The Toronto Police Services Board was in the spotlight on Tuesday as Councillor Doug Ford said he contacted board chairman Alok Mukherjee to request an investigation into Chief Bill Blair, accusing the police chief of bias against his brother, Mayor Rob Ford. Doug Ford also said Police Services Board member Andrew Pringle was in a “massive conflict of interest” because he went on a fishing trip with Chief Blair.
The board is a seven-member body that provides civilian oversight of the Toronto Police Service, a practise that dates back to 1957. Here’s a look at its current members and some reaction to Mr. Ford’s comments:
DR. ALOK MUKHERJEE (CHAIR)
- Year Joined: 2004
- Background: Dr. Mukherjee, a human-rights activist, previously served as an advisor to former mayor David Miller. In the wake of this summer’s police shooting of Sammy Yatim, he began pushing for it to become easier to fire and discipline police officers.
- Response to Doug Ford’s comments: On Sunday, Dr. Mukherjee said he was unaware of anyone on the board being unhappy with how Police Chief Bill Blair has handled the Rob Ford scandal. When Councillor Doug Ford blasted Chief Blair Tuesday, Dr. Mukherjee told The Globe in an e-mail that he would discuss Mr. Ford’s “allegation” with the board. “I have not received a formal complaint from the Councillor,” he wrote. “[Ford] has two options: write to me or contact [the] Ontario Civilian Police Commission in order to initiate action.”
- Year Joined: 2011
- Background: Mr. Pringle is a businessman who previously served as John Tory’s chief of staff and chair of the PC Ontario Fund. Last November, his name appeared on a list of people the mayor was reportedly tapping to sit on various city boards.
- Response to Doug Ford’s comments: Mr. Pringle came under fire when Councillor Doug Ford accused him of conflict of interest after Mr. Pringle went on a fishing trip with Chief Blair. Mr. Ford said the two were “buddy buddies,” and called for Mr. Pringle to step down. Mr. Pringle fired back Tuesday, saying he paid for the trip and board members were aware of it. “The chair certainly knew of our trip,” Mr. Pringle said. “He had done the same thing himself. I didn’t see that I needed permission.”
MICHAEL THOMPSON (COUNCILLOR)
- Year Joined: 2010
- Background: The Scarborough Centre councillor is a member of the mayor’s executive and budget committee. In October, he travelled with the mayor to Austin, Texas, for a city business trip. This week, he said he was disappointed the Ford fiasco has become a “world issue” that’s damaging the city’s reputation. “We are becoming the butt of many jokes at this time and it’s not particularly helpful,” he said.
- Response to Doug Ford’s comments: Mr. Thompson says he does not see any basis in Doug Ford’s allegations against Chief Blair. “I’ve had my differences with the chief on budget issues, but I’ve not had any differences with him on his professionalism or his abilities as a police officer or his integrity,” said Mr. Thompson. He responded to Mr. Ford’s calls for Mr. Pringle to step down by saying, “If he hadn’t gone on the trip, then the accusation made against him today wouldn’t have been made.”
MIKE DEL GRANDE (COUNCILLOR)
- Year Joined: 2013
- Background: A former Ford ally and current councillor, Mr. Del Grande resigned as the mayor’s budget chief in January. Last week, when Chief Blair confirmed police have recovered a video that allegedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine, Mr. Del Grande said the mayor has “lost moral authority” and encouraged him to “step aside.”
- Response to Doug Ford’s comments: “Nothing is normal with this whole business with him and his brother,” Mr. Del Grande said Tuesday when asked about the Fords’ relations with police. “We don’t do anything ad hoc. It’s all very strict procedure, and if [Doug Ford] has got a complaint against the chief, there’s a process for that.”
FRANCES NUNZIATA (COUNCILLOR)
- Year Joined: 2010
- Background: Ms. Nunziata, city council’s Speaker, has often supported Rob Ford, but was part of a a group of executive committee councillors who met behind closed doors Friday to discuss their concerns about the mayor. Earlier in the year, she defended Mr. Ford and his response to media when a photo of the mayor and now-deceased 21-year-old Anthony Smith was released. “He’s not on the run. He has spoken to the media. He has spoken to the media three times,” she said. “To have the media constantly, constantly harass him. It’s really unacceptable.”
- Year Joined: 2010
- Background: Ms. Noria is the chief of laboratory medicine at Scarborough Hospital and a two-time cancer survivor.
- Year Joined: 2012
- Background: Ms. Moliner is a lawyer and the Ontario regional executive director at the Department of Canadian Heritage.
With reports from Kathryn Blaze Carlson and Karen Howlett
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