp-co ... -1.4321393

https://globalnews.ca/news/5018710/brad ... opp-fired/
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Ford government fires OPP deputy Brad Blair, critic of Taver

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:01 pm

Ford government fires OPP deputy Brad Blair, critic of Taverner appointment

The Ford government has fired the outspoken Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

Blair has been a fierce critic of the Progressive Conservatives' appointment of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the next chief of the OPP. He was fired Monday morning.

Blair is asking an Ontario court to force the province's ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Taverner, who is a longtime friend of Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

He also recently revealed internal OPP documents about a plan to customize a van for Premier Ford.

The PCs say the decision to fire Blair was made by Mario Di Tommaso, the deputy minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services after consultation with interim OPP commissioner Gary Couture. The firing was approved by the Public Service Commission.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said Blair was fired for releasing confidential OPP information in a letter to the ombudsman, a breach of his oath as the force's deputy commissioner.

"He released confidential, private information for his own personal gain," Jones said Monday afternoon. About an hour earlier, Jones had told reporters she did not know why Blair was fired.

Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has suggested Blair was fired for speaking out against Taverner's appointment.

"It's a chilling day in Ontario when a well-respected OPP deputy commissioner who dedicated his life to this province is fired for standing up for the integrity and independence of our provincial police," Horwath said.

"It was a brave thing for this person to do, to come forward, and it looks like that bravery has lost him his job."

'Private HR issue'

In response to Horwath's accusation, Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the decision was made "independently of the political process."

"I will not be commenting, nor should anyone else on private HR issues," she said.

Jones later told reporters the decision was made entirely at the discretion of the Public Service Commission and the OPP. She said any accusation that her government influenced the firing was "categorically false."

"I wasn't asked for my advice, if I agreed with the decision that was made. [The Public Service Commission] made the decision to terminate," Jones insisted amid repeated questions about accusations of political interference.

However, Jones did not say who initially launched the review or investigation into Blair's performance, only that the Public Service Commission accepted the recommendation that Blair be fired.

An interim incumbent will be identified by the ministry.

In addition to his request to Ontario's ombudsman, Blair is also threatening to sue Ford, alleging that the premier damaged his reputation when Ford accused him of breaking the Police Services Act by speaking out against Taverner's hiring.

Taverner's appointment has been delayed until the integrity commissioner completes an investigation.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.5041873
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Firing of deputy OPP commissioner sure looks like a politica

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:35 am

Firing of deputy OPP commissioner sure looks like a political decision

It takes a certain kind of obliviousness or belligerence (or both) for a government to look at the situation of Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, who is seeing his sunny political reputation supernova into a galactic garbage fire, and say, “oooh, let’s do that!”

I mean, Trudeau’s situation in a nutshell is that he’s in trouble for a decision to remove someone from their job after what appears to be political interference in a supposedly independent decision regarding legal administration. When the provincial government announced the firing Monday of Deputy Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Brad Blair, it did so in a cloud of questions about political interference from the premier’s office in a supposedly independent hiring process, and created more such questions.

That growing cloud is smoke, and whether there’s a fire or not, it stinks. It smells absolutely foul.

Like everything about the appointment of Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner has from the beginning. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something rotten causing the stink or not, really. The stench itself is a problem.

If you missed the earlier episodes of this soap opera, it began when Taverner, a longtime personal and family friend of Premier Doug Ford was promoted several pay grades past dozens of other higher-ranking and more-likely-seeming candidates into the position heading the OPP.

Since the OPP is the agency that may, at some point if the situation arises, need to investigate the premier and his government — and could also plausibly need to investigate his political opponents — this in itself created the appearance of a likely conflict of interest.

One former OPP commissioner, Chris Lewis, said on TV immediately that while Taverner was a good officer, this was a case where “the fix was in.”

It looked worse when it came to light that after the job had been initially posted requiring applicants to have a rank of chief or deputy chief, it was rewritten and reposted to lower the qualifications, therefore making Taverner eligible. (Taverner, at age 72, was and is a superintendent with the Toronto police in Etobicoke.)

Then it turned out that one of the men interviewing the candidates was deputy minister Mario Di Tommaso, appointed by Ford to his new job from his old job where he was Taverner’s supervisor on the Toronto police, and all three men were chumming around in the time leading up to the hiring, according to a report in the Globe and Mail.

There were more concerns than even that raised about political interference in this by the premier. One of the people raising them was Deputy OPP Commissioner Blair. He requested the provincial ombudsman investigate, and is pursuing that request (which was turned down by the ombudsman) in court.

Now he’s doing so as a private citizen, since he just got canned from his job at the OPP. Just months ago, he was one of three candidates shortlisted to serve as commissioner. Today he’d out of his job as deputy. And who was responsible for firing him? Officially, deputy minister Di Tommaso. It says right there in the announcement.

Holy hell, the stench of this thing.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, in a press conference dealing with aggressive questions from reporters on Monday about why her ministry had done it, claimed not to have had any say in the matter, other than making it official. She had no answers for how this decision came about — telling reporters to pursue such questions with civil servants because she didn’t know. What she was emphatic about was that neither she nor the premier had anything to do with it. That it was not a political decision.

No? It sure looks like a political decision. The possible political motivations are obvious. That appearance is, in itself, a problem. Because if people can legitimately believe, for good reasons, that it sure looks like the OPP is being turned into a political tool of the premier’s office, run by his friends to cater to his whims (pimping used vans or otherwise), then no amount of protesting about it not being what it looks like helps. A police department cannot serve its function without public confidence.

This is a case where all the “even ifs” zero out to a different course that should have been pursued. Even if Taverner was the best candidate for the job by some objective measure, his friendship with the premier and long relationship with the hiring deputy minister should have led them to a different decision. Even if a local force superintendent can leapfrog ranks to commissioner, this is not the case where one should. Even if it was now untenable for Blair to continue to serve, having Di Tommaso put the axe to him in the middle of a court process weighing his claims is exactly the wrong thing to do.

All of this signals to the public that, to use Lewis’ words, the fix is in. It signals that whether the fix actually is in or not. Rather than backing down on Taverner’s hiring, those involved have made it worse by firing Blair.

It stinks. Those involved either can’t smell it, or worse, they don’t care that we can. And all that’s at stake is the public legitimacy of the provincial police.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-co ... ision.html
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Don’t mess with Justin Trudeau, or with Doug Ford

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:36 am

Both the prime minister and the Ontario premier find themselves embroiled in scandal. But one seems to be paying the price and the other isn’t.

On the surface, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford wouldn't seem to have a lot in common. But one characteristic they appear to share is their attitude toward those who cross them.

Jody Wilson-Raybould crossed Trudeau by not bending to his wishes — as expressed by PMO staff and the PM himself — for the justice minister to intervene in order to prevent criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin. His response? By most accounts, that refusal was a key reason Wilson-Raybould was shuffled from justice to veterans affairs. She didn't react well to the perceived "demotion," and the rest is history.

Now consider Doug Ford. That he's a pugnacious brawler is not a surprise. Toronto Mayor John Tory and urban councillors learned that the hard way when Ford, with no consultation or evidence, halved the size of Toronto's council to tilt the balance of power toward his cronies in the suburban communities — also known as Ford Nation.

Or, more recently, consider the case of Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner Brad Blair, fired Monday by the government, with the blessing of the Public Service Commission. Technically, the government says he was fired for sharing confidential internal information with the media. That's one version of the story. Here's another.

Blair was the interim OPP commissioner and was expected to get the job full time. Then, suddenly, Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner was announced as the successful candidate. He didn't have the same experience — in fact, he fell short of qualifying based on the government's own job-posting language. The government then altered that language so Taverner did qualify, and like magic, he got the job over more senior officers who met the original qualifications.

Taverner is a longtime friend and confidante of the Ford family, Doug Ford in particular. To his credit, when his controversial hiring blew up, he voluntarily asked that it be put on hold while the provincial integrity commissioner investigates the numerous calls of patronage and political interference in police business. The investigation continues.

One of those complainants was Blair, who argued Taverner's hiring was a slap in the face to more qualified candidates, and raised further fears of Ford manipulating the OPP like his private security force. He asked the ombudsman and ethics commissioner to investigate.

In the ombudsman court application, Blair included, as supporting material, internal police correspondence detailing the premier railing over not liking his security team, and also about the OPP not wanting to pay for luxurious accoutrements to the premier's security van. In part of that correspondence, Ford says: "I've asked for my own detail of officers who I trust already ... it feels like I'm not being heard, like I'm getting f***ed around by the OPP and I'm getting more pissed off."

"I'm going to call the commissioner and sort this out. This is the last straw." Ford also reportedly said: "If I have to, I will drive up there to see him (now-retired commissioner Vince Hawks) face-to-face so he can see how serious I am about this. If he can't sort this out, then maybe a new commissioner can make it happen."

Does that sound at all like Ford was trying to convince the OPP to do his bidding? If so, what else will he want? What if the OPP were called to investigate the government, as it was with the Wynne Liberals? Could the force credibly do so with a longtime Ford friend at the helm? What message does this send to anyone else disagreeing with Ford's direction and policies?

If you think all of this is smelly, you're right, just as the SNC-Lavalin case is. The difference is that Justin Trudeau is paying the price for his tactics, whereas Ford thinks he is — and apparently is — Teflon.

https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9 ... doug-ford/
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Boss Ford strikes again

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:37 am

Stephen Maher: Ontario’s premier seems determined to put his friend in charge of the OPP, which is much more worrying than L’affair SNC-Lavalin

On Monday, after a month in which Justin Trudeau’s government has been tearing itself apart over allegations of interference with the corruption prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, Ontario Premier Doug Ford fired the deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Without saying anything to take Trudeau off the petard on which he hoisted himself, it seems fair to point out that Ontarians would be wise to be as alarmed by what is happening in Toronto as what is happening in Ottawa.

Trudeau’s government is on the brink of collapse over allegations that he exerted improper pressure, so far as we know, for straightforward political reasons: to save jobs and help politicians who might help him in the upcoming election.

For his arrogance and foolishness, Trudeau is now being brought low by members of his cabinet: Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott’s resignations may yet bring him down, since if these front benchers no longer have confidence in him, how can voters?

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Ford is acting like the president of a banana republic, or the commissioner of Hazzard County, and his cabinet ministers are apparently all fine with that. They should not be.

Boss Ford is trying to put his friend, 72-year-old Ron Taverner, in charge of the 7,383-strong Ontario Provincial Police, although Taverner’s resume does not compare with his predecessors, or that of Brad Blair, the deputy commissioner.


When Boss Ford’s people decided to give the job to Taverner instead of Blair, Blair sued. In that case, he entered into evidence emails from Ford complaining about his protection detail and seeking an executive van, complete with big chairs and a TV, so he can ride around the province in style and comfort.

On Friday, Boss Ford’s hand-picked deputy minister of community safety, Mario Di Tommaso, wrote a letter firing Blair. Di Tomasso, who was Taverner’s boss in the Toronto Police Service, was on the three-person committee that hired him.

Boss Ford’s people are defending the decision on the grounds that Blair had no right to use Ford’s emails in his lawsuit.

A judge will eventually rule on that. Until that distant day, however, Ontario is being governed by Ford, who seems determined to put his friend in charge of the provincial police.

This is much more worrying than l’affair SNC-Lavalin, because the police must be independent of government, and this government seems not to have any understanding that.

I don’t recall any political leader doing something as dangerous and ham-handed as trying to put a crony at the head of a police force. Jean Chretien was thought to be too close to former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli—whose intervention in the 2006 election torpedoed the campaign of Chretien’s enemy Paul Martin—but they weren’t drinking buddies.

There are few things more important in a democracy than keeping politicians from interfering in judicial processes and police business. It’s what separates Canada from banana republics, or Hazzard County.

But Boss Ford does not seem to appreciate that there is a line. And, unlike Trudeau, nobody in his cabinet is resigning or speaking out about the importance of the rule of law.

In November, Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, is reported to have ordered the OPP to raid black market cannabis shops on the day weed became legal because he wanted to show “people in handcuffs,” presumably so the government could deliver a tough-on-crime message on TV.

That was shut down, but would it be next time? Jenni Byrne, the former Stephen Harper staffer who was a counterbalance to French, left Ford’s office in January. Insiders expect staffers close to her may follow her out the door.

French and Ford are now more firmly in control, and if they finally get Taverner into the top job at the OPP, the whole police force will be suspect every time it touches a file with political ramifications. This will be terrible for the public’s perception of the force.

Given the OPP’s crucial role in investigating wrongdoing by politicians, it is not acceptable to have the force run by someone so close to the premier.

And I think it is necessary to point out that there are reasons to wonder if Boss Ford is as personally committed to the rule of law as a premier should be.

Wilson-Raybould has rightly been lauded for standing up to Trudeau in defence of the rule of law. We can only hope that there are people as brave in Boss Ford’s cabinet.

https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/long-live-the-king/
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Opposition calls for probe of deputy OPP commissioner's firi

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:38 am

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones denies there was political involvement in the firing of deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair who challenged the government’s handling of the new chief’s hiring.

“I was notified; I was not asked for permission. I was not asked for advice,” Jones said of the decision to terminate Blair.

Opposition MPPs called for a full airing of the decision which they argued smacked of political revenge. Blair had launched legal action to get the ombudsman’s office to review the decision to hire Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner as the next chief of the OPP.

Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers formally asked justice committee Chair Parm Gill to call Jones’ deputy minister, Mario Di Tommaso, to explain the process that was followed to fire Blair.

“(Was) Di Tommaso asked by his minister or by the premier’s office or did he inform them of the fact that he was preparing to go and lay disciplinary charges in front of the Public Service Commission?” Des Rosiers said. “We don’t know what triggered this dismissal.”

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said Premier Doug Ford should now do the “right thing” and announce that Taverner is no longer in the running for the position.

“This premier has a track record and a history of hiring his friends and giving them high-paid jobs,” he said, calling for a public inquiry into the situation.

Later in the legislature, Jones stood up to provide a statement about the dismissal:

“All public servants take an oath of office; it appears this oath was breached,” Jones said. “In addition … the Police Services Act expressly prohibits a police officer from communication to the media without proper authority.”

Blair’s letter to the ombudsman, in which he requested an investigation of Taverner’s appointment, contained confidential OPP information, she said. In the letter, Blair criticized the appointment of Taverner — a Ford family friend — to the OPP’s top post, and revealed that the premier’s office had requested a modified van for his transportation.

https://www.simcoereformer.ca/news/prov ... ab20ccb0e9
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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 3:59 pm

Brad Blair has been fired as Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

The man who was interim commissioner and considered a front runner to become the top cop in the province was terminated for filing internal emails from the OPP in court as part of a lawsuit.

The firing was ordered by Mario Di Tommaso, Deputy Minister of Community Safety.

“It was my conclusion that Mr. Blair undertook conduct that was not only contrary to instruction I had provided him in my capacity as his ethics executive by letter dated December 28, 2018, but was contrary to his legal and ethical responsibilities as a Deputy Commissioner,” Di Tommaso said in a memo distributed to the government.

After losing out in the competition to become the next OPP Commissioner to Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner, Blair asked for the provincial ombudsman to investigate.

When the ombudsman refused, Blair went to Ontario Divisional Court asking a judge to force an investigation.

As part of his filing with the court, Blair included internal OPP emails, including a description of conversations between Premier Doug Ford, his staff and his bodyguard, an OPP officer under Blair’s command.

One of the main emails, dated July 18, 2018, was written by Sgt. Terrence Murphy — the premier’s driver and bodyguard.

Sgt. Murphy had written a summary of a conversation with the premier about the number of “new faces” in Ford’s protection detail.

That email about Ford’s concerns was forwarded up the chain of command and eventually landed in the inbox of Blair.

On February 15, 2019 Blair filed that email, plus another with details of the customized van the premier wanted for travel as part of his lawsuit to force an examination of the process that saw him passed over for the top job.

In his memo on Blair’s firing, Di Tommaso said that after considering legal advice and reviewing Blair’s actions, “termination was the only acceptable recourse.”

Blair’s actions also resulted in the removal of Sgt. Murphy from Premier Ford’s protective detail.

One source close to the premier, who also knows Sgt. Murphy, said that there was a feeling of broken trust after the emails and the premier’s private conversation was made public.

The Ontario Provincial Police Association has said that Sgt. Murphy was only doing his job “by relaying the Premier’s wishes to his superiors.”

In a memo to Di Tommaso, OPPA President Rob Jamieson asked for Murphy to be reinstated but blasted Blair’s actions.

“The OPP Association is deeply troubled that confidential and operationally-sensitive emails have found their way into the public domain,” Jamieson wrote on February 28.

Blair challenged the selection process to choose the next OPP Commissioner claiming to was favoured to help Taverner, a long time friend of Ford family.

While Taverner has been a police officer for more than 50 years — including a superintendent with the Toronto Police service — he did not meet the original qualifications.

Premier Ford has denied the qualifications were changed specifically for Taverner but rather to get a bigger and better pool of candidates.

Ford described Blair’s lawsuit as “sour grapes.”

https://www.thewhig.com/news/provincial ... ab20ccb0e9
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Fired OPP senior officer alleges reprisal for concerns about

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:00 pm

Fired OPP senior officer alleges reprisal for concerns about Ford friend job

TORONTO — A high-ranking provincial police officer who was fired Monday alleges it is reprisal for waging a legal battle over the appointment of a friend of the premier’s as commissioner.

Brad Blair has asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a long-time friend of Premier Doug Ford, as the new Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

The government has denied any political interference in Blair’s firing, and said the decision to fire him came from the public service because Blair released confidential OPP information through his court filings.

Blair was fired by Mario Di Tommaso, deputy minister of community safety, and Blair alleges that was a conflict of interest because Di Tommaso was part of the hiring panel that selected Taverner and is therefore part of the case before the court.

“It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me, and that this reprisal is directly connected to my good faith efforts to seek redress before the Divisional Court and the provincial ombudsman,” Blair writes in an affidavit filed Tuesday in court.

If there were concerns about the material Blair was filing in court being in the public realm, the attorney general could have asked the court to seal the documents, Blair writes.

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said Blair breached his duties as a police officer and as a public servant.

“No one is above the law,” she said in the legislature. “This individual chose to sully the reputation of the excellent OPP officers who serve our public and the people of Ontario. He was terminated as a result.”

Blair initially requested an ombudsman investigation into Taverner’s appointment in December, amid what he called “growing concerns of political interference” in the hiring process. He said it had deeply affected the morale of rank-and-file officers.

The NDP is calling for a public inquiry into the whole situation.

Taverner, 72, initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position. The Ford government has admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates. His appointment has been delayed until the integrity commissioner completes an investigation into his hiring.

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/c ... friend-job

https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/fired-opp- ... -1.4322957

https://globalnews.ca/news/5022483/brad ... missioner/

https://thepeakfm.com/news/5022483/brad ... missioner/

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Fired OPP senior officer alleges reprisal for concerns about

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:03 pm

Fired OPP senior officer alleges reprisal for concerns about Ford friend job

TORONTO — A high-ranking provincial police officer who was fired Monday alleges it is reprisal for waging a legal battle over the appointment of a friend of the premier’s as commissioner.

Brad Blair has asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a long-time friend of Premier Doug Ford, as the new Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

The government has denied any political interference in Blair’s firing, and says he has released confidential OPP information through his court filings.

Deputy minister Mario Di Tommaso was the one who fired Blair, and Blair alleges that was a conflict of interest because Di Tommaso was part of the hiring panel that selected Taverner and is therefore part of the case before the court.

Blair filed court documents today in which he argues that his firing by Di Tommaso is an attempt to “muzzle” him and is directly connected to what he calls his “good faith efforts” to try to get the ombudsman to investigate.

https://ottawasun.com/news/provincial/f ... 20140068b3
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OPP veteran says firing by Ford government is ‘reprisal’ for

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:04 pm

OPP veteran says firing by Ford government is ‘reprisal’ for Taverner lawsuit

An outspoken OPP commander says his termination this week is reprisal for his ongoing legal battle over the hiring of Premier Doug Ford’s friend as the next provincial police commissioner.

Brad Blair, a former deputy commissioner with the Ontario Provincial Police, was fired on Monday after 32 years on the job. He has asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner and filed multiple internal e-mails he alleges show political interference in police operations by the Ford government.

The government has denied allegations of political interference, and said Mr. Blair breached his oath of office by releasing internal OPP documents. In a letter added to the court file, the Premier again said he was not involved in the hiring of Supt. Taverner.

The NDP on Tuesday called for a public inquiry into the matter.

Mr. Blair was fired in person by deputy minister Mario Di Tommaso, whom Mr. Blair alleges in court documents was in a conflict of interest because he was involved in the hiring of Supt. Taverner and is part of the court case. Mr. Di Tommaso was also Supt. Taverner’s boss at the Toronto Police Service before being appointed as deputy minister of Community Safety last fall by the Ford government.

“It is clear by [Monday’s] actions regarding my termination, that deputy minister Di Tommaso does not appreciate what a conflict of interest is,” Mr. Blair writes in an affidavit.

“It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me.”

In his hand-delivered letter explaining Mr. Blair’s termination, Mr. Di Tommaso says Mr. Blair failed to heed his warning about respecting confidentiality when the former OPP commander recently filed internal OPP e-mails with the court.

He accused the veteran officer, who was in the running for the commissioner job, of attempting “to use your professional status to further your private interests.”

“Your failure to comply with my clear directions in furtherance of legal proceedings brought in your personal capacity has ruptured the trust on which the employment relationship is built,” Mr. Di Tommaso said.

Documents filed in court on Tuesday also include a letter from Mr. Ford to the province’s integrity commissioner, who is currently investigating the matter. Mr. Blair has asked the ombudsman to further probe the hiring, arguing the scope and powers of that office are broader.

In his nine-page letter to Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake, Mr. Ford confirms that he has known Supt. Taverner personally for many years, but denied being involved in his hiring as the next OPP commissioner. That appointment has been put on hold pending Mr. Wake’s review.

Mr. Ford outlines the recruitment process for OPP commissioner and said he is aware the job posting for the position was changed on Oct. 22 following discussions of the selection panel, comprised of search firm Odgers Berndtson, then-cabinet secretary Steve Orsini and Mr. Di Tommaso. The changes removed a rank requirement that would have made it impossible for Supt. Taverner to apply.

“I reject any assertion that this change was made to specifically permit Mr. Taverner's application for the position,” Mr. Ford writes in his letter.

“I would agree that some of the allegations that have arisen could have been avoided had the ranking requirements been removed from the job ad before its original posting. However, I believe the change was made in a good-faith effort to ensure a broad and inclusive recruitment process and provides no evidence of any improper activity by me, my office or any individual working on my behalf.”

Mr. Ford also defends his decision not to recuse himself from cabinet when Supt. Taverner’s appointment was finalized, arguing the selection panel had already chosen his friend for the job.

“While I did not recuse myself from that meeting, I ensured that cabinet members were aware of my personal friendship with Mr. Taverner,” Mr. Ford said.

“Having said that, I respect that as the lntegrity Commissioner, you may have a view as to whether I made the correct choice to remain at this cabinet meeting. I will ultimately respect your advice on this matter, but would respectfully submit that my attendance must be considered in light of the overall recruitment process.”

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... -taverner/
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Deputy OPP commissioner who spoke out about Taverner hiring

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:05 pm

Deputy OPP commissioner who spoke out about Taverner hiring has been fired

TORONTO — The firing of a high-ranking provincial police officer waging a legal battle over the controversial appointment of Ontario's top cop renewed accusations of political interference Monday that the government denied.

Deputy commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a long-time friend of Premier Doug Ford, as the new OPP commissioner.

Deputy OPP commissioner who spoke out about Taverner hiring has been fired

"There was zero political influence on this decision," Jones said. "For me to start questioning my deputy minister would have been absolutely inappropriate."

Shortly after a press conference in which after Jones refused to divulge the reasons for the firing, she stood in the legislature to say Blair had been warned about releasing confidential OPP information late last year. He then did it again through subsequent filings in his case involving the ombudsman, she said.

Deputy minister Mario Di Tommaso wrote in a memo on Friday that he had recommended the termination to the Public Service Commission because Blair had contravened "his legal and ethical responsibilities as a deputy commissioner and senior public servant."

A day earlier, the president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association had written to Di Tommaso expressing concern that Blair's public court filings, including internal OPP documents, have had adverse impacts on his members, in particular a protection officer for Ford.

Di Tommaso is also a former boss of Taverner's and was part of the three-person hiring panel that selected Taverner as OPP commissioner.

Taverner, 72, initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position. The Ford government has admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates. His appointment has been delayed until the integrity commissioner completes an investigation into his hiring.

Jones rejected suggestions that Di Tommaso's involvement in Blair's firing was inappropriate, saying he is in charge of the ministry's public safety division.

"It makes imminent sense that he would be involved in OPP hiring, in OPP decisions, in OPP oversight," she said.

Blair's lawyer did not respond to request for comment.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it appears the government is attempting to silence a vocal critic.

"This whole thing is a cesspool of interference by Mr. Ford," she said. "Good people who have dedicated their lives to this province, who have brought integrity to the OPP, are being thrown under the bus."

Liberal Nathalie Des Rosiers asked the chair of the legislature's justice committee to call Di Tommaso to testify.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner called on Ford to scrap Taverner's appointment permanently and to hold a probe into the entire affair.

"I think we need an independent investigation to get to the bottom of this," he said. "The premier doesn't have any credibility on this."

Ford's government has faced similar criticism in the past.

Washington state regulators said late last year that they would not allow Ontario's largest utility to buy American energy company Avista for fear the provincial government, which owns 47 per cent of Hydro One’s shares, might meddle in Avista's operations.

In another case, opposition parties are called on Ford in November to address allegations that his chief of staff sought to interfere in police investigations into illegal cannabis dispensaries. Dean French is alleged to have unsuccessfully ordered senior political aides to instruct police to raid dispensaries the day recreational cannabis became legal.

Blair initially requested an ombudsman investigation into Taverner's appointment in December, amid what he called "growing concerns of political interference" in the hiring process. He said it had deeply affected the morale of rank and file officers.

Public court filings in Blair's case attempting to force the ombudsman to investigate Taverner's hiring contain an account written by an OPP officer who is part of Ford's detail. The premier allegedly asked to be able to choose the officers who protect him and complained about the response to his request.

Other messages in the package outline Ford's request of the police service for a custom-built van that was to include a 32-inch television with Blu-Ray player, a mini-fridge, black leather captain's chairs and a reclining leather sofa bench.

Ford, in turn, has accused Blair of breaking the Police Services Act, and Blair is now threatening a defamation lawsuit over those comments. A Ford spokesman has denied that the premier's statements were a reprisal against Blair.

The veteran officer, who was also in the running for the commissioner's job, was acting OPP commissioner at the time he started his legal case but soon after was removed from that position.

Days later, Di Tomasso wrote to Blair to warn him that his oath as public servant required him to maintain confidentiality. The letter should not be construed as "disciplinary in nature," Di Tomasso wrote, but Blair was expected to comply in the future.

https://www.timescolonist.com/deputy-op ... 1.23652584
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Fired OPP deputy alleges reprisal for speaking against Doug

Postby Thomas » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:09 pm

Fired OPP deputy alleges reprisal for speaking against Doug Ford friend's appointment to force

A high-ranking provincial police officer who was fired Monday alleges it is reprisal for waging a legal battle over the appointment of a friend of the premier's as commissioner.

Brad Blair has asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a long-time friend of Premier Doug Ford, as the new Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

The government has denied any political interference in Blair's firing, and said the decision to fire him came from the public service because Blair released confidential OPP information through his court filings.

Blair was fired by Mario Di Tommaso, deputy minister of community safety, and Blair alleges that was a conflict of interest because Di Tommaso was part of the hiring panel that selected Taverner and is therefore part of the case before the court.

"It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me, and that this reprisal is directly connected to my good faith efforts to seek redress before the divisional court and the provincial ombudsman," Blair writes in an affidavit filed Tuesday in court.

If there were concerns about the material Blair was filing in court being in the public realm, the attorney general could have asked the court to seal the documents, Blair writes.

'No one is above the law'

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said Blair breached his duties as a police officer and as a public servant.

"No one is above the law," she said in the legislature. "This individual chose to sully the reputation of the excellent OPP officers who serve our public and the people of Ontario. He was terminated as a result."

Blair initially requested an ombudsman investigation into Taverner's appointment in December, amid what he called "growing concerns of political interference" in the hiring process. He said it had deeply affected the morale of rank-and-file officers.

The NDP is calling for a public inquiry into the whole situation.

Taverner, 72, initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position. The Ford government has admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates. His appointment has been delayed until the integrity commissioner completes an investigation into his hiring.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.5043434
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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:26 pm

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are political opposites who right now share something: both face allegations of political interference in the justice system.

Partisans will no doubt disagree on whose alleged political interference is worse: the federal Liberals' handling of the SNC-Lavalin corruption case or the provincial Progressive Conservatives' alleged meddling with the upper echelons of the Ontario Provincial Police.

You can read plenty of analysis throughout cbc.ca of why the SNC-Lavalin affair matters, why the testimony of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould is resonating, and why the Trudeau Liberals are engulfed in a deepening crisis about just how much political pressure they exerted over a criminal case.

Why are Ford's PCs being accused of interfering with the OPP? The government appointed a close friend of Ford to head the provincial police force, and fired a veteran officer who had produced evidence that Ford tried to influence police operations.

Why does it matter?

"The OPP can be called in to investigate provincial politicians, and the citizens of Ontario need to have faith that the OPP is truly independent, above political interference, and free from abuses of power," said Brad Blair, the deputy commissioner who was fired on Monday after a spotless 32-year career with the OPP.

In a written statement Tuesday, Blair said he went public with his concerns about "real and/or perceived political interference" in the force because "the cost of a compromised OPP is too great a price to pay."

How Ford's friend got the job

The government announced in November that Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner had been chosen to become the new commissioner of the OPP. Taverner is a longtime friend of Ford and his family, and Ford has made no secret of their friendship.

The premier's appointment schedule (obtained by CBC News through freedom of information requests) and social media postings show he met with Taverner three times after taking office last June. There is no evidence that he met even once with any of the other candidates for the OPP top job. Their most recent meeting was Oct. 9, just days before the hiring process began.

Taverner, 72, didn't rise above the level of superintendent in his 50-year career with the Toronto police. That was two ranks below the level to qualify for OPP commissioner under the original job posting. But on Oct. 24, the government altered the posting, lowering the minimum qualifications, allowing Taverner to apply.

Blair's evidence of political interference

Blair was a finalist for the commissioner job that went to Taverner, one of only three people who made it to the second round of interviews.

In December, with Ford brushing aside concerns about the Taverner appointment, Blair launched a legal battle over the move, asking a court to order Ontario's ombudsman to investigate.

As part of the court case, Blair has filed evidence suggesting the premier pressured the OPP to do his bidding on two issues, related to police duties to transport and protect the premier.

Documents suggest Ford wanted $50,000 worth of customization work done on a van, including a power reclining leather sofa and a big-screen TV with BluRay player, to allow him to work while travelling around the province.

Blair alleges the premier's chief of staff told the OPP to keep the cost "off the books," something the premier's office vigorously denies. However, Ford's executive assistant sent the OPP an estimate for the work last October using his personal email address.

Another document filed in court recounts Ford's complaints to one of his OPP bodyguards about the rotating roster of officers assigned to protect him. The email quoted Ford as saying: "It feels like I'm not getting heard, like I'm getting f---ed around by the OPP and I'm getting more pissed off. I'm going to call the commissioner and sort this out."

Submitting those documents to the court triggered Blair's firing. According to the government, he was fired by the nonpartisan public service commission, on the recommendation of the deputy minister of public safety, Mario Di Tommaso.

Deputy minister's role in hiring, firing

Di Tommaso was until last October a veteran Toronto police officer, and Taverner's boss, as a staff superintendent in charge of the central and west field command. The Ford government appointed him deputy minister of public safety in October, making him the top bureaucrat in charge of the OPP.

Di Tommaso is deeply connected to the controversy embroiling the OPP and the government since then:

- The OPP commissioner job qualifications were lowered two days after he took over as deputy minister.
- He was one of three people on the hiring committee that chose Taverner over Blair.
- He issued a formal warning to Blair in December, a few days after Ford accused Blair of unspecified violations of the Police Services Act.
- He initiated Blair's firing.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones points to Di Tommaso's position as deputy minister as proof that there was no political involvement in Blair's firing.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath questions that. "The minister claimed she didn't ask why Mario Di Tommaso was doing this," Horwath said Tuesday in the Legislature. "Why would the minister approve terminating an OPP deputy commissioner without seeking any explanation or rationale for the decision?"

Is there political interference?

Several elements of this controversy could lead an unbiased observer to conclude there's been political interference in the top ranks of the OPP: chiefly, that Ford's friend Taverner gets appointed OPP commissioner, while Blair, his rival for the job and a critic of the Ford government, gets fired.

The idea that the police force needs to be 100 per cent independent of politicians is more than a theoretical concern in Ontario. The OPP investigated top aides to both former Liberal premiers Dalton McGuinty (over deleting government documents about the gas plants scandal) and Kathleen Wynne (over bribery allegations surrounding a byelection race). Doubts would have clearly been cast over those investigations had a longtime friend of either premier been running the OPP at the time.

Blair's firing and the push to make Taverner chief amounts to "serious political interference with the administration of justice," tweeted former Toronto mayor David Miller on Tuesday.

But Miller, who battled vigorously with Rob Ford on Toronto city council, is in no way a neutral observer.

The Ford government rejects all the claims of undue political influence. PC officials and politicians from Ford on down insist Taverner is well-qualified. They say the process to choose him was independent. They say the $50,000 estimate for van renovations was just an inquiry, and really about saving taxpayers' money on flights. They say it's normal for a premier to have input on his police security detail. They say there was no political involvement in Blair's firing. And they say the firing was justified.

"Mr. Blair breached his duties as both a police officer and a public servant," said Jones in the Legislature on Tuesday. "No one is above the law."

It all comes down to who you believe. Ontario's integrity commissioner is investigating Taverner's appointment. His report — expected in the coming weeks — could put the controversy to rest or ignite it anew.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.5043447
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Ford interviewed by integrity commissioner in Taverner probe

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:28 pm

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been interviewed by the integrity commissioner as part of an investigation into the appointment of Ford family friend Ron Taverner to the province’s top policing job.

A government source confirmed the interview occurred “late last week,” with commissioner J. David Wake investigating if Ford broke conflict of interest rules while awarding Taverner the post of OPP commissioner.

The news comes as the public got the first detailed look at the premier’s defence of his conduct and a timeline of events and key players involved. The defence was outlined in documents filed in court on Monday and made public on Tuesday.

The documents were filed by fired deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair in his lawsuit, which attempts to force the province’s ombudsman to investigate Taverner’s hiring. In a rare move, Blair went public with his concerns in December. He was fired from the force on Monday.

The government says he was dismissed for disclosing confidential information, but in his court filings Blair said he believes he is being punished for speaking out.

Wake’s investigation centres on a complaint filed by NDP MPP Kevin Yarde, who asserts that Ford broke conflict of interest rules by failing to recuse himself from the final cabinet decision to appoint Taverner. Yarde also raised concerns about facts surrounding the application process that were first reported by iPolitics.

Two days after the job posting for the commissioner position was made public, it was changed to remove any requirements that candidates hold a minimum rank. Had those rank requirements stayed in place, Taverner would not have been eligible to apply for the job.

In his nine-page letter to Wake, the premier strongly defends not only his involvement in the process, but also the actions of senior civil servants and senior staff in the premier’s office who were involved in the OPP commissioner hiring process.

The letter was sent to Wake on Dec. 14, 2018. That date has become significant in this case, as on the same day, Cabinet Secretary Steve Orsini — who was also involved in Taverner’s hiring — announced his surprise retirement, Blair announced he would go to court to try to force the ombudsman to investigate, and the next day the government announced Taverner’s appointment was delayed pending Wake’s investigation.

“I deny categorically the allegations being made or implied ” by Yarde, Ford writes in his letter.

“I was not directly involved in the recruitment process,” Ford writes, even though he and the rest of cabinet signed off on Taverner’s appointment.

Ford on why he didn’t recuse himself from cabinet

In his letter to the integrity commissioner, the premier explains that he didn’t think he needed to recuse himself from the cabinet decision because he was signing off on a recommendation from the civil servants and head-hunting firm who first recommended Taverner get the top job.

“There was a single recommendation that was endorsed by cabinet as a collective,” Ford writes.

He also told Wake that he “ensured” that his cabinet was “aware of my personal friendship with Mr. Taverner.”

Ford also argues that, because cabinet met as a “collective,” there was no need for him to follow the section of the integrity act that says a cabinet minister with a conflict should appoint someone else to make the decision for them.

However he notes that Wake may not agree with his decision.

“I respect that as the integrity commissioner, you may have a view as to whether I made the correct choice to remain at this cabinet meeting,” Ford said. “I will ultimately respect your advice on this matter, but would respectfully submit that my attendance must be considered in light of the overall recruitment process.”

Taverner selection made with ‘no political interference or direction’: Ford

The premier acknowledged that the first plan that the government put together for hiring the next OPP commissioner included his own chief of staff, Dean French, sitting on the final interview panel.

This information was first reported by Blair in his letter to Ombudsman Paul Dubé. In that letter, Blair said that he was told French would be one of four people interviewing him in the second round interview. However, when he arrived for the interview on Nov. 20, 2018, he was told French would no longer be joining them.

In his letter, the premier explains why that change was made: “Mr. French recused himself from the candidate interviews to both protect the integrity of the recruitment process and also ensure that any recommendation to the minister and cabinet was based on the professional opinion of the public service.”

Ford notes that because the initial plan was for French to take part in the interviews, he was “in receipt of updates on the recruitment process.”

The presence of another person on the hiring committee has also raised questions from the opposition. Ford’s deputy minister of community safety, Mario Di Tommaso, was Taverner’s boss at the Toronto Police Service before he was appointed deputy minister in October.

Di Tommaso joined the department on the day the first job posting was published online and was involved in the change in requirements for applicants.

The premier also tells Wake in the letter that it is “standard practice” for the deputy minister of the responsible department to take part in interviews. And, he adds, it is “not at all uncommon” for the deputy minister to know the candidates.

“My understanding is that including those with a previous direct reporting relationship can often provide a higher level of assurance of a candidate’s competencies and qualifications,” the premier writes.

Ford also notes that the government hired executive search firm Odgers Berndtson to oversee the hiring process and to act as “third-party validation” of the process.

“I believe this fact alone refutes any allegation that there was an orchestrated plan to appoint Mr. Taverner,” Ford said about the involvement of Odgers Berndtson.

Ultimately Orsini, Di Tommaso and Sal Badali of Odgers Berndtson conducted the final interviews for the position.

“The second panel unanimously ranked Mr. Don Taverner as the top candidate for consideration,” Ford writes. “This selection was made with no political interference or direction.”

Change in job requirements made in ‘good faith’: Ford

In his letter to Wake, the premier also explains the change in job requirements for the OPP commissioner job.

The premier repeated his previous statement that the change was made to broaden the pool of applicants and he asserts that he has no knowledge of involvement from his office in this change.

“I would agree that some of the allegations that have arisen could have been avoided had the ranking requirements been removed from the job ad before its original posting,” Ford writes.

“However, I believe the change was made in a good faith effort to ensure a broad and inclusive recruitment process and provides no evidence of any improper activity by me, my office or any individual working on my behalf.

“I am not aware of any consultation with my office on this change,” Ford said.

He also notes that three previous police chief job postings, managed by Odgers Berndtson also didn’t include a minimum rank requirement. He said that applies for postings in Thunder Bay, Hamilton and Toronto.

“I reject any assertion that this change was made to specifically permit Mr. Taverner’s application for the position,” Ford said.

The integrity commissioner does not comment on ongoing investigations and has not said when the investigation is expected to conclude.

https://ipolitics.ca/2019/03/06/ford-in ... ner-probe/
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