Police officers involved in Project Traveller and other investigations “will leave no stone unturned” and will conduct their work “without fear and without favour,” Chief Bill Blair says.
Chief Blair delivered the comments at the same time that he defended his silence on whether the police are investigating Mayor Rob Ford, and on the day that media lawyers received a document of about 480 pages that contains information the police gathered to obtain search warrants in an investigation of the mayor’s friend and occasional driver Alessandro Lisi and another man arrested in a drug bust.
“We will pursue every avenue of investigation that is required to do our jobs and to uphold the law,” Chief Blair said in a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto on Monday afternoon. “That will be done without fear and without favour. It will be done in the right way.”
The information in the Lisi court document will not be made public yet. Lawyers for The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and a number of other media organizations will argue on Wednesday to that the document should be made public, and on how much of it should be redacted.
Asked why a document connected with a drug bust would total nearly 500 pages, Chief Blair said: “The evidence is in that document, and there is a requirement in law that we provide full and frank disclosure to the courts. That’s what we’ve done. Now it’s up to the courts to decide what to do with that information.”
As in the past, the chief did not say on Monday whether the mayor was mentioned in any of the evidence during Project Traveller, a year-long probe on guns and gangs that resulted in dozens of arrests in June, or in Project Brazen 2, which led to the arrest earlier this month of Mr. Lisi.
Mr. Lisi, whom the mayor describes as “a good guy,” was charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of the proceeds of crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
“The police are given extraordinary powers. We’re given the powers to conduct investigations. We’re given the powers to undertake surveillance on people, to listen to their conversations, to interrogate, to search, to gather information and gather evidence,” Chief Blair said.
“We are not given those extraordinary powers to gossip. We are not given those extraordinary powers to feed to the press.”
Mr. Ford and his associates, including Mr. Lisi, have been under intense scrutiny since May, after The Toronto Star and the U.S. gossip website Gawker reported that drug dealers tried to sell them a video purported to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford has questioned the video’s existence and said, “I don’t use crack cocaine.”
A separate photo that surfaced alongside the reports about a video shows Mr. Ford with two men arrested in Project Traveller. A fourth man in the photo, Anthony Smith, was shot and killed outside a downtown Toronto nightclub in March. The photo was taken in front of an Etobicoke home that has been linked to drug activity.
Sources have also told The Globe that the police have interviewed at least five former Ford staffers about attempts by people to retrieve the alleged video. According to sources, some of the questions asked by the police focused on Mr. Lisi.