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.

PCs delay controversial appointment of OPP chief

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:23 am

PCs delay controversial appointment of OPP chief while selection is reviewed

The Ontario government said Saturday it will "respect" a request from the incoming OPP commissioner to delay his appointment while the province's integrity commissioner reviews the circumstances of his selection.

Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a 51-year veteran of the force and long-time family friend of Premier Doug Ford, was named as the next OPP commissioner last month. He was set to be appointed on Monday.

In his request, which was made via email to Sylvia Jones, minister of community safety and correctional services, Taverner said he made the decision "out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police."

Jones said in a statement that the government has accepted his decision.

"While the government has full confidence in Mr. Taverner, we will respect his request for a delay in his appointment, until such time as the integrity commissioner has conducted a review of the selection process," Jones said.

Earlier this week, interim OPP Commissioner Brad Blair asked the Ontario ombudsman to investigate Taverner's selection in a scathing letter. The 32-year veteran said the process was marred by "questions of political interference."

Taverner did not initially qualify for the role, but the Ford government has admitted that it lowered the requirements for the job to attract a wider range of candidates.

Of the 27 candidates, Blair — who applied for the job himself — contended only four did not meet the original threshold requirements.

The ombudsman, however, denied Blair's request. Blair has since filed a lawsuit, asking an Ontario court to compel Ombudsman Paul Dubé to carry out a probe. Blair's legal counsel, Julian Falconer, said the ombudsman believes the directive to undertake a probe must come from the premier and his cabinet.

Blair offered to step aside as interim commissioner while a review was completed. On Saturday, it was revealed that OPP Deputy Commissioner Gary Couture would take on the role while the integrity commissioner looks into Taverner's selection.

Couture will take temporary command on Monday, according to Falconer, who laid out some details of the transition in a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon.

Blair does 'not regret a single step'

In a statement, Blair said he will be "fully supportive" of Couture, adding that he does "not regret a single step" he has taken in the last week.

"I remain devoted to ensuring that the well-earned reputation of the Ontario Provincial Police remains untarnished. It is this credibility, along with the perceived independence of our service, that puts us in the best possible position to uphold the rule of law," Blair continued.

His lawyer, Falconer, said that despite the developments, Blair would continue with his court case to have the ombudsman launch his own review. Falconer said the powers of the ombudsman's office "far exceed" those of the integrity commissioner, and they will facilitate a "more robust, more independent" report.

"We need the ombudsman to do his job," Falconer said.

Taverner did not respond to a request for comment from CBC News.

Premier denies involvement

For his part, Ford has denied that he tried to influence the selection process.

"We're friends. I'm friends with thousands of people," Ford said last week, noting he was in the cabinet meeting that resulted in the appointment.

As the story has developed further, however, Ford has avoided taking questions from reporters at public events.

In a statement, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the delay suggests that concerns about political interference are "founded.

"We can't allow the credibility and integrity of the OPP to be put at risk by Mr. Ford," Horwath, leader of the province's Official Opposition, continued.

The NDP has called for an non-partisan emergency select committee to conducts its own investigation into the matter.

Similarly, Horwath has asked that the RCMP step in to probe an allegation from Blair that the premier's office asked the OPP to buy a "camper-type" vehicle that would be customized to Ford's specifications. The purchase was to remain "off the books," according to Blair.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.4947969
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Controversial appointment of Toronto cop, Ford ally as OPP c

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:24 am

Controversial appointment of Toronto cop, Ford ally as OPP commissioner delayed

TORONTO — The Ontario government is delaying the appointment of the man set to become the province’s top cop until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process is complete.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones says the government will respect Ron Taverner’s request for a delay in his appointment, which was supposed to take place on Monday.

Instead, acting commissioner Brad Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force’s deputy commissioner.

“I understand the preference for an alternative Interim Commissioner and will co-operate in every respect,” Blair said in a statement released on Saturday.

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said in a conference call with media on Saturday that his client will be “regressed” from his role as interim commissioner on Monday.

On Friday, Blair asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner’s hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/c ... ppointment
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Ombudsman sued for not investigating new police commissioner

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:26 am

TORONTO — In a case of rejecting a rejection, the acting commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is suing the province’s ombudsman for refusing to investigate the appointment of the incoming commissioner.

Ron Taverner, a Toronto Police Service superintendent and a close family friend to Premier Doug Ford, was appointed by the government on Nov. 29 to be the next OPP commissioner.

The announcement set off a chain reaction of criticism and questions, peaking on Tuesday with the unprecedented move by acting commissioner Brad Blair to file a complaint with Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé.

In the letter of complaint, Blair warns that allegations of interference from the premier’s office risk “irreparable damage” to the police force’s independence.

The key concerns raised by Blair are that: Taverner has a personal relationship with Ford; the minimum rank requirements for applying to the job were eliminated, and the job posting was changed two days after it first went up; and one of the people on the hiring committee was Taverner’s former boss in Toronto.

On Friday evening, Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said Dubé had twice refused to investigate the concerns raised. As a result, Blair filed an application at Ontario’s Divisional Court “to determine and enforce the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman to review the OPP Commissioner hiring process.”

“If the Ombudsman does not review the complaint, the independence of the OPP will continue to operate under a cloud of suspicion,” reads the application. “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.’ ”

Dubé’s spokeswoman, Linda Williamson, said the ombudsman had no comment on the court case.

In a second letter sent to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, Falconer reiterated his client’s call to delay Taverner’s installation set to take effect on Monday.

Falconer cites “increasing public pressure and growing cloud of concern over the OPP Commissioner hiring process” as the reason why his appointment should be delayed.

Spokespeople for Jones and Mulroney did not reply to requests for comment. The premier’s office directed iPolitics to a statement issued by Jones on Wednesday.

In it, Jones categorically denied the allegations levelled by Blair.

“We fully and completely dispute” the letter, reads a statement from Jones. “It is unfortunate that this service has been unfairly maligned by unfounded allegations about the appointment process,” she said.

In his nine-page letter of complaint to Dubé, Blair also warned of a “concerning history” between the premier’s office and the OPP.

For example, he accused Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, of asking the force to buy a “large camper-type vehicle and have it modified to specifications” provided by the premier’s office, and to keep the purchase “off the books.”

Taverner told the Toronto Sun on Wednesday it was not a camper van, but an extended-size van that would provide more room for Ford and his team to work on the road.

The Sun later changed the story and removed Taverner’s name. However, the Globe and Mail reported his comments in the story before it was removed.

Taverner told the Sun he didn’t know how it would be purchased or modified, but said details of the premier’s security arrangements should not be revealed publicly.

In a teleconference on Friday evening, Falconer told reporters the issues on the table “raise serious questions as to whether there is now a perceived problem with the independence of the OPP.”

There’s also concern that an effort is underway to turn the OPP into a “private police service for a political agenda,” he added.

Falconer said that in all likelihood, it will take a few months for the application to be heard in court. In the meantime, he said Blair is still planning to work with the OPP and “co-operate” in a transition with Taverner as he takes over, and Blair returns to his permanent post as deputy commissioner and provincial commander of traffic safety and operational support.

Blair, who had also applied for the permanent job, has the minimum rank of deputy chief that was first required of all applicants. Taverner sits two ranks below that, but was able to apply for the job once that requirement was eliminated from the job posting.

The premier called Blair’s complaint to the ombudsman “sour grapes,” the Sun is reporting.

Asked about that comment, Falconer said there’s “no doubt” Blair is “disappointed” and that “he was, by almost all accounts, the frontrunner for this job.”

But Falconer noted there was already a “degree of public anxiety and public concern” about Taverner’s appointment before Blair came forward, and his client’s sole mission is to “resolve it.”

He added that coming forward came at “significant personal sacrifice” for Blair.

“This is not a great career boost for him,” Falconer said.

Throughout all the questions about Taverner’s new job, the Toronto Police Service said their superintendent had not yet submitted his resignation letter. That changed late on Friday with the force confirming he’d submitted his resignation today, effective Saturday. Taverner will start as OPP commissioner on Monday.

https://ipolitics.ca/2018/12/14/ombudsm ... missioner/
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Acting head of Ontario police files for review of Taverner a

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:28 am

Acting head of Ontario police files for review of Taverner appointment

The current head of Ontario’s provincial police force is going to court in a last-ditch attempt to force a review of how the next commissioner – a friend of Premier Doug Ford – was picked for the job.

Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, the acting commander of the Ontario Provincial Police, filed a legal application in Superior Court on Friday. The document argues that the Ontario Ombudsman has a duty to review any potential “inappropriate political interference or cronyism” that could have factored into the government’s decision to promote Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner into the role of the province’s top cop.

Earlier this week, Deputy Commissioner Blair made a formal request to the watchdog to review or delay Supt. Taverner’s installation as head of the OPP, but the court application reveals that the Ombudsman’s office refused to do so, saying the request was not within its mandate.

Supt. Taverner is due to start the job on Dec. 17.

A lawyer acting for deputy Commissioner Blair said he hopes to bring the matter to court as quickly as possible, meaning that it could be heard in January or February.

"My instructions are, at all costs, to take the steps that Commissioner Blair, in his mind and heart, thinks appropriate to protect and ensure the credibility of the OPP,” Julian Falconer told reporters.

The legal bid is the latest chapter in a remarkable fight that has emerged for control of Canada’s second-largest police force, a sprawling organization that employs more than 8,000 serving officers and civilians across Ontario.

The Conservative government announced its pick of Supt. Taverner as OPP Commissioner on Nov. 29.

Critics immediately questioned the appointment, seizing on the 72-year-old mid-level police commander’s close ties to the Ford family, and his nearly two decades as a unit commander overseeing the policing of the Fords' political powerbase in the west Toronto area of Etobicoke. Yet, Mr. Ford and his cabinet maintain that it was an arms-length, independent panel that recommended Supt. Taverner.

Deputy Commissioner Blair, a 32-year career provincial-police officer, had been the perceived front-runner candidate, and has headed the force on an interim basis for about a month.

In his Dec. 11 letter to the ombudsman, the deputy commissioner alleged Mr. Ford and his chief of staff, Dean French, had politicized the process behind the scenes, and that the Ombudsman needed to investigate matters to maintain public confidence in the OPP.

The court application says that the watchdog wrote deputy Commissioner Blair back to say his request “fell outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.”

The application argues that the Ombudsman’s mandate “is clearly inclusive of any such decision, recommendation, act, or omission, that was made or done as a result of inappropriate political influence or cronyism, including interference by a member of the executive and/or their staff.”

It adds that “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."

Attempts to reach Supt. Taverner, who resigned from the Toronto Police Service on Friday, were unsuccessful.

A spokeswoman for the Ombudsman’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The Premier’s office reiterated an earlier statement in which Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said the government stands by its hiring process.

Mr. Falconer told reporters his client is seeking to raise questions about the potential for inappropriate proximity between government and the OPP. That includes whether “there’s an effort to convert the OPP into some kind of private police service for a political agenda,” he said.

“These are the concerns raised that it is hoped that a full independent investigation can yield,” he said.

Earlier this week, former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson told The Globe and Mail there are “reasonable concerns” about the appointment of Supt. Taverner. He echoed calls for an independent inquiry to preserve the integrity of the force.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... pointment/
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Doug Ford’s Ontario: Open for (the family) business

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:46 pm

Tabatha Southey: Ontario's premier has hired a close family friend to run the OPP and doled out millions to a big client of Deco Labels. We sense a trend.

The appointment of close Ford family friend Ron Taverner to the top position in the Ontario Provincial Police didn’t exactly leave anyone who follows Toronto politics reeling. The process by which Taverner was selected looks as shady as a crooked three-dollar bill tucked under an oak tree in the Greenbelt that Doug Ford absolutely promised he was not going to open up for development, and how’s that going?

But Ontario, after all, elected Doug Ford, a one-term city councilor who Toronto’s integrity commissioner found had broken city council’s code of conduct by using his influence as a councillor to benefit two companies, both of which had long-standing business relationships with Deco Labels. Deco is—wait for it—owned by the Ford family. Taverner is to start the job on Dec. 17, it might as well have a bow on it, and this is the kind of familial shenanigans, and now drama, the province signed up for.

Nepotism is nothing new, of course, but Taverner’s appointment feels very much on trend. In general there is a politics afoot just now that doesn’t even attempt to make the argument that, “Trust me, this is the right thing to do,” relying more on a kind of bilateral knavery. This is politics with a shrug, and an “Oh, come on, you’d do the same too if you had the chance,” and so forget ethics, even optics are irrelevant.

Who is to say why $34.5 million in provincial funds was doled out to Maple Leaf Foods in aid of a new $660-million poultry-processing plant in London, Ont., in late November? Yes, that would be the same Maple Leaf Foods that has long been a client of none other than Deco Labels, and it is “the largest investment in food processing ever in Canada,” as Ford himself said.

None of which is to say the allocation of funds is necessarily untoward or a bad idea. The federal government ponied up $20 million as well, but the question, “Which came first, the chicken processing plant or the label on the chicken?” does come to mind.

On Tuesday acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair, who has hired a lawyer and seems to mean business, requested that Ontario ombudsman Paul Dubé investigate Taverner’s hiring, which Ford insists he had nothing to do with and we are asked to believe was the the perfectly correct outcome of some kind of tea party, a three-person panel that included Taverner’s and his former boss.

Officers within the OPP have raised concerns that the process that appointed the new head was improper and that this might undermine the integrity on the force. “If the hiring process remains enveloped in questions of political interference” wrote Blair, “the result will be irreparable damage to police independence…”

Taverner has never held a high-ranking position within the OPP or headed a police force, and it seems there may be members of the OPP who are apprehensive about the appearance, real or illusory, that the premier of the province has acquired a set of handy pocket police.

Blair also alleges that Dean French, Ford’s chief of staff, asked that police buy “a large camper-type vehicle” and customize it for the premier to tool around in, and that the cost of the camper be “kept off the books.”

Many, understandably, look forward to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario’s “If the Van’s a Rockin’ Don’t Come a Knockin’ ” 2022 campaign.

The Toronto Sun‘s Joe Warmington blustered in a column, “Some OPP officers are reaching out to offer support for Taverner, a 50-year member of the Toronto Police. ‘I told the premier today the reason they don’t want Taverner there is because he will change the fiefdom that is already in place,’ said an officer.”

Another officer was “dumbfounded” about the controversy since as a rank-and-file officer he “heard nothing but good things about Taverner.” To hear Warmington tell it, no one should even bother calling the OPP just now. They’re just too busy non-stop baking cakes for the man who will rise several ranks from his position of friendly local police commander in Ford’s Etobicoke neighbourhood to be head of a police force second in size to only the RCMP, and their new boss.

They’re working on a musical number for the Baroness.

Curiously, an earlier version of the column quoted none other than, we’re assured, the entirely independent Taverner himself, defending the vehicle purchase—the details of which he seemed peculiarly familiar with. “ ‘I am told it’s not a camper van but an extended-size van,’ Taverner told the Sun,” the article read, for a time. “He’s a big guy and it would have more room for he and his team to work while on the road.”

A somewhat later version of the column, which the Sun noted was edited at 6:59 p.m. the day it was posted, ever so discreetly removes this, potentially damaging to the soon-to-be commissioner, bit of quotation. This particular defence is left up to a mere “staffer” quoted as saying pretty much what the vanished Taverner had said. “He’s on the road for hours at a time and as a big guy was looking for some more room to be able to meet with his staff or be able to change his shirt in privacy before going into a venue.”

It appears that the selected head of the OPP was swapped out for a “staffer.” Or is it six of one, half a dozen of the other these days? Will Ford next announce that the hiring process in the future will be streamlined so that all key positions in the province will be filled by “Some buddies of mine, why you gotta be so nosy?”

Will the qualifications for all positions be lowered to better accommodate Ford’s affections?

Will anyone care as long as those “Open For Business” signs Ford had put up remain along Ontario’s border as part of the Ford government’s apparent mission to rebrand the province as “Ontario, the outlet mall of provinces”?

I think we have the answer to the question “How bad can a Doug Ford government be?” And it’s “How much time do you have?”

https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/doug-fo ... -business/
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Taverner appointment on hold

Postby Thomas » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:48 pm

Broadcast news is reporting the premier's office is delaying the appointment of Ron Taverner as the next commissioner of the OPP, until an investigation into political interference can be completed.

In his place, deputy commissioner Gary Couture will be leading the police service. Acting commissioner Bill Blair asked the courts Friday, to determine if the ombudsman's office has jurisdiction in the matter.

Taverner is a long-time friend of the Ford family. He was to be appointed Monday.

Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath of the NDP said Friday in a media release, "It’s clear that Commissioner (Bill) Blair has recognized an injustice, and committed himself to correcting it so the people of Ontario can continue to have full confidence in the provincial police force."

"I fully support his decision to pursue legal means to ensure that there is a proper investigation into Doug Ford’s appointment of Ron Taverner as OPP Commissioner. The NDP is continuing to pursue all possible avenues to ensure this disturbing case of potential political interference by Doug Ford is investigated, and that Mr. Taverner does not take command of the OPP on Monday,” Horwath continued.

The minister responsible, Sylvia Jones, said in a statement that the government has ``full confidence'' in Taverner, but will respect his wishes until the integrity commissioner has conducted the review.

https://www.drydennow.com/local/taverne ... nt-on-hold
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Next OPP commissioner returns to old job with Toronto police

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:34 pm

TORONTO -- The man selected to become the next Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto police force and will return to his old job.

Supt. Ron Taverner, a longtime friend of Premier Doug Ford, will return to his role as unit commander of three divisions in the city's northwest end, Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said Monday.

"He requested that this resignation be rescinded this weekend," Gray said. "It was reviewed and approved by the chief last night and he's back being unit commander of those divisions effective this morning."

Gray said Taverner, 72, had officially resigned Saturday.

"He was only absent 24 hours," Gray said.

The Ontario government said over the weekend that Taverner requested his appointment to the OPP's top job be delayed until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process was complete.

The choice of Taverner as the province's top cop has drawn ire from within the OPP and from Ford's political opponents, who noted that the qualifications required for the position had been lowered, allowing the premier's longtime ally to qualify.

The Progressive Conservatives have repeatedly denied that the premier's office had anything to do with Taverner's hiring.

Gray said she didn't know Taverner's long-term plans, but said he was back at work with the Toronto force.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner's hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

Blair's lawyer, Julian Falconer, said the ombudsman won't investigate because he believes the matter is out of his jurisdiction since the hiring was ultimately a decision made by cabinet.

Falconer said Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force's deputy commissioner.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/next-opp- ... -1.4221002

https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/next-opp-comm ... -1.4221004
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Ron Taverner back with Toronto police after he rescinds resi

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:35 pm

Ron Taverner back with Toronto police after he rescinds resignation

he controversial appointment of Ron Taverner as OPP commissioner was cast into further doubt Monday as he abruptly rescinded his resignation as superintendent of three Toronto police divisions in Etobicoke.

"He'll be back in his role as unit commander," Toronto police spokeswoman Caroline de Kloet told the Star.

The move followed a whirlwind weekend that saw the 72-year-old Taverner resign from Toronto police Friday. Then, on Saturday, he asked that his Monday swearing in as Ontario Provincial Police chief be "postponed" until the independent provincial integrity commissioner can review the hiring process.

It included a lowering of qualification that cleared the way for Taverner, a longtime friend of Premier Doug Ford and his family in charge of three divisions in Ford's home turf of Etobicoke, to apply for the $275,000-a-year post.

The appointment created a political firestorm around Ford's six-month-old Progressive Conservative government.

A chorus of critics — including opposition parties, former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson and former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis — said it is dangerous to have a friend of the premier in the role of Ontario's top cop, setting the stage for troublesome conflicts of interest if the government becomes the subject of any police investigations.

"If Mr. Taverner is now looking to have his old job back because he's suspecting that his appointment will be scuttled, that's a decision that he's made," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday as MPPs returned to the legislature for debate on legislation to prevent a strike by unionized workers at Ontario Power Generation.

"This entire situation should never have started in the first place. And it's because Mr. Ford needs to understand he can't just get away with doing whatever he wants to do. We have a democracy here," Horwath added.

"Hopefully Mr. Ford's learned something in this process. Mr. Taverner, hopefully, has learned something as well."

Taverner has not replied to a request for comment from the Star but said Saturday he was temporarily stepping aside "out of the greatest respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police." The government agreed to the request and noted it retains "full confidence" in him.

A spokesman for the premier's office would not comment on Taverner's rescinded Toronto police resignation, saying the government stands by its Saturday statement affirming its faith in the veteran officer.

Career police officers with a higher rank than Taverner were rejected in favour of him, including a former Ontario head of the RCMP with more experience in managing a large staff, confirmed one source from the OPP, the country's second largest police force.

The New Democrats are calling for the government to appoint a select committee of MPPs, with equal numbers of government and opposition MPPs, to investigate the Taverner hiring process with powers to subpoena witnesses and compel documents in full view of the public.

She contrasted that with a review of the concerns surrounding Taverner's hiring by integrity commissioner J. David Wake, which will be conducted in private with only a final report being made public.

"We want to see every single avenue explored," Horwath said.

While such a committee would be similar to one created to investigate the gas plants scandal under a previous Liberal administration, that was established in a minority government where opposition parties had more control. It's unlikely Ford, with his majority, would agree to such a committee.

Both Ford and Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones have accused critics of slinging mud at Taverner.

https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9086 ... signation/

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark ... ation.html
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Concern over conflicts of interest would hurt Ron Taverner i

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:37 pm

Concern over conflicts of interest would hurt Ron Taverner in OPP job, policing experts say

The odds are against Toronto police veteran Ron Taverner ever being able to effectively lead the OPP because controversy over his friendship with Premier Doug Ford has done irreversible damage, policing experts say.

Concerns about potential conflicts of interest will always linger, several law enforcement sources said Sunday.

“You’re not doing any favours putting him in that job,” former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson told the Star, echoing remarks from others in the field.

“I don’t see how this can be fixed,” said a retired senior police executive who requested anonymity to speak freely.

“If there’s any perception of a linkage like the pictures of him arm-in-arm with Premier Ford, how is the public ever going to have confidence?”

The warnings came a day after Taverner asked for his Monday swearing-in to be “postponed” until Ontario’s integrity commissioner can review the hiring process, which included a lowering of qualifications that cleared the way for the 72-year-old superintendent from the Ford family’s Etobicoke stomping grounds to apply for the $275,000-a-year post.

Taverner could not be reached for comment but said Saturday he was temporarily stepping aside “out of the greatest respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police.” The government agreed to the request and noted it retains “full confidence” in him.

Should the appointment proceed, “he’s going to have trouble, subject to the members of the OPP looking over his shoulders wondering about every inquiry he might make,” Paulson predicted.

One potential pitfall cited is a situation like the Ontario Provincial Police criminal investigation into deleted documents from the gas plants scandal during the government of former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty.

That probe led to criminal charges against McGuinty’s former chief-of-staff David Livingston, who was convicted a year ago and sentenced to four months in jail. He is free on his own recognizance pending an appeal. McGuinty was not under investigation and co-operated with police.

While that probe conducted after a complaint from Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli — now Ford’s finance minister — was high-profile and widely reported in the media, it is not unusual to have lower-key investigations into government, politicians, bureaucrats or agencies that do not make headlines, said the retired senior police executive who recalls as many as 10 such probes in the last decade.

“Every investigation of the government is going to be tarred.”

Paulson said he kept a close eye on “risky” files as the top Mountie and for Taverner to do the same could raise suspicions.

“People will be wondering why the commissioner wants to know what he wants to know, which he’s quite entitled to know because he’s got to run the force. It just sounds like a mess,” Paulson added in a telephone interview from Ottawa.

He noted the “lions share” of his job was managing the RCMP’s relationship with the federal government while maintaining proper boundaries for both sides.

“There’s investigations into the government, into the bureaucracy or into departments, things that if they’re not the government that the government would surely want to know and be able to manage,” Paulson said.

“The government knowing about things in advance is not a good idea, particularly in those kinds of investigations. Because then you get into all sorts of shenanigans of tainting evidence and tainting your investigation.”

Michael Armstrong, who was chief superintendent of the OPP’s organized crime division until retiring in 2014, said the challenge for Taverner is overcoming what is widely seen as a flawed interview process that has left him a target.

“One thing I took out of being in a leadership position is people want to look up to you. Don’t be somebody that they’re making jokes about. They want you to be the person they can look up to and aspire to be.”

Career police officers with higher rank than Taverner were rejected in favour of him, including a former Ontario head of the RCMP with more experience in managing a large staff, confirmed one source from the OPP, the country’s second largest police force.

“From the angle of why was this decision made, you question it,” said Armstrong. “There’s two things they’re saying – the talent isn’t there in the organization to lead it, or this guy is so great that they’ve stepped over the organization.”

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said controversy will continue to swirl around the Ford government as MPPs return from a Christmas break that began Dec. 6 to debate legislation to prevent a strike by unionized workers at Ontario Power Generation.

The premier will face pointed queries from opposition parties during question periods on Tuesday, Wednesday and likely Thursday, with the New Democrats pushing for an “emergency select committee” of MPPs investigate the hiring and Liberals requesting a retired judge be appointed to lead an independent inquiry.

“Whatever happens now has to instill confidence – not just in the hiring process, but the interaction of the premier’s office and police forces because that’s in question right now, too,” said Fraser.

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark ... s-say.html
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Taverner can't be an effective OPP leader under this cloud

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:38 pm

Kelly McParland: Taverner can't be an effective OPP leader under this cloud

There’s a simple solution to the unnecessary mess surrounding the selection of a new commissioner for Ontario’s provincial police force. Ron Taverner, the 72-year-old career cop who was awarded the job out of a large crowd of potential appointees, should step aside and let a search committee pick someone else.

Taverner took the first step in that direction on the weekend when he asked that his first day on the job — which would have been Monday — be postponed until an investigation into his hiring could take place.

“Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed until as such time the integrity commissioner has completed his review,” he wrote in an email to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones.

Though by all accounts a capable police officer, the charge against Taverner is that he got the job because he’s a pal of Premier Doug Ford. There were 27 candidates for OPP commissioner, considered the top police position in the province. Taverner initially didn’t qualify for the job, but once the requirements were lowered he was able to apply and was unanimously selected by a three-member panel. Ford insisted he had “zero influence” on the choice and would have accepted whoever was chosen. He said the search firm asked for the change in job requirements, not him. The fact Taverner was a family friend and spent two decades as a senior officer in the Ford’s Etobicoke neighbourhood had nothing to do with it, he insisted.

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

That’s just the problem and the root of the suspicions aroused by Taverner’s appointment. The premier may not be able to tell any old OPP commissioner how to run his shop, but with an old friend at the top of the force, he might not have to. Plenty of reasons have been offered as to why it’s a bad idea having the top politician and the top cop as longtime buddies; heading the list is the fact the police sometimes have to investigate politicians who get into questionable shenanigans. If you want to completely undermine public confidence in the credibility and objectivity of the police, turning them into a political pawn is one of the best and quickest roads to success.

Ford seems oblivious to this, just as he’s been resistant to good sense in a number of previous matters. His determination to dictate policy to Hydro One caused the collapse of a $6.7 billion takeover of a U.S. power firm, triggering a termination fee topping $100 million. His decision to scrap a French-language university, while justifiable, was handled so artlessly the backlash forced the government into an embarrassing retreat. His slashing of Toronto’s city council while the municipal campaign was already underway — once again not a bad idea — succeeded mainly in getting him branded a vengeful bully, feeding a fast-developing grudge between city and province.

If past performance is any indication, the premier’s approach to the Taverner situation will be to dig in and defy anyone to make him budge. That’s why it’s necessary for more conscientious minds to take the initiative. Taverner would have done well to remove himself from the debate once it became obvious his choice as commissioner would prove so divisive. Although he had already resigned his post in Etobicoke, he rescinded the resignation Monday and will return to his old job while the inquiry proceeds.

But the pressure only continues to mount. Two former OPP commissioners have now raised questions about Taverner’s appointment. Chris Lewis, who headed the force for four years, noted that Taverner had never run an organization anywhere near the size of the provincial body, and was selected over far more experienced senior officers. Interim commissioner Brad Blair, who was to step aside for the new boss, asked Ontario’s ombudsman to investigate whether the appointment was politically motivated. When the ombudsman’s office rejected the request, claiming it was outside its jurisdiction, Blair went to court Friday seeking an order forcing the investigation.

The high-level squabbling has been a gift to the opposition New Democratic Party, which can now hold itself up as the champion of police independence and integrity against a government intent on interference at every level: ordering around Toronto council, manhandling Hydro One and putting the premier’s personal choice at the head of Canada’s second the largest police force (after the RCMP).

“Mr. Taverner’s appointment cannot go ahead under this cloud of suspicion,” intoned NDP leader Andrea Horwath. “The independence of police forces is fundamental to the health of our democracy.”

With Taverner on hold and Blair out of the picture, relieved by Ford’s cabinet, the OPP will now be headed by a temporary replacement, Deputy Commissioner Gary Couture, who becomes the fourth man named to hold the reins since the retirement of Vince Hawkes in November.

It’s entirely possible that Ford is being truthful, and that he had no direct input into Taverner’s selection. Unfortunately, his performance so far as premier makes it difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt, and his penchant for attacking questioners as enemies only adds to the impression of a man with something to hide. Ford is proving to be his own worst enemy, which adds to the need for others to protect him from his worst instincts. Taverner could do that, and perform a valuable service both to his friend and the integrity of the OPP by stepping aside and letting the process start over with a slate of candidates clearly independent of the premier and his office.

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/kelly- ... this-cloud
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Ron Taverner to return to old job with Toronto police amidst

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:39 pm

Ron Taverner to return to old job with Toronto police amidst controversy over OPP commissioner role

TORONTO — The man set to become the next Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto police force and will return to his old job.

Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray says Supt. Ron Taverner will return to his role as unit commander of three divisions in the city’s northwest end.

Gray says Taverner resigned on Saturday but Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders approved his return to the force late Sunday night.

The Ontario government said over the weekend that Taverner, a longtime friend of Premier Doug Ford, requested his appointment to the OPP’s top job be delayed amid controversy surrounding his hiring.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner’s hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

Blair’s lawyer says the ombudsman won’t investigate because he believes the matter is out of his jurisdiction since the hiring was ultimately a decision made by cabinet.

https://nationalpost.com/news/next-opp- ... nto-police
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Ron Taverner staying with Toronto police despite appointment

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:40 pm

Ron Taverner staying with Toronto police despite appointment as OPP chief — for now

Ron Taverner, who's tapped to be the next chief of Ontario Provincial Police, has rescinded his resignation papers as a superintendent with Toronto police.

It's not yet clear if Taverner's decision will affect his status as the incoming OPP commissioner. Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Syliva Jones issued a statement saying the government maintains its "full confidence" in the longtime Toronto cop.

Taverner submitted papers to reverse his resignation on Saturday, Toronto police said. Chief Mark Saunders approved the move on Sunday night.

"As of today, the superintendent is back to being unit commander of our northwest district," said police spokesperson Meaghan Gray.

Taverner was controversially appointed by Ontario's Progressive Conservative government to become the next chief of the OPP in late November. Taverner is a 51-year veteran of Toronto police who leads the force's Etobicoke divisions.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to order Ontario ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner's hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

The Ontario NDP and the citizen advocacy group Democracy Watch have also called for investigations into the appointment.

Taverner had previously asked to have his appointment as provincial police commissioner postponed after Blair's call for an investigation. He was originally scheduled to be sworn in today.

Ford denies involvement

Taverner, who is is a friend of Premier Doug Ford, did not meet the original requirements for the job posting. The PC government said it lowered the job qualifications to attract a wider field of candidates.

Ford has repeatedly denied any involvement in Taverner's appointment, and said the decision was made by a hiring panel.

"The appointments for commissioner of the OPP have always been, as far as I can remember, clean as a whistle," said Ian Scott, a former director of the Special Investigations Unit, Ontario's police watchdog.

"There's definitely an odour around this one. It smacks and stinks, frankly, of cronyism," he told CBC Toronto.

Scott questioned the decision to lower the job qualifications in the midst of the hiring process, saying that Taverner does not appear to have the experience necessary for the job.

Given the controversy now swirling around the appointment, Scott said a Taverner-led OPP would be handcuffed when it comes to investigating political wrongdoing, which typically falls under OPP jurisrdiction.

Investigations against the Ontario Liberals, for example, would be seen as vindictive, while investigations into Ford's PCs would be seen as a coverup, he said.

"For the sake of policing in the province, he ought to decline [the job]," Scott added.

NDP repeats call for investigation

Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, who has repeatedly criticized Taverner's appointment amid concerns about political interference, told reporters at Queen's Park she's "relieved" by Taverner's decision.

Horwath explained that a "flood of concern has been forming across Ontario" about Taverner's controversial appointment.

She also renewed calls for a non-partisan emergency select committee to conduct its own investigation into the matter.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.4948896
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Ron Taverner Asks For Toronto Police Job Back As Watchdog In

Postby Thomas » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:41 pm

Ron Taverner Asks For Toronto Police Job Back As Watchdog Investigates His OPP Hiring

TORONTO — The man selected to become the next Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto police force and will return to his old job.

Supt. Ron Taverner, a longtime friend of Premier Doug Ford, will return to his role as unit commander of three divisions in the city's northwest end, Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said Monday.

"He requested that this resignation be rescinded this weekend,'' Gray said. "It was reviewed and approved by the chief last night and he's back being unit commander of those divisions effective this morning.''

Taverner off the job for just 24 hours

Gray said Taverner, 72, had officially resigned Saturday.

"He was only absent 24 hours,'' Gray said.

The Ontario government said over the weekend that Taverner requested his appointment to the OPP's top job be delayed until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process was complete.

The choice of Taverner as the province's top cop has drawn ire from within the OPP and from Ford's political opponents, who noted that the qualifications required for the position had been lowered, allowing the premier's longtime ally to qualify.

The Progressive Conservatives have repeatedly denied that the premier's office had anything to do with Taverner's hiring.

Gray said she didn't know Taverner's long-term plans, but said he was back at work with the Toronto force.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner's hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

Blair's lawyer, Julian Falconer, said the ombudsman won't investigate because he believes the matter is out of his jurisdiction since the hiring was ultimately a decision made by cabinet.

Falconer said Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force's deputy commissioner.

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/12/1 ... _23620441/
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We need a full inquiry into the Ron Taverner affair

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:35 am

Globe editorial: We need a full inquiry into the Ron Taverner affair

This weekend, the selection of Ontario’s top police officer tiptoed up to the edge of becoming a crisis, and instead took a step back into mere scandal. Lucky us.

The first helping of cold comfort in this troubling saga arrived on Saturday when 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 has investigated it.

You know things are bad when someone is asking for an ethics probe into his own hiring, and with Supt. Taverner and the OPP, things are well and truly bad. The brief fit of sanity represented by this recent postponement should not convince anyone that the matter is closed.

The trouble starts with the fact Supt. Taverner and the Premier are pals. They have breakfast together, hang out at the Ford family cottage, and once flew to Chicago to take in a hockey game. That alone makes the 72-year-old unfit to lead a shop that investigates allegations of wrongdoing in government, and must be able to do so independently. It shouldn’t need saying in a mature democracy, but the head of government cannot make his buddy chief of police.

Unfortunately, this scandal doesn’t end with Supt. Taverner and whatever job he holds. The process that led to his abortive selection still needs to be investigated. It stinks, and it risks undermining the independence of Canada’s second largest police force.

An impartial, properly empowered investigator could ask a lot of interesting questions about the Taverner affair:

Why were the job qualifications for OPP chief lowered two days after being posted, just enough to make room for Supt. Taverner? Was the Premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, involved in that decision? Was the Premier?

Why did Steve Orsini, the head of the Ontario’s public service and the province’s most senior bureaucrat, suddenly retire last Friday, only hours before Supt. Taverner’s appointment was put on hold? He was on the OPP hiring panel. Are the two events linked?

What should we make of a report that the Ford government was looking to give Supt. Taverner another senior job before they tapped him for the OPP? Or of the fact that recently hired Deputy Minister of Community Safety Mario Di Tommaso was both Supt. Taverner’s former boss and on the panel that interviewed candidates for the OPP job?

Why was Mr. Ford’s chief of staff involved in the hiring process, as OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair alleges, if Supt. Taverner was recommended to cabinet by an independent, arms-length panel, as the government insists?

And what of Deputy Commissioner Blair’s other serious allegations? He says that the decision to hire Supt. Taverner appears to have been made before the cabinet meeting that supposedly made the decision, and that the Premier’s chief of staff asked the OPP to procure a camper-type vehicle for the Premier, without putting the contract out to tender, and keeping the spending off the books and hidden from the public. If that’s true, it may be a criminal allegation.

We already know that a highly unusual process to replace the head of the OPP led to the selection of a 72-year-old mid-level Toronto cop who happens to be the Premier’s friend. Questions are natural. The government should welcome them. Because right now, it looks for all the world like the hiring process was gamed to give a Ford crony the province’s top law-enforcement job.

If that’s true – and there’s no proof it is – Mr. Ford would be guilty of trying to interfere with the independence of the provincial police. That’s the sort of thing politicians used to resign over. It’s in his interest to try and clear the air. The whiff of wrongdoing isn’t going away on its own.

More importantly, a proper investigation into this matter would serve the public. As Mr. Blair wrote in a letter to the provincial ombudsman, “If the hiring process remains enveloped in questions of political interference, the result will be irreparable damage to police independence.” No one wants to live in a province whose police force is suspected of being beholden to the government of the day.

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.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... er-affair/
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Integrity watchdog confirms probe into appointment of Ron Ta

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:24 pm

Integrity watchdog confirms probe into appointment of Ron Taverner as Ontario's top cop

Ontario's integrity commissioner confirmed Tuesday he is conducting an inquiry into the appointment of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the next provincial police commissioner following a request by an NDP member about Premier Doug Ford.

David Wake said in an emailed news release that the inquiry is in response to the request by Kevin Yarde, MPP for Brampton North, about Ford. Wake said the inquiry will be conducted under the Members' Integrity Act, 1994.

Ford, speaking to reporters on Tuesday after visiting the new Amazon office in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, defended the Taverner appointment and said it will happen despite allegations of political interference.

Premier says appointment will move forward

"Ron Taverner is a great guy .... this guy has given his life to policing. Let the review take place. And I can tell you one thing, once the review gets done, he's going to be the best commissioner the OPP has ever seen," Ford said.

"We look forward to having Ron Taverner as the commissioner of the OPP."

Taverner, a family friend of Ford, was set to start his new job on Monday, but he announced over the weekend that he would wait until the integrity commissioner completed his investigation.

On Monday, the 72-year-old returned to his previous job as superintendent of three Toronto police divisions.

Ford also defended Taverner, describing him as a "cop's cop" who looks after frontline officers. Ford said OPP officers have called him to express support for the appointment and they are "excited" about Taverner as commissioner.

"If you look at his credentials, speaks for itself. Fifty years in policing around the province," Ford said. "That is what is desperately needed at the OPP right now."

Taverner will continue police job until review's end

Ford said Taverner rescinded his resignation because waiting for the investigation to be completed would waste his time.

"He rescinded it because the review is taking place and he's not going to sit around for four to six weeks, or however long the review is going to take, doing nothing," the premier said.

Asked what he would do if the investigation finds a problem with the hiring, Ford said: "You're saying something that hasn't happened. What I want to do is get through the review. Let's get through the review and see what happens."

Opposition leader calls for public inquiry

Meanwhile, Ontario's Official Opposition is calling for a public inquiry into allegations of political interference in the appointment.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the integrity commissioner's investigation into the hiring can't only happen behind closed doors.

Horwath said two rarely used subsections of the Public Inquiries Act allow the integrity commissioner to launch a public inquiry — a power usually reserved for the premier and his cabinet.

"An investigation of this importance — an investigation that's critical to continued public confidence in the OPP — has to be an open, transparent process," Horwath said in a news release on Tuesday.

She said a full public inquiry would have "the power to summon witnesses, request documents, and ensure witnesses are protected from self-incrimination and discipline or retribution from their employer. A public inquiry can guarantee those things."

After naming Taverner as the new commissioner in late November, the Ford government admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates for the job.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to order Ontario ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner's hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.4950680
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