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EXCLUSIVE: Liberals in talks with chief Blair to run in upcoming federal election

Toronto’s outgoing police chief may not be out of work for long when his contract expires this spring. CityNews and 680News have learned that the federal Liberals are wooing Bill Blair for a shot at a second career in politics.

Sources within the federal Liberals say the party has been in talks with Blair. One Liberal source said, “Everyone wants Blair and the Liberals would welcome him.”

The chief declined to comment through his spokesman Mark Pugash. But in a year-end interview, Blair told CityNews, “I’ve spent my life in public service and I’ll just find a different way to serve.”

He added, “Towards the end of April is when my term ends and I don’t intend to take any time off. I’ll just find something else to do and get right at it.”

CityNews and 680News have also learned that the Liberals may not be the only party that has reached out to him. According to political analyst Jim Warren, both the Grits and the Tories want Blair to run for them.

“Both the Liberals and Conservatives are very keen on having Bill Blair run for them in the next election,” Warren said. “Both want Bill Blair to run for their party.”

“A star candidate like Bill Blair that can shift a riding from one party to the next is going to be highly sought after.”

“Blair would be a game changer in any election, in any riding he’d run.”

Warren said Blair’s experience as police chief would bode well for him in politics.

“He’s very media savvy. He knows how to handle himself in a debate and he knows how to handle other politicians.”

If Blair does decide to run when his term ends on April 25, there are several ridings still open for the Liberals.

In Toronto, the Grits haven’t nominated candidates in Scarborough North, Scarborough Southwest, Eglinton-Lawrence, Davenport and Toronto-Danforth.

In the 905 possibilities include Durham, Oshawa, Pickering-Uxbridge, Vaughn-Woodbridge, King-Vaughn, Thornhill, Brampton North and Brampton South.

The Liberals released an official statement Tuesday that failed to confirm or deny the report.

“We held more than 180 nomination meetings across the county and we will continue in the months to come. We are the party that has held the most contested nomination meetings,” the party said.

“We are having open nominations in all 338 ridings and the process is the same for everyone. All Canadians are welcome to enter our nomination process…Thousands of Canadians have already expressed their interest in being a Team Trudeau candidate and we are still encouraging strong community leaders to join us.”

Blair, 60, has been Toronto’s chief since April 2005, and has been a police officer for 39 years.

The son of a cop, Blair joined the force in the ‘70s as a way to make money while a student at the University of Toronto.

He started out walking the beat in Regent Park and abandoned his goal of a career in law or finance as he moved through the ranks — working undercover in the drug squad as well as in organized crime and major criminal investigations before being promoted to the senior ranks.

Blair became the youngest chief of the Toronto Police Service when he replaced Julian Fantino.