The Beatification of Bill Blair?

It took the questionable memory of Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee to relate it and the writing skills of Toronto Star writer Tim Harper to forge it. And it took them over seven years to prepare it for publication. It purports to be an explanation of what took the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010 off the rails. The book is titled Excessive Force.

But any farmer could tell them that when you play road hockey with frozen horse droppings in the barnyard, you end up splattered as the puck melts. And those pucks sure get warmed as this team spins their tale.

First of all, they can hardly suggest that former police chief Bill Blair is a saint because, as he reports, he thinks he was responsible for nothing. The first question we would ask, if we were foolish enough to believe him, is what new communications systems did he acquire for that $14 million he supposedly got from Toronto taxpayers? And why did the police communications fail at times when communications were really needed?

What is very strange in this book is the reported arrangement between the chief of police and the police services board. It seems the board is not allowed to ask questions regarding operational matters. We are told operations matters are the purview of the chief. If you follow that thinking, the board, who hires him or her, is at the mercy of the chief of police. The board is therefore a sham that hires gunfighters to keep their town safe according to some ancient code.

What makes absolutely no sense in this story is the operational hierarchy in place for the Toronto summit. Mukherjee tells us that Blair was not responsible but his underlings were. Blair is reported to have told him that all orders originated from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Integrated Security Unit in Barrie. This operational centre had been established in Barrie to cover the earlier G7 near Huntsville, Ontario as well as the G20 in Toronto. From a technical communications view, Barrie made a lot of sense. From a street view, it was idiotic.

Good security systems for international events are built in rings. Typically, the inner ring of an event such as the G20 is covered by highly trained federal representatives such as the RCMP. The surrounding ring is handled by local people who know the site and its surroundings. Mukherjee and Harper make it sound like many of the police borrowed from other parts of Canada spent most of their time in Toronto learning their way about.

Mukherjee tells us that Blair’s preparations for the G20 were ridiculous and quickly found to be hollow. Blair sniped at his underlings instead of leading them. The tactics of the anarchist group the Black Bloc had been studied but not prepared for. Blair goaded his troops into retaliating on the innocent. He broke all the rules of effective policing.

Why should Toronto take pride in that?


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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