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The Globe and Mail

Police Services Board to discuss Chief Blair’s future

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair inspects the recruits at a Toronto Police College graduation ceremony in May.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

Members of Toronto's Police Services Board are meeting behind closed doors and the future leadership of the country's largest municipal force will be the topic of discussion, sources tell The Globe and Mail.

The private meeting, to take place Wednesday morning, comes less than a week after Chief Bill Blair was due to tell the seven-member board if he wishes to stay on in the high profile post – a job he has held since 2005. Chief Blair's contract ends in April, 2015, and under the terms of that agreement, he had to indicate by the end of last week if he wanted to negotiate a new deal. The content of Chief Blair's notice has not been made public, but the veteran of the Toronto force, who rose through the ranks, has signalled in the past that he would like to remain in his post.

If that's the case, the chief would need the support of the majority of board members and there are clear signs not everyone is willing to give him that backing. Toronto City Councillor Michael Thompson, who is vice-chair of the board, told The Globe and Mail earlier this year there was "no way" he could support an extension of Chief Blair's contract, indicating he did not think the chief had done enough to control costs within the force.

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Those remarks sparked a legal tussle among board members that was resolved last week when Mr. Thompson indicated he would not be pursuing legal action against his board colleagues, who he had argued were trying to censor his critical comments about the chief.

The civilian board is required to provide Chief Blair with a response to his notice by Aug. 24 and is gathering for the Wednesday in camera session in advance of that date, sources said.

"There is a meeting and the meeting is private," said Councillor Mike Del Grande when contacted by The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Del Grande said he had not seen an agenda for the meeting, but individuals familiar with the proceedings indicated to The Globe and Mail that the leadership of the force will be discussed.

Board chair Alok Mukherjee would not discuss the meeting, but said in an e-mail that in order to respond to the notice provided last week by the chief – the board "has to make a decision."

"The Board acknowledges the public interest in this matter and will make a public comment as soon as it has something substantive to say about it," he wrote in response to questions from The Globe and Mail.

A spokeswoman for the police board, Sandy Murray, said there is not a requirement for the civilian body to give public notice of in camera meetings.

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