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Canada Mulroney says government will follow Integrity Commissioner’s recommendations on Taverner

Ontario Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney speaks to reporters following an early morning PC Caucus meeting at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Ontario Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney says her government will abide by any recommendations made in an investigation into the appointment of Premier Doug Ford’s friend, Ron Taverner, as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

The province’s Integrity Commissioner is probing whether Mr. Ford was in a conflict of interest when his government named Toronto Police Superintendent Taverner, a 72-year-old mid-level commander, to the post last month.

On Wednesday, Ms. Mulroney said her government respects Integrity Commissioner David Wake’s work and awaits the results of the review. The Integrity Commissioner’s office has not said when a final report will be issued.

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“We will of course abide by the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner,” Ms. Mulroney told reporters at Queen’s Park. “We will respect the outcome of his investigation.”

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, however, wouldn’t commit to following Mr. Wake’s recommendations. “I’m not going to presuppose anything that happens,” she said.

The opposition parties have been calling for a public inquiry into the matter, after a high-ranking OPP officer publicly released a letter last week alleging political interference in the appointment.

Ms. Mulroney suggested a public inquiry is not necessary as the Integrity Commissioner reviews the matter. “The Integrity Commissioner is doing the work that is required, looking into the process. If it’s his determination that a public inquiry is necessary, those are recommendations that we will look forward to receiving,” Ms. Mulroney said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has asked the Integrity Commissioner to trigger a rarely used power to launch a public inquiry into allegations of political interference by Mr. Ford and his office. Mr. Wake’s office on Wednesday had no comment on the matter.

“What we need to do is get to the bottom of this,” Ms. Horwath said on Wednesday. “This is the only way the people of Ontario will get the truth.”

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said Ms. Mulroney should appoint a retired judge to probe the matter publicly, who he said would have a broader scope than the Integrity Commissioner.

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“Mr. Taverner will not be able to take this job until the air is cleared. Because it will be a very, very difficult job for him to do, because there will always be a perception of conflict,” Mr. Fraser said.

Supt. Taverner, who was to start the job on Monday, put his swearing-in on hold and asked for his resignation from the Toronto force to be rescinded until the Integrity Commissioner’s review is complete.

Mr. Ford, who was not in the legislature to answer questions on Wednesday, told reporters this week that Supt. Taverner will be the "best commissioner the OPP has ever seen,” and took aim at Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, the senior OPP officer who has publicly challenged Supt. Taverner’s appointment.

In a letter released publicly last week, Deputy Commissioner Blair alleged that Mr. Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP to modify a camper van for Mr. Ford and keep it “off the books."

Mr. Ford called it a “baseless claim” and Ms. Jones said Wednesday the insinuation of keeping a van off the books is “completely false.”

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