Thursday, March 28, 1991
John Duncanson and Royson James
Panel won't rubberstamp Eng's posting, Tonks saysSome Metro councillors were planning yesterday to stage a coup after Premier Bob Rae endorsed Susan Eng to head the Metro Police Services Board. The seven board members are to select the chairperson at a meeting May 16. Traditionally, the members have chosen whomever the provincial government suggests.
Metro Chairman Alan Tonks said yesterday this won't be the case with Eng. "I don't believe it will be a rubberstamp." Tonks said. "It may be that someone else may step forward."
Soon after Eng's endorsement was announced, some Metro councillors were pushing board member Norm Gardner to run for chairperson of the board. Gardner, a harsh critic of Eng's said he hadn't considered running.
Eng considered unfair fellow commissioner says"Nobody has put a gun to my head," he said. But Gardner said Eng won't be good for the police force. "She has to create an impression that's different from what she has created over the last little while," he said. "The perception of her fairness has not always been there."
Another Metro representative on the board, Dennis Flynn, said he had a neutral view of Eng. "I haven't been able to make any judgement in three meetings whether she is doing rightly or wrongly," Flynn said. And he rejected the cries of doom.
"Any person -- maverick or whatever -- once they become chairperson, must now speak for the entire board. I don't see any difficulties," he said.
In contrast, ethnic groups hailed Rae's endorsement of Eng's promotion. "It's about time that people who are capable, qualified, understand the issues and come from a visible minority community are in such positions," said Pamela Jean Gopie, head of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. "If some people feel the heat, maybe they need to understand how outsiders to the system feel," she said.
Rae also named two new appointees to the board. Father Massey Lombardi and social worker Laura Rowe. Both Rowe and Lombardi said yesterday they will support Eng. "Given the pressure she has been under, this (pending) appointment is an incredibly courageous act," said Rowe, 37, a social worker.
Rowe, who has been a counsellor for the Rape Crisis Centre, said she wants a more active role for women in the police force. But she said she is proud of the Metro force's work. "I think officers are thinking and complex individuals, who have a very difficult job," she said.
Rowe said she wants better records kept of police actions, including reports on when police draw their weapons.
Lombardi, 51, is the director of the office of Social Action for the Archdiocese of Toronto. He is no stranger to the police services board, having helped draft the policy on race and ethnic relations. The priest said he will continue to push for better links with ethnic groups.
"They (police) have a tremendous job an I think we all have to realize that and work together to make it better, he said.
The Premier's candidates for the police board may have to appear before an all-party committee at Queen's Park to answer questions about their qualification for the job. They will then be officially confirmed by an order in council from the lieutenant-governor and then take their seats on the board.
Provincial civilian appointees are paid $8,791 a year. The board chairperson gets a $90,963 salary from the Metro Council. The amount hasn't changed since 1987, when it was set.
Chief says officers are free to express themselvesJohn Campbell, executive director of the police services board, said he expects the three candidates to be confirmed by the May 16 board meeting.
Police Chief William McCormack said he is aware of some officers reservations about Eng but said they are free to express themselves. "I cannot direct senior officers or individual members of the force from having an opinion," he said.
Some officers warned of a backlash that could include a refusal to work overtime if Eng tries to interfere with the daily running of the force.
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