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Toronto’s new police chief says he ‘recognizes and acknowledges’ concerns about his appointment

Toronto’s new chief of police, Myron Demkiw, told reporters that he “recognizes and acknowledges” concerns about his appointment after he was sworn in Monday morning during a change of command ceremony at Toronto Police Headquarters.

Demkiw’s appointment has been opposed by some members of the LGBTQ community who have raised concerns about Demkiw’s involvement in a raid at a downtown Toronto women's bathhouse more than 20 years ago.

Just days after Demkiw was announced as the city’s next top cop, two women directly impacted by the raid penned an open letter to Mayor John Tory and Jim Hart, the chair of the Toronto Police Services (TPS) Board, that outlined a number of concerns with the chief designate, notably his involvement in planning and his participation in the September 2000 bust at Pussy Palace on Mutual Street.

Chanelle Gallant and JP Hornick, who were original members of the Toronto Women’s Bathhouse Committee, asked for a public meeting with Mayor John Tory before the chief designate officially assumed his new role on Dec. 19 to “address their concerns.”

“This was not an isolated incident nor a momentary lapse in judgement,” the letter read.

When asked Monday if he believes there is a way to rebuild trust between himself and the LGBTQ community, Demkiw said he thinks it’s possible, but that it begins with him acknowledging the impact of his actions.

“I believe that what I need to do is to go into the community where possible to listen, learn and come to understand how to bridge that gap. And I think there is a path,” Demkiw said.

“But the path requires me to acknowledge the impact my actions and the actions of others had that day. But importantly also the impact our actions as the organization has had in the community at large broadly in the LGBTQ2S+ community, because it's not only about that day. It's about a relationship that has been formed over many, many years and has had a number of instances where trust and confidence has been shaken.”

An Oct. 13 letter sent via email to Gallant and Hornick from Hart noted that Demkiw contacted the TPS Board office asking to participate in a potential meeting. They responded to that note indicating that they do not wish to include Demkiw in the meeting.

Hart, in an Oct. 28 follow-up correspondence, said he’d get back to them “next week with proposed times for this conversation.”

In a follow-up letter sent to Toronto mayor John Tory on Sunday, Gallant and Hornick say the LGTBQ community has not had a “chance to question how this appointment could have taken place, nor make public their demands.”

“Unfortunately, despite the very legitimate concerns about Mr. Demkiw’s record and his role in planning and executing a raid on queer bathhouse event, you have refused our community’s demand for a public meeting,” they wrote.

“Our community deserves answers through a public forum to account for how this appointment happened. Your refusal to meet publicly to hear the community’s concerns and answer our questions will continue to harm the queer community. … With regret and disappointment we, along with the hundreds of people who signed on to our first letter, continue to demand a public meeting with Mayor Tory to address our concerns.”

In a statement to, Tory’s office said the mayor is confident that Demkiw will “provide strong leadership in moving forward the work underway on police reform.”

“As the Mayor said when the appointment was announced, the work to build and rebuild trust cannot stop. He believes the new Chief is firmly committed to the reform and modernization work underway, as he clearly indicated in his remarks upon taking office,” the statement read.

“The selection process clearly identified a person in Myron Demkiw who will make it his highest priority to ensure that every resident in every community across our city feels respected and protected.”

The statement from Tory’s office also said that the mayor and police board chair offered “several times” to have a private meeting with Gallant and Hornick but they have “so far rejected that offer.”

Demkiw said he is prepared to apologize to the LGBTQ community, but said he needs time to consult with them about what exactly that apology should be.

“I want to be very, very clear about this: I am absolutely prepared to do an unreserved apology,” Demkiw said.

“But now it’s time for me to listen and understand what that apology should be. And I need to be informed through my engagement in discussions with the communities that have been impacted… I've met with community leaders leading up to today in the LGBTQ2S+ community and that was something that was very frankly discussed and something I'll be working towards in the coming weeks and months.”


Monday morning’s change of command included a special ceremony for outgoing police Chief James Ramer, who was piped out of the building to “honour of his extraordinary career and leadership,” police said in a Dec. 19 news release. Ramer, whose contract runs until the end of this year, served as Toronto’s top cop since the resignation of former police chief Mark Saunders in August 2020.

During the event, Tory said he’s confident said Demkiw is “more than up to the task of keeping the city safe” and would work hard to maintain and earn its trust.

He said Demkiw has been a champion for many important causes, including the force’s work on anti-Black racism and missing persons.

Departing Chief James Ramer, meanwhile, said he believes Toronto Police Service (TPS) has a bright future with Demkiw at the helm.

Calling him “without question one of the most highly respected police leader in Canada,” Ramer said he has worked closely with Demkiw for several years and admires him for his passion for people, his leadership, and his “commitment to finding modern, equable approaches” to keeping the city safe.

During his remarks, Demkiw said becoming Toronto’s 25th chief of police is a “dream come true.”

He said his top three priorities as the city's top cop are to build trust in and within the Toronto Police Service, to accelerate police reform and professionalization, and support safer communities.

Vowing to “give my all every day,” Demkiw said he’ll work to achieve those goals by earning and repairing trust, addressing crime, improving community safety and wellbeing for everyone, and by taking a public health approach when it comes to how police approach the victims of gun violence as well as those with addictions and mental health challenges. He also said he’d review community policing to ensure it is equitable for everyone.

By taking a “deliberately collaborative” approach as the city’s next police chief, Demkiw said he’d ensure concrete and measurable steps will be taken so that evidence-based changes happen and that all TPS members have access to the resources they need to do their job of serving the community.

Lastly, the new chief said he would support safer communities by using available technologies to foster safety in neighbourhoods across the city.

As a leader, he said promises to “understand before understood” and to have his “actions speak louder than words.”

A proud Ukrainian-Canadian, Demkiw concluded his remarks by saying a few words of gratitude to his late parents in Ukrainian for “teaching him to remember his heritage and for raising him in great city of Toronto, which he calls home.” Top Stories

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