The Acting Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is urging the provincial ombudsman to investigate "issues of political interference" in the recent appointment of the Toronto Supt Police. Ron Taverner as the next OPP commissioner.
Brad Blair, who has been leading the force since Vince Hawkes stepped down as commissioner on Nov. 2, filed a formal plea on Tuesday amid growing concerns over the hiring process he says has "profoundly affected morale of the ranking ". and file ".
"It is clear to me that, as the current commissioner, I must put my service to the OPP ahead of personal ambition in order to redress the apprehension of prejudices about this process and the possible damage to the reputation of the OPP," Blair wrote in a statement. nine-page letter to ombudsman Paul Dubé.
Taverner, a close friend of the family of Premier Doug Ford, was named OPP's next commissioner last month and will take office on December 17 for a maximum term of three years.
Despite being two levels below the rank of deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service, Taverner was chosen by Ford's office on the unanimous recommendation of an independent hiring panel.
"The facts of the hiring process raise a legitimate issue as to whether the integrity of OPP has been compromised and whether the public can have confidence and respect for the OPP from now on," Blair said.
Just days after Taverner's nomination for the post, the Ford administration admitted that it reduced the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of job candidates amid controversial reports that the premier had intruded on naming a friend.
The original posting to the next commissioner required that the candidates concerned should at least hold the post of deputy head or deputy commissioner. These requirements were lifted two days later.
"Of the 27 candidates, only four, who I know, did not meet the initial requirements," Blair said in the letter.
Ontario Community Security Minister Sylvia Jones said last week that Taverner was named on its own merits, and the cabinet's decision was made independently.
Ford also repeatedly emphasized that his long relationship with Taverner was not a factor in the decision. Taverner is a 51-year-old Toronto police veteran and is well respected within the service to build relationships with marginalized communities.
However, Blair says that the hiring process "remains embroiled in issues of political interference" that are eroding the foundations of the OPP.
"I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the OPP remains independent," Blair wrote to the ombudsman.
"Having this new command assumed without addressing this issue will cause service disruption and prejudice the command."
I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the OPP remains independent.– Brad Blair, acting OPP commissioner
To correct the problem, Blair suggests postponing Taverner's installation as a commissioner until a review can be completed.
"Given the current cloud of perceived prejudice and inadequate political interference in the process, it can not be in anyone's best interest to put the Supt Taverner in the position as it would only serve to undermine the command and diminish public confidence in the OPP," Blair said. said Tuesday in a joint letter to Jones, the security minister and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney.
Groups such as Democracy Watch also sought other ways to address concerns that Ford interfered with the hiring process and violated the Ontario Legislature Integrity Act.
Duff Conacher, a co-founder of the national organization that defends government responsibility, asked Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake to investigate the circumstances behind Taverner's hiring.