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Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow makes amends with police association following public dispute

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and the union representing the city’s police officers have repaired their rift, both sides say, in an effort to set the tone for the term.

“I think this is an opportunity now to start fresh,” Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid told CTV News Toronto after meeting with Chow.

The new mayor invited the union’s leadership into her office Monday in an effort to hit reset on a relationship that appeared to get off on the wrong foot.

The most recent dispute began a few weeks ago when the association publicly blasted Chow for failing to directly reach out to officers involved in a series of incidents that resulted in police injuries and the death of a police dog.

“Will Mayor Chow offer any words of condolence or support for our members?” The union tweeted.

“We were a little concerned when we didn’t hear anything,” Reid said. “That was what kind of what precipitated us raising the flag,” Reid said.

Chow maintains she expressed support through conversations with the Chief but will now make those statements more publicly.

“We talked about making sure that the frontline officers feel that they are being supported, appreciated, in all the work that they do,” Chow told CTV News Toronto Tuesday.

The difficult dynamic between Chow and the association traces back to her days as a city councillor. In 2000 she was forced to resign from the police board after criticizing the force’s handling of a rally that turned violent.

More recently, top-cop-turned-mayoral-candidate Mark Saunders spent much of the campaign slamming Chow’s voting record on the file, claiming that if elected she would defund the police.

“Former Chief Saunders did say that, and it was an election, when people say a lot of things,” Jon Burnside, Chow’s newest appointee to the police services board, said Tuesday. Chow last week declined to sit on the police board herself as mayor.

“As my mom would say, the proof will be in the pudding.”

The billion-dollar police budget will indeed be one of Chow’s toughest tasks, as she’ll likely be asked for increased funding and officers.

Chow said Tuesday she only briefly discussed the budget with Chief Myron Demkiw, with whom she had her first official sit-down Monday.

“We didn’t go into it that much because everyone understood that the city has a budget hole of $1.5 billion. And we are beginning the budget process, so we haven’t gone into too much of that detail,” she said.

“But I assured everyone that there would be a collaborative approach.”

For now, the union says a mutual agreement to focus on their common vision for a safer city — and not their differences — will result in a more positive relationship.

“Lines are now created between us and the mayor,” Reid said. “And those lines are important.” Top Stories

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