Friday, August 29, 1998

John Duncanson

p. B3.

Ads ready to go, police union says

Six councillors called 'bashers' could be subjects

Ads targeting as many as six city councillors who the Toronto Police Association insists are cop bashers are ready to go, says union boss Craig Bromell.

Pleas by police services board members yesterday to cancel the campaign will not change the union's plans to launch a full-scale media assault -- in newspapers and on radio -- on a handful of politicians, he said.

"The ads will not stop," Bromell told reporters moments after police board chairman Norm Gardner said he wanted to meet the union Monday to try to persuade it to call off the campaign.

The ads are tentatively scheduled to start in the next three weeks, sources say. The campaign was ready Wednesday, Bromell said, adding that he has to meet with his union executive once more before the ads start to run. Although the union leader won't say who is on the hit list, sources say at least six city councillors will be targeted.

When asked repeatedly why the union is going after politicians, Bromell said it is simply "entering the debate on law and."

He did admit that conditions for police officers are better than police officers are better than they were a few years ago, especially after a recent wage increase that makes them the highest paid officers in Ontario.

'If we get the phone call, we'll go'

And he said he will still take up Gardner's offer to meet. "If we get the phone call we'll go."

Gardner appeared dumbfounded by Bromell's insistence that the campaign was on, saying the union leader told him the plan was on hold.

"I was under the impression from our discussion on Wednesday that they would put a hold on any ads. I mean, the ads may be ready to go, but they would put a hold on them," Gardner said, adding that he still hopes to persuade Bromell to drop the negative campaign.

There are several councillors who have been critical of police on issues such as the budget and accountability. They include: budget chief Tom Jocobeck (East Toronto), Brian Ashton (Scarborough Bluffs), Olivia Chow (Downtown), Pam McConnell and Jack Layton (Don River) and police board member Judy Sgro (North York Humber).

Yesterday, Sgro warned that if the union goes ahead with its plans, it will likely find no public support. "If they run the ads, they are going to hurt themselves."

She said she was disappointed Bromell didn't take up her offer and appear before the board yesterday to outline his concerns. "let us know what your issues are," Sgro said in a direct challenge to Bromell. I have to suggest to you that maybe there aren't any issues and this is nothing more than a PR campaign."

During the board meeting Sgro put forward a motion calling for a liaison committee that would include members of the board and the police union.

She also asked the board to send a united message of disapproval over the union's tactics but couldn't get enough board members to support her.

Instead the board approved a motion by Gardner to invite Bromell and other union executives to a board meeting Monday.

The furor over the union's attack on the special investigations unit and the pending one against politicians seemed to be abating after Bromell met with Mayor Mel Lastman on Tuesday. Lastman asked Bromell to scrap the plan and the union leader told the mayor he would consider it.

After meeting with the union executive the next day, the association put out a two-page press release saying it wasn't going to back down.

The union has already run newspaper and radio ads criticizing the special investigations unit and the provincial government after two of its officers who were involved in a fatal police chase were charged recently.

The SIU, a provincial body that probes all cases involving police that lead to death or injury, charged Constables Karl Heilimo, 31, and Geraid O'Kane, 27, in connection with the May 11 pursuit of a van on Oak Park Ave. that killed 73-year-old cyclist Clyde Barnaby.

'I don't want to see politicians criticized for speaking up'

Lastman, in an appearance on a CFRB radio phone-in program yesterday, vigorously defended his right and that of his colleagues on the 57-member Toronto council to speak out on policing issues.

"I don't want to see politicians criticized for speaking up, because that's what they're paid for, that's what they're being elected for. They represent the people."

The union's tactics have also upset some community groups. The Canadian Jamaican Association slammed the association, saying it was appalled by the campaign. It also took a shot at Bromell himself.

"The comments made by Craig Bromell" are similar to those made by "a schoolyard bully," it said in a statement.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: February 15, 1999
Last modified: February 15, 1999

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