Coun. Thompson fights complaint from 2 police board members
Coun. Michael Thompson is fighting a complaint that two of his fellow police board members filed after he publicly criticized the force in a newspaper interview.
A news release from the Toronto law firm Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan indicates that two members made a complaint about Thompson on Feb. 12.
According to the release, the complaint came after Thompson made comments to the Toronto Star, criticizing the force "for its strip search practices and over-spending" and also saying that he would not support renewing the chief’s contract.
The complaint was raised by board members Dhun Noria and Marie Moliner according to court documents. The day after it was filed, board members met to discuss it.
Thompson was not able to respond to the complaint, which the law firm says was also not put in writing as required. He also was not given a copy of the complaint.
The councillor, who is the vice-chair of the seven-member police board, was also not allowed to attend that meeting. But the law firm says Noria and Moliner were able to attend the meeting and vote on the issue.
The board found that Thompson had "potentially" breached its code of conduct. It has asked the Ministry of the Solicitor General to investigate.
But the law firm says the board is only able to ask for such an investigation if it makes a formal determination that the code has been breached.
It also says that criticism of the chief of police cannot be a violation of the code of conduct.
"When you stand up and make statements like there's too many strip searches in this city and they don't turn anything up, and you have to re-evaluate that, and the chief hasn't — those are policy issues you expect the vice-chair of the board to raise for public debate," lawyer Clayton Ruby told CBC News. "You want those issues brought forward and you don't want that speech stifled."
Ruby notes the board was criticized in the wake of the G20 summit for not asking enough tough questions.
"Here's a guy who does it and the board moves to shut him up," he said.
The law firm says that Thompson has retained counsel to bring an application for judicial review, which seeks to quash the board decision and block the ministry from investigating the complaint.
City councillors and Mayor Rob Ford have been generally supportive of of Thompson's move.
The board members have a "right to speak their mind," Ford said. "That's why you have various members on the board."
The police board is not commenting.
With files from the CBC's Jamie Strashin