Commissioner of OPP Seeks Court Intervention To Order Ombudsman To Conduct Review
December 14, 2018- OPP Commissioner Brad Blair filed an application before Ontario’s Divisional Court, to determine and enforce the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman to review the OPP Commissioner hiring process.
On two separate occasions (December 12, 2018 and December 13, 2018) the Ombudsman refused to exercise his jurisdiction to review Commissioner Blair’s request.
The application states: “If the Ombudsman does not review the complaint, the independence of the OPP will continue to operate under a cloud of suspicion. This is a serious matter as the independence of the OPP – a body that can be called in to investigate provincial politicians – must be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the citizenry. As stated in the Ipperwash Inquiry Report, ‘even though there may not be actual interference by politicians in police operations, the public’s perception of non-interference by the government is a fundamental principle that the Premier, Ministers, and other politicians must adhere to.’”
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES SUPERINTENDENT RON TAVERNER WILL NOT BE INSTALLED AS COMMISSIONER OF THE OPP
On Saturday December 15, 2018, the Ontario government announced that Superintendent Ron Taverner will not be installed as Commissioner of the OPP on Monday, December 17, 2018, as originally planned. Instead, Deputy Commissioner Couture will assume command as Interim Commissioner starting today. On that day, Interim Commissioner Brad Blair will resume his duties as Deputy Commissioner, Traffic Safety and Operational Support Command.
Interim Commissioner Blair issued a statement in response to the government’s announcement to all members of the OPP today and has made his statement public.
Falconers LLP represents Interim Commissioner Brad Blair as he seeks to dispel the cloud of secrecy and suspicion that surrounded the recent selection process of the next Commissioner of the OPP.
This past weekend, Ron Taverner, the Toronto Police Superintendent who is Premier Doug Ford’s close friend and the government’s choice to lead the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), asked that his appointment be put on hold until the integrity commissioner’s office has completed its investigation.
“It shouldn’t need saying in a mature democracy, but the head of government cannot make his buddy chief of police.”, stated the Globe and Mail’s Monday editorial.
The Globe and Mail has called for a “public inquiry” into the hiring process that led to Superintendent Taverner’s appointment, stating: “A public inquiry is the answer. Appoint a retired judge with impeccably non-partisan credentials. Give him or her the power to compel witnesses and evidence. Let’s find out if the government tried to make the Premier’s friend the top cop. Right now, it sure looks like it.”
On Monday, the Toronto Star’s Editorial Board stated: “The jig is up for the appointment of Ron Taverner as commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. Everyone seems to know this but the man who most wants him in the job, Premier Doug Ford.” The Star’s Editorial Board further stated: “The way this saga has unfolded has embroiled the OPP, which ought to be above political suspicion, in entirely unnecessary controversy. And it should not be overlooked that it has tainted Taverner himself. … Like it or not, fairly or unfairly, he’ll always be known as the premier’s personal pick. And when, inevitably, it falls to him to make delicate decisions involving investigations into government matters, there will always be a suspicion that he’s the premier’s personal pawn.”
On December 11, 2018, former Interim Commissioner Brad Blair filed a request before the provincial ombudsman to review the OPP Commissioner hiring process, stating: “If the hiring process remains enveloped in questions of political interference, the result will be irreparable damage to police independence.” This view is shared by other key individuals, including former OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis, and former RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who is publicly quoted as saying “How is the public ever going to have confidence?… Every investigation of the government is going to be tarred.”
In the meantime, former Interim OPP Commissioner Brad Blair has resumed his duties as Deputy Commissioner, Traffic Safety and Operational Support Command. Deputy Commissioner Blair will continue to pursue his application to the Divisional Court, to determine and enforce the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman to review the OPP Commissioner hiring process.
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