Firing from OPP felt like losing family member, Blair said

Firing from OPP felt like losing family member, Blair said
Antonella Artuso
September 13, 2019
September 13, 2019 8:17 PM EDT
Fired after criticizing the hiring process for Ford family friend Ron Taverner to the top OPP job, the provincial police service’s former deputy commissioner is seeking a Commission of Inquiry to look at “corrupt” provincial government appointments.
Brad Blair is also seeking $15 million in damages in a wrongful termination lawsuit that names Premier Doug Ford, his former chief of staff Dean French and senior bureaucrats, in addition to a previously announced $5 million libel lawsuit against Ford.
Blair, with wife Danielle at his side, said what he really wants is to be back in uniform doing the job he loved.
“He’s put his life on the line, he’s put his well-being on the line many times but if there’s one thing he’s always done, he’s always done the right thing,” Danielle said, wiping away tears.
“I’m just very proud of him.”
Blair was the acting commissioner of the OPP and a candidate for the permanent version of that job when Taverner, a Toronto Police superintendent, was announced as the winning candidate.
Taverner bowed out after questions were raised about the impartiality of the process.
Blair was fired March 4 by people deeply involved in Taverner’s hiring, his lawyer Julian Falconer said.
“You take a 32-year career and you flush it down the toilet,” Falconer said.
“Instead of being recognized for his service, it’s flushed down the toilet.”
When he turned to two legislative watch dogs, the Ombudsman and the Integrity Commissioner, Blair was again failed, Falconer said.
The issue was not Taverner but the ‘rigged’ process used to put him in that position, he said.
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A Commission of Inquiry would offer an independent investigation of not only Taverner’s appointment, but that of several people connected to French, he said.
Blair was asked how he felt to be pulled from the service in that manner, and he compared it to losing his father at age 21.
“That’s what it felt like to me; the OPP was my family,” he said.
Ford’s office issued a statement on his behalf that thanked the uniformed and civilian men and women of the OPP.
“Our government will continue to work with OPP Commissioner, Thomas Carrique, to support all the members of the OPP, especially on matters relating to mental health and supporting our front-line officers,” the statement said.
“As the Premier has said before, his concern is and always has been protecting and supporting the front-line officers who put their lives on the line every single day to protect our communities.”
Ford’s office said it would be inappropriate to comment on a matter before the courts.
LILLEY: Blair's lawsuit against Ford is doomed to fail
Brian Lilley
September 13, 2019
September 13, 2019 8:18 PM EDT
Brad Blair is pictured after speaking with the media at the Ontario Legislature, in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019.Chris Young / The Canadian Press
Ontario’s former top cop is likely to be disappointed again.
Brad Blair launched a $15 million lawsuit against Premier Doug Ford over his firing last March and called for a public inquiry into how appointments are made in the province.
There is no way that the Ford government will call an inquiry on itself and its own appointments.
As for the lawsuit, with the exception of perhaps a partial win on some comments made by the premier, the lawsuit is destined to fail for one simple reason: the government is allowed to appoint or fire the people they want in top jobs — it is how our system works.
Blair knows this because his appointment as interim commissioner was an order-in-council — effectively a cabinet order — giving him the job.
The OIC signed on October 31 said that Blair “be appointed as Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, effective from November 3, 2018, to serve at the pleasure of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.”
A key phrase there was “at the pleasure,” meaning Blair could be fired at any time.
This isn’t something unique to the Ford government or the current government’s reading of the law, this is fundamental to our system.
So Blair’s lawsuit is doomed to failure from the word go, it’s also doomed based on precedent.
In 2012, former federal cabinet minister Helena Guergis sued Stephen Harper and several top staffers over her removal from the Conservative cabinet.
She also alleged that they defamed her as she was fired.
WARMINGTON: Taverner controversy generates third probe
Firing from OPP felt like losing family member, Blair said
LILLEY: Ford right to pass on Taverner for top OPP job
Ford not in conflict of interest in Taverner appointment: Integrity commissioner
“The power to appoint or dismiss cabinet ministers at pleasure is a Crown prerogative that is not justiciable at law,” said the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The same principle that allows cabinet ministers to be appointed or dismissed as a pleasure of Crown prerogative, also applies to top jobs that are the result of orders-in-council.
Blair wants the court to order his reinstatement to the OPP so that he can “retire with dignity.”
And a $15 million paycheque.
The lawsuit alleges “wrongful termination, misfeasance in public office, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of mental suffering” and a violation of Blair’s Charter Rights.
For that and the suffering he says he and his family endured he also wants taxpayers to give him $15 million.
Let’s hope the court sends him packing.
Brad Blair. Ontario Provincial Police / CNW Group
While some of Ford’s comments about Blair breaching the Police Services Act may be considered defamatory by the courts, that is his strongest case.
Even there though, Blair could find himself in trouble.
He might have to explain why he decided to release internal emails from the OPP, including details regarding the premier’s security detail.
He may be questioned as to his motive for this lawsuit, which appears to be the very same reason he says he was fired – retribution.
Blair wants to paint himself as a whistleblower out to protect the dignity of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Running to the media, filing lawsuits and asking officials of the legislature to investigate the government because you lost out on a job seems like a lot less than protecting the dignity of the OPP.
It seems like sour grapes and so does this lawsuit.
bill barilko
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Another liberal snowflake.
Most cops are