NDP calls for public inquiry after integrity report on OPP hiring
The Ontario New Democratic Party is continuing to call for a public inquiry into the hiring of Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner as Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner after an integrity commissioner report said the process was “flawed.”
Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake launched an investigation into the hiring of Taverner following numerous complaints and accusations of political interference. The report, which was issued on Wednesday, found that Premier Doug Ford’s conduct in the recruitment process was “not improper.”
“He could not have had any improper purpose in the approval of the selection committee's recommendation on the basis of what he knew at the time,” Wake wrote.
The report did, however, raise concerns regarding communications between top civil servants about the hiring process.
The report found that Steve Orsini, the secretary of the cabinet, was in constant conversation with Ford’s Chief of Staff Dean French about where Taverner stood in the hiring process. The commissioner said that Orsini felt pressured to recommend a Ford family friend for the position.
Both Orsini and French admitted that the appointment of Taverner did not involve an independent hiring process, the report found.
"There seemed to be a tacit acknowledgment by the secretary that Mr. French was rooting for Mr. Taverner's success,” Wake wrote. “Anyone examining these messages would have serious doubts as to the fairness of the process to the other candidates."
“This report is damning in every way and that is why it is necessary that we have a public inquiry,” Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters on Thursday. “The government took advantage of a weak process to have Mr. Ford’s best friend become the OPP commissioner and that stinks all the way around.”
Former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair, who was fired by the provincial government nearly three weeks ago, said that he feels the entire process was “rigged” in favour of Taverner.
Blair’s lawyer said that he is pursuing a wrongful termination proceeding against the provincial government.
“This saga is not over,” said Julian Falconer over the phone.
Taverner withdrew his name from consideration for the job earlier this month.
With files from the Canadian Press