Friday, February 4, 2000

p. B1.

The gag is off

Following a court ruling that he was not in a conflict of interest Mayor Mel Lastman broke his silence on the police union fundraising issue with his speech to city council

"I am truly relieved to learn that Justice Winkler has ruled that I do not have a conflict of interest.

I am now totally free to continue to represent and protect the interests of our great city.

To begin, I want to make it very clear: There is no way that this police union executive is going to hold our city hostage!

This afternoon, the police union announced it is stopping Operation True Blue because of quote "misconceptions" and public concerns. This is far too little and far too late. This is nothing more than an attempt by the union executive to justify a veiled campaign of intimidation.

This is not good enough.

This union executive just doesn't get it!

This union faces serious allegations 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.

If this union executive wants to be true — apologize to the people of Toronto. They should be apologizing for this whole darn mess.

Instead of a mealy-mouthed press release, this union executive has to admit they were wrong and this will never happen again.

They have to admit it to the officers they purport to serve. They have to admit it to our police chief, our police services board and the members of our council.

In 1997, I was proud to receive the endorsement of the Toronto police union when I ran for mayor of our new city.

I am proud of the positive relationship I enjoy with front-line officers. I want our front-line officers to know they can count on our continued support. Whenever I pass them, I will continue to say, "How's Toronto's finest?

However, because of the events of the last few weeks, I will not seek, nor will I accept, any endorsement from this police union executive should I decide to seek another term.

This police union executive is not running this city. They are not running our police department. And they are certainly not running me.

I will urge every single member of our council to take a similar stand and refuse endorsement or help of any kind from this out-of-control union.

The power of this union is based on the perception that their support is necessary for election. Well, let's tell them we don't need them to get elected.

Politicians at all levels of government must take a stand. We do not want support of this kind.

If the allegations are true, this union executive has intimidated a member of our police services board and one of our front-line senior officers — Deputy Chief Bob Kerr.

In addition, the action of this union executive have so concerned one member of our police board that he had his office checked for electronic bugs.

What's going on?

We're not going to become a police state.

Our council has voted to debug their own offices, their homes and their cars. That's how great this concern has spread.

This union executive is risking the reputations of our 7,000 uniform and civilian police officers and destroying the basic tenets of law and order. The public is disgusted with this situation. They want something done now.

I am proud of our police services and the individual officers who put their lives on the line to protect us. But they are not being well-served by their own union.

Their century-long reputation as a fine police force is being shredded by a group of men who seem out of touch and out of control. This union executive has to be stopped.

We have to protect the best interests of our city. I am absolutely committed to using every once of energy that I have to bring an end to this destructive situation and maintain the public confidence that our police officers so richly deserve.

In addition to enactment of a new bylaw and legal action, we are taking steps to ensure something like this never, ever happens again.

I will be meeting with the premier to ask for changes in the law to ensure that the full collective rights of our police officers, like any union, are protected without the need for spurious campaigns from police union executives.

Enough is enough.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 8, 2000
Last modified: October 8, 2000
J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
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