May ?, 1993

John Deverell

MPPs hear blistering attack on police hierarchy

Susan Eng is a pawn of police Chief William McCormack, the Metro Police Services Board that she heads should be abolished and McCormack should be disciplined, a Queen's Park committee has been told.

The individual attacks on the force's top command came from unlikely allies -- Conservative Chris Stockwell and leftwing lawyer Mark Wainberg, an advocate of police reform. They got some help, as well, from Douglas Drinkwalter, chairperson of the Ontario Police commission.

Drinkwalter told the government agencies committee yesterday that the troubles between Ontario police forces and their civilian bosses will likely continue "for five or 10 years" because of new government regulations.

The underlying cause of last fall's province-wide police job action, he said, is that Ontario law now requires members of police services boards to keep closer tabs on what police do.

"We've told them they are there to hold the police to account, not to be members of a private club called policing," Drinkwalter said.

Boards trying to carry out the new instructions are clashing with police forces "which aren't accustomed to having civilians tell them what to do," he said. "The tensions aren't just in Metro but all across the province."

But Stockwell, who virtually called for McCormack's head, disputed Drinkwalter's claims by citing the commission's own inquiry into the scandal involving former constable Gordon Junger.

The inquiry reported that Junger, accused of running a prostitution business and misusing his access to police computer files, was allowed to resign from the force quietly without facing criminal charges. The Metro force promised Junger that evidence against him would be destroyed.

"Somebody screwed up big-time, and somebody's head should have rolled," Stockwell told the committee.

"A deal was cut, and everyone finds it unacceptable but nobody has paid any price."

Outside the committee meeting, Stockwell said McCormack's claim to the inquiry that he didn't know about the Junger deal was "unbelievable" and "ridiculous."

It was Eng's duty to punish either McCormack or whoever kept him and the board in the dark, Stockwell said.

Stockwell told the committee that the province should give up the right to appoint Eng or anyone else to Metro's police board, particularly because Metro finances more than 90 per cent of the $500 million police budget.

However, Wainberg, of the Metro Coalition for Police Reform, told the MPPs that shifting control over policing to Metro would change nothing.

Eng, a provincial appointee of whom he approved, somewhere along the way "lost her nerve for reform," Wainberg said. "Eng does nothing without the agreement of (Metro Chairman Alan) Tonks and Tonks does nothing without an understanding with the chief. The board is still rubber-stamping police policies."

It should be abolished, he argued, and replaced by a provincial oversight body combining the functions of police internal affairs, the public complaints commissioner and Ontario's special investigations unit.

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Created: December 1, 1998
Last modified: December 1, 1998

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