OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

If the drift of Canada towards a police state has not yet affected you directly, you would do well to recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, writing in Germany before his arrest in the 1930s: "The Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant, so I didn't speak up....by that time there was nobody left to speak up for anyone."

Ontario's top court dismisses defamation appeal by ex-OPP de

Postby Thomas » Sun Nov 28, 2021 5:10 pm

Ontario's top court dismisses defamation appeal by ex-OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair against Ford

Blair alleged premier smeared his reputation for political gain, Ford's lawyers argued fair comment

Ontario's top court has dismissed an appeal by former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair over over allegedly defamatory comments made by Premier Doug Ford, which Blair argued were made to deflect criticism from the premier himself.

The appeal was heard in October, nine months after a lower court dismissed a $5 million lawsuit filed by Blair in 2019 in which he alleged the premier smeared his reputation for political gain by saying Blair had violated the Police Services Act.

"My family and I are disappointed with today's decision. I don't understand how any court could find that I could gag the most powerful person in the province," Blair said in a statement Thursday.

"This decision is a warning to any future whistleblowers —don't bother to stick your head out of the trenches and do the right thing because you will get punished, have your reputation tarnished, and when you try to protect it, you could be subject to half a million dollars in costs."

Blair added he feels anti-SLAPP legislation — which was meant to discourage lawsuits that could make it difficult for people and organizations to speak out on matters of public interest — has effectively been made a tool "to silence any criticism of public officials."

Blair had asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Ron Taverner, a long-time friend of the premier, as OPP commissioner, raising concerns about political interference. Taverner later withdrew his name from consideration for the position, citing the controversy surrounding his appointment.

His lawyer, Julian Falconer characterized Blair as a "whistleblower," and pointed out that Blair remains out of a job today while Ford remains the premier. He characterized Blair's fight against Ford as one of David versus Goliath, arguing Ford's comments that Blair broke the law would have been considered fact by virtue of his position as premier.

Ford's lawyer 'obviously pleased' with 'complete victory'

Ford's lawyers maintained the premier's statements on the matter were fair comment.

"A conviction is a fact," said lawyer Gavin Tighe in October, representing Ford. "An opinion that someone's conduct broke the law is just that — an opinion."

Tighe rejected the characterization of Blair as a "David," saying: "The only thing Mr. Blair has in common with David is that he threw the first rock," having written to the ombudsman.

In an emailed response to a request for comment from CBC News Thursday, Tighe said he and his client are "obviously pleased at the complete victory in the province's highest court.

"The integrity commissioner, the motion judge and now the Court of Appeal have all found there was no merit in these allegations," Tighe wrote.

Falconer says Blair now faces a $160,000 costs award "for doing the right thing."

He says his team is studying the decision and is exploring a possible appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Last December, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba found the suit isn't exactly a SLAPP — strategic litigation against public participation — case, which typically refers to powerful entities seeking to silence more vulnerable opponents.

But the judge noted the analysis applies because Ford's comments related to a matter of public interest, and ruled to dismiss the claim.

Blair also filed a $15-million lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ ... -1.6263118
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MANDEL: Appeal court upholds dismissal of ex-OPP officer's l

Postby Thomas » Sun Nov 28, 2021 5:14 pm

MANDEL: Appeal court upholds dismissal of ex-OPP officer's libel suit against Doug Ford

Former OPP Commissioner Brad Blair has lost a second round in his fight against Doug Ford, with the Ontario Court of Appeal upholding the dismissal of his $5 million libel suit against the Premier.

And not only that, but Blair must now pay Ford’s legal costs of $130,000 all at once rather than in two installments. Plus he’s on the hook for the Premier’s $30,000 legal bill for this loss as well.

At Ontario’s highest court, Blair’s lawyer Julian Falconer had described his client as David to Ford’s Goliath. The three-judge panel didn’t see it that way.

But first, some history.

In 2018, Blair was angry when he was passed over for promotion as OPP commissioner and Ford’s buddy, Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner, was hired instead. The optics were certainly bad: The longtime family friend didn’t initially meet the requirements for the post but the job qualifications were lowered just before he was chosen.

How convenient.

Blair went nuclear and on Dec. 11, 2018, sent a scathing nine-page letter on official police letterhead to the provincial Ombudsman alleging improprieties in the selection process and requesting an independent review. He also released a copy to the public.

According to a Ministry of the Attorney General briefing note prepared for the Premier, under the Police Services Act (PSA) Code of Conduct, officers are not allowed to communicate with the media without proper authority and can’t disclose confidential information.

When reporters asked Ford about the letter, he suggested on three occasions that Blair had breached the PSA.

“It’s unfortunate that one person has sour grapes, and it is very disappointing actually, and reacting the way he’s been reacting and breaking the Police Act numerous times,” Ford told reporters on Jan. 14, 2019. “Someone needs to hold him accountable I can assure you of that.”

Blair was eventually fired from the OPP for allegedly revealing confidential OPP information, including details regarding the Premier’s security detail. In a separate action, he’s suing Ford and others for $15 million for what he called his politically-motivated dismissal.

After the controversy, Taverner withdrew his name from consideration and Thomas Carrique was appointed commissioner instead.

Blair sued Ford, alleging the Premier smeared his reputation by saying he’d broken the law. Ford’s lawyers argued the Premier’s statements were fair comment and asked the court to dismiss the action under anti-SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) legislation, which was typically designed to protect smaller and more vulnerable opponents who speak out against powerful entities.

Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba agreed and threw out the lawsuit. He agreed this wasn’t your classic SLAPP case, as Blair was “ not a large and powerful entity that is using litigation to intimidate a smaller and more vulnerable opponent and silence their public expression, ” and was, rather, “ a genuinely aggrieved individual trying to vindicate what he reasonably believes is a bona fide defamation claim. ”

But the judge found SLAPP still applies because Ford’s comments on the letter were a matter of public interest and “the public interest in protecting Ford’s expression outweighed the public interest in allowing the action to continue.”

As the winner, Ford wanted Blair to cover his legal costs of $578,194.86. Belobaba reduced that to $130,000 and allowed Blair to pay half at once and the other half at the conclusion of his wrongful dismissal suit.

Ford appealed and wanted his half a million in legal fees — talk about sour grapes. Ontario’s highest court stood by Belobaba’s ruling of $130,000 but said he was wrong in dividing it in two.

You’ve got to feel for Blair. The self-described “David” has another round yet to go — his $15 million wrongful termination suit — but it doesn’t look like he has enough rocks to win that one, either.

https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/ ... -doug-ford
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