Mayoral candidate John Tory has waded into the controversy over Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair’s future with the force, saying that he would support renewing the chief’s contract.
Mr. Tory was asked at a news conference Thursday morning on whether he thinks Chief Blair’s contract, which expires in April of next year, should be renewed.
“I think he’s doing a good job, and I think that he’s a person that’s going to be necessary in doing some of the things we have to do in years ahead to provide for better policing and for the kinds of constraints that I think we have to look at to constrain the growth in police spending,” Mr. Tory said.
“I think he’s the right man to do some of that job.”
Chief Blair, who has led the force since 2005, is supposed to indicate to the Toronto Police Services Board in the coming weeks whether he would like his contract renewed.
At Thursday’s police board meeting, Chief Blair refused to say whether he’ll ask the board to renew his term, calling the issue “confidential.”
“That’s a discussion that I’ll most appropriately have with my board at the appropriate time,” said Chief Blair.
After he makes his wishes known, the board will make its own decision.
The renewal of his contract has been controversial.
Police board vice-chair Michael Thompson – who has publicly opposed extending Chief Blair’s contract – brought legal action against the organization in March after the board voted to censure him for comments critical of the chief. And the board’s infighting happens amidst the backdrop of the mayor’s very public criticism of the chief – especially after Chief Blair announced in October of last year that police are investigating Mayor Ford.
But on Thursday, the mayor declined to comment on the chief’s contract.
“That’s up to the police services board,” he said when asked at a press conference at city Hall.
And Olivia Chow, meanwhile, told the Globe and Mail at a recent editorial board meeting that the chief’s contract should be left up to the police board – but added Thursday that Chief Blair had her “personal support.”
With files from Sahar Fatima