The chair of the Toronto Police Services Board won’t step down for sharing a controversial Facebook post and says the police union is using the incident to attack him politically.
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack is calling for the resignation of Alok Mukherjee after he shared an Occupy Wall Street Facebook post that compares the number of Americans killed by ISIL, Ebola and U.S. police.
McCormack said the post “clearly demonstrates Mukherjee’s bias against police officers.”
“Here is somebody that’s supposed to be unbiased, objective, responsible for the civilian oversight of policing in Toronto,” McCormack said.
“This clearly demonstrates that Mukherjee can no longer be trusted.”
On Monday, Mukherjee struck back at the union.
“I believe it’s an attack,” he said. “It’s an attempt to prevent me from being able to carry on my responsibilities (and) my duties. It has larger implications.”
Mukherjee said the uproar could potentially destroy the work he’s put into issues like carding, cutting policing costs and negotiating a collective agreement.
“If they are able to have me removed as chair of the police board then the things that I am championing I would no longer be able to champion.”
“The reason I’m disturbed is that the call for resignation and the manner in which that call has (been publicized) leads me to the conclusion that the post on my Facebook page is being used as a device to achieve a different objective.”
Mukherjee wouldn’t apologize for the post but admitted that he “might have chosen different material” had he foreseen the uproar.
“My intent was not to malign policing and definitely not to suggest in any way that I was comparing Toronto police with anything else,” he maintained.
When asked about a message at the bottom of the post that said, “Just a reminder of who the enemy is in this world” Mukherjee claims he didn’t see it because of the small print.
He maintains he shared the post simply to “provoke and generate a lively conversation” about a timely news topic.
“If the association had simply come to me and said ‘what were you thinking?’ I might have had a talk with them and fixed it. But the wholesale public onslaught tells me that this is about something else.”
Chief Bill Blair refused to comment on the situation Monday, but Mayor John Tory said the story serves as a cautionary tale.
Tory initially called Mukherjee’s post “regrettable” and elaborated on Monday.
“I feel quite strongly that all people in public positions of responsibility like this, especially sensitive positions, have to be extra careful about what they put out (on social media).”
Other police chief/board battles
Julian Fantino 2000-2005
The police board voted against renewing Fantino’s re-appointment after a 2-2 tie. The three needed votes were difficult to obtain because then chair Norm Gardner was suspended from the five-member board due to a conflict of interest ruling, and he refused to vacate his seat.
A Save Fantino campaign failed to succeed and an interim police chief was chosen until Bill Blair was named his permanent successor.
William McCormack 1989-1995
McCormack was viewed as a combative chief who fought publicly with the police board. He finished his term saying the board was controlled by special interest groups during a fight over his resignation date.