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Ron Taverner rescinds resignation from Toronto police

Last Updated Dec 17, 2018 at 10:37 am EDT

Ron Taverner rescinded his resignation from Toronto police on Sunday night, and Chief Mark Saunders approved.

The superintendent is now back on the job with Toronto police.

He was supposed to start as OPP Commissioner on Monday morning, but asked for a delay while the Integrity Commissioner investigates his appointment.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones says the government would respect Taverner’s request for a delay.

Instead, acting commissioner Brad Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force’s deputy commissioner.

“I understand the preference for an alternative Interim Commissioner and will co-operate in every respect,” Blair said in a statement released on Saturday.

Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said in a conference call with media on Saturday that his client will be “regressed” from his role as interim commissioner on Monday.

On Friday, Blair asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner’s hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

Falconer said Saturday that Blair will continue with the legal proceedings.

Taverner, a longtime family friend of Premier Doug Ford, commanded three divisions within the Toronto Police Service until he resigned on Friday.

The 72-year-old did not initially qualify for the role, but the government has said it lowered the requirements for the job to attract a wider range of candidates. Blair, who was among 27 candidates up for the commissioner position, has contended that only four did not meet the original threshold.

However, the Progressive Conservatives have repeatedly denied that the premier’s office had anything to do with Taverner’s hiring.

Taverner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the delay, which he requested in an email to Jones.

“Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed until as such time the integrity commissioner has completed his review,” he wrote in the email.

Falconer said he understands how it could look like Blair’s push for an investigation is about his “personal agenda” but he said the commissioner is doing it to maintain the reputation and integrity of the OPP.

Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said Saturday she welcomed the delay in Taverner’s appointment.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” she said. “We can’t allow the credibility and integrity of the OPP to be put at risk by Mr. Ford.”

The NDP said in addition to the integrity commissioner’s investigation, it is calling for an emergency select committee of the legislature to look into the process.

“We are relieved that Mr. Taverner will not be appointed on Monday,” said NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh. “However, we are still very concerned. I think this step will allow us to have some integrity and trust maintained within the Ontario police service.”

Falconer said he believes a committee of MPPs could also be a beneficial avenue to investigate the possibility of political interference.

With files from News Staff