Tav­erner dined with in­ter­view pan­elist, Ford be­fore OPP ap­point­ment

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GREG MCARTHUR COLIN FREEZE

Toronto po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Ron Tav­erner, the On­tario gov­ern­ment’s choice as the next com­mis­sioner of the On­tario Provin­cial Po­lice, met with Premier Doug Ford mul­ti­ple times in the months lead­ing up to his ap­point­ment, in­clud­ing a din­ner with the hir­ing of­fi­cial who vet­ted Supt. Tav­erner for the high-pro­file po­si­tion.

Supt. Tav­erner also ac­com­pa­nied Mr. Ford to an event at the Premier’s lake­side cot­tage just days be­fore it was an­nounced pub­licly that the top job at the OPP was avail­able, a Globe and Mail re­view of pho­to­graphs and re­lated records shows.

Nei­ther man has made a se­cret of the fact they are friends, and Supt. Tav­erner’s ties to the Ford fam­ily go back even fur­ther.

He has pub­licly praised the late Rob Ford, the for­mer mayor of Toronto who died in 2016 and was him­self em­broiled in a ma­jor po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion after gang mem­bers filmed him smok­ing crack co­caine in 2013.

Their in­ter­ac­tions just prior to his ap­point­ment, though, will be of in­ter­est to the politi­cians, judges and watch­dogs now ex­am­in­ing the gov­ern­ment’s ap­point­ment of the 72-year-old, mi­dlevel com­man­der.

Fol­low­ing a pub­lic out­cry over the hire, Supt. Tav­erner last month de­ferred ac­cept­ing the job pend­ing a re­view by the prov­ince’s In­tegrity Com­mis­sioner – a probe into, among other mat­ters, whether Mr. Ford should have re­cused him­self when cab­i­net ap­proved the ap­point­ment.

In the mean­time, OPP Deputy Com­mis­sioner Brad Blair will be in di­vi­sional court Mon­day, ar­gu­ing that an­other watch­dog, the On­tario Om­buds­man, should in­ves­ti­gate the broader is­sue of whether the Ford gov­ern­ment crossed a line and tried to ex­ert con­trol over the po­lice – specif­i­cally a po­lice force that has ju­ris­dic­tion over in­ves­ti­ga­tions of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Mr. Ford has said he had “zero in­flu­ence” over the hir­ing. He has re­peat­edly pointed to the panel of in­ter­view­ers, say­ing they rec­om­mended Supt. Tav­erner for the job, not him. “No mat­ter who it was, I would have ac­cepted.”

But a re­view of the re­cent en­coun­ters be­tween the Premier and the po­lice com­man­der – many of which have been cap­tured in pho­tos and video posted on­line – shows that one of those in­ter­view pan­elists dined with the two men months be­fore the ap­point­ment. On June 18, 2018, Mario Di Tom­maso – who would go on to in­ter­view ap­pli­cants in both rounds of the job com­pe­ti­tion – was seated next to Mr. Ford and Supt. Tav­erner dur­ing the din­ner por­tion of a golf tour­na­ment.

At the time, Mr. Ford had been Premier for 11 days, Mr. Di Tom­maso was a Toronto po­lice staff su­per­in­ten­dent and one of the of­fi­cers un­der his charge was Supt. Tav­erner. The of­fi­cers have worked for the Toronto Po­lice Ser­vice for a com­bined nine decades.

On Oct. 1, less than four months after the three men dined to­gether, Mr. Di Tom­maso was named the new deputy min­is­ter of Com­mu­nity Safety – the high­est-rank­ing bu­reau­crat in On­tario law en­force­ment. (The other pan­elist who rec­om­mended Supt. Tav­erner, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Ford, was Steve Orsini, the sec­re­tary of the cab­i­net, the prov­ince’s top civil ser­vant. On Dec. 14, as crit­i­cism of the ap­point­ment grew, Mr. Orsini an­nounced he will re­tire at the end of this month.)

Mr. Ford and Supt. Tav­erner de­clined to re­spond to de­tailed ques­tions about their mul­ti­ple meet­ings in ad­vance of the ap­point­ment. Mr. Di Tom­maso did not re­spond to a list of ques­tions.

There is lit­tle in­for­ma­tion on the pub­lic record about what the men dis­cussed at any of their meet­ings, in­clud­ing whether the com­mis­sioner’s job came up.

But The Globe has com­piled a chronol­ogy of events and gov­ern­ment moves that raise ques­tions about whether a path was cleared for Supt. Tav­erner’s ap­point­ment – an ap­point­ment that Deputy Com­mis­sioner Blair says has tar­nished the “per­ceived in­de­pen­dence and in­tegrity of the OPP.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.