April 26, 2019
April 26, 2019 3:53 PM EDT
Brad Blair, left, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right
Former OPP head Brad Blair used his position to launch personal and political attacks against Premier Doug Ford to further his personal and private interests, a statement of defence filed on behalf of the Premier says.
Blair initiated a $5 million defamation lawsuit against Ford in March, saying the Premier had improperly accused him of violating the Police Services Act.
A statement of defence filed Friday by lawyer Gavin J. Tighe says Ford’s actions were not defamatory, were true and justified and fell under qualified privilege.
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“This action arises out of alleged defamatory comments made by Premier Ford in response to a calculated, widely publicized, public, malicious and unprovoked personal and political attack and assault made against Premier Ford by the Plaintiff, Brad Blair, who improperly used his public position as Interim Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the highest-ranking police officer in Ontario, as a platform for such personal and political attacks designed to harm Premier Ford and advance Mr. Blair’s personal and private interests,” the statement says.
Blair had been a contender for the position of OPP Commissioner but lost out to Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner.
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After a public backlash against the choice of Taverner, a long-time Ford family friend, Thomas Carrique was appointed to a three-year term heading up the OPP.
Blair went to court to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate Taverner’s appointment, arguing political interference, and then launched the defamation suit.
“Premier Ford made these defamatory remarks fully aware that the natural and probable consequence of making these defamatory statements would be the widespread re-publication by the Canadian media, which would be heard and viewed by millions,” Blair’s statement of claim said.
Neither Blair’s statement of claim or Ford’s statement of defence have been proven in court.