Posts Tagged ‘Chief Bill Blair’

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Runs True To Form

July 3, 2010

TO Police Chief Bill Blair fell off my list of credible people a long time ago, even before the stupid and uninformed statements he made while arguing in support of the long-gun registry and against Bill C-391, the private member’s legislation aimed at dumping it.

He once again shows his true colours in the wake of the G20 summit in Toronto.

Toronto’s police chief is admitting there never was a five-metre rule that had people fearing arrest if they strayed too close to the G20 security perimeter.

Civil libertarians were fuming after hearing Friday that the Ontario cabinet gave police the power to stop and search anyone coming within five metres of the G20 fences in Toronto for a one-week period.

However, the Ministry of Community Safety says all the cabinet did was update the law that governs entry to such places as court houses to include specific areas inside the G20 fences — not outside.

A ministry spokeswoman says the change was about property, not police powers, and did not include any mention of a zone five metres outside the G20 security perimeter.

When asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry’s clarification, Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, “No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out.”

Then, in what seems to have become a standard police media event, the Toronto police laid out a table showing what they purported to be ‘weapons’ that they had confiscated from activists at the event. However, as is often the case in these show and tell events, it turns out that there was a bit of fudging going on.

Toronto Police staged a display of weaponry to demonstrate “the extent of the criminal conspiracy” among hard-line G20 protesters, but several of the items had nothing to do with the summit.

Facing criticism for their tactics, police invited journalists on Tuesday to view a range of weapons, from a machete and baseball bat to bear spray and crowbars.

Chief Bill Blair, who told reporters the items were evidence of the protesters’ intent, singled out arrows covered in sports socks, which he said were designed to be dipped in a flammable liquid and set ablaze.

However, the arrows belong to Brian Barrett, a 25-year-old landscaper who was heading to a role-playing fantasy game when he was stopped at Union Station on Saturday morning. Police took his jousting gear but let Mr. Barrett go, saying it was a case of bad timing

[snip]

Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit. When asked, Chief Blair acknowledged they were unrelated, but said “everything else” had been confiscated from demonstrators.

On Wednesday, however, Michael Went and Doug Kerr e-mailed a letter to Chief Blair saying their bamboo poles may have been included in the exhibit. As they headed to a picnic to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots on Sunday morning, police seized seven or eight of the long poles, citing the G20 summit. The couple had planned to use the poles to fly a rainbow flag and decorate the park.

“It makes you wonder what are the other things that they’ve displayed [that] were taken from people on the street that weren’t doing anything wrong?” asked Mr. Kerr, a 42-year-old management consultant.

Julian Falconer, a Toronto lawyer representing four independent journalists in summit-related police complaints, called the display of unrelated objects a “public-relations exercise [that] borders on the absurd.”

The items, which were laid out on tables in the lobby of police headquarters, also included gas masks, cans of spray paint, a replica gun, saws, pocket knives, a staple gun, a drill, a slingshot, chains and handcuffs. However, there were also objects not normally considered dangerous, including bandanas, skateboard and bicycle helmets, golf balls, tennis balls, goggles, rope and walkie-talkies.

OK, well some of the stuff was legit! But then if they’d taken away the phony items the table wouldn’t have been so impressive looking.

(Thanks to Mark Steyn for pointing me to some of this.)

File Under ‘Hurt Feelings’

June 2, 2010

At the committee hearings on MP Candice Hoeppner’s Private Member’s Bill to eliminate the federal long-gun registry Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair got all sensitive when Conservative MP Shelley Glover ( a police officer herself) expressed her concerns that rank and file police opposition to the registry was being silenced by the seni0r police bureaucracy.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair says he was insulted and “disappointed” after a Tory MP suggested he and other Canadian police chiefs were gagging critics of the long-gun registry.

Conservative MP Shelley Glover (Saint Boniface) told a parliamentary committee hearing this week that police critics of the long-gun registry have been “silenced.”

Glover, a Winnipeg patrol officer on leave since she was elected in 2008, declared she was among frontline officers who were “polled” when the registry was first created by a Liberal government in the mid 1990s, and “overwhelmingly” expressed opposition to it, just as officers today oppose it, she claims.

Blair was offended by what he saw as the “disrespectful tone” of some of the questions.

Blair also consistently referred to those speaking against the continuation of the long-gun registry as the “gun lobby” but has said in other interviews that there is no “police lobby” when it comes to speaking to keep the registry.

Blair ‘respectfully’ blew off the retired police officers who gave their opinion as to the uselessness of the registry.

Blair dismissed retired officers who have told the committee most cops want to kill the registry, saying the “gun lobby” often “goes to the local gun club and recruit a couple of cops who’ve retired and who pretend to speak on behalf of law enforcement.”

Of course we’ll never really know  whether or not there was an active attempt by various police departments to silence their rank and file in the debate over the registry. However if you were a Toronto police officer I suspect that knowing Chief Blair’s political position on the long-gun registry, it would be considered a career limiting move to speak publicly supporting its elimination.

Trapped in Suburbia discusses this issue and has posted a letter from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Tim Killam sent to the various RCMP Commanding Officers across the country, along with various other material regarding the registry and Bill C-391.

D/Comm Killam ends his letter with instructions.

The RCMP position is, and always has been, that the services provided by the CFP, including the registration and licensing of all firearms, are valuable resources for all law enforcement, nationally and internationally. The registration of all firearms enables individual accountability, promotes safety and life saving measures, and is a pro-active investigative tool in assisting law enforcement.

This information should be disseminated to all your employees for their information. I would ask that you please refrain from providing any personal opinions and redirect all media inquiries on this issue to the National Communications Services.

Now that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for the argument that their officers in the field fully support the registry. It does leave one with the distinct impression that anyone speaking against the party line on the issue would be persona non grata with the RCMP’s upper echelon.

I think we can safely say that at least the RCMP put out a gag order to their members.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.