Tuesday, February 1, 2000

Jennifer Quinn

p. A1.

Back off or be sued, police union tells board

True Blue continues but decals won't be traded for cash

The Toronto police union has issued an ultimatum to the force's civilian overseers, telling the police services board to withdraw within 48 hours a bylaw that bans Operation True Blue.

But in an apparent concession to its critics, the Toronto Police Association has stopped distributing window decals to people who give money to "address any possible misconceptions concerning the True Blue campaign.

Toronto police Chief David Boothby also waded into the hostilities, saying he intends to pursue charges of discreditable conduct against the association's board of directors — all sworn police officers or civilian employees — for defying his direct order to end Operation True Blue.

At issue is a bylaw, passed unanimously by the police services board Friday, which outlaws the telemarketing fundraising campaign.

The association says the bylaw is illegal because the board was acting outside it jurisdiction. Union officials told the board it had two days to withdraw it.

"We will give the police services board 48 hours to rescind the bylaw," the association said yesterday in a lengthy statement. "If they do so, we will take no further action.

"If they do not rescind the bylaw, we will move to quash the bylaw and seek significant damages for the violation of our member's rights."

Chairperson Norm Gardner dismissed the association's stance, saying the board intends to stand its legal ground.

"We feel that we have done something which is legal, so we're not too happy about the ultimatum coming back to us," he said. "If they want to try the bylaw in the courts, that's another thing.

Gardner said the end to the distribution of window decals to donors makes Operation True Blue "less offensive," but no less illegal.

"We are continuing with the process that has been set into motion, and… basically what we're are doing is processing the development of the material to seek the injunction," he said.

Boothby said he decided to pursue charges of discreditable conduct against the association's board of directors after reading the two-page statement they released yesterday.

Boothby vows he'll file charges against union leader

"It's quite clear to me that the association has no intention of following my order, that they're going ahead with Operation True Blue," a clearly annoyed Boothby said, noting the penalties for discreditable conduct range from reprimand to dismissal.

In a statement printed in Sunday's paper, the association said the funds raised by Operation True Blue would go "to bring about legislative change to the Young-Offenders Act and Criminal Code, "to assist in the creation of a national DNA bank and "to participate in the electoral process by supporting public officials who agree with these objections."

Service board vice-chairperson Jeff Lyons called the association's ultimatum" arrogant.

"I think it's impertinent," he said. "It's arrogant. That just shows the lack of respect that they have for the senior command and the chief. And that's not the way this organization should work. "We expect more."

'This is all about personalities and this has nothing to do with stickers on cars'

But one police insider said the fight between the board, the command and the association — described as a "family feud" by Gardner — was a battle of wills.

"This is all about personalities and this has nothing to do with stickers on cars," the source said. "This is about a disgruntled chief and a bunch of scared politicians getting their pound of flesh.

"They think (the association) has too much influence and power, and they're scared."

After describing the police association campaign as "evil" last week, Mayor Mel Lastman wouldn't comment yesterday, saying he had been advised against it because the association has hired a lawyer from the same law firm that his son, Dale, works for.

Lastman who joined the police services board in November, issued the following statement: "The Toronto Police Association has hired a lawyer from my son's firm of Goodman, Phillips and Vineberg. So in the meantime, the city solicitor has advised me that I should avoid making any public statements on this matter until I can obtain an independent legal opinion on whether or not I have a conflict of interest.

Olivia Chow, another member of the services board, called the association's move completely illegal.

"The bully strikes again. Giving their employer a 48-hour deadline to do something isn't the way it works," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, they're breaking the law.'

Yesterday, the police association responded to reports that some officers had started petitions coming out against the campaign.

Andrew Clarke, an association director, said he spoke with some officers at traffic services who were "very satisfied with the information they received."

Staff-Sergeant John Krastins of traffic services said the association members at its Strachan Ave. headquarters are glad the stickers are no longer part of the True Blue campaign.

"So everything else is a go with the association as far as the membership here is concerned. I'm much more comfortable with it now," Krastins said.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

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