Monday, November 8, 1999

Rob Granatstein

p. 4.

Gays no fans of Fantino

'Would set back relations 20 years' if chosen top cop

Toronto's gay community has declared Julian Fantino enemy number one in the race to find the city's new top cop.

Councillor Kyle Rae called Fantino "arrogant and hostile" in dealing with the gay community and warned Mayor Mel Lastman the consequences of electing York Region's chief to the Toronto position would be severe.

"We don't want to work with someone who has a track record of disrespecting the community, of creating hysteria in the community" Rae said yesterday. "It was terrible when [Fantino] was in London.

Rae said he's not ready to move into full battle mode on Fantino until learning if he's even applied for the chief's job. The deadline for applications was Friday. Names of interested candidates should be released this week.

"If the guy hasn't applied, who cares," Rae said.

Fantino is the subject of the front page article in last weekend's Jock-Dad, a Toronto gay on-line magazine headlined: "Will anti-gay cop become next Toronto chief?"

Rae is quoted in the article saying elected Fantino chief "would set back relations 20 years" between police and the gay community.

"I'll be telling the mayor if he thinks he can come to Pride Day after voting for Fantino… It would be a bad idea," Rae said yesterday.

Similar concerns surfaced in the 1994 search for a new Toronto chief and likely cost Fantino the job at the time.

A lesbian member of the board voted against Fantino — who lost to now-Chief David Boothby by one vote — because of the perception in the gay community that Fantino is homophobic.

The perception arose out of Fantino's leadership role in the London, Ont., police force's huge kiddie-porn investigation, a sting operation the gay community said targeted gay men with little evidence. Dozens of gay men were charged and vilified in the media after the 1993 raids. Charges against most of the men were eventually stayed or dropped.

"We were horrified," Rae said of the raids, which occurred while Fantino was London's chief. "He turned it into a witch hunt."

Lastman who's on the police service board and will have a vote in the election of the new chief, was lived when he heard Rae's comments. "I've never seen anyone as negative as Kyle Rae. I wish Kyle Rae would shut up and stop talking so much."

Lastman said he favours someone from the Toronto force for the job. "It's always better to see someone from the inside for morale and everything else," he said. "Fantino has not said he even wants the job."

The police board is expected to name a new chief by early December. Boothby is to retire Feb. 28.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 11, 2000
Last modified: October 11, 2000
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