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Ford cleared of 'conflict of interest' in deputy OPP commissioner firing

Last Updated May 7, 2019 at 12:14 pm EDT

Former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

The Integrity Commissioner of Ontario has cleared Premier Doug Ford of any conflict of interest in the firing of OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

NDP MPP Kevin Yarde, who represents Brampton North, asked for the inquiry regarding Ford’s alleged involvement of Blair’s termination. Yarde also alleged the Premier made comments meant to intimidate Blair.

Commissioner J. David Wakee found there were insufficient grounds to conduct an inquiry.

His reasoning states the decision to terminate Blair was made by the Public Service Commission and there was no indication the premier participated in the decision.

Blair was fired just months after he asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsmen to investigate the appointment of Ford family friend and Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner as the OPP commissioner. He is currently suing Premier Ford for defamation over comments the premier made that Blair had violated the Police Services Act.

His lawsuit further alleged that Ford’s comments and the attention they received subjected Blair to “embarrassment, scandal, ridicule, and contempt,” and were meant to intimidate the veteran officer.

Taverner initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position and the Ford government has admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates.

He ended up withdrawing from consideration and going back to his role as superintendent with the Toronto Police.

Thomas Carrique has since been hired for a three-year term as OPP Commissioner.

The Integrity Commissioner also investigated Taverner’s appointment and found Ford did not breach any conflict of interest rules. Commissioner Wakee did say he found there were “troubling aspects of the recruitment process and ultimately made the finding that the process was flawed.”

With files from The Canadian Press