POLITICS

Brother of Toronto mayor calls on city's police chief to step aside

11/05/2013 09:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
TORONTO - Toronto's police services board should investigate "inappropriate" comments by the city's police chief relating to a video appearing to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, the mayor's brother said Tuesday.

Calling Chief Bill Blair "the most political police chief" he's ever seen, Coun. Doug Ford said Blair should step aside while that investigation takes place.

"The police chief believes he's the judge, jury and the executioner," Doug Ford said at a news conference at city hall. "In my opinion this creates a bias towards the mayor."

Hours later Rob Ford reversed his earlier statements and admitted that he tried the drug about a year ago "probably in one of my drunken stupors," but said he is not an addict.

Blair made the stunning video announcement last Thursday, saying the alleged footage had been recovered from a hard drive seized during a guns and drugs investigation.

Two media outlets reported in May they had watched the alleged video, but the mayor said he did not use crack cocaine and suggested the video did not exist. Both Rob Ford and his brother have called on police to release the video.

When asked about the recovered video last week, Blair said he was "disappointed" as a citizen and called it a "a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city."

Doug Ford said it was inappropriate for Blair to express views not directly related to his responsibilities as a police officer.

"It's a traumatic issue for the reputation of the city and I think we have some issues here...We don't live in a police state."

The councillor also said Blair should not be in office while under investigation.

"I'm asking the (police services board) chair to look into this, to do a probe. The police chief should step aside while this probe is going on," he told CP24, adding that he was only expressing his personal opinion.

Blair said he would not respond to "personal attacks," saying his job is to investigate without fear or favour.

"I was making a very sincere effort on Thursday not to offer any suggestions on what should then transpire or any opinion," Blair said Tuesday.

"I was asked a very specific question about how I felt and I responded how I felt."

Alok Mukherjee, the chairman of the police services board, said he expected Doug Ford will be making a formal complaint about Blair's comments — but it would first have to go to the province's civilian watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

The director would then have to decide whether the office would do its own investigation or refer the complaint to the board.

"It's a tough situation, obviously," Mukherejee said in an interview.

"It is obviously in everybody's interest that any such concerns are dealt with."

Mukherjee said it was "too early to say" whether Ford has a legitimate beef even though the councillor "feels very strongly" that he does.

It's important a complaint is dealt with transparently and, given the "seriousness and urgency" of the issue, that the OIPRD will handle any complaint quickly, he said.

"I guess we just have to wait and watch what develops and go from there."

The head of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police came to Blair's defence Tuesday calling him one of the most well-regarded chiefs of police in North America.

"I think Bill is a very well-respected police leader in Ontario and I think he's dealing with a difficult situation and it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further because I don't have all the facts," said Paul Cook, who is also chief of the North Bay, Ont., police service.

"This is a difficult time for the community and I hope at the end of the day they are able to work through this."

Doug Ford also complained that the mayor has been "uninvited" from an upcoming gala for the police chief, adding that he and his brother have always supported police and attended the gala for years.