Doug Ford calls on Toronto police chief to step down
Alleging bias, Rob Ford's brother calls on Bill Blair to temporarily step down
Toronto Coun. Doug Ford says police Chief Bill Blair is biased against his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, and should step down temporarily.
Doug Ford, who made the comments Tuesday on CBC's Metro Morning, said Blair "is the most political police chief we've ever had" and "needs to step down immediately."
His remarks came just a few hours ahead of Rob Ford's stunning admission that he has, in fact, smoked crack cocaine — the latest twist in the scandal that has surrounded the mayor for months since reports first surfaced of a video, now in police hands, that is alleged to show him smoking the illegal drug.
The video has yet to be made public.
Last week, police charged Rob Ford's friend and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, also known as Sandro or Alessandro, with extortion. At a news conference last Thursday, Blair confirmed that a tape exists that is “consistent” with what had been described in the media reports.
Blair added he was "disappointed" at the contents of two videotapes, adding they're a "traumatic issue" for the city and its reputation.
But Doug Ford says those comments show Blair has overstepped his role as police chief.
"He should not have made those comments," Ford told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway Tuesday morning.
"He's created a bias towards the mayor," said Ford, who also said he and his brother support front-line police officers "100 per cent."
"He believes he's the judge, jury and executioner."
Blair was among the officials on hand later Tuesday morning as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched its holiday season campaign.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Blair restated he will not respond to "personal attacks."
"We are guided by the rule of law and the public interest," he said. "I can assure the people of Toronto we continue to do our job."
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Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Police Services Board, which provides civilian oversight of the police department, said he received a text message from Doug Ford on Tuesday morning, saying the councillor wanted to meet with him to make a complaint about Blair being motivated by political considerations.
Mukherjee responded to Ford in writing, saying a meeting would be inappropriate and under the Police Services Act, he's prevented from following through on one.
Mukherjee said a meeting with Doug Ford would be viewed as interfering with a police investigation, and he advised Ford to file a complaint with the Ontario independent police review director.
'The police chief doesn't intimidate me'
Ford repeated many of his arguments during a news conference at city hall later later in the day, calling for a probe into both Blair's remarks and into what he alleged was a conflict of interest between the chief and police board member Andy Pringle. Ford claims the pair took a fishing trip together.
This place is turning into Gotham City.- City Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong
"I would like to find out who paid for this trip. I would like to know if there was any conversation about political issues during that trip. I would like to know if any issues were discussed about the mayor during that trip," said Ford.
He called on Pringle to resign from the Toronto Police Services Board.
"We cannot have a police board member being the police chief's fishing buddy," he added.
Ford went on to address his apparent "war" with the chief.
"The police chief doesn't intimidate me," he said. "We don't live in a police state."
Others on city council sided with Blair and defended Pringle, including Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of the mayor's executive committee, who compared the city's current state of affairs to something out of a comic book.
"This place is turning into Gotham City," Minnan-Wong told reporters at city hall.
"That it has been lowered to this level is not something, I think, we should be supporting. I think all members of council need to speak up," he added.
Mayor won't attend Blair gala
Coun. John Filion also criticized the strategy the mayor and his brother are employing.
“They are polarizing the city, or attempting to polarize the city, in such an unhealthy way,” Filion told reporters at city hall on Tuesday.
“They are attempting to drive a wedge and make a distinction between the chief of police and the front-line officers, and you see that distinction in every comment they make. That is just so damaging, irresponsible [and] appalling.”
On his Sunday radio show, Rob Ford apologized without specifically stating what behaviour he's apologizing for. The mayor also called on Blair to make the tape public.
On Monday, it was learned that Rob Ford will not be at Blair's Chief of Police Gala, an annual event that raises money for victims' services and where the mayor is usually a guest at the head table.
Both Ford and event organizers agreed the mayor should not attend the event, given the recent headlines.