Who will replace Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair?

With a time limit now set on the tenure of Toronto police Chief Bill Blair, the speculation begins on who will step into his shoes next year.

Blair's tenure as police chief coming to an end within nine months

Who will replace Chief Blair?

8 years ago
Duration 1:54
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair's tenure will end in April. But who will replace him?

With a time limit now set on the tenure of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, the speculation begins on who will step into his shoes next year.

The Toronto Police Services Board informed Blair yesterday that his contract will not be renewed for a third term.

The 60-year-old chief will have spent a decade as the city's top cop — and more than half his life as a Toronto police officer — when his contract runs out in April of next year.

Alok Mukherjee, the chair of the police board, told CBC News on Thursday that the board plans to cast a wide net for candidates to succeed him.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is seen speaking to the media in the aftermath of a deadly shooting on Danzig Street in 2012, which left two people dead and more than 20 others wounded. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

So far, the board has only a general idea of the type of person it is looking to lead the country's largest municipal police force.

"We will be looking for somebody who, like him, brings a fresh perspective with greater definition of roles between policing-related leadership and business processes-related leadership," he said.

In the past, the city's police board has typically hired chiefs with extensive policing experience in Toronto.

At the moment, Blair has three deputy chiefs with such backgrounds working alongside him — Michael Federico, Michael Saunders and Peter Sloly. There is talk that all three could be candidates for the top job.

How the departing chief's successor will be chosen is still unclear, but Mukherjee has already laid out some of the challenges that he or she will face.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, seen in a file photo from last year, served as the city's top cop for two terms. He sought a contract renewal for a third term, but was turned down by the police board on Wednesday. (Galit Rodan/Canadian Press)

They will include the way that the police interact with the community; the way officers interact with emotionally disturbed persons and the mentally ill; and the need to transform the police service in a way that ensures it is effective and sustainable in the long term.

Mukherjee said it is too soon to provide specifics about how the board will search for and select a new police chief.

It is also not clear if an interim chief would serve before a permanent successor is chosen.

'Keep our city safe'

Mayor Rob Ford was asked Thursday about what the next chief of police should bring to the table.

"My personal opinion is I want to see someone who's going to find efficiencies and keep our city safe. I think that’s what everyone wants," said Ford.

Ford, who is not on the police board, said he favoured a wide-ranging search for Blair's replacement.

"I hope they do, literally, a search right across North America," he said.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly also suggested that a broad search would be preferable.

"I think that we owe it to the residents of Toronto to take a look at as many good candidates as possible," he said Thursday.

Kelly said the next chief will face pressure to contain costs, while delivering the policing services that the city needs.

Bill Blair has spent more than three decades with the Toronto Police Service, starting out as a beat officer and ending up as the chief of police. The photo above is from January 2005, a few months before he won the top job that he would hold for a decade. (CBC)

The soon-to-be-vacant job at police headquarters involves leading a force comprised of thousands of officers and civilian staff. The organization has a $1-billion budget and a history that stretches back 180 years.

Blair was the third permanent chief to lead the Toronto Police Service since the city was amalgamated. He picked up the torch from Julian Fantino, who went on to lead the Ontario Provincial Police and now serves as an MP for Vaughan and the minister of veterans affairs. 

In recent years, the Toronto police have seen several senior officers leave to pursue executive opportunities elsewhere.

Last year, former staff superintendent Kimberley Greenwood became the chief of the Barrie police, the first woman to take the job. She had spent 30 years with the Toronto force.

Toronto's former acting deputy chief Jeff McGuire spent 35 years with the city's police force before being sworn in as the chief of the Niagara Regional Police two years ago.

There has been no word from Blair yet as to what he plans to do once he wraps up his time as police chief.

With a report from the CBC's Michelle Cheung


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