Ontario names Thomas Carrique new OPP commissioner
Carrique currently serves as Deputy Chief of York Regional Police
The government of Ontario has named Thomas Carrique as the new commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.
The Ford government's first pick, Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, withdrew his name from consideration last week after his appointment to the job touched off months of controversy and triggered an integrity commissioner investigation.
Taverner, 72, initially did not meet the criteria listed for the commissioner position. The government said it lowered the requirements to attract a wider range of candidates.
Carrique currently serves as Deputy Chief for York Regional Police.
Province cites Carrique's 'extensive experience'
Carrique has spent his entire 29-year career with the York police and has worked in uniform patrol, criminal investigations, investigative services, traffic, marine, public order and the administration and operations branches.
The government says Carrique has been appointed to a three-year term starting April 8.
"Deputy Chief Carrique's extensive experience is important as the OPP works to tackle challenging files, such as human trafficking and the ongoing fight against guns and gangs," said Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones in a news release.
The police service has been without a permanent commissioner since Nov. 2018.
OPP deputy fired last Monday
Last week, the government fired OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair, who was an outspoken critic of Taverner's appointment.
Ford has repeatedly denied any involvement in that process, and said the decision was made by a hiring panel.
The now-fired Blair has repeatedly challenged that narrative, arguing that the cloud of suspicion around Taverner's appointment impacted the public's perception of the OPP as independent.
Blair, who was a finalist for the OPP's top job, also made headlines in recent weeks as the whistleblower who revealed details about Ford's plans to spend $50,000 upgrading a van through the OPP.
He was fired last Monday for allegedly revealing confidential OPP information, which the Ford government has called a breach of his oath as an officer.
In a statement on Tuesday, Blair disputed that version of events.
"It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me," he wrote.
Though Taverner has returned to his Toronto police job and a new OPP commissioner has been named, it's unlikely the controversy will soon fade away.
The integrity commissioner's report is still due, a court case is pending over whether the ombudsman should be forced to investigate, and the NDP has called for a public inquiry.
With files from the Canadian Press