Tory doubles down on call for probe into police handling of missing persons cases linked to Gay Village
'We have to look into this and work to make it better,' Toronto mayor says of external review
Mayor John Tory doubled down Wednesday on his call for an independent review into Toronto police's handling of missing persons cases, including the men who have disappeared from the city's Gay Village area.
"We have to look into this and work to make it better," Tory told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.
Toronto police have come under fire from some members of the LGBT community following the arrest of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur. Since January, questions have emerged about how police dealt with the disappearances of of six men, most of whom vanished from the Gay Village. McArthur is charged with first-degree murder in their deaths.
LGBT advocates have also criticized certain elements of the homicide investigation. While police began investigating the disappearances in 2012, reports that McArthur may have been interviewed years before his arrest as part of a divisional probe, which was not connected to either Project Houston or Project Prism, have fuelled suspicions of police inaction in dealing with the LGBT community's concerns about a possible serial killer.
The Toronto Police's professional standards unit has since launched an internal investigation, though the force has not confirmed if an interview with McArthur during that probe did, in fact, take place.
"I saw the terror and hurt that was causing pain in the LGBT community," Tory said of the vigils he attended for McAthur's alleged victims. "There's a feeling that some [missing persons cases] have gone forgotten, or perhaps hadn't been treated in an appropriate way."
Tory's renewed call for an external inquiry into how police handle missing persons files follows one he made earlier this month alongside Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. At the time, Tory said he was "deeply disturbed" by the ongoing developments in the missing men cases and urged the province to hold an inquiry at the close of any criminal proceedings.
Last month, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders was blasted following comments published in the Globe and Mail. He suggested McArthur could have been caught sooner if people who knew him had been more forthcoming with police. The comments were widely seen by LGBT leaders and community members as victim blaming.
Tory, who defended the chief at the time, told Metro Morning while Saunders used "awkward language" in the interview he supports him as a leader who can help mend fractious relationships with communities in the city.
The mayor went on the explain the external review will probe missing persons cases more broadly to assess how they were handled.
The McArthur homicide case will not be included in the first probe because the investigation is ongoing and would risk key evidence being released to the public, Tory said.
Protocol for the external review is set to be debated at Thursday's Toronto Police Services Board meeting.
With files from CBC Radio's Metro Morning