Tuesday, February 1, 2000


p. A20.

Police union crosses the line

Police Chief David Boothby is cracking down on Craig Bromell and the Toronto Police Association — and not a minute too soon.

Boothby yesterday launched proceedings to have Bromell and the entire union executive charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Bromell may have backed off from his odious scheme to hand out decals for money but he's still thumbing his nose at city council, defying the civilian board that oversees the police and ignoring public opinion.

This open defiance marks a dangerous and unacceptable escalation in the efforts of politicians and police brass to shut down the union's fundraising campaign, dubbed "Operation True Blue."

On Friday, the Toronto Police Services Board passed a bylaw making it a violation for officers to solicit funds "for the purpose of engaging in any political activity."

Yesterday, the union responded with an ultimatum of its own. claiming the bylaw is at odds with the provincial Police Act, it gave the police board — the civilian body responsible for overseeing the force — 48 hours to rescind it.

The board stood firm and said it would proceed with efforts to seek a court injunction to halt the campaign. "They're breaking the law and disobeying the chief," said Olivia Chow, a city councillor and police board member. "The bylaw is clear, the public's wishes are clear and the chief's order is very clear."

The union's decision to stop handing out decals to its contributors is a small step in the right direction. But troubling questions remain. the union now claims that no one but its telemarketers will know who gave and who didn't. But earlier, it sent a memo to officers boasting that the information collected during the campaign would make a valuable database.

At a more fundamental level, it is still soliciting funds to support its political activities, in direct violation of the chief's order to "cease and desist."

"While the changes to Operation True Blue make it less offensive than before, it remains an unacceptable form of political fundraising," board chair Norm Gardner said.

If any good has come out of this campaign, it's that Toronto residents have been awakened to Bromell's offensive techniques. It has also caused politicians to stand up against him, finally.

This is a man who thinks it's acceptable to intimidate lawmakers, who prides himself as a bully, who calls politicians "loudmouths."

But his belligerent style and the irresponsible actions of his union executive are eating into the overwhelming public support police enjoy in this city.

Obviously, this matters little to the union. But the officers on the street should care. If they hope to preserve public goodwill, they need to add their voices to the many who have already condemned the union campaign.

"I don't think there has been a time in my 36 years in this organization where more people — both people from the community and this organization — have said to me they're absolutely disgusted with the campaign," Boothby said.

This showdown has gone far beyond fundraising and decals. It's now a question of who is in charge of the Toronto police.

Despite his bluster, his swagger and his boasts, it's not Bromell. It's time he learned that lesson.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 8, 2000
Last modified: October 8, 2000
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