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Doug Ford says Toronto police chief Blair should step aside

The mayor’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, came out swinging against Toronto’s police chief on Tuesday, calling on Bill Blair to step aside over what he said was a conflict of interest.

During a news conference at city hall, he also said he would be contacting the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) about Blair’s conduct and will be writing to the Police Services board about Blair’s fishing trip with a member of the board.

Ford said Blair’s vacation with board member Andrew Pringle was a conflict of interest. Mayor Rob Ford was briefly removed from office earlier this year after he was found to have violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. He was later reinstated.

Doug Ford’s statements come after the chief said last week that police recovered videos from a wiped hard drive, including one with images of Rob Ford that were consistent with what news outlets had reported – the so-called crack video.

“Am I supposed to be intimidated by the police chief?” Ford said at the news conference.

Blair said Thursday he had seen the video and when asked by reporters what he thought, he said he was disappointed.

Moments after Ford lashed out against the chief on Tuesday, Blair responded, saying:  “I have a responsibility to uphold the law and I can’t be deterred from that by personal attacks.”

Addressing last week’s comments on the alleged crack video, Blair added Tuesday:  “I was asked about how I felt and I responded how I felt. What I think is important for the police service not to respond to these personal attacks.”

Earlier Tuesday, Coun. Ford told Breakfast Television revealed that he was asking the chief to step aside, adding that he and his brother both support front-line officers.

“This is the most political police chief this city’s ever seen. He went out believing he was the judge, jury and executioner, he’s created a bias towards the mayor, he’s also compromised himself and jeopardized the case,” he told Kevin Frankish in a phone interview.

He also told radio station AM 640 the chief “wanted to go out and put a political bullet right between the mayor’s eyes.”

Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said Tuesday: “We do not respond to personal attacks. Our job is to investigate without fear or favour.”

Alok Mukherjee, the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, also responded to Doug Ford’s comments.

“In his comments, Councillor Ford raises concerns about the conduct of both Chief Blair and one of the members of our Board, Mr. Andy Pringle, and indicates his intention to make formal complaints in both instances,” he said in a statement.

Mukherjee said that there specific processes that are followed “and will be followed in any case where complaints have been received about the conduct of either the Chief or Board members.”

The mayor has been under the spotlight over the alleged crack video and over a police document that showed he was the target of a police investigation that led to the arrest of his friend and occasional driver Alexander Lisi – who was charged last Thursday with extortion for allegedly trying to retrieve the video by force.

He has apologized for his past mistakes but refused to comment on the alleged video and repeatedly called on the chief to release the video for the public to see. However, police say the video is part of the evidence that the Crown will use to prosecute Lisi.

Doug Ford also spoke to John Stall at radio station 680News. Listen to the interview below.

Ford will not attend gala

Doug Ford said that he and his brother have always supported police, and have attended the police gala for many years. However, he said Rob Ford was “uninvited” by police.

“Rob and myself have always attended. I guess they don’t want us there today. That’s maybe just the chief,” Doug Ford said.

At least two published reports Tuesday said Rob Ford will no longer attend a police gala scheduled for Wednesday.

The mayor was invited to the Chief of Police gala, but in the wake of last week’s shocking admission that police had obtained the so-called crack video, he will not attend.

Ford’s staff told the Toronto Sun that the invitation had been retracted. The Globe and Mail obtained an email from the mayor’s chief of staff that also said the invitation had been retracted and the mayor would not attend the gala.

Police told the Sun they did have a conversation with Ford’s staff about the “optics” of Ford attending but at no time was he “uninvited.”

Ford was scheduled to sit at the head table. The event raises funds for Victims Services Toronto.

Ford’s relationship with police

The news – and his brother’s statement – comes just hours after Ford AM 640 his relationship with police was not damaged by the ongoing investigation.

“I have nothing against the police,” he said. “We have the best police force in the world…I never wavered on that.”

“These people (police) deserve an increase. I’m going to be hiring more police in this budget.”

The investigation concerns the so-called crack video, which Ford had said did not exists. The video will be used in the case against Alexander Lisi, Ford’s friend and occasional driver, who is charged with extortion for his alleged efforts to obtain the video.

Ford has repeatedly said he does not use crack cocaine and his lawyer Dennis Morris has questioned how anyone could know what substance is shown on the alleged video.

Ford also made several public calls for police to release the video, including during a talk show appearance on AM640 on Monday. But police say it’s up to the courts to decide whether evidence is released to the general public.

Calls for resignation

A group of Toronto protesters will call for Ford’s resignation on Nov. 13, the same day as the next city council meeting. The rally will be held at Nathan Phillips Square at noon.

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With files from The Canadian Press