Toronto Sun Column: Taverner Not a Hill Worth Dying For
Lorrie Goldstein, writing for The Toronto Sun, pointed to one “inescapable reason” why Premier Doug Ford should not follow through on his appointment of Ron Taverner as OPP Commissioner.
“It’s that putting the longtime Ford family friend in charge of the OPP will put both the premier and the Progressive Conservative government he leads in an ongoing conflict of interest.”
“The fact that the head of the OPP is a longtime, personal friend of the premier and his family would create a perceived conflict of interest…”
As Goldstein explains, the perception of a conflict of interest has already come into play in the process of Taverner’s appointment as commissioner.
“The issue remains that the qualifications for being chosen as OPP Commissioner by the selection committee were changed in the middle of the process so Taverner could be considered for the job.”
“Smart politicians know when it’s time to abandon a hill that it’s not worth dying on. This is that time for Ford.”
-Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun
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FORD AND TAVERNER’S RELATIONSHIP RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT OPP INDEPENDENCE
January 18, 2019
On Monday, on behalf of Brad Blair, Falconers LLP lawyer, Julian Falconer requested that the court expedite a hearing to determine the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé to review the OPP Commissioner hiring process. The court rejected the request to expedite the hearing but acknowledged the importance of the issues and the public concern around the hiring process.
Christie Blatchford writes, “Reviewing Fishy Taverner Hire for OPP Chief Won’t Change Ford’s Mind, No Matter the Outcome.” -The National Post
Something sure is fishy about the hiring process. Christie Blatchford, of the National Post writes that the job advertisement was only up for two days before it was pulled, with the qualifications for applying suspiciously lowered to allow someone of Taverner’s rank to become the next OPP Commissioner.
Weeks and months before Taverner’s appointment, the Globe and Mail ran featured stories, with pictures of Taverner and Ford socializing and one also featured former staff superintendent, and now Ford’s deputy community safety minister, Mario Di Tommaso, who was part of the allegedly independent committee that interviewed candidates for the job.
In the Star article, the Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake has agreed to look at the hiring upon receiving a formal complaint from NDP MPP Kevin Yarde, who alleges that Ford contravened the Integrity Act by participating in the cabinet decision to appoint Taverner. Yarde said, “Ford has claimed that he had ‘zero influence’ on the choice to appoint Ron Taverner the OPP commissioner, but that story is crumbling.”
Can You Shame the Shameless?
The National Post write that even if Dubé were to suddenly acquiesce or be ordered to inquire into the hiring process; even if he issued a report saying that yes, the process was tainted by political interference; even if Wake were to determine that Ford should have recused himself from any discussion about Taverner’s appointment, none of it would change a thing.
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CHALLENGE TO OMBUDSMAN’S REFUSAL TO INVESTIGATE GOES TO COURT SEEKING EXPEDITED HEARING
January 11, 2019
On Monday January 14, 2019, legal counsel for Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Julian Falconer and Asha James, will be arguing before the Divisional Court in favour of an expedited hearing of Deputy Commissioner Blair’s application filed on December 14, 2019.
Counsel for Deputy Commissioner Blair will argue that given the pressing public interest implications of the application, the matter should be heard on an urgent basis.
Counsel for the Ombudsman, Paul Dubé, is opposing the request for an expedited hearing.
Monday’s hearing will be held at 10 am at Osgoode Hall in courtroom 4.
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GLOBE AND MAIL ISSUES THIRD EDITORIAL ON SUPERINTENDENT TAVERNER CONTROVERSY
January 10, 2019
The Globe and Mail has issued its third editorial concerning the controversy about Toronto Police Service Superintendent Ron Taverner’s appointment as the next Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”).
The editorial begins with a potential script for Premier Doug Ford, one where the Premier would recognize the gravity of allowing “the people of Ontario to think, for even one second, that my government, the Government for the People, would do anything to undermine the independence of the Ontario Provincial Police.”
Instead, the Globe notes that “The Premier is vociferously defending the choice of a 72-year-old, underqualified crony – while simultaneously insisting that it wasn’t his choice. He refuses to acknowledge the mounting evidence that something was terribly wrong with the hiring process, and with his office’s relationship with the OPP. And he refuses to recognize that someone so close to the head of government cannot be the province’s head police officer.”
The piece concludes with a repetition of the Globe’s editorial stance that nothing short of an “independent inquiry, led by an independent party like a retired judge, with the power to subpoena witnesses….will do.”
Today, Alok Mukherjee, the former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, weighed in, providing a detailed overview of the Taverner controversy and raising several key questions. He concludes, “There is a smell permeating the manner in which Supt. Taverner was chosen to be the next head of one of the country’s most important police forces. A narrow, limited review by the Integrity Commissioner will not remove it. A full inquiry will.”
PREMIER DOUG FORD SKIPS QUESTION PERIOD FOR THREE DAYS IN A ROW OVER SUPERINTENDENT TAVERNER CONTROVERSY
This week, the Ontario legislature was called back for an emergency session. Premier Doug Ford skipped question period on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, leaving Cabinet Minister Sylvia Jones and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney to answer questions about Toronto Police Service Superintendent Ron Taverner’s appointment as the next Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”).
The Official Opposition filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain Premier Ford’s calendar and found out that Premier Ford had a private dinner with Superintendent Taverner and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders on July 30, 2018. This meeting occurred five days after Premier Ford sat down with former OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes, who retired in early September, and four months prior to Superintendent Taverner’s appointment as the next OPP Commissioner.
The Integrity Commissioner is investigating whether Premier Ford used his office for personal gain and/or the personal gain of Superintendent Taverner; however, members of Premier Ford’s cabinet are sending conflicting signals as to whether the government will support the Integrity Commissioner’s forthcoming recommendations. The Globe and Mail reports Attorney General Mulroney as stating, “We will of course abide by the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner, we will respect the outcome of his investigation.”
On the other hand, Minister Jones would not commit to following the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner. Further, Premier Ford made public remarks that Superintendent Taverner will become the head of the OPP after the Integrity Commissioner concludes his investigation, presupposing its outcome. Falconers LLP represents Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair in his request to have the hiring process of the next OPP Commissioner reviewed by the Ombudsman of Ontario, as a result of perceived political interference in the administration of the OPP.
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