OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Police corruption is a form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence.

OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:07 am

The men and women who lead our police forces should be free of any suspicion that they’re likely to be swayed by political influence.

That much is obvious, and in Ontario it’s especially true for the biggest force in the province, the one that’s the first to be called in when there’s wrongdoing by politicians or government officials.

So it’s no wonder eyebrows are being raised over the appointment of a man known as a long-time personal friend of the Ford family as the new commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

There’s no doubt Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner has vast policing experience after more than 50 years on the force.

But that wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones announced that Taverner would take over leadership of the OPP, with its 6,000 officers and almost 3,000 civilian employees, on Dec. 17.

Rather, it was Taverner’s longstanding and well-known association with Premier Doug Ford, his late bother Rob Ford, and the entire family from his long service as commander of the Toronto police units covering Etobicoke, where the family is based.

By all accounts this is more than a cordial professional relationship. The Star’s Betsy Powell reports that Taverner got to know Rob Ford while Ford was a city councillor representing an Etobicoke ward and Taverner was a senior officer in the area.

Taverner also attended the famous Ford family barbeques, met regularly with the brothers, and went on a trip to see a hockey game in Chicago with Doug Ford and police Chief Mark Saunders in 2016. It’s all a bit too cozy, or at least it certainly looks that way. Especially when Taverner’s promotion jumps him up several ranks and over the senior leadership of the OPP.

There are also questions about how Toronto police handled the investigation into Rob Ford’s activities while he was mayor.

Then-chief Bill Blair made sure that a separate set of officers under the code name Project Brazen 2, not connected with the Etobicoke units overseen by Taverner, took the lead in investigating potential criminal activity by Rob Ford and others. As Blair knew, it was crucial to maintain public confidence in the investigation by doing everything possible to avoid even perceived conflicts of interest.

That’s what’s at risk in the Ford government’s appointment of Taverner as commissioner of the OPP. Chris Lewis, who headed the OPP from 2010 to 2014, said late last week that “the fix” was in on the appointment process because of Taverner’s close ties to the Ford family. “There’s old relationships there, we all know it, and I think it is a travesty this occurred,” Lewis told CP24.

All this leaves aside legitimate questions about whether Taverner, as 72-year-old veteran officer who has operated in Etobicoke for many years, is best suited to lead a province-wide force that is the second-largest in the country after the RCMP. It isn’t the most forward-looking appointment.

Beyond that, there’s a worrisome pattern developing of Doug Ford leaning on organizations that should have an arms-length relationship with the government of the moment to ensure people close to him get the top jobs.

At Hydro One, he is reportedly in a standoff with independent directors over the new CEO of the company. Independent directors want to name one of three hydro executives from British Columbia while the premier is said to be pushing his own candidates, including the head of Toronto Hydro, Anthony Haines, whom he got to know when he was on Toronto city council.

Ontario doesn’t need a government of cronies, appointed to the top of corporations or police forces on the basis of their loyalty to the province’s political leadership. Ontarians deserve to know that when push comes to shove, senior public servants will act in the interests of the public. Their confidence will be shaken the more it looks as if personal ties are what really matters.

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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:04 am

Ford says he did not influence the decision to name close friend Ron Taverner as head of the OPP

A defensive Premier Doug Ford insists he had “zero influence” in the Progressive Conservative government’s controversial appointment of his close friend to head the Ontario Provincial Police.

But Ford admitted Tuesday he did not recuse himself from cabinet when Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, 72, was approved as OPP commissioner.

“Recuse myself from what? Know something? I go back to the three-person panel (that selected Taverner). I had zero influence and no matter who it was I would have accepted,” the premier said.

“I told them very clearly, I don’t want anything to do with this (hiring) whatsoever,” he said, referring to a panel that included Steve Orsini, head of the Ontario public service, and newly appointed deputy minister Mario Di Tommaso, Taverner’s former boss at Toronto police.

Ford’s comment came after iPolitics revealed earlier Tuesday that the government quietly modified the job posting on Oct. 22.

That helped Taverner meet the criteria as the superintendent was two ranks below the initial threshold to qualify for the position.

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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:05 am

Selection of Ron Taverner as OPP chief was independent, Minister insists

Ontario’s Community Safety Minister insists Premier Doug Ford had no hand in picking the province’s top cop as the Opposition on Monday pressed the government to reveal details about why a “friend” of the Premier was chosen.

Last week, Toronto Police Service Superintendent Ron Taverner was selected by the government to be the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. It was a decision made through "an independent process and I think he’s going to do an excellent job,” Sylvia Jones told reporters at Queen’s Park on Monday.

She said Supt. Taverner was picked on merit from a pool of 27 candidates, who also applied for the job. Asked whether Mr. Ford had requested the hire, Ms. Jones simply said that he had not. "It was an independent hiring process, I’m not sure how many more times I can tell you, it was an independent hiring process.”

The OPP is Canada’s second-largest police force, a sprawling organization where more than 8,000 employees do everything from patrolling rural communities to putting together major organized-crime and political investigations.

Supt. Taverner has spent his career at the Toronto Police Service, which he first joined in 1967. For the past 15 years, he has been a mid-level commanding officer, overseeing the urban precincts in the West Toronto neighbourhoods comprising the former city of Etobicoke.

Because this area is also the Ford family’s political power base, critics are asking whether Supt. Taverner got the job because of personal connections.

“What we’re worried about, though, is this is a very serious position, it brings a great deal of responsibility, and it literally covers the entire province,” Andrea Horwath, the Leader of the Opposition NDP, said outside the legislature on Monday. "... Why has this friend of the Premier’s gone to the top of the list and what is the process that brought him here?”

Ms. Horwath added that a former OPP commissioner, Chris Lewis, also publicly questioned the appointment last week. Mr. Lewis told CP24 that the job was likely too big a jump for Supt. Taverner to make – and “a real kick to the OPP and the senior officers in that organization.”

In announcing the appointment last week, the government said that Supt. Taverner was hired on the “unanimous recommendation of a selection committee” made up of civil servants and an executive search firm.

On Monday, a spokesman for the Premier also said “no political staff or elected officials, including the Premier or the Premier’s Office, were involved in the selection process.”

The NDP is pressing for more specifics, but has gotten nowhere. “If you think about the anonymity of the selection committee, I think that’s a concern. That’s why we are asking the government and asking the Premier to come clean,” Ms. Horwath said. “Let’s figure out why the process left us with a candidate that leaves so many people scratching their heads,” she added.

Supt. Taverner is the second Toronto Police Service officer to be elevated by the Ontario government since the Progressive Conservatives took office this summer.

Mario di Tommaso, a former staff superintendent, was made a deputy minister of community safety in October. At the time, Supt. Taverner publicly applauded the move as an inspired choice.

It is not clear if Mr. di Tommaso, who now oversees the bureaucracy that helps run the OPP, was part of the selection committee for the commissioner. Staffers in the community safety minister’s office did not respond to an e-mail from The Globe asking for comment.

The minister said she is not concerned about the optics of Supt. Taverner being too close to the Premier.

“How about the optics of 50 years of experience?,” Ms. Jones said, adding that “policing is policing … it doesn’t matter whether you’re in rural Ontario or downtown Toronto.”

Ms. Jones said that it is hardly surprising that Mr. Ford, a former city councillor, and Supt. Taverner would know each other. “You cannot be an active part of Toronto and the Etobicoke area and not know who Ron Taverner is,” she said.

According to Ontario’s salary-disclosure “sunshine list”, Supt. Taverner could be in line for a raise. In 2017, he made about $180,000. The OPP commissioner of the day made $276,000.

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Clearing the air on the OPP’s new commissioner

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:07 am

There is enough smoke over the hiring of a close Ford friend Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner to warrant investigation by the integrity commissioner.

When veteran Toronto Police Service superintendent Ron Taverner was first named new commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police on Nov. 29, eyebrows were raised in many quarters.

There's the fact that he's an external hire who jumped ahead of senior OPP officers. There's the fact although he has an over-50-year record as a police officer, he doesn't have leadership experience on this scale — he commanded 700 officers compared to the OPP's complement of 8,000 civilian and uniformed staff. And then there's the fact that he is 72 years old. Obviously, his age shouldn't rule him out, but it's fair to observe that when replacing the leadership of Canada's second-largest police service (after the RCMP), you would think youthful energy and innovation would be serious considerations. Perhaps Taverner has those qualities, even given his chronological seniority.

And then, there's the biggest eyebrow-raiser: Taverner is a longtime friend and supporter of both Doug Ford and his late brother Rob. He's a regular at the storied Ford barbecues and regularly breakfasted with the brothers. In 2016, he travelled with Doug Ford by private plane to Chicago to take in a Blackhawks game.

Taverner isn't just inside the Ford circle, he is a close personal friend.

Does that mean he's not the best candidate for the job? Not necessarily. But let's look at the other factors.

The government insists there was no political interference. Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said "the choice was made by an independent commissioner and it was approved by cabinet on Thursday."

Former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis doesn't agree. He told a CP24 newscast: "I think it's a real kick to the OPP, and the senior officers in that organization that know this province and know their organization, and they pick somebody from the outside with very limited experience." He also said "the fix" was in for Taverner because of his ties to Ford. "The decision was the premier's. There's old relationships there, we all know it, and I think it is a travesty this occurred."

Perhaps Lewis was expressing sour grapes given an outsider was chosen over experienced OPP senior officers? Again, maybe. But there's more.

The political news site iPolitics reported that when the OPP job was first posted, the posting included criteria about candidates needing to be "at the rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher in a major police service ..."

Based on those conditions, Taverner isn't senior enough to even qualify for the job. Fortunately for him, the posting was amended two days later and all the rank conditions were removed. He was now eligible, applied and got the job.

The government's headhunting firm said the rank minimums were dropped to broaden the field of applicants.

Finally, let's consider the government's indignant insistence the premier's office didn't interfere. Obviously, if they say so, it must be true, right? Except ...

Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that the premier's office is fighting with Hydro One about the selection of a new CEO. And recently Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, was accused of interfering with hiring at Ontario Power Generation. And Ford himself has been known to want to get involved with police investigations, back to when his brother was the subject of one.

Citizens' advocacy group Democracy Watch wants the integrity commissioner to investigate. The government should welcome that. There may be no fire here, but there is easily enough smoke to warrant an investigation to clear the air. If the government did nothing wrong, it has nothing to fear.

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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:12 am

Ford says he wasn't involved in hiring of family friend Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner

TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that he was “absolutely not” involved in the appointment of a family friend to the top job at the provincial police force.

Critics have been calling for an investigation into the hiring of Ron Taverner as the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, but Ford said the selection process was a fair one.

When asked if he was involved in Taverner’s appointment, Ford was firm.

“Absolutely not,” he told reporters at the legislature. “It went through a transparent process.”

The premier’s comments came after his community safety minister said qualification requirements for the job were changed partway through the hiring process to broaden the pool of applicants for the post.

A report from online news website iPolitics said the original commissioner job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher, in a major police service – a threshold 72-year-old Taverner, a superintendent with Toronto police, did not meet.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it was shocking that the hiring process was changed and demanded an independent investigation into Taverner’s appointment.

“It’s all too convenient to have a good friend of the premier’s suddenly be able to qualify and then be appointed in a process that is obviously got a lot of challenges,” she said. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire. That’s why we’re having the integrity commissioner to have a look at what’s gone on here.”

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the hiring firm in charge of the process to hire the new OPP commissioner made the decision to change the requirements. Taverner was a qualified candidate with decades of experience in policing, she added.

“We wanted to make sure that the best person to head our OPP was going to apply,” she said. “The hiring firm made that decision and it’s been done.”

Jones said government ministers accepted the unanimous recommendation of the hiring committee.

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said the matter needs to be investigated and said Ford must be open about the process that was used to hire Taverner.

“Not only should there not be a conflict, just the appearance of a conflict diminishes both of their offices so they have to address that,” he said.

Advocacy group Democracy Watch has also asked the integrity commissioner to probe the hiring process.

“Premier Ford taking part in any way in any step of Mr. Taverner’s appointment process raises concerns about violations of fundamental principles of democratic good government,” said Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher.

Taverner, currently the unit commander of three divisions within the Toronto Police Service, is set to start in his new job on Dec. 17.

He takes over from Brad Blair, who held the commissioner’s post on an interim basis after the retirement of Vince Hawkes in November.

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Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:56 pm

Premier Doug Ford says he had 'zero influence' in hiring of family friend as OPP commissioner

Calls for an investigation intensified after the government said qualification requirements for the job were lowered partway through the hiring process

TORONTO — Doug Ford defended the appointment of a family friend as the new provincial police commissioner on Tuesday as critics accused the premier of offering key positions to his allies.

Ronald Taverner’s appointment as the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police has prompted demands for an investigation into his selection — calls that intensified after the government said qualification requirements for the job were lowered partway through the hiring process to broaden the pool of applicants.

Ford, whose family has been close with 72-year-old Taverner for years, shrugged off concerns around the hiring and said the process had been transparent.

“I told (the hiring panel) very clearly, I don’t want anything to do with this whatsoever,” he told reporters at the legislature.

Ford went on to say he had seen no problem with providing the final stamp of approval on Taverner’s appointment, which came after a unanimous decision from the hiring panel.

“I had zero influence,” he said of the process.” No matter who it was I would have accepted.”

The premier also said his office would not interfere with the operations of the OPP.

“I can’t influence and tell the police what to do,” he said. “It’s very simple.”

A report from online news website iPolitics said the original commissioner job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher, in a major police service — a threshold Taverner, a superintendent with Toronto police, did not meet.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the hiring firm in charge of the process to find a new commissioner made the decision to lower those requirements. Taverner was a qualified candidate with decades of experience in policing, she added.

Members of the opposition said Ford’s final approval of Taverner’s appointment was problematic.

“What he did was completely inappropriate,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party is demanding an independent investigation into Taverner’s appointment.

“I think it’s shocking that Mr. Ford doesn’t see that … It’s not the role of the premier to hand-pick his favourite friends and put them in positions of authority over our public services.”

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said the matter needs to be investigated.

“Not only should there not be a conflict, just the appearance of a conflict diminishes both of their offices so they have to address that,” he said.

No premier should hire their friend as the OPP Commissioner

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford’s comments were a “significant admission” that he engaged in conflict of interest.

“No premier should hire their friend as the OPP Commissioner,” he said. “What happens if the OPP is asked to investigate something the premier, his office, or the PC government, has done and you have the premier’s friend heading up the OPP?”

Advocacy group Democracy Watch also asked the integrity commissioner to probe the hiring process.

“Premier Ford taking part in any way in any step of Mr. Taverner’s appointment process raises concerns about violations of fundamental principles of democratic good government,” said group co-founder Duff Conacher.

Taverner, currently the unit commander of three divisions within the Toronto Police Service, is set to start in his new job on Dec. 17.

He takes over from Brad Blair, who held the commissioner’s post on an interim basis after the retirement of Vince Hawkes in November.

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Qualifications lowered for OPP commissioner job

Postby Thomas » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:58 pm

Qualifications lowered for OPP commissioner job, allowing Ford family friend to apply

TORONTO — When the top job with the Ontario Provincial Police was posted in October, Ron Taverner couldn’t apply, because his rank was too low.

Two days later, the job requirements were changed — paving the way for the Ford family friend to apply.

He got the job.

The postings were obtained exclusively by iPolitics late Monday evening.

The first job description was posted to the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police website in October and — according to a search of the document’s web history — was last modified on Oct. 22.

That posting required all applicants to hold, at minimum, the rank of deputy chief or assistant commissioner.

The candidate should have a “track record and demonstrated ability to provide executive leadership in a complex policing organization at the rank of Deputy Police Chief or higher, or Assistant Commissioner or higher in a major police service,” read the posting.

Taverner, a superintendent with the Toronto Police Service, sits two ranks below that threshold.

Two days later, a document entitled “OPP Commissioner Updated” appeared on the association’s site. The only difference between that posting and the first is that the minimum-rank requirements were removed.

The candidate should have a “track record and demonstrated ability to provide executive leadership in a complex policing organization,” read the new posting.

The change made Taverner eligible to apply for the job, which he was ultimately awarded on Nov. 29.

Sal Badali of Odgers Berndtson, the head-hunting agency that “supported” the commissioner-selection process, said “eliminating the rank requirement was done to broaden the potential pool of applicants.”

“It turned out that over half the pool of applicants were not at the Deputy Chief level,” Badali said over email.

The premier’s office refused to comment on the matter when reached by iPolitics, saying the selection process was managed by the “public service in its entirety.” The commissioner’s job is an Order-in-Council appointment, meaning it must be approved by provincial cabinet.

The premier’s office said requests for comment about Taverner’s appointment should be directed to the cabinet office, which reports to the premier. A request to explain who asked for the change in job requirements was not returned by deadline.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said in Tuesday’s question period that the posting was changed to broaden the pool of prospective applicants.

“We wanted to make sure the best person to handle the position was going to apply,” she said, adding that the decision was made by the “hiring crew.”

Taverner’s appointment — announced late Thursday — immediately raised eyebrows.

“The fix was in from Day 1,” former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis told CP24 on Thursday.

“The decision’s the premier’s,” Lewis said. “There’s old relationships there; we all know it, and I think it was a travesty that this occurred.

“And I don’t want to show any disrespect to Ron Taverner. He got the job, good for him. I don’t think it’s good for the OPP, and I don’t think it was a good decision on the part of government whatsoever.”

The opposition seized on the appointment during question period on Monday, calling on the Progressive Conservatives to explain how Taverner was picked.

“The choice was made by an independent commissioner, and it was approved by cabinet on Thursday,” Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said in response.

That wasn’t good enough for NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who told reporters early on Monday she thinks Lewis’s concerns are legitimate.

“Come clean and outline — particularly and specifically — what the process was,” Horwath said. “Let’s figure out why the process left us with a candidate that leaves so many people scratching their heads.”

Taverner has served in the Toronto Police Service since 1967. As superintendent, he is the unit commander for three divisions that overlap with Ford’s home community of Etobicoke, Ont.

With his new job — which he will start on Dec. 17 — Taverner will leapfrog over the OPP ranks of chief superintendent and deputy commissioner to become commissioner.

Asked about the multiple promotions in rank early Monday, Jones said, “We are looking for someone that understands front-line officers, that understands the challenges that are there, and the hiring process saw that clearly.”

The promotion means Taverner will go from being responsible for more than 700 uniformed officers and civilian staff to approximately 8,000 uniformed officers and civilian employees.

Jones told reporters that 27 people applied for the job and 15 of them were interviewed.

In its Thursday press release, the government said Taverner’s appointment was unanimously recommended by a “selection committee comprised exclusively of members of the Ontario Public Service and supported by Odgers Berndtson.”

In spite of Ford and Taverner’s personal relationship, Jones said she can “absolutely” guarantee there will be a separation between the premier’s office and the commissioner.

However, Horwath told reporters she’s skeptical any separation will be maintained, because Ford’s office has previously tried to direct police operations, she said. In November, the Toronto Star reported that Ford’s chief of staff asked senior officials to ask police to raid illegal dispensaries on the day cannabis was legalized.

“We’ve already seen, as you know, a government that doesn’t understand that that’s not supposed to happen,” Horwath said.

The Ford government is already facing questions over its involvement in appointments in the electricity sector.

Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, was accused of interfering with hiring at Ontario Power Generation last month. He reportedly asked the provincial Crown corporation to fire Alykhan Velshi, who held a key post in the office of former PC leader Patrick Brown, according to reporting by the Globe and Mail.

And last week, the Globe reported that the premier’s office is in a standoff with Hydro One over the selection of its next CEO.

https://ipolitics.ca/2018/12/04/qualifi ... -to-apply/
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Questions Raised Over Hiring Of New OPP Boss

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:32 am

Doug Ford says he was 'hands off' when it came to the appointment of a family friend as the new OPP commissioner.

There are calls for an investigation into the selection process which resulted in the hiring of 72 year old Ronald Taverner.

The government has admitted qualifications for the job were lowered to attract a larger pool of applicants.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the hiring firm in charge of the process to find a new commissioner made the decision to lower the requirements.

Taverner is a unit commander with Toronto Police and is to start his new job December 17th.

http://www.977maxfm.ca/news_item.php?NewsID=106324
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Doug Ford says he wasn't involved in hiring of family friend

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:33 am

Doug Ford says he wasn't involved in hiring of family friend as OPP commissioner

OPP commissioner hiring transparent: Ford

TORONTO - Doug Ford defended the appointment of a family friend as the new provincial police commissioner on Tuesday as critics accused the premier of offering key positions to his allies.

Ronald Taverner's appointment as the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police has prompted demands for an investigation into his selection — calls that intensified after the government said qualification requirements for the job were lowered partway through the hiring process to broaden the pool of applicants.

Ford, whose family has been close with 72-year-old Taverner for years, shrugged off concerns around the hiring and said the process had been transparent.

"I told (the hiring panel) very clearly, I don't want anything to do with this whatsoever," he told reporters at the legislature.

Ford went on to say he had seen no problem with providing the final stamp of approval on Taverner's appointment, which came after a unanimous decision from the hiring panel.

"I had zero influence," he said of the process." No matter who it was I would have accepted."

The premier also said his office would not interfere with the operations of the OPP.

"I can't influence and tell the police what to do," he said. "It's very simple."

A report from online news website iPolitics said the original commissioner job posting required candidates to have a rank of deputy police chief or higher, or assistant commissioner or higher, in a major police service — a threshold Taverner, a superintendent with Toronto police, did not meet.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the hiring firm in charge of the process to find a new commissioner made the decision to lower those requirements. Taverner was a qualified candidate with decades of experience in policing, she added.

Members of the opposition said Ford's final approval of Taverner's appointment was problematic.

"What he did was completely inappropriate," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party is demanding an independent investigation into Taverner's appointment.

"I think it's shocking that Mr. Ford doesn't see that ... It's not the role of the premier to hand-pick his favourite friends and put them in positions of authority over our public services."

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said the matter needs to be investigated.

"Not only should there not be a conflict, just the appearance of a conflict diminishes both of their offices so they have to address that," he said.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford's comments were a "significant admission" that he engaged in conflict of interest.

"No premier should hire their friend as the OPP Commissioner," he said. "What happens if the OPP is asked to investigate something the premier, his office, or the PC government, has done and you have the premier's friend heading up the OPP?"

Advocacy group Democracy Watch also asked the integrity commissioner to probe the hiring process.

"Premier Ford taking part in any way in any step of Mr. Taverner's appointment process raises concerns about violations of fundamental principles of democratic good government," said group co-founder Duff Conacher.

Taverner, currently the unit commander of three divisions within the Toronto Police Service, is set to start in his new job on Dec. 17.

He takes over from Brad Blair, who held the commissioner's post on an interim basis after the retirement of Vince Hawkes in November.

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Doug Ford needs to display transparency more than most

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:34 am

Scott Thompson: Doug Ford needs to display transparency more than most

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is coming under fire because the person who will be the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is a family friend.

The other red flag drawing attention to the hiring is the fact that the minimum requirements for the position were lowered to expand the pool of candidates, also allowing the applicant to apply.

Ron Taverner, formerly a superintendent with the Toronto Police Service and a veteran of 51 years, will become commissioner of the OPP on Dec. 17.

​The premier said he had nothing to do with the process, which he noted was open, transparent and the result of the hiring committee’s unanimous decision.

The opposition, though, says those red flags should still be investigated — where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Any indication of preferential treatment or personal agendas is unacceptable at any level of government.

If there is any room for speculation, there had better be room for an explanation.

The lowering of qualification criteria and Taverner being a family friend of Ford’s will certainly draw opposition attention, and the fact it has warrants a closer look from all of us.

However, that does not mean there is any wrongdoing. Find me a politician who doesn’t know someone everywhere.

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Doug Ford says he didn’t need to recuse himself

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:36 am

Doug Ford says he didn’t need to recuse himself from hiring friend Ron Taverner as OPP chief

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he didn’t need to recuse himself from a cabinet meeting that appointed a Ford family friend to lead the province’s police force because the hiring was recommended by an independent panel.

His defence came amid new revelations about changes to the job posting that allowed Ron Taverner to apply for the position and confirmation that his former boss was part of the three-person hiring committee.

Under questioning from reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Ford defended the appointment of Superintendent Taverner, a veteran Toronto police commander from the Ford family’s power base of Etobicoke in Toronto’s west end, as the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

While Mr. Ford said he had “absolutely” no involvement in choosing Supt. Taverner, 72, for the OPP position, he said the long-time police officer is the right person for the job.

“This is a man that has given 50 years of his life to policing and the accolades across the province that I’ve seen are just overwhelming,” Mr. Ford said.

Mr. Ford said Supt. Taverner was chosen by a three-member independent panel comprised of executive search firm Ogders Berndtson; cabinet secretary Steve Orsini; and Mario Di Tommaso, deputy minister of community safety.

Mr. Di Tommaso is a former staff superintendent at the Toronto Police Service – and Supt. Taverner’s former boss. At the time of Mr. Di Tommaso’s appointment by the Ford government in October, Supt. Taverner publicly applauded the move as an inspired choice.

When asked if Mr. Di Tommaso’s inclusion on the panel could be considered a conflict, Mr. Ford said: “Absolutely not. You have to look at his qualifications. If Ron Taverner wasn’t qualified, he wouldn’t be there. But he has the utmost respect of police officers not only just across Ontario, but across the country."

Mr. Ford said he didn’t recuse himself from the process because the panel made its unanimous decision to choose Supt. Taverner. The Premier said he has the final sign off “on everything in this province.”

“I had zero influence and no matter who it was, I would have accepted,” Mr. Ford said. “That was the best choice this committee could have ever made.”

Mr. Ford added that he’s friends with “thousands of people” and said there would be a separation between his office and the OPP. “I can’t influence and tell the police what to do,” he said.

Neither Supt. Taverner nor Mr. Di Tommaso responded to requests for comment on Tuesday. A spokesman for the cabinet office said the recruitment of the OPP commissioner was made through an open competition and the decision to recommend Mr. Taverner was unanimous.

“There was no political involvement in the selection process,” cabinet spokesman Craig Sumi said.

The Premier has been under fire from the opposition for his government’s decision last week to appoint Supt. Taverner, a mid-level commanding officer, to the country’s second-largest police force. On Tuesday, iPolitics revealed that the qualifications for the OPP job were changed on Oct. 24, two days after it was initially posted, removing requirements that applicants hold the rank of deputy chief or assistant commissioner, which would have excluded Supt. Taverner from applying.

Mr. Ford said it was the search firm, not him, that asked for the qualifications to be broadened. A spokeswoman for Odgers Berndtson declined to comment due to confidentiality.

Both the NDP and Liberals said they are asking the province’s integrity commissioner to investigate the appointment. A spokeswoman for the commissioner’s office said it received an unspecified request on Tuesday to conduct an investigation, but Commissioner David Wake cannot investigate a complaint until a formal process is followed.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it does not appear that Supt. Taverner was appointed to the position solely on merit.

“I was surprised to hear that the Premier doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with his interfering in the appointment of [Mr. Taverner],” she said. “It really looks like the process was put together to favour Mr. Taverner, and I think that’s inappropriate."

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said “it’s very reasonable” to suspect there was political interference in the appointment.

“Reasonable people would say, ‘Something’s fishy,’ ” he said.

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Doug Ford seems entirely deaf to the trouble with hiring

Postby Thomas » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:37 am

Doug Ford seems entirely deaf to the trouble with hiring his friend Ron Taverner as OPP head

The Progressive Conservative government of Ontario has appointed as the head of the provincial police force a man who is a long-time friend of Premier Doug Ford and his family. Mr. Ford insists this is no problem, no problem at all: The new commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Ron Taverner, is an admired veteran cop chosen by an independent panel.

In fact, it is a very big problem indeed.

Democratic countries put a wall between leaders of the government and leaders of the police for a reason. If the police are beholden to those in power, it opens the door to political arrests. Police become guard dogs for the rulers instead of guardians of the public. People stop believing that the police will enforce the law without favour.

Even in a fortunate country like Canada where a descent into authoritarianism is remote, it is unwise to have a top cop who is the chum of a premier. Police sometimes have to investigate government leaders accused of lining their pockets or playing loose with election rules. How is the public going to trust the police to probe potential crimes or misdemeanours of the Ford government with Mr. Taverner in charge?

Mr. Ford would have screamed bloody murder if his Liberal predecessors Kathleen Wynne or Dalton McGuinty had appointed a friend to the top job at the OPP when the Liberal gas-plant scandal was under investigation. The federal opposition would scream just as loudly if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a family friend head of the RCMP.

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Is Doug Ford’s choice for OPP commissioner ‘ludicrous?’

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:10 pm

It is somewhat disingenuous for Premier Doug Ford to deny that he had anything to do with getting his friend, Supt. Ron Taverner, the job as head of the OPP.

But even if he is telling the truth, Taverner should have recused himself based on his close association with the Ford family.

It is all about optics. This just looks bad.

Stephen Bloom, Toronto

I do not know whether the relationship between the premier and Ron Tavener had anything to do with his appointment as some have suggested, but Tavener’s responsibilities over 700 officers, which is a larger figure than 90 per cent of police forces in Ontario (let alone in Canada), and his background in special squads and multi-police task forces over the years makes him one of the superior candidates for OPP commissioner.

Tavener brings much more operational experience and leadership to the OPP.

I am certain that there were several very well-qualified individuals for this position, but one should remember that there were sergeants from Toronto who went on to become chief in other police services, and also that Julian Fantino was chosen to be an OPP commissioner as well.

Can anyone think of a more ludicrous choice to head up the OPP than a 72-year-old man who, after 50 years on the job, achieved a rank of superintendent probably because of his years of service?

How was there no search for the person most suited for this position?

I have never heard of someone who is a close personal friend of a politician being appointed to the head of a police force before.

Where is the outrage at this political appointment, especially of someone who is probably not even close to being qualified.

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Surprise! Doug Ford Is Running Ontario Like It’s 'Entourage'

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:14 pm

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s hiring of personal family friend Ron Taverner to head up Ontario’s police force shows how little he gives a shit about appearances.

Doug Ford campaigned on the slogan “For the People.” But with controversy growing over his OPP commissioner appointment of Ron Taverner, a Toronto police superintendent and the Ontario premier’s longtime personal friend, it’s looking a bit more like he meant “For the Fords’ People.”

Taverner’s tale began on November 29, when the province announced Ford’s cabinet had picked the 72-year-old police commander from Etobicoke—the west-end Toronto capital of Ford Nation—to head the country’s second biggest police force after the RCMP. The nearly 9,000-person Ontario Provincial Police has 150 detachments as well as anti-organized crime and racketeering units, the latter of which, by the by, also investigates political shadiness.

Taverner, who joined the Toronto Police service way back in 1967, is currently Unit Commander of 12, 23, and 31 Divisions. The Toronto Star reported that “Taverner forged a relationship with Ford's late brother, Rob Ford, while Rob was a city councillor,” adding “he has attended Ford family barbecues and informal breakfast meetings with the brothers.” In a Globe and Mail interview, ex-Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee confirmed “Ron [Taverner] has been very close to the Ford family. He and the Premier have had a close relationship.”

Mukherjee also pointed out OPP political probes often lead to criminal charges, including former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s chief of staff serving four months in jail for wiping hard drives in the gas-plant scandal. In 2015, former premier Kathleen Wynne’s own deputy chief of staff Pat Sorbara was under an OPP bribery investigation related to a Sudbury byelection. She was blasted at the time by Progressive Conservative House Leader Steve Clark for even commenting on the case which, he said, could be seen as trying to influence the OPP. (Sorbara was acquitted last year.) And just two weeks ago, the OPP charged Ottawa City Councilor Tim Tierney with violating the Municipal Elections Act during the recent campaign.

In other words, the political independence of the OPP commissioner is a pretty big deal. So Premier Ford allegedly handpicking a pal to run a police force that could potentially investigate his administration already looks too much like Donald Trump naming political ally Matthew Whitaker acting Attorney General. But these top law-enforcement appointments have something else in common, too. Whitaker was selected over people higher in the chain of command, and Taverner jumped the queue, too.

The initial announcement was followed by days of criticism over the appropriateness of the Ford-Taverner relationship and the appropriateness of selecting a suburban commander over more senior OPP officers. Opposition politicians pounced, sure, but so did Chris Lewis, OPP commissioner from 2010-2014. "The fix was in from day one. The decision was the premier's. There's old relationships there, we all know it, and I think it is a travesty this occurred,” he told CP24. “I think it's a real kick to the OPP, and the senior officers in that organization that know this province and know their organization, and they pick somebody from the outside with very limited experience.”

Then iPolitics broke a big scoop. It turned out that despite the government boasting Taverner was chosen “based on a unanimous recommendation of a selection committee,” when the job was first posted Taverner wasn’t even eligible because he was two ranks below the then-minimum required rank of Deputy Chief. But as reporter Marieke Walsh uncovered, “the job requirements were changed—paving the way for the Ford family friend to apply.”

But wait, there’s even more! After some half-hearted attempts at stonewalling earlier in the week, Premier Ford revealed that the “independent panel” included Taverner’s former boss, Deputy Minister of Community Safety Mario Di Tommaso, and also admitted that he didn’t recuse himself from the hiring decision of his longtime friend. “Recuse myself for what?” Ford blustered to reporters. “I have final sign-off on everything in this province. Every appointment in this province, I sign off.”

Opposition leaders, smelling blood in the water, have called for an Integrity Commission investigation over the hiring. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “You don’t change a job description so that your friend can get the job.” Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said, “I think reasonable people would say, ‘Something’s fishy’ and Green leader Mike Schreiner said, “The premier essentially has admitted that he was engaged in a conflict of interest when he signed off on the cabinet decision.” The non-partisan Democracy Watch is also calling for the official watchdog to look into this.

The integrity of law enforcement independence is especially important in light of the Toronto Star report that Ford’s chief of staff Dean French tried to pressure cops to raid cannabis dispensaries on legalization day to show “people in handcuffs.”

The appointment also shows a pattern of patronage by a premier who campaigned on accusing the previous Liberal government of same. In the summer, Ford controversially named his Dr. Rueben Devlin to a $350,000 health care advisory position. The former PC president used to head up Humber River hospital where Rob Ford went for cancer treatment in 2014 and, Global reports, "Devlin personally helped the family during that time."

Then in September, another longtime family friend got called up to the majors. Gavin Tighe was Doug Ford’s lawyer when he was under investigation by the City Integrity Commissioner as a Toronto city councillor in 2014. (Ford was found guilty of a conflict-of-interest by the commissioner.) Tighe also repped the premier’s late brother Rob Ford when the then-mayor was sued for defamation and when he was sued for alleged involvement in a jailhouse beating of their former brother-in-law. (Yes, really.)

Tighe was named chair of the Public Accountants Council for the Province of Ontario, a position that Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said in a statement is a $667,000 government contract—or almost two-and-half times the salary of the OPP commissioner.

It sure pays to be Ford’s people.

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New OPP commissioner bought top Ford staffer’s house

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:15 pm

Connections between the Ontario Premier’s office and the newly appointed commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police include a real estate deal with one of Doug Ford’s closest advisers.

Land records show that Ron Taverner, a Toronto Police Service Superintendent and Ford family friend who has known the Premier for years, purchased a half-million-dollar home from Simone Daniels, Mr. Ford’s deputy chief of staff for human resources. Ms. Daniels worked for Mr. Ford when he was a Toronto city councillor and is a former employee of Mr. Ford’s family company, Deco Labels.

Opposition critics have raised concerns about the closeness of Mr. Ford and Supt. Taverner’s relationship since the 50-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service was named as the new head of the OPP, beginning Dec. 17. The OPP is typically the police service that is called in if there is a criminal investigation of the provincial government.

Mr. Ford has said he had nothing to do with the selection of Supt. Taverner for the role, saying it was made by an independent panel that included Supt. Taverner’s former boss.

Records show Ms. Daniels sold her North Etobicoke home to Supt. Taverner for $550,000 in July, 2017.

Neither Ms. Daniels nor the Premier’s Office responded to requests for comment about the transaction. Supt. Taverner’s office said he wasn’t doing interviews, and he did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment about his relationship with Ms. Daniels or the Premier.

Responding to questions from the NDP about the house sale in the Ontario legislature on Thursday, Community Safety and Correctional Minister Sylvia Jones defended Supt. Taverner’s appointment.

“I hope, when Ron Taverner becomes the OPP commissioner on December 17, the NDP will finally do what everyone else in this province understands who knows him and congratulate him and thank him for his service,” she said.

No one answered the door at the house on Thursday morning. Property records show Supt. Taverner owns other properties in Barrie and Wasaga Beach.

Records state that the Etobicoke property was originally purchased by Sherry Lee Daniel, believed to be Simone’s mother, in 2006 for $206,000, with her daughter added to the title in April, 2012. (The surname Daniel is believed to be a typo, the correct name being Daniels.) The property was then transferred to Simone solely in June, 2015.

The house did not appear on the real estate industry’s Multiple Listings Service in 2017, which means it could have changed hands in a private sale. The lawyer who represented Simone Daniels in the transaction declined to comment. The lawyer acting for Supt. Taverner did not immediately return messages.

The last time the Old Weston Village property appeared for sale on MLS was in June, 2010, when it was listed for $275,000. At that time, the Tudor-style brick and stucco house was advertised as having two plus one bedrooms and two bathrooms. The listing highlighted the home’s hardwood floors, leaded-glass windows and convenient highway access.

According to a January, 2016, land valuation, the house was assessed at $400,000.

Mr. Ford has praised Supt. Taverner’s credentials and described him as the right leader for the provincial police service.

The Globe and Mail has confirmed that, several years ago, Mr. Ford showed interest in Supt. Taverner’s career advancement.

Alok Mukherjee, who chaired the Toronto Police Services Board for a decade before he stepped down in 2015, recalled that Mr. Ford – who was a city councillor at the time – suggested he promote Supt. Taverner to deputy chief. Supt. Taverner did not apply for the role and did not get the job.

The website iPolitics revealed this week that the OPP job posting was changed two days after it was initially posted in October, removing rank requirements that would have made it impossible for Supt. Taverner, a mid-level commanding officer, to apply for the position.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath called the connection between Mr. Ford’s office and Mr. Taverner “very disturbing.”

“There is yet another piece of evidence about how close Mr. Ford is with Mr. Taverner,” she told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday.

“It’s the Premier’s integrity that’s at question here. He should know that this is inappropriate, he should admit that a mistake was made, and he should ensure that Mr. Taverner does not take that position. Because there should never be a situation in Ontario where people would be put in a position to have to question whether or not the OPP is behaving independently.”

With a report from Molly Hayes and research by Stephanie Chambers

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