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Toronto Police board chair’s Facebook post ‘unacceptable,’ Toronto mayor says

Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee allegedly posted another controversial photo on Facebook.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

For the second time in a week, Mayor John Tory is questioning the judgment of Toronto police board chair Alok Mukherjee, after the revelation of another controversial Facebook photo – this one appearing to make light of domestic abuse.

Animosity between the police board and union exploded last week, with the union and Mr. Tory criticizing Mr. Mukherjee for a Facebook photo that appeared to compare American police officers to terrorists. This week, Mr. Mukherjee once again raised the ire of the mayor, with the revelation Wednesday of another Facebook photo, this time about spousal abuse that was posted more than a year ago.

"Marriage is like a deck of cards," a screen grab taken by the National Post reads. "In the beginning, all you need is two hearts and a diamond. By the end, you wish you had a club and a spade." Mr. Mukherjee's Facebook page, which was active as recently as last week, has since been deleted.

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Mr. Tory on Wednesday described the post as "unacceptable," saying that "violence against women is never a laughing matter."

"I'm very concerned," Mr. Tory added later. "People in senior positions of public service have to be very careful, and have to set a higher standard when it comes to their Facebook postings."

The mayor would not say whether Mr. Mukherjee – whose position as chair will be up for a vote next month – continues to have his confidence.

The pair will come face to face on Monday, when the mayor is officially sworn-in as a new member of the board. After he was elected in October, Mr. Tory vowed to personally take a seat on the board in order to ease existing tensions between the board, the chief and the police union. In addition to his own seat, Mr. Tory has also appointed two other fresh faces to join him on the seven-member board: councillors Shelley Carroll and Chin Lee.

Mr. Mukherjee responded to the most recent Facebook controversy with an e-mailed statement saying he does not recall the photo and that he is the victim of a smear campaign.

The Facebook revelations come amid escalating hostilities between the board and union, in advance of contract negotiations. Mr. Mukherjee also drew a strong reaction from the union in the summer, by calling for "fundamental transformation" within the force, after the board decided against renewing Chief Bill Blair's contract.

"This is nothing more than another desperate attempt to drive me from my position on the board and distract from the serious work we have to do," Mr. Mukherjee said in his statement Wednesday. "It's time for us to focus on moving forward and stop this campaign of harassment."

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Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack, who called for Mr. Mukherjee to step down last week after his initial Facebook post that compared the number of Americans killed by police officers with the number killed by Islamic State, said his call for the chair's resignation stands.

"It's just one more example of bad judgment," he said of the marriage post.

Mr. McCormack also denied that the union is trying to smear the chair.

"There is no campaign from the association," he said. "This is just about inappropriate postings form Mukherjee, and that's what he needs to deal with. Don't try to deflect it on the association."

The mayor echoed this: "There's certainly no harassment coming from me," he said. "I'm only responding to Facebook postings that are being put up by others, not me … If there are no more Facebook postings, I won't have any more comments."

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