Gov't postponing appointment of incoming OPP commissioner Ron Taverner
Incoming OPP commissioner Ron Taverner’s appointment is being delayed until Ontario’s integrity commissioner has completed an investigation into whether there was any political interference from Premier Doug Ford, CTV News Toronto has learned.
The premier’s office agreed to postpone the appointment after Taverner sent an email to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, who is in charge of the OPP.
In his email, Taverner, who resigned as a Toronto police superintendent on Friday, said he is requesting the postponement “until as such time the Integrity Commissioner has completed his review.”
“While the government has full confidence in Mr. Taverner, we will respect his request for a delay in his appointment, until such time as the Integrity Commissioner has conducted a review of the selection process,” Jones wrote in a statement.
Sources also tell CTV News Toronto that cabinet will be relieving Brad Blair of the interim commissioner’s position and will appoint Gary Couture, who is currently the deputy commissioner in charge of field operations, to the position until at least the end of March.
Blair, on Wednesday, requested the province’s ombudsman conduct a review of Taverner’s appointment. In his request, he cited “growing concerns about the hiring process and political interference.
Ford and Taverener are long-time family friends.
Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said on Friday that the watchdog had turned down the request. He subsequently filed an application with the Ontario Divisional Court to force the ombudsman to investigate.
Falconer confirmed on Saturday that the court application will proceed.
In a statement to OPP members, and shared with the media, Blair acknowledged his removal.
“I have already had discussions with Deputy Commissioner Couture who assumes command effective Monday, December 17, 2018. I will be fully supportive in assisting his transition,” the statement noted.
“I do not regret a single step I have had to take.”
Blair will return to his post as deputy commissioner of Traffic Safety and Operational Support Commend. Blair’s removal will likely prompt more questions from the NDP, which has been pushing for Taverner’s appointment to be delayed until an investigation can be held.
NDP MPP Kevin Yarde asked the integrity commissioner to investigate Premier Doug Ford under the Members’ Integrity Act in the appointment of Taverner.
On Saturday, NDP Deputy Leader Sarah Singh told reporters at Queen's Park that in addition to that investigation, the party is calling for an emergency select committee to be struck.
“I think we need to understand how this was allowed to happen, how rules were changed in order to have somebody appointed to a position. I think these investigations, along with potentially the RCMP’s investigation, will help provide some clarity for us here in the province,” she said.
Ford has previously denied any interference in the process.