Ron Taverner staying with Toronto police despite appointment as OPP chief — for now

Ron Taverner, who's tapped to be the next chief of Ontario Provincial Police amid controversy, has rescinded his resignation papers as a superintendent with Toronto police.
Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner was approved as the next OPP commissioner by the Ontario cabinet, but former acting OPP head Brad Blair has asked the courts to order an ombudsman's investigation into the hiring of Taverner. (CBC)

Ron Taverner, who's tapped to be the next chief of Ontario Provincial Police, has rescinded his resignation papers as a superintendent with Toronto police.

It's not yet clear if Taverner's decision will affect his status as the incoming OPP commissioner. Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Syliva Jones issued a statement saying the government maintains its "full confidence" in the longtime Toronto cop.

Taverner submitted papers to reverse his resignation on Saturday, Toronto police said. Chief Mark Saunders approved the move on Sunday night.

"As of today, the superintendent is back to being unit commander of our northwest district," said police spokesperson Meaghan Gray.

Taverner was controversially appointed by Ontario's Progressive Conservative government to become the next chief of the OPP in late November. Taverner is a 51-year veteran of Toronto police who leads the force's Etobicoke divisions.

Former acting OPP commissioner Brad Blair has asked the courts to order Ontario ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner's hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.

The Ontario NDP and the citizen advocacy group Democracy Watch have also called for investigations into the appointment.

Taverner had previously asked to have his appointment as provincial police commissioner postponed after Blair's call for an investigation. He was originally scheduled to be sworn in today.

Ford denies involvement

Taverner, who is is a friend of Premier Doug Ford, did not meet the original requirements for the job posting. The PC government said it lowered the job qualifications to attract a wider field of candidates.

Ford has repeatedly denied any involvement in Taverner's appointment, and said the decision was made by a hiring panel.

"The appointments for commissioner of the OPP have always been, as far as I can remember, clean as a whistle," said Ian Scott, a former director of the Special Investigations Unit, Ontario's police watchdog.

"There's definitely an odour around this one. It smacks and stinks, frankly, of cronyism," he told CBC Toronto.

Ian Scott, a former director of the SIU, said Taverner's appointment would make it difficult for the OPP to investigate political wrongdoing. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

Scott questioned the decision to lower the job qualifications in the midst of the hiring process, saying that Taverner does not appear to have the experience necessary for the job.

Given the controversy now swirling around the appointment, Scott said a Taverner-led OPP would be handcuffed when it comes to investigating political wrongdoing, which typically falls under OPP jurisdiction.

Investigations against the Ontario Liberals, for example, would be seen as vindictive, while investigations into Ford's PCs would be seen as a coverup, he said.

"For the sake of policing in the province, he ought to decline [the job]," Scott added.

NDP repeats call for investigation

Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, who has repeatedly criticized Taverner's appointment amid concerns about political interference, told reporters at Queen's Park she's "relieved" by Taverner's decision.

Horwath explained that a "flood of concern has been forming across Ontario" about Taverner's controversial appointment.

She also renewed calls for a non-partisan emergency select committee to conduct its own investigation into the matter.

With files from The Canadian Press

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