Wednesday, January 27, 1999


p. A16.

Ouster of Sgro sends wrong message

There's some nasty backroom politics at play at the Toronto Police Services Board and it could cost a hard-working councillor her position.

Toronto Councillor Judy Sgro (North York Humber) has been an effective, outspoken member of the board, one who has shown no reluctance to take on the powerful police union.

Despite these talents, it appears the seven-member board will ditch her as its vice-chair in favour of Toronto lawyer Jeff Lyons when it meets tomorrow.

Such a decision would be more than a slap in the face for this dedicated councillor. It would mark a disturbing victory for her opponents, particularly the police union which has made no secret of its dislike for Sgro.

Still, it's one thing when the union, which has tussled often with Sgro, takes steps to muzzle the criticism. It's much more serious when that muzzling comes at the hands of her board colleagues.

Sgro has served with distinction and has done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment. She understands the vital role of the board to serve as a public watchdog on the actions of the police force.

Toronto Councillor Norm Gardner, who chairs the board, has shown a distressing lack of grace in this affair. Rather than express his support for Sgro, Gardner says that competition for her job is good.

Well, if competition for the top jobs is something he believes in, maybe he wouldn't mind if someone challenged him for the chair. We sure wouldn't.

Our quarrel isn't with Lyons. He's devoted a lot of time to the board's business, in many cases carrying the workload of other members.

Lyons denies that his bid for vice-chair is being orchestrated by the police union or the provincial government, which appointed him to the board. Rather, he thinks one of the four citizens on the board should be vice-chair and he's putting himself forward for election. There's nothing wrong with that rationale.

But the influence of the police union brass is unduly strong and Sgro is the only one with the guts to openly challenge them.

The board should endorse Sgro as vice-chair and send a message to the union that its critics cannot be easily silenced.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: February 14, 1999
Last modified: February 14, 1999

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