Ron Taverner’s decision to withdraw his nomination at Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is a wise one. Actually, we don’t know whether or not it was his decision, as he might have been pushed by the Premier’s Office. Maybe the Integrity Commissioner informally let the Government know that his findings would not be to their liking. But, whoever made the decision, it was the smart thing to do. The position has become politicized by the circumstances of Taverner’s appointment and the ongoing legal battle between Brad Blair and the Ford Government. The government’s recent firing of Blair only exacerbated the situation. In his statement, Taverner said he was acting “to protect the integrity of the rank and file police officers given the controversy surrounding the appointment.”
I don’t claim to be a clairvoyant, but in this case I was right. In my blog post back on December 11, I wrote that Teverner “will be trying to climb a very steep learning curve, surrounded by senior colleagues who feel they are more qualified, and under intense media and opposition party scrutiny. Why would he want the hassle?” I concluded with regard to Taverner’s friend Doug Ford “friends don’t set up friends to fail.”
If Doug Ford has learned something from this episode, then he will establish a fair and impartial selection process in which he is not in any way involved. And it would be a good idea for his buddy Deputy Minister of Community Safety Mario di Tommaso – who appears to have taken the lead in the selection of Taverner – not to be involved this time.
Another matter to be resolved is the litigation with Brad Blair. It is unlikely that Blair would want his job as Deputy Commissioner back, nor would he want to apply for the post of Commissioner. An out of court settlement with an honourable retirement would be reasonable and achievable.
It would be in the Ford Government’s own interest to go quiet for a few weeks. I suspect that the April 11 budget will stimulate lots of controversy, opposition, and outrage.