Today, legal counsel for Brad Blair pointed to key findings in the Integrity Commissioner’s report on the provincial government’s hiring of Ron Taverner that confirmed the following:
- “In fact, the process was not independent” (para 239, p. 62);
- “[T]he recruitment process was flawed.” (para 242, p. 63);
- “[T]here were some troubling aspects to the process that may have led, perhaps unintentionally, to a preference being given to one candidate” (para 240, p. 62); and,
- “Anyone examining these messages [between former Secretary of Cabinet, Steve Orsini and current Chief of Staff to the Premier, Dean French] would have serious doubts as to the fairness of the process to the other candidates.” (para 241, p. 63).
Legal counsel for Mr. Blair, former Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”), contested the notion that the Ford government has been vindicated in the hiring of Supterintendent Taverner for the position of OPP Commissioner. “I’d suggest that Premier Ford and his government have set a new low in terms of a definition of ‘vindication’,” said Julian Falconer. “[The Integrity Commissioner’s report] outlines an utterly sad chain of events that the government of Ontario should not be proud about at all. Finding that the process was a sham, rigged for a certain result, is nothing to be proud of.”
The jurisdiction and focus of the Integrity Commissioner’s mandate is by necessity the actions of politicians, under the Members’ Integrity Act. It is the provincial Ombudsman, Mr. Paul Dubé, who has the mandate to rigorously investigate malfeasance by public servants who engineered a partial process aimed at ensuring the success of a candidate seen by then Deputy Minister Torigian as “not qualified” (para 110, pg. 29). Since December 11, 2018, when Mr. Blair first asked the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation into the selection process, the Ombudsman has refused to investigate. Mr. Blair has filed an application in Divisional Court seeking a court order to have the Ombudsman fulfill his mandate.
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DEPUTY COMMISSIONER BRAD BLAIR SERVES NOTICE OF ACTION ON PREMIER FORD UNDER LIBEL AND SLANDER ACT
February 26, 2019
In late January 2019, Falconers LLP counsel, on behalf of Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”) Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, served notice on Premier Doug Ford’s legal counsel under the Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990, C.L. 12. The notice identifies public comments made by Premier Ford in December 2018 and January 2019 wherein Premier Ford alleged that Deputy Commissioner Blair had breached the Police Services Act on numerous occasions. These allegations were made in relation to Deputy Commissioner Blair’s December 2018 complaint to the Ombudsman of Ontario raising concerns of improper political interference with the OPP Commissioner hiring process. Premier Ford’s remarks were widely broadcasted on television, print media and on the internet.
To date, there has been no notice served on Deputy Commissioner Blair and/or his legal counsel regarding any allegation and/or investigation of misconduct under the Police Services Act. Deputy Commissioner Blair’s legal counsel served a notice under the Libel and Slander Act after Premier Ford and his government failed to respond to numerous letters sent in December 2018, seeking clarification about Premier Ford’s allegations.
As stated in a Globe and Mail column on February 26, 2019, “the Police Services Act is a disciplinary law governing police standards. If found guilty before a tribunal, officers can be punished with docked pay or dismissal.” Alleging misconduct under the Police Services Act is a serious allegation that could lead a reasonable person to believe that an officer has broken the law. Such allegations are a form of intimidation and reprisal and are ultimately injurious to Deputy Commissioner Blair’s reputation.
To date, Premier Ford has not issued a full retraction of his public remarks.
Related to the above, there have been numerous media reports regarding issues raised in Deputy Commissioner Blair’s December 2018 complaint to the Ombudsman, adding to the concern that the independence and integrity of the OPP, free from undue political interference, has been compromised.
First, the Premier’s office made requests for a specific security detail, staffed with specific officers that Premier Ford would feel comfortable with, made during the tenure of former OPP Commissioner J.V.N. “Vince” Hawkes. Premier Ford expressed displeasure that this request was not being acted on by the OPP. Premier Ford requested that he have a face-to-face meeting with former Commissioner Hawkes and stated that if former Commissioner Hawkes would not address the issue, perhaps a new Commissioner would. Ultimately, the Premier’s request was approved and implemented by the OPP.
Additionally, there was the request that the OPP purchase a refurbished camper type vehicle, with specifications provided by the Premier’s office, and a further request that the expense to be kept off the books.
Recent media articles, some of which are listed below, have added further details to these accounts.
PRESS STATEMENT FROM BRAD BLAIR AND LEGAL COUNSEL
Last night, it was announced that efforts to install Superintendent Ron Taverner as the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”) have been abandoned.
“The OPP is made up of dedicated people working together for a common purpose of keeping communities safe. Their commitment proved unwavering during a difficult period these last few months and I have been grateful for the support within the OPP and from wider policing circles,” stated B.W. (Brad) Blair, former Deputy Commissioner of the OPP.
“Last night’s news vindicates Brad Blair’s unwavering resolve to protect the OPP from political interference. Brad Blair was right in insisting on transparency and accountability, in defence of the Ontario Provincial Police. It is sad in the extreme that the destruction of a good man’s career is the price to be paid for exposing political cronyism and abuse of power,” said legal counsel Julian Falconer.
Please find attached a press statement from Brad Blair and legal counsel regarding the withdrawal of Superintendent Ron Taverner from consideration as OPP Commissioner.
Please find enclosed the March 5, 2019 press statement from Brad Blair.
Please find enclosed a press advisory regarding the March 5, 2019, statement of Brad Blair.