Saturday, March 23, 1991

Royson James

p. A1.

Lawyer Susan Eng expected to head police services board

Toronto lawyer Susan Eng is expected to replace June Rowlands as head of the Metro Toronto Police Services Board. Eng is the Ontario government's choice as the new chairperson and Premier Bob Rae is to make the announcement "in the next week or so," source say. The appointment is not expected to be greeted with enthusiasm among police officers.

Eng, a member of the board (formerly the police commission) since May, 1989, wouldn't confirm or deny the appointment yesterday, but admitted she had been interviewed and that she would gladly accept the promotion to chairperson. "The job is a challenge and it would be exiting for anybody," Eng said.

It pays more than $100,000 and comes with a car and driver. The police services board is the governing body of the police force.

Rowlands was appointed by then premier David Peterson in April, 1988. Board members can serve a maximum of two three year terms, but Rae is not expected to extend Rowland's tenure beyond the one term. Queen's Park controls four of the seven appointees on the board. Metro Councillors fill the other three.

Rae is to appoint two new civilians to the board shortly, said Carol Phillips, Rae's director of public appointments. The appointment would replace Stan Makuch and Rowlands, she said yesterday.

Phillips said she has completed an extensive search but the provincial cabinet is yet to approve the names. She said the Premier would name the new chairperson, but the police services board would then have to formally elect the chairperson.

Sources say lawyer and former Toronto city councillor Pat Sheppard is one of the two appointees. Another lawyer; Dianne Martin, is touted as the other. Neither of the two returned calls from The Star yesterday.

The new appointees are expected to throw their support behind Eng, a member of the board since May, 1989.

Roy Williams, the fourth provincial appointee now into his second term, said yesterday he will support Eng as chairperson and she will be a very good choice. "She is very bright and she is capable of doing the job," said Williams, who still has more than two years to serve on the board. Williams said Eng's appointment will ruffle feathers of traditionalists who feel the old Toronto is disappearing. "She is the first non-white to chair a major (Metro) board so there will be a few traditionalists with their nose out of joint," he said. "But Susan has a thick skin. She can handle it."

The new appointees will change the face of the police commission that has been criticized as being too close to the force.

Just last December Metro Council rejected some reform-minded councillors and appointed long-time member Norm Gardner and former Metro chairman Dennis Flynn as its representatives on the board. Current Metro Chairman Alan Tonks is the other politician on the board.

Gardner, a Metro councillor who has a good rapport with the cop on the beat, said Eng's appointment as chairperson will do more than ruffle feathers. "From what I know they (police officers) don't hold her in the highest regard," said Gardner, who has clashed with Eng several times on the board. "There is a potential for it to have a demoralizing effect on a lot of officers," he said.

Eng angered many officers by giving Chief Bill McCormack a C grade in a report card filed by The Star last year, he said. "You don't undermine a chief by giving him a C on a report card," Gardner said.

Tonks said he has been told the province has asked Rowlands to stay on another month in the role of chairperson. This will help ease the transition, Tonks said, but it also gives the pro-Rowland forces more time to pressure Rae to keep Rowlands.

Earlier this month Tonks wrote to Rae asking him to keep Rowlands on the commission. Now, Scarborough Mayor Joyce Trimmer is trying to get all six Metro mayors to send a joint plea to Queen's Park to keep Rowlands.

Eng, who graduated from Osgoode Hall with a law degree in 1975, has not shied away from controversy since she became a police commissioner in May 1989. First, she refused to swear allegiance to the Queen. Then she took several stands that were unpopular with the rank and file. For example. Eng supported motions calling for police officers to file a report when they draw their guns -- an action the officers say would make them hesitant to draw their revolvers and so endanger their lives.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: April 26, 1998
Last modified: April 4, 1999

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