No con­flict, Ford says

Premier says he wasn’t in­volved in hir­ing of fam­ily friend as OPP com­mis­sioner

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - ONTARIO NEWS - SHAWN JEF­FORDS

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.

POST­MEDIA NET­WORK FILES

On­tario Premier Doug Ford said Tues­day that he was “ab­so­lutely not” in­volved in the ap­point­ment of a fam­ily friend, Ron Tav­erner, above, as the next com­mis­sioner of the On­tario Provin­cial Po­lice.

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