Tuesday, November 30, 1999

George Christopoulos

p. 4.

Was there a deal?

Sources say union wants deputy badge

Julian Fantino is in as Toronto's new police chief because he agreed to police union demands that a long-serving deputy chief turn in his badge, sources say.

Before the ink was dry on Fantino's contract, there was an understanding with the police association that Deputy Chief Robert Kerr would resign, the sources say.

They said Kerr's position as one of five deputy chiefs was among the issues brought up at a private meeting Friday between Fantino and police association president Craig Bromell.

"I'd be deeply disappointed if that was true," Kerr said last night when asked about any arrangement that would lead to his resignation.

"I have a lot of respect for him (Fantino). He has a great deal of tenacity and I'm really looking forward to working with him," Kerr said.

During a news conference at police headquarters, Bromell denied the deputy chief was discussed with Fantino.

Kerr was former Police Services Board chairman Susan Eng's choice for chief before David Boothby was appointed in 1994, but sources said he's considered unpopular in senior command.

'Not a deal'

"The meeting was between myself and the chief and we have an agreement that we wouldn't get into what we discussed. It was not a deal," Bromell said.

He added that they had a lengthy meeting about each other's views "on law and order, the association and legislation. It was a positive meeting and, by the end of it, we decided he was the right person for the job."

Mayor Mel Lastman also said Fantino 57, was hired because he was "the best man for the job. I can assure you it was not fixed."

Lastman added the gay community has nothing to fear from Fantino. "We knew there were people in the gay community who didn't want him and there were people in the black community who were concerned.

"But we had to put politics aside and choose the person who's going to do the best job," he said. "That's what we did — and I'm convinced he's going to do a super, super job."

Councillor Kyle Rae said the process appeared "fixed" from the start and said he was "profoundly disappointed" in the board. "I guess that's politics in Toronto today."

He said the city's gay community will watch Fantino's actions. "We have been vigilant in the past and we're going to have to be vigilant again," Rae said.

Now head of York Region's force, Fantino, who has always maintained he didn't seek the Toronto job, was elected to replace Boothby by a 5-2 vote after a day-long series of interviews by the Police Services Board on Sunday. He applied for the chief's job in 1994.

'Beyond imagination'

"I'm indeed humbled by the experience and somewhat overwhelmed… coming back here for me is an outcome that can only be described as beyond my imagination," Fantino told reporters yesterday.

Fantino who left Toronto's force after 22 years in 1991 to head London's force, also thanked the rank and file in York, their police board and residents for the backing.

"Their support has been unwavering… Their co-operation has been top-notch. I leave there knowing full well that I'm only leaving to go across the street."

Boothby said he was very supportive of his internal candidates — Deputy Chiefs Steve Reesor and Mike Boyd and Insp. Bill Blair, but "the Police Services Board made a selection that I certainly have no problem with it.

"I have the highest admiration and respect for Julian Fantino."

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

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