The former deputy commissioner of the OPP says his firing was a “reprisal” for filing a court case aimed at stopping the appointment of Premier Doug Ford’s friend Ron Taverner as head of the police force.
In court documents filed after he was terminated Monday, Brad Blair says his dismissal letter — which was hand-delivered to him by deputy community safety minister Mario Di Tommaso — was improper because the deputy minister is a subject of the court case aimed at forcing Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate the controversial appointment of Taverner, 72.
“The termination is a direct consequence of my seeking remedies, in good faith,” Blair states in his new court filing by Toronto lawyer Julian Falconer, which accuses Di Tommaso of a “conflict of interest.”
Blair blew the whistle on a customized van sought by Ford and raised concerns about the hiring of Taverner, arguing that putting a friend of the premier in charge of the Ontario Provincial Police would put the independence of the police force at risk.
Ford has accused Blair of “sour grapes” because he did not get the commissioner’s job.
Taverner’s appointment is on hold pending an investigation by the province’s independent integrity commissioner into whether there was any political interference in the hiring. Ford has denied any role.
In the filing, Blair said he was met by Interim OPP Commissioner Gary Couture shortly after at 8 a.m. Monday at police headquarters in Orillia, advised that Di Tommaso was waiting for him, then given the letter in a 10-minute meeting.
“It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me, and that this reprisal is directly connected.”
The Progressive Conservative government has denied any political role in the firing, with Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones faulting Blair for improperly releasing internal OPP emails in his court filings.
The emails included details about the van sought by Ford and a report from one of Ford’s bodyguards about the premier uttering a profane tirade about unfamiliar faces on his rotating security detail.
“He released confidential private information for his own personal gain,” Jones said of Blair, accusing him of breaking the civil service oath of secrecy.
In the letter of termination, Di Tommaso wrote that Blair “ruptured the trust on which the employment relationship is built.”
Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1