How many official reports, complaints, law suits and expressions of citizen disgust do there have to be before Toronto gets around to firing Police Chief Bill Blair? From day one of the G20 weekend in Toronto two years ago, we knew something was wrong. We were getting B.S. from the news media about some five metre law that we knew had to be wrong. We watched in horror as the Toronto police—augmented by personnel from police forces across Canada—allowed a rabid group of anarchists to destroy property on main streets in downtown Toronto. And then we saw police trampling on citizens’ rights for simply being in the way when the police decided to get even.
The police lacked intelligence about the anarchists. They took out their frustrations on gawkers. They arrested innocent people without proper cause. They put the word ‘kettling’ into the Canadian lexicon. They were out of control and nobody in a position to do something about it said a word. It was a total breakdown of civilian control of their police services.
And the civilians who could have stopped what was happening did not even know they had the authority. Prime Minister Harper ignored it. He was busy. Premier McGuinty did not acknowledge it. He was absent. The judiciary took the weekend off. The civil rights people had nowhere to turn. The police were allowed to do as they wished. There was no civilian oversight.
Bill Blair was in charge. We trusted him. He failed us. He must go.
Fire the Police Services Board if you wish but they only did about what you would expect. These people are a fiction of oversight. They are politically appointed and politically motivated. As such they are too easily co-opted to do what the police want. They hardly ask the right questions nor do they understand their role and will always fashion themselves as some sort of super cops.
Retired Judge John Morden wrote a report for the Toronto Police Services Board that boiled down to a severe criticism of the board. They did not understand their job. While these boards act as apologists for the police, they do not bother to understand the need for operational oversight. While board members are errand runners to get the funds that police want to do their job, they fail to question the details of that expense. They fail to represent the public.
But while it is easy for a police chief to co-opt the board for his or her own objectives, the police chief still has to be held accountable for the actions of the officers. Bill Blair was on duty for the G20 weekend in Toronto. Bill Blair disgraced us. He must be fired.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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