The provincial police commissioner in Ontario urges the province's ombudsman to investigate "political interference issues" at the recent Toronto police appointment. Ron Taverner as the next UPS commissioner.
Brad Blair, who has temporarily ruled the interim void after Vince Hawkes resigned as commissioner on November 2, filed a formal request Tuesday, in the context of growing concerns about the hiring process, which he says "deeply affected the rank and file morale. "
"It is clear to me that as a current Commissioner I have to put my service before the UPR before personal ambitions to regain the notion of bias in this process and the potential damage to the reputation of the UPR," Blair wrote a nine-page letter to Ombudsman Paul Dubé.
Tavern, a close friend of Prime Minister Doug Ford's family, is named after the next UPS commissioner last month and will take office on December 17, serving a maximum three-year term.
Although he was on two levels under the rank of Deputy Chief of Police in Toronto, Tavern was tapped by Ford's Cabinet at the unanimous recommendation of an independent rental panel.
"The facts about the hiring process … raise a legitimate question of whether the UPS compromise has been compromised and whether society can trust and respect the UPRs to move forward," Blair said.
Just a few days after the Tavern was elected to the post, the Ford government admitted that it reduced the position requirements to attract a wider range of job candidates amid controversial reports that the prime minister had interfered with to appoint a friend .
The original publication for the next Commissioner required the candidates concerned to occupy at least the post of Deputy Chief or Assistant Commissioner. These requirements were canceled two days later.
"Of the 27 candidates, only four of which I know do not meet the initial threshold requirements," Blair said in the letter.
Ontario, EU Secretary of State Silvia Jones said last week that the Tavern was appointed to its own merits, and the cabinet's decision was made independently.
Ford also repeatedly stressed that his long relationship with the Tavern was not a factor in the decision. Taverner is a 51-year-old veteran from Toronto and is respected within the marriage-agency service.
Still, Blair argues that the hiring process "remains embraced by political interference issues" that destroy the foundations of the UPR.
"I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the UPR will remain independent," Blair told the Ombudsman.
"Assuming this new command without addressing this issue will cause dysfunction in the service and will undermine the command."
I have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the UPR will remain independent.– Brad Blair, temporary UPS commissioners
To remedy the problem, Blair suggests delaying Tavern's installation as a commissioner until the review is completed.
"Given the current cloud of susceptible bias and inappropriate political interference in this process, it can not be in anyone's interest to put Subt Tavern in position as it will only undermine command and reduce public confidence in the UPR" said Tuesday in a joint letter to Jones, Secretary of State for Security and Chief Prosecutor Carolyn Mullori.
Groups like Democracy Watch have also sought other ways to overcome fears that Ford intervened in the hiring process and violated the Ontario Members' Honesty Act.
Duff, a co-founder of the national organization that advocates the government's responsibility, has asked Ontario's Integrity Commissioner David Wick to investigate the circumstances in which Tavern hired.