Councillor Michael Thompson, who has butted heads with Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair over the police budget, had pointed words over reports that the Liberal Party is looking at recruiting the chief as a federal candidate.
"He's been a good politician as a chief. So I suspect that he'll continue to be a good politician in the real business of politics," Mr. Thompson told reporters at City Hall on Wednesday.
Mr. Thompson, who until recently was vice-chair of the police board, was asked about speculation that Chief Blair may turn to politics after his term as head of the force ends in April. The councillor was part of the seven-member board that chose not to renew Chief Blair's contract last year, and was a vocal critic of the chief over the police budget.
Still, Mr. Thompson said it was only natural that the federal parties would want the chief as a candidate. "It's like an NHL or football team trying to get good players," he said. "You want to shore up your bench and so on."
The Globe and Mail reported last month that senior Liberal Party strategists have discussed recruiting Chief Blair as a candidate for the coming federal election, although it is unclear whether the chief has been involved in those discussions.
The chief himself did not rule out the possibility in a year-end interview with The Globe, saying he is "considering a number of different things in the future."
On Wednesday, police spokesman Mark Pugash said that until the chief's contract expires, the police force remains his main priority. "Having worked for decades in public service, he wants to continue serving the public in some capacity. But he will not be discussing it while he is chief of police," Mr. Pugash said.
Mayor John Tory made similar comments when asked about the reports Wednesday morning. "I'm confident just from the time I'm taking up dealing with him that he's applying himself completely being chief of police for the city of Toronto. And that's exactly what he should be doing and I'm glad he's doing it."
If Chief Blair does turn to federal politics, that would make him the second consecutive Toronto Police chief to do so. Julian Fantino was elected as MP for Vaughan in 2010 after being recruited by the federal Conservatives.
As the head of Toronto's police force, Chief Blair has been careful to keep his political beliefs under wraps. But several of the issues he has been vocal about in the past – including support for legalizing marijuana, and keeping the long-gun registry – appear to be inconsistent with the Conservative Party platform.