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 appoints new OPP commissioner

Postby Thomas » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:41 am

Doug Ford appoints new OPP commissioner days after friend Ron Taverner withdraws

Just five days after Doug Ford's long-time friend and Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner, 72, withdrew his name from consideration for the province's top police job, the Ontario government has announced a new choice — one who hasn't met the premier.

Thomas Carrique, a 29-year veteran of the York Regional Police, which covers municipalities just north of Toronto to the southern border of Lake Simcoe, will take the helm at the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for a three-year term starting on April 8.

His hiring is intended to clear the bad blood and calm the tumult around Taverner, whose appointment led to widespread complaints of government interference in policing led by OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

The government fired Blair, another candidate for the job, earlier last week after he launched a legal challenge to decide whether the province's ombudsman should be forced to investigate the alleged conflicts of interest in Taverner's appointment.

Speaking at a news conference at York Regional Police headquarters in Aurora, Ontario, where he currently serves as the force’s deputy chief, an emotional Carrique said he is “extremely honoured” to be taking the job.

"No one is more surprised than me," he told reporters Monday.

Carrique said he did not originally apply for the position, and was approached last week about taking on the job by deputy community safety minister Mario Di Tommasso.

Di Tommaso, who used to be Taverner’s boss when he served with Toronto Police, was also a member of the three-person hiring committee that appointed Taverner to the top provincial cop position.

Carrique said he and Di Tommaso had a "very lengthy and deep discussion" about policing in the province and spoke about the importance of having a "permanent, fixed leadership moving forward." (The police service has been without a permanent commissioner since Nov. 2018.)

The hasty choice was made "to move forward," Jones told reporters while standing next to Carrique, adding that the search began last week after Taverner's withdrawal.

Jones said she had no discussions with Taverner prior to receiving his memo announcing his withdrawal last Wednesday. After that, "we moved decisively as a government to find an individual who would serve as the incoming commissioner and I'm very pleased with the choice," she said.

When asked about how Carrique was chosen, Jones said a number of candidates were assessed and reviewed but that she wouldn't "get in an HR discussion" about the process.

Given Blair’s complaints that the appointment process has been riddled with personal interests, reporters questioned if Carrique’s appointment was made by an independent process minus any interference from Di Tomasso or the premier.

Jones said Di Tomasso is "an excellent deputy" whom she relies on for "advice and counsel" but assured reporters that the decision was made by cabinet as a whole.

The role is a "critical one," she said and the right candidate had been chosen. "It's important for our government to show we are moving forward."

'I have no relationship whatsoever with the premier or the Ford family'

Both Jones and Carrique fielded many questions about his relationship with the premier and Di Tommasso and repeated that he had no relationship with either of them.

"I have no relationship whatsoever with the premier or the Ford family. I have not met the premier before," he said.

Di Tommaso and Carrique are "professional acquaintances," he said, from when they both served as inspectors on police management teams that oversaw joint operations in the Greater Toronto Area.

"I have no personal relationship with the deputy minister...It was a professional relationship and only when jurisdictions crossed lines," he said.

When asked if he would support an external investigation into Taverner's appointment, Carrique said that's not a question he should be addressing.

"I have no connection to any previous processes," he said, adding that he knew Taverner from "years of policing on a shared jurisdictional boundary."

"I have not spoken to Supt. Taverner since the initial process started to today's date," he added.

The two interacted over the last number of years on the legalization of cannabis and the work that was being done by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (in which Carrique serves as co-chair of the organized crime committee), he said.

"Operationally, there is no question that the OPP remains independent," Carrique said. "There's not a direct connection between the premier of the province and the commissioner of the OPP."

"I'm accountable to the deputy minister of community safety," he said, who willl provide direction. "Save and except, there needs to be a close working relationship to ensure adequate resouces, funding and support."

Jones interjected to say "directing the police in any way is inappropriate. It always has been and always will be."

Carrique added: "In my role as deputy chief I frequently have conversations with elected officials. A conversation with an elected official or their staff is not inappropriate. We must communicate, we must have a mutual understanding of our respective roles within law and within society."

'Ford should 'fully disclose the details of the new hiring process'

Opposition leaders welcomed Carrique's appointment but urged the government to be more transparent about how the decision was reached.

Green Party leader and MPP Mike Schreiner said he is "pleased" with Carrique's appointment but concerned as to how the government got here and called on the government "to fully disclose the details of the new hiring process."

"The quick replacement following Mr. Taverner’s withdrawal raises questions," Schreiner wrote in a statement. This scandal broke the trust of the public, so we need to know that a sound process was followed to arrive at Mr. Carrique, free from political interference or conflict of interest."

NDP leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement that the appoinment "does not give the public confidence Doug Ford has learned his lesson about police independence."

"In light of Doug Ford’s record on this file and the public’s lack of confidence in the integrity and transparency of the Ford government, I would expect the minister to provide a full public report on the process it followed in hiring Deputy Chief Carrique," she said.

Carrique replaces Ron Taverner, who was appointed last November after the initial job posting was lowered by two ranks to allow him to be eligible. Initially, the job posted demanded applicants have a minium rank of deputy chief, which Carrique meets.

Blair also filled the role on an interim basis while Taverner's appointment was frozen, and was replaced by Gary Couture, also on an interim basis.

An Order in Council was signed on March 8, 2019 to confirm his appointment by cabinet. Previously, a recruiting firm had been hired to aid the search that led to Taverner's appointment.

According to his biography on the York Regional Police website, Carrique is currently responsible for investigations and support and has previously worked in a variety of areas in the force including uniform patrol, criminal investigations, investigative services, traffic, marine, public order and the administration and operations branches.

He holds a certificate in terrorism studies from Scotland's University of St. Andrews in Scotland and is a graduate of the National Policing Improvement Agency's International Commanders Program in the United Kingdom and the United States Department of Justice Drug Unit Commanders Academy.

Moving forward, his priorities will include combating guns and gangs, illegal drugs, traffic safety and “to ensure we are doing everything in our power to rescue the victims of human trafficking and bring to justice” those who exploit them, he said.

Carrique also committed to “data-driven, evidence-based decisions that inform strategy.”

"I will work hard each and every day to earn the trust and confidence of members of the OPP and citizens of this province."

Taverner’s appointment continues to be the focus of a conflict of interest investigation by Ontario’s integrity commissioner. Ford has repeatedly denied any involvement in the decision.

All three opposition parties have called for a public inquiry.

Editor's note: This story was updated on March 11 at 4:00 p.m. with a statement from NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

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New OPP boss to focus on gangs and guns

Postby Thomas » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:43 am

Monday’s appointment of York Regional Police Deputy Chief Thomas Carrique as the new OPP commissioner “couldn’t happen to a nicer guy”, the local force’s association president said.

“I’ve known Tom for the 29 years he’s worked with York Regional Police, and Tom’s personality is such that he’s going to go in there and go right to work at achieving the OPP’s goals as a police service,” York Regional Police Association president Todd Sepkowski said.

The Ontario government’s appointment of a new OPP boss has been mired in controversy since the post was vacated in November 2018 by retiring chief Vince Hawkes.

A storm of criticism blew up later in November when the Ford government announced longtime Toronto Police Service Supt. Ron Taverner, reported being a friend of Doug Ford, as its top pick for the head of the OPP.

Nearly three months of fallout from the Taverner appointment ensued, which included Taverner himself withdrawing his name last Wednesday, an investigation launched by Ontario’s Office of the Integrity Commissioner, and the March 4 ousting of vocal critic and OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair.

In a March 11 statement on Carrique’s appointment, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said: "Deputy Chief Carrique will help bring an outside vision to the OPP and work with talented officers and civilian staff to bring forward positive change.

"The Ontario Provincial Police has been without a permanent commissioner since Nov. 2, 2018. The rank-and-file deserve certainty and clarity. Deputy Chief Carrique will be a strong voice for the frontline officers we all depend on to keep our communities safe," Jones stated. "Deputy Chief Carrique's extensive experience is important as the OPP works to tackle challenging files such as human trafficking and the ongoing fight against guns and gangs."

Sepkowski, himself an almost 33-year veteran with York police, said he came up through the ranks with Carrique and worked with him both on the frontlines of policing, as well as in his role as the head of the labour organization that represents more than 2,200 uniformed officers and 620 civilian members of the service.

“I think the police service and politics are two different beds and I think Tom will keep it that way,” Sepkowski said. “It’s been a pleasure working with Tom and we’re sad to see him go, it’s too bad for York. But I think the OPP have a good person. I wish him all the best and I know that the women and men on the frontlines will be pleased.”

At a news conference Monday morning at York Regional Police’s Aurora headquarters, Carrique choked up with emotion as he called the force “one of the finest police services in this country”.

“I can tell you that no one is more surprised that I’m standing before you today with this announcement,” Carrique said. “York Regional Police has been my home, my passion, and my family for 29 years. ...I hope to benefit from my experience here in my new role. I have learned a great deal from some of York Regional Police’s top leaders and the extremely dedicated sworn and civilian staff.”

Carrique said that he didn’t apply for the job and was surprised when contacted by Community Safety Deputy Minister Mario Di Tommaso.

In response to questions about Tavener’s controversial appointment and relationship with the Ford family, Carrique said he doesn’t have a relationship with the Ford family and, in fact, hasn’t met Premier Doug Ford.

York police Chief Eric Jolliffe said Carrique's appointment is "a significant loss" to the local force and community.

“York Regional Police is proud that Deputy Carrique’s experience, talent, and dedication has been recognized by the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Sylvia Jones, and the Government of Ontario, as he assumes this prestigious and challenging position,” said Chief Jolliffe.

“However, we recognize as well this is a significant loss for our organization, our community and the members of York Regional Police who have, for almost 30 years, benefited from Tom’s extensive knowledge, dedication to the community, stellar leadership qualities and unwavering integrity.”

Carrique begins a three-year appointment as the OPP’s top boss April 8, based out of provincial police headquarters in Orillia.

Since joining the York force in 1990, Carrique has worked in a variety of roles, including most recently on the executive command team as deputy chief of investigations and support. Over nearly three decades, the veteran officer has also worked on uniform patrol, criminal investigations, investigative services, traffic, and also served as the Organized Crime Bureau’s officer in charge and as a Special Investigation Unit liaison officer.

According to the York police website, Carrique is a gold medallist at the Canadian Police Olympics and member of the Canadian Police Memorial Ride to Remember team.

He also served for six years as a governor on the Seneca College board and is currently the vice-chairperson of the St. John Ambulance - York Region Branch, including serving as its community services committee chairperson.

Carrique currently is co-chairperson of the Canadian Association Chiefs of Police organized crime committee and is a member of the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario’s governing body.

He is the recipient of the Ontario Premier's Award of Excellence for Fighting Crime, the Governor General's Police Exemplary Service Medal, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has also been appointed by the Governor General of Canada as a Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces and a Member (SBStJ) of the Order of St. John.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor has worked closely with Carrique over the years and said he a “great guy who is held at the highest regard by everybody who works with him”.

“He is a highly valued and respected leader of York police and he’ll be missed here in York Region, but the OPP is fortunate to have him and he will undoubtedly continue to contribute to the province as he did here in York Region,” Taylor said.

“Tom’s been an outstanding deputy chief and it is, once again, a demonstration of the ability of York Region to help support and grow phenomenal leaders that are often sought by other jurisdictions.”

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Report proves Ron Taverner hiring was ‘rigged,’

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:47 am

Report proves Ron Taverner hiring was ‘rigged,’ says lawyer for fired OPP deputy commissioner

An ethics report into the Progressive Conservatives’ failed bid to install Premier Doug Ford’s friend Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner proves the “bogus” hiring process was “rigged,” charges the lawyer for former deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

Blair “took a bullet for the service,” said lawyer Julian Falconer, when he was fired by the government after exposing possible conflicts in Taverner’s appointment as well as the Tories’ attempt to get an Ontario Provincial Police van with $50,000 of customized upgrades for Ford’s use.

While integrity commissioner J. David Wake’s 101-page report concluded Ford “did not breach” the law himself, it revealed the hiring process was fraught with problems and that the premier’s office was intimately involved.

Falconer said Wake’s review released Wednesday is a searing indictment of the provincial government.

“The finding that ... what was supposed to be an independent hiring process was in fact a sham rigged for a certain result is nothing to be proud of,” he told reporters Thursday.

“Brad Blair did this in the first place to protect the OPP,” the lawyer said of Blair’s legal battle to force the Ontario ombudsman to probe the Taverner hiring.

His lawsuit exposed the premier’s unsuccessful efforts to get a customized OPP van with a powered reclining leather sofa, 32-inch TV with Blu-ray DVD player, and a mini-fridge.

For his trouble, the 32-year OPP veteran, who was briefly interim commissioner of the force, was sacked by the Tory government. He is considering a wrongful dismissal suit.

Falconer said his client’s case is bolstered by Wake’s report.

The ethics watchdog wrote that “there were some troubling aspects of the recruitment process and ultimately made the finding that the process was flawed” and that the field appeared tilted in Taverner’s favour.

The 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent, a Ford family friend, withdrew his name from consideration for the post on March 6 amid outcry over his hiring.

York Regional Police deputy Chief Thomas Carrique, 51, who has no connection to the premier, was appointed the new commissioner last week.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Wake’s “report is damning in every way and that is why it is absolutely necessary that we have a public inquiry” to shed light on what went on behind the scenes to ensure such appointments are conducted more transparently in the future.

“There were emails that were missing,” said Horwath, referring to a concern from the integrity commissioner that he did not receive all of the materials he sought during his three-month probe.

“This report speaks volumes about the inside deals and the backroom shenanigans that went on during this process. It stinks all the way around, still,” she said.

But Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones accused the NDP of a “politically motivated hatchet job” that sullied the reputation of Taverner, a 51-year police veteran who did not meet the original qualifications threshold for the job until the government lowered it.

“It’s clear from the beginning that this complaint was frivolous and without merit. The integrity commissioner’s report clearly shows that,” Jones said

But Jones ducked repeated media questions about why the government claimed there was an “independent” hiring panel overseeing the appointment when Wake found that was not the case, thanks to emails and texts between Dean French, Ford’s chief of staff, and Steve Orsini, then the secretary of cabinet.

The integrity commissioner noted “anyone examining these messages would have serious doubts as to the fairness of the process to the other candidates,” such as Blair.

Orsini, who was head of the Ontario public service, announced his retirement in December amid concerns about the installation of Taverner. He had warned French against claiming it was an “independent” process.

“Independent of who? I’m the deputy minister to the premier and Ron reported to Mario (Di Tommaso, a deputy minister hired by Ford) when he was at TPS (Toronto police service),” Orsini wrote in a message included in Wake’s report. “I would drop the word independent and just call it ‘recruitment selection panel’ where no political staff were involved.”

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Premier Doug Ford says he's vindicated by integrity report

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:49 am

Premier Doug Ford says he's vindicated by integrity report on OPP hiring

TORONTO -- The recruitment process that led to the appointment of a close friend of Doug Ford as Ontario's top cop was "flawed," the province's integrity commissioner has found, but the premier himself didn't break any rules.

In a report issued Wednesday, J. David Wake said Ford stayed at arm's length from the process that resulted in Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner being appointed head of the Ontario Provincial Police last fall.

"A recruitment process was put in place which, unfortunately, I have found to have been flawed through no actions of Premier Ford," Wake wrote. "I find that Premier Ford's conduct was not improper in relation to the recruitment process and that he could not have had any improper purpose in the approval of the selection committee's recommendation on the basis of what he knew at the time."

Taverner, 72, withdrew his name from consideration for the job earlier this month, citing the controversy around his appointment and the need to protect the integrity of front-line OPP officers.

His appointment had set off accusations of political interference in the hiring process. Wake's investigation was launched after complaints from opposition politicians over the appointment.

Ford said the findings totally clear him and his team.

"The integrity commissioner's report and its findings represents a complete -- I repeat -- a complete vindication for our government," he said. "After three months of an investigation, the integrity commissioner found that we followed the letter of the law."

Ford noted that previous OPP commissioners have been appointed without such long processes, and mused that he, perhaps, should have done the same.

"Maybe we should have just done what (former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty) did and appoint a great commissioner like Ron Taverner," he said.

Taverner initially did not meet the criteria listed for the position and the government admitted it lowered the requirements to attract a wider range of candidates.

Steve Orsini, who was at the time the province's top civil servant, told Wake that the premier's chief of staff, Dean French, called him to ask why the job posting was "so restrictive," according to the report. But Wake concluded that a rank requirement was eliminated because a public servant incorrectly used information from a 2014 posting for the commissioner job.

Wake did raise concerns with communications between Orsini, who was part of the hiring panel, and French.

"What I found most disconcerting in all the evidence were the text messages from the secretary to Mr. French as to Mr. Taverner's progress throughout the process," Wake wrote. "There seemed to be a tacit acknowledgment by the secretary that Mr. French was rooting for Mr. Taverner's success. Anyone examining these messages would have serious doubts as to the fairness of the process to the other candidates."

Wake also listed factors that could have led "perhaps unintentionally" to a preference being given to Taverner, including that Orsini had reached out to Taverner before the commissioner position had been advertised, and the manner in which Taverner's name had come up surrounding two other public sector jobs.

Ford told Wake that he approached Taverner in August 2018 about working at the Ontario Cannabis Store. An offer was made to Taverner on Aug. 17 for the position of president of community partnerships with an annual salary of $270,000.

Taverner ultimately declined the job, saying he was "getting cold feet," Wake wrote, but that would have made Orsini aware that Ford thought highly of Taverner.

A month later, Matt Torigian, the deputy minister of community safety, announced he was leaving the position. Torigian told the integrity commissioner that Orsini confided in him that he felt pressured to hire "a friend of the Fords," mentioning Taverner and another name.

Orsini denied that, but he did tell the integrity commissioner that he wanted to "move fairly quickly" with an appointment because he didn't want the premier's chief of staff to start "throwing ideas around" like Taverner. Orsini thought Taverner "would not be deputy material," the report says.

It also notes that French initially told the integrity commissioner that both he and the premier recommended Taverner be considered for the top OPP job, but quickly backtracked.

"Yes, we both recommended that he be considered," French said. "Actually, I - I should speak for myself. I recommended to Secretary Orsini that he be considered."

Ford said that he continues to support French and that he believes he did nothing wrong during the Taverner hiring.

Wake said that given the sensitivity of the relationship between the government and the police, an independent process to hire the OPP commissioner must be created.

"There ought to be an established appointment process in place which is independent, transparent and readily activated with predetermined criteria and membership on the selection committee," Wake said.

"I would encourage the government and all members of the legislature to consider the establishment of such a process and have it in place before the next appointment is required."

Days after Taverner withdrew from the role, the government named Thomas Carrique, a deputy chief for York Regional Police, as the next commissioner of the OPP.

NDP legislator Taras Natyshak said the report raises disturbing issues about the involvement of Ford's office that should be probed with a full public inquiry. Ford's insistence that he is vindicated is wrong, he added.

"The premier obviously didn't read this report," he said. "The questions that still remain ... the broader public need to have answered."

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Ethics watchdog says Doug Ford ‘did not breach’ law in Ron T

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:50 am

Ethics watchdog says Doug Ford ‘did not breach’ law in Ron Taverner hiring

Doug Ford “did not breach” the law when the Progressive Conservatives tried to install his friend Ron Taverner as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, despite the role of the premier’s office in a “troubling” and “flawed” hiring process, says the province’s ethics watchdog.

“I found that the premier stayed at arm’s length from the recruitment process and that he believed it to be independent,” integrity commissioner J. David Wake wrote in a 101-page report released Wednesday.

“However, I found that there were some troubling aspects of the recruitment process and ultimately made the finding that the process was flawed,” said Wake, whose investigation found Ford’s office stickhandled nearly every aspect of the controversial posting.

Taverner, a 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent, withdrew his name from consideration for the post on March 6 after months of controversy about his close relationship with the premier.

York Regional Police deputy Chief Thomas Carrique, who does not know Ford, was appointed the new commissioner last week.

The premier told reporters Wake’s report “represents a complete vindication for our government.”

“We’ve been cleared. We followed the letter of the law,” Ford said, blaming opposition parties for forcing Taverner to abandon his bid with “gutter politics.”

But Wake’s findings question the Tories’ claim the hiring was handled by an “independent” panel.

“The report raises important questions about the appointment power of the premier and cabinet, particularly when the appointee is a friend of the premier and the position is that of the commissioner of the OPP,” the integrity commissioner wrote.

Wake recommended that there be “an established appointment process in place which is independent, transparent and readily activated with predetermined criteria and membership on the selection committee.”

There were concerns throughout the Taverner affair about the government’s insistence the 51-year police veteran had been selected without political interference.

On Dec. 3, Steve Orsini, who was then secretary of the cabinet, sent a text to Ford’s chief of staff Dean French, reminding him Taverner once worked for the deputy minister on the hiring panel, Mario Di Tommaso, at the Toronto police service.

“The messaging in today’s legislature on the OPP commissioner uses the term ‘independent’ selection panel,” wrote Orsini, who resigned suddenly on Dec. 14 after insisting Taverner’s appointment be delayed until the integrity commissioner’s report was completed.

“Independent of who? I’m the deputy minister to the premier and Ron reported to Mario when he was at TPS. I would drop the word independent and just call it ‘recruitment selection panel’ where no political staff were involved,” he continued.

Wake’s report says Orsini confided to former deputy minister Matt Torigian, who was ousted in favour of Di Tommaso last year, that he was “getting pressure” to hire Taverner.

“The secretary confided in him that he felt pressured to hire ‘a friend of the Fords’ and that he mentioned Mr. Taverner and another name (unrelated to this matter),” the integrity commissioner wrote.

Wake interviewed 21 witnesses, including the premier and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones.

He said the mysterious changing of the qualifications threshold allowing Taverner, whose rank was initially too low, to apply for the job was due to “confusion” not “collusion” on the part of Ford’s office and bureaucrats, though he noted key emails were missing.

His probe — sparked by a complaint by NDP MPP Kevin Yarde (Brampton North) that Ford may have breached the Members’ Integrity Act — found French was deeply involved in the Taverner matter.

The chief of staff told Wake he and Ford “both recommended” to Orsini that Taverner “be considered” for the job, but stressed it was “a referral” and not a direction from the premier’s office.

After Taverner was appointed and did an interview with CP24, Orsini texted French to say “he needs media training fast!”

“I will get Chris Froggatt on this,” replied French, referring to the founding partner of lobbying firm Loyalist Public Affairs and vice-chair of Ford’s election campaign.

Wake found that Froggatt wrote the Dec. 16 email for Taverner which requested that his appointment be postponed until the integrity commissioner’s report was done.

Ford defended that arrangement.

“Chris Froggatt’s a great communicator and he’s great with communication,” said the premier.

NDP MPP Taras Natyshak (Essex) said Ford got off on a “technicality” because of the limited scope of Wake’s powers and urged a full public inquiry.

“It looks like a co-ordinated effort to do everything they could to push forward Mr. Taverner into this appointment. We don’t know at this point whether Doug Ford was doing Dean French’s dirty work or Dean French was doing Doug Ford’s dirty work,” said Natyshak.

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser called the entire episode was “a fiasco” while Green Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford still doesn’t understand “it is wrong for him to hire a family friend to lead the OPP.”

The report suggests heading the OPP was a consolation prize for Taverner, who had been initially tapped personally by Ford for a $270,000-a-year job as president of community outreach at the Ontario Cannabis Store, the government’s new recreational marijuana retailer.

But Taverner said he was “getting cold feet” about leaving law enforcement.

“He knew that it was a very good offer but explained that he was struggling with leaving policing in light of his 50-year career in that field,” wrote Wake.

“As he put it, ‘[i]t really wasn’t about the money. It was more whether I could get my head around not being a cop.’”

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Doug Ford didn't break rules hiring Taverner

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:52 am

Doug Ford didn't break rules hiring Taverner, but process is flawed: integrity commissioner

Ontario's integrity commissioner has found Premier Doug Ford did not break any rules when one of his close friends was hired as the province's top cop last fall, but the recruitment process itself was flawed.

In a report issued Wednesday, J. David Wake said Ford stayed at arm's length from the process that resulted in Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner being appointed head of the Ontario Provincial Police.

"Although I have concerns about the process that led to the recommendation of the final selection panel, I am unable to find on the evidence that the allegations against Premier Ford under ... the Act have been proved," Wake wrote.

Taverner, 72, withdrew his name from consideration for the job earlier this month, citing the controversy around his appointment and the need to protect the integrity of front-line OPP officers.

His appointment last fall had set off accusations of political interference in the hiring process. Wake's investigation was launched after complaints from opposition politicians over the appointment.

Taverner initially did not meet the criteria listed for the position and the government admitted it lowered the requirements to attract a wider range of candidates.

Ford's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wake's report. The premier has maintained throughout that he did nothing wrong and accused the opposition of politicizing the hiring process.

Wake said that given the sensitivity of the relationship between the government and the police, an independent process to hire the OPP commissioner must be created.

"There ought to be an established appointment process in place which is independent, transparent and readily activated with predetermined criteria and membership on the selection committee," Wake said.

"I would encourage the government and all members of the legislature to consider the establishment of such a process and have it in place before the next appointment is required."

Days after Taverner withdrew from the role, the government named Thomas Carrique, a deputy chief for York Regional Police, as the next commissioner of the OPP.

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Democracy group disputes integrity commissioner’s findings

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:15 am

Democracy group disputes integrity commissioner’s findings that cleared Premier Doug Ford of violating ethics law

The ethics report that cleared Doug Ford of breaching integrity laws in the hiring of Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner is “negligently bad” because it ignores the fact that the premier earlier offered his friend another patronage job, charges Democracy Watch.

In a scorching criticism of integrity commissioner J. David Wake’s 101-page probe of the Taverner appointment, the Ottawa-based non-partisan government accountability organization said the watchdog’s probe fell short.

“Wake’s ruling on the Ford government’s attempted appointment of Ford’s close friend Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner is one of the most negligently bad reports by a Canadian ethics commissioner that I have seen in the past 25 years,” Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch and an adjunct professor of law and politics at the University of Ottawa, said Friday.

“Ford offered another government job to Taverner, and Ford’s senior staff person tried to influence the OPP appointment process to favour Taverner and Ford is responsible for his staff’s actions, and Ford also participated in the cabinet meeting that approved Taverner’s appointment,” said Conacher.

“Those are all clear violations of the provincial ethics law that commissioner Wake negligently ignored. For these reasons, Democracy Watch will consult with lawyers concerning filing a court challenge of commissioner’s Wake’s ruling,” he said.

On Wednesday, Wake found Ford “did not breach” the law himself, though the independent ethics watchdog revealed a “flawed” and “troubling” hiring process guided by the premier’s office to ensure the preferred candidate was hired.

After public outcry — and legal action by former deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair, fired for exposing the Tories’ attempt to get an police van with $50,000 of customized upgrades for Ford’s use — Taverner, 72, withdrew his name from consideration for the post on March 6.

York Regional Police deputy Chief Thomas Carrique, 51, was appointed the new commissioner last week.

Democracy Watch expressed concern that Wake’s report did not censure Ford for personally promising to hire Taverner as the $270,000-a-year president of community outreach at the Ontario Cannabis Store, the government’s new recreational marijuana retailer.

That appointment did not go ahead after Taverner said he was “getting cold feet” about leaving policing after 51 years on the beat.

As a result, the OPP commissioner’s position was seen as a consolation prize.

“Premier Ford tried to hand a government job to his friend Ron Taverner, which clearly would be improper and also would further Mr. Taverner’s private interests,” said Democracy Watch, noting that is a violation of the Members’ Integrity Act.

As well, Wake’s report found Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, intervened in the hiring of Taverner to tilt things in his favour.

“Under the fundamental principle of ministerial responsibility, Premier Ford is responsible and accountable for the actions of his staff, and therefore these actions violated ... the act,” the advocacy group said.

“Sections 2 and 4 of the provincial Members’ Integrity Act prohibit provincial politicians from participating in or trying to influence any decision that could further their own interests or improperly further another person’s interests.”

Wake’s office did not immediately respond to questions from the Star.

Ford has maintained he did nothing wrong and that the integrity commissioner vindicated him.

“We’ve been cleared. We followed the letter of the law,” the premier said Wednesday.

Blair, a runner-up to Taverner in the job search, is considering a wrongful dismissal suit against the province.

His court battle to force the Ontario ombudsman to investigate the Taverner hiring led to the disclosure that the premier’s office tried to get a customized OPP van with a powered reclining leather sofa, 32-inch TV with Blu-ray DVD player, and a mini-fridge for Ford’s use.

In the wake of that suit, the 32-year veteran, who was briefly interim commissioner of the OPP, was fired by the Tory government.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... s-law.html
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Sham hiring for Ontario's top cop ill served all applicants

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:33 am

Christie Blatchford: Sham hiring for Ontario's top cop ill served all applicants, most of all Taverner

What do you call it when the fix is in, but the fixers are sufficiently inept that they couldn’t rig a one-car funeral?

That’s one of the bottom lines of Ontario Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake’s lengthy report on the role of Premier Doug Ford in the now-dead-in-the-water appointment of his long-time friend, Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner, as OPP Commissioner.

The 72-year-old Taverner was appointed to the big job on Nov. 29.

Given the pair’s well-known friendship, and that the excellent iPolitics reporter Marieke Walsh spotted a change in the job ad that broadened the qualifications in a way that had allowed Taverner to apply — this was what really lifted the lid on the sucker — the proverbial dung hit the fan almost immediately.

Amid the ruckus, the appointment was temporarily rescinded on Dec. 15 pending Wake’s investigation, and on March 6, Taverner withdrew his name from consideration.

Five days later, the government announced it was appointing York Region Deputy Chief Thomas Carrique as the new OPP commissioner.

Wake concluded that Ford himself, who was the subject of conflict of interest complaints that sparked the investigation, didn’t breach the conflict-of-interest act and that there was no evidence he’d not stayed at arm’s length.

His chief of staff, Dean French, however, and the former secretary of cabinet, Steve Orsini, were up to their elbows in it.

And in the end, while Wake cleared the premier, he found there were “some troubling aspects” of the recruitment process,” that “the process was not independent” (as, among others, the premier and his ministers had repeatedly claimed) and that it may have led “to a preference being given to one candidate (Taverner).”

One of the most troubling aspects, Wake found, were text messages Orsini sent French about Taverner’s progress throughout the process.

After the 27 candidates were winnowed down to a short list, for instance, Orsini texted French: “We just went through the applications for OPP Commissioner. Ron Taverner has made the short list for interviews…I will keep you posted every step of the way.”

“Wonderful,” French replies. “Best news all day.”

“I need to work harder to be able to give more good news!!”, Orsini replied.

Orsini, remember, was at that time the head of the Ontario public service, the most important civil servant in the province, not a fanboy who needed to nurse a premier’s office staffer.

Worth remembering, perhaps, is that his federal equivalent would be, ah, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, who is soon to resign as a casualty of the SNC-Lavalin imbroglio.

In any case, after the first round of interviews, Orsini was at it again, texting French.

“…Great news. There are three candidates that cleared the first for the OPP: Ron Taverner, Brad Blair and (a third). Rom (sic) did an excellent job and the first round is of the view he can do the job. It is now up to the second panel…to recommend to the premier.”

Wake also heard evidence from Matt Torigian, then the deputy minister of community safety, that Orsini had told him he felt “pressure” to hire Taverner, though Orsini told Wake he didn’t.

Orsini was also involved in an earlier effort to hire Taverner at the Ontario Cannabis Store or OCS; Ford approached him in the summer last year about working there, prompting Orsini to send an email to another deputy minister entitled “Urgent: Ron Taverner” and suggesting the OCS make him an written offer fast, and telling him, “We would be lucky to get him for $270,000 a year…”

An offer was made, and after some hesitation, Taverner got cold feet about leaving policing and turned it down.

Nowhere is it ever explained how or why it was that just months into his mandate, one of the premier’s first jobs was to find a job — any big job — for his old friend.

When then-commissioner Vince Hawkes announced he was retiring, Taverner apparently told Ford he’d be applying for the job.

French initially told Wake both he and the premier recommended Taverner as a potential candidate, but then said, “I should speak for myself” and said he recommended Taverner to Orsini.

The casualties in this mess were numerous.

First, of course, is Brad Blair, who went on to become the interim commissioner and then made the fatal error of complaining about the process to the provincial ombudsman (and then going to court to get him to act) and who was then fired.

As his lawyer, Julian Falconer, said Thursday, the process “was a sham, rigged for a result,” and violates all the “principles of fairness” that are supposed to apply when “you invite employees in to a competition.”

Twenty-seven people applied for the commissioner’s job, a list that was narrowed to 15 and then to eight. Those people were badly treated.

But no one, perhaps, was more badly served than Ron Taverner.

As Wake wrote, “During this inquiry, as I have sifted through the evidence I am satisfied that Mr. Taverner has done nothing ignoble in this affair. If it is any solace to him, I believe that he would have tried to be true to his oath. He can withdraw from this recruitment process with his head held high.”

Wake found him a credible and thoughtful man, as did the third-party recruiters, “soft-spoken with a gentle sense of humour, who cares deeply about policing and his community.”

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/christ ... l-taverner
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Ousted OPP veteran Brad Blair sues Doug Ford for libel

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:59 pm

Ousted OPP veteran Brad Blair sues Doug Ford for libel, alleges he was targeted in a ‘deliberate act of reprisal’

Fired police commander Brad Blair is suing Doug Ford for libel and slander, alleging the Progressive Conservative Premier “maliciously” ruined his reputation in a "deliberate act of reprisal.”

Mr. Blair filed a statement of claim against Mr. Ford in Ontario Superior Court on March 15.

Last fall, Mr. Blair was a deputy commissioner and interim leader of the Ontario Provincial Police, Canada’s second-largest police force. He was passed over for the top job by a government-selected hiring panel that picked a friend of the Premier.

The Progressive Conservative government’s Nov. 29 decision to appoint Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner led to a lingering controversy over the potential for politicized policing. Early this month, the government fired Mr. Blair from the OPP, the same week Supt. Taverner withdrew his candidacy for the job. The government has since appointed a new permanent police commissioner.

A spokesman for Mr. Ford said the Premier will respond to the statement of claim. "The Premier’s concern is, and always has been, protecting and supporting the front-line OPP officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our communities,” Simon Jefferies said.

A war of words broke out after the government announced the appointment of Supt. Taverner. In December, Mr. Blair launched a legal action in an attempt to force a review of the hiring process. He publicly alleged that “political interference and cronyism" could affect OPP operations.

In December and January, Mr. Ford suggested to reporters that Mr. Blair was motivated by spite and had violated the Police Services Act (PSA) by going public.

“It’s unfortunate that one person has sour grapes … and reacting the way he’s reacting and breaking the police act numerous times,” the Premier said in one televised interview. “Someone needs to hold him accountable, I can assure you that.”

The Police Services Act is an Ontario law that dictates that police officers be put before tribunals to hear and fully answer any allegations of serious misconduct that arise against them.

Mr. Blair says in his statement of claim that to his knowledge, no such proceedings have been initiated against him. He asks the courts to order the Premier to compensate him with $5-million – $2-million in general damages, $1.5-million in punitive damages, and another $1.5-million in “exemplary and/or aggravated” damages.

“Premier Ford’s remarks are malicious in that the defamatory statements were meant to intimidate Mr. Blair, who was seeking a legitimate review of perceived and/or real political interference with the independent operations of the OPP," the statement of claim says. " … The plaintiff states the defamatory statements were a deliberate act of reprisal.”

The claim adds that, potentially, millions of people read or heard about Mr. Blair through the remarks of Mr. Ford, who “intentionally, deliberately and maliciously disseminated allegations of numerous violations of the PSA" in the media.

Mr. Blair served the Premier in January with a legal notice of his intent to sue. "To date, Premier Ford has not issued a full and final retraction of his remarks,” the statement of claim says.

No statement of defence has been filed, but the spokesman for the Premier said one is coming. “Premier Doug Ford will be responding to Mr. Blair’s filing through his legal counsel,” Mr. Jefferies said on Wednesday. “As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The libel suit is distinct from the legal action Mr. Blair launched in December. In that one, he is asking an Ontario divisional court to order the provincial ombudsman to review last fall’s hiring process. Last week, his lawyer, Julian Falconer, suggested a wrongful-dismissal suit may also be coming.

The Integrity Commissioner of Ontario, an independent watchdog, ruled last week after a month-long investigation that the hiring process that picked Supt. Taverner was “flawed" and “troubling."

Although he found no wrongdoing on the part of the Premier in the hiring process, Integrity Commissioner David Wake urged the government to commit to an independent, transparent process for appointing future OPP commissioners.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... llion-for/

https://globalnews.ca/news/5102710/brad ... n-lawsuit/
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Fired OPP deputy sues Doug Ford for $5 million

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:37 pm

Brad Blair, the OPP deputy commissioner who was fired after exposing a bid by the Progressive Conservatives to get a police van with $50,000 in customized upgrades for Doug Ford, is suing the premier for $5 million.

Blair has served the premier with a notice alleging libel and defamation, charging Ford was “malicious” and “grossly negligent” for stating incorrectly on numerous occasions that the veteran law enforcement officer had breached the Police Services Act.

The allegations against the premier have not been proven in court.

Blair was sacked from the Ontario Provincial Police on March 4 after taking legal action to contest the hiring of Ford’s friend Ron Taverner as the force’s next commissioner — a job Blair had also sought.

His court filings in that case included OPP documents and emails about the van, which the Progressive Conservative government insists were improperly used for the then-deputy commissioner’s “personal gain.”

On Wednesday, Ford’s director of media relations said “the premier’s concern is and always has been protecting and supporting the front-line OPP officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities.

“Premier Doug Ford will be responding to Mr. Blair’s filing through his legal counsel,” said Simon Jefferies. “As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The 21-page statement of claim filed by Blair in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said Ford’s remarks included the “demonstrably false” comment that the deputy commissioner had “issued” retirement papers along with accusations he broke the Police Services Act, when charges in that regard were never laid.

“The defendant was grossly negligent and failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of his public statements prior to making them, particularly in light of the weight attached to the premier’s office,” the statement of claim added.

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

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

Blair, who served briefly as interim OPP commissioner, was also a leading candidate to head the force before Taverner was appointed Nov. 29.

Taverner, a 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent and long-time Ford family friend, withdrew his name from consideration on March 6 amid an ethics investigation that would ultimately clear the premier of wrongdoing in the matter.

York Regional Police deputy Chief Thomas Carrique was then appointed the new commissioner on March 11.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake found that while Ford “did not breach” the Member’s Integrity Act, the premier’s office stickhandled the Taverner appointment through with a “flawed” and “troubling” process.

Last fall, Blair launched a legal action in an attempt to force the Ontario ombudsman to probe the Taverner hiring.

That lawsuit revealed the unsuccessful bid by Ford’s office to get a customized OPP van with a powered reclining leather sofa, 32-inch TV with Blu-ray DVD player and a mini-fridge.

At the time, the premier said Blair filed his legal action out of “sour grapes” and repeatedly accused the 32-year OPP veteran of violating the Police Services Act.

When Blair was fired, Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said it was because he had released “confidential private information for his own personal gain.”

Jones maintained the decision was made by her deputy minister, Mario Di Tommaso, a former Toronto police officer who had been Taverner’s supervisor, and approved by the provincial public service commission.

Earlier this month, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath charged that Blair’s dismissal was political.

“Let’s not forget Mr. Di Tommaso was on the hiring process (for Taverner) as well and has a relationship with the Fords and with Mr. Taverner,” said Horwath.

“This is yet another example of Mr. Ford just taking out his revenge on people who stand up to him. This thing reeks and every day the stench gets stronger.”

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provin ... or-5m.html
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Premier Doug Ford hit with $5M defamation lawsuit by ex-OPP

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:39 pm

Premier Doug Ford hit with $5M defamation lawsuit by ex-OPP deputy Brad Blair

A former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer is suing Premier Doug Ford for defamation.

Brad Blair, who was fired earlier this month, filed the $5-million lawsuit at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on March 15 over comments by the premier that Blair had violated the Police Services Act.

Ford's comments followed Blair asking the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Ron Taverner, a longtime friend of the premier as OPP commissioner, raising concerns about political interference.

Ford made the remarks "fully aware" they would be carried by the media and "heard and viewed by millions," according to Blair's unproven statement of claim.

Taverner withdrew his name from consideration for the position earlier this month, citing the controversy surrounding his appointment. When the ombudsman declined to investigate the appointment, Blair launched a legal challenge in an attempt to force the watchdog to probe the hiring of Taverner.

Ontario's Divisional Court is expected to hear that case in April.

Blair's lawsuit alleges Ford's comments and the attention they received subjected Blair to "embarrassment, scandal, ridicule, and contempt," and were meant to intimidate him.

'An attempt to muzzle'

The government has said that the decision earlier this month to fire Blair, who was also in the running for the commissioner post, came from the public service because it found his court filings in the ombudsman case contained confidential OPP information.

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

"It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me," Blair wrote in a statement following his firing.

"This individual didn't get the job he applied for," Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Sylvia Jones, said to legislators after the firing. "He is angry."

Blair's lawyer said his client received neither notice of a complaint under the Police Services Act nor any findings that he violated it, and alleged that the premier's words would lead an average person to believe Blair is someone who breaks the law.

"The premier's utterances receive close attention, are widely broadcast, and are more likely to be taken as the truth by the average person," the suit alleges.

Last month, Blair threatened to sue the premier if he did not apologize and retract his comments. The suit alleges Ford has made no effort to do so.

In a statement responding to the suit, Ford's office said, "the premier's concern is and always has been protecting and supporting the frontline OPP officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our communities."

Ford will be responding to the filing through his legal counsel, the statement said, adding further comment would be inappropriate because the case is before the courts.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.5074219
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Fired OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair sues Doug Ford for

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:40 pm

Fired OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair sues Doug Ford for defamation

TORONTO -- A former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer is suing Doug Ford for defamation, alleging the premier smeared his reputation for political gain.

Former deputy commissioner Brad Blair filed the $5 million lawsuit over comments made by the premier that Blair had violated the Police Services Act.

Ford's comments came after Blair asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of a long-time friend of the premier as OPP commissioner, raising concerns about political interference.

"Premier Ford made these defamatory remarks fully aware that the natural and probable consequence of making these defamatory statements would be the widespread re-publication by the Canadian media, which would be heard and viewed by millions," Blair's unproven statement of claim said.

The lawsuit further alleged that Ford's comments and the attention they received subjected Blair to "embarrassment, scandal, ridicule, and contempt," and were meant to intimidate the veteran officer.

The government has said that the decision earlier this month to fire Blair, who was also in the running for the commissioner post, came from the public service because it found his court filings in the ombudsman case contained confidential OPP information.

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

"The premier's utterances receive close attention, are widely broadcast, and are more likely to be taken as the truth by the average person," the suit alleged.

Last month, Blair threatened to sue the premier if he did not apologize and retract the comments he made. The suit alleged Ford has made no effort to do so.

A spokesman for Ford said the premier will be responding to the suit through his legal counsel.

"As the matter is before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment further," Simon Jefferies said in a statement.

In December, Blair said OPP officers had expressed concerns the selection process that resulted in Toronto Supt. Ron Taverner's appointment as commissioner was unfair and could raise doubts about the force's independence.

Blair also suggested Taverner's appointment be delayed until an investigation could be conducted by the province's ombudsman.

After the ombudsman declined to investigate, Blair launched his legal challenge in an attempt to force the watchdog to probe the hiring of Taverner, who withdrew his name from consideration for the job earlier this month, citing the controversy surrounding his appointment.

Ontario's Divisional Court is expected to hear that case in April.

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/fired-opp-de ... -1.4354611

https://www.cp24.com/news/former-opp-de ... -1.4354609
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Ousted OPP veteran Brad Blair sues Doug Ford for libel

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:41 pm

Ousted OPP veteran Brad Blair sues Doug Ford for libel, alleges he was targeted in a ‘deliberate act of reprisal’

Fired police commander Brad Blair is suing Doug Ford for libel and slander, alleging the Progressive Conservative Premier “maliciously” ruined his reputation in a "deliberate act of reprisal.”

Mr. Blair filed a statement of claim against Mr. Ford in Ontario Superior Court on March 15.

Last fall, Mr. Blair was a deputy commissioner and interim leader of the Ontario Provincial Police, Canada’s second-largest police force. He was passed over for the top job by a government-selected hiring panel that picked a friend of the Premier.

The Progressive Conservative government’s Nov. 29 decision to appoint Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner led to a lingering controversy over the potential for politicized policing. Early this month, the government fired Mr. Blair from the OPP, the same week Supt. Taverner withdrew his candidacy for the job. The government has since appointed a new permanent police commissioner.

A spokesman for Mr. Ford said the Premier will respond to the statement of claim. "The Premier’s concern is, and always has been, protecting and supporting the front-line OPP officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our communities,” Simon Jefferies said.

A war of words broke out after the government announced the appointment of Supt. Taverner. In December, Mr. Blair launched a legal action in an attempt to force a review of the hiring process. He publicly alleged that “political interference and cronyism" could affect OPP operations.

In December and January, Mr. Ford suggested to reporters that Mr. Blair was motivated by spite and had violated the Police Services Act (PSA) by going public.

“It’s unfortunate that one person has sour grapes … and reacting the way he’s reacting and breaking the police act numerous times,” the Premier said in one televised interview. “Someone needs to hold him accountable, I can assure you that.”

The statement of claim points out that the Police Services Act (PSA) is an Ontario law that specifically exists to deal with allegations of police misconduct. It lays out legal processes that police institutions must undertake in any disciplinary investigation before making adverse findings. Officers found guilty of infractions can face serious sanctions, such as docked pay or dismissal.

This is a key point of the lawsuit, which argues that Mr. Ford’s statements would lead any average person to believe “that former Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair has been found to have committed misconduct under the PSA.”

Mr. Blair says in his statement of claim that to his knowledge, no such proceedings have been initiated against him. He asks the courts to order the Premier to compensate him with $5-million – $2-million in general damages, $1.5-million in punitive damages, and another $1.5-million in “exemplary and/or aggravated” damages.

“Premier Ford’s remarks are malicious in that the defamatory statements were meant to intimidate Mr. Blair, who was seeking a legitimate review of perceived and/or real political interference with the independent operations of the OPP," the statement of claim says. " … The plaintiff states the defamatory statements were a deliberate act of reprisal.”

The claim adds that, potentially, millions of people read or heard about Mr. Blair through the remarks of Mr. Ford, who “intentionally, deliberately and maliciously disseminated allegations of numerous violations of the PSA" in the media.

Mr. Blair served the Premier in January with a legal notice of his intent to sue. "To date, Premier Ford has not issued a full and final retraction of his remarks,” the statement of claim says.

No statement of defence has been filed, but the spokesman for the Premier said one is coming. “Premier Doug Ford will be responding to Mr. Blair’s filing through his legal counsel,” Mr. Jefferies said on Wednesday. “As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The libel suit is distinct from the legal action Mr. Blair launched in December. In that one, he is asking an Ontario divisional court to order the provincial ombudsman to review last fall’s hiring process. Last week, his lawyer, Julian Falconer, suggested a wrongful-dismissal suit may also be coming.

The Integrity Commissioner of Ontario, an independent watchdog, ruled last week after a months-long investigation that the hiring process that picked Supt. Taverner was “flawed" and “troubling."

Although he found no wrongdoing on the part of the Premier in the hiring process, Integrity Commissioner David Wake urged the government to commit to an independent, transparent process for appointing future OPP commissioners.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... llion-for/
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Fired OPP deputy sues Doug Ford for $5 million

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:37 pm

Former deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair — who was fired after exposing a bid by the Progressive Conservatives to get a police van with $50,000 in customized upgrades for Doug Ford — is suing the premier for $5 million.

Blair has served the premier with a notice alleging libel and defamation, charging Ford was "malicious" and "grossly negligent" for stating incorrectly on numerous occasions that the veteran law enforcement officer had breached the Police Services Act. The allegations against the premier have not been proven in court.

The deputy commissioner was sacked from the Ontario Provincial Police on March 4 after taking legal action to contest the hiring of Ford's friend Ron Taverner as the force's next commissioner — a job Blair had also sought.

His court filings in that legal case included OPP documents and emails about the van, which the Progressive Conservative government insists were improperly used for the deputy commissioner's "personal gain."

On Wednesday, Ford's director of media relations said "the premier's concern is and always has been protecting and supporting the front-line OPP officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities.

"Premier Doug Ford will be responding to Mr. Blair's filing through his legal counsel," said Simon Jefferies. "As the matter is before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The 21-page statement of claim from Blair in Ontario Superior Court of Justice said Ford's remarks included the "demonstrably false" comment that the deputy commissioner had issued retirment papers along with accusations he broke the police act — when charges in that regard were never laid.

"The defendant was grossly negligent and failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of his public statements prior to making them, particularly in light of the weight attached to the premier's office," the statement of claim added.

Despite being twice warned by Blair that the remarks were false, Ford "persisted in disseminating the defamatory remarks and took no steps to issue a public, full and final retraction," the statement of claim continued.

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

https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9244 ... 5-million/
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PC party to pay Doug Ford’s legal bills in $5M defamation la

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:05 am

PC party to pay Doug Ford’s legal bills in $5M defamation lawsuit

The Progressive Conservative Party will pay Premier Doug Ford’s legal bills in a $5 million defamation lawsuit filed against him by fired deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair.

Ford spokesman Simon Jefferies confirmed the arrangement in an email Thursday after opposition parties expressed concern taxpayers might be on the hook.

“The premier shouldn’t have put us in this mess in the first place,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “Him and his party should be responsible for it. Why should the people of Ontario pay for a premier who wasn’t very thoughtful in the way he approached the hiring of the OPP commissioner and the way that he dealt with Mr. Blair.”

Blair, who was initially passed over for the commissioner’s post for Ford friend Ron Taverner, is suing for defamation.

The veteran law enforcement officer accuses Ford of being “malicious” and “grossly negligent” for stating incorrectly on several occasions that he had breached the Police Services Act for revealing internal OPP documents and emails about a premier’s office request for a van with $50,000 in customized upgrades, including a reclining leather sofa, 32-inch TV with Blu-ray DVD player and mini-fridge.

The defamation allegations against Ford have not been proven in court. Ford’s office has said his lawyer will respond in due course.

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

Blair said in his statement of claim that he has not been charged under the Police Services Act and said Ford failed “to take all reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of his public statements ... particularly in light of the weight attached to the premier’s office.”

Ford has accused Blair of “sour grapes” over not getting the commissioner’s job and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones maintains he released internal OPP communications for “personal gain.”

Taverner, a 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent, withdrew his name from the controversial appointment to head the OPP on March 6 following an ethics investigation that cleared Ford of breaking the Members’ Integrity Act, but found the hiring process was “flawed.” The government subsequently named York Regional Police deputy chief Thomas Carrique to the post.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake urged the government to establish a set, formal hiring process for future OPP commissioners, something Jones has refused to do.

Progressive Conservative MPPs on the legislature’s justice committee voted down a Liberal motion Thursday to look at improved ways of appointing OPP commissioners.

The intent was to avoid another “fiasco” like the one over the botched Taverner appointment, said Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers (Ottawa-Vanier).

“I’m very sad and disappointed.”

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