Friday, February 4, 2000

Jack Lakey

p. B5.

Mayor trains anger on police union

Lastman accuses group of tainting Toronto force

After a judge ruled yesterday he was not in a conflict of interest if he spoke on a contentious police union fundraising campaign, Mayor Mel Lastman made up for lost time and came out with both barrels blazing.

Lastman turned the tables on the Toronto Police Association, saying he wouldn't accept an election endorsement from them if they offered it — and he has asked city councillors to do the same.

Lastman made much of the union's endorsement when he ran for mayor in 1997.

After staying silent all week in the battle over Operation True Blue, Lastman made an impassioned speech to council last night telling them Toronto will not be "held hostage" by the association's executive.

Councillors overwhelmingly stated their support for the mayor, lauding him for taking a tough stand and for refusing the union's support and challenging the rest of council to do the same.

One of the original stated goals of the union campaign was to endorse municipal election candidates seen as supportive of police.

Lastman called the union's decision yesterday to end the telemarketing campaign "nothing more than an attempt by the police union executive to justify a veiled campaign of intimidation."

"This union has outraged the people of our great city. This union has tainted the reputation of one of the finest police forces in the world," he said, adding that its executive should apologize to Toronto residents.

Lastman was applauded several times during his speech by councillors — even those with whom he is often at odds — and received a standing ovation when he finished.

He had refused to comment on the ongoing crisis after the city solicitor told him he might have a conflict of interest because the union hired a lawyer from the firm in which hi son Dale is a partner.

But yesterday, Mr. Justice Warren Winkler said any financial interest Lastman might gain through his son's position was "so remote or insignificant in its nature that it cannot reasonable be regarded as likely to influence" the mayor.

Sources say Lastman was furious after seeing a tape yesterday of a story about the police union broadcast Wednesday on CBC's fifth estate.

In it Deputy Chief Bob Kerr admitted he is afraid of the union because he had heard they had dirt on him that they would reveal if he didn't retire right away.

The mayor was said to be at least as angry by the way he was portrayed in the story, in which he appeared deferential to union leader Craig Bromell.

While the mayor has no authority to fire Bromell, he said he would be pleased if Boothby could get rid of him and the rest of the police union executive.

Councillors said they were proud of Lastman's speech. "It was quite a strong slam against the union and Bromell," said Councillor Maria Augimeri (Black Creek).

Thirty-six city councillors signed a letter addressed to the police association, advising that council was cancelling a meeting with the union.

"While we continue to have the utmost respect for the Police Service and the officers who serve it, the actions of the current executive make it impossible for us to work with it," the letter said.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 8, 2000
Last modified: October 8, 2000
J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710