How is it that Bill Blair is still Toronto’s Chief of Police this morning? How is it that, in the wake of the damning OIPRD report on the “policing” of the G20 summit in 2010, he hasn’t stepped down? How is it he isn’t waking up in his PJs at home this morning, with no headquarters to go into anymore, and telling his wife, “Gee, honey, sorry I lost my job, but I really fucked up”?
The papers in Toronto are calling for him to apologize. Apologize? That’s what he should have done on June 27, 2010, the day after his officers went gonzo. We’re with the Ontario Federation of Labour. So long, sucker.
Does he really think four (or is it five?) of his senior commanders are going to do the perp walk, along with some 40 other officers, and not take him with them? Does he really think that, if he doesn’t resign and somehow doesn’t get fired, he’ll be able to continue to command after this? After the OIPRD report said responsibility for the police riot went all the way to the top? (Guess who that would be, Bill.) And revealed that Blair was present at the meeting where the whole thing went haywire:
At 5:18 p.m., Saturday, June 26, 2010, Supt. Mark Fenton said, “I attended the conference room that was set up as an area for the chief and command to view some of the CCTV video being generated … I entered and Supt. (Hugh) Ferguson was immediately to my left. The chief (Blair) was sitting at the head of the table. Beside the chief was Dep. (Chief) (Tony) Warr…The chief was asking why he could not see police officers in the pictures … The chief appeared to be angry and frustrated in his demeanour.”
Fenton asked, “Why are we not arresting these people?”
He said he was “referring to the terrorists that were attacking police and property” when “the chief responded by looking at me and saying, ‘That is a very good question, Mark.’ ”
Fenton said, “Immediately Dep. Warr spoke and said “OK, this is what we are going to do: We are going to take back the streets.” Deputy Warr looked at me and said, “I want you to take back the streets.”
McNeilly’s report also deals with a similar exchange where Ferguson asked Fenton “about direction from the chief.” Supt. Fenton answered “Own the streets” and “as soon as groups of people are seen, arrest them for breach of the peace.”
The implication there is that, at some point, it was Blair himself who gave the command to “own the streets” and violate the civil rights of Torontonians willy-nilly. If not in that room, then at some other juncture. Regardless, Big Bill stood by while the order went out. And now he wants his underlings to take the fall.
However, let us tip our hats to those few officers who, at the finale of Blair’s lost weekend, when hundreds of people were illegally kettled in a torrential rain storm at Queen and Spadina, disobeyed their orders and, according to the report, “personally removed non-protesters and peaceful protesters.” On a weekend ripe with the smell of bad apples, they were among the good ones. And to those officers who knew they were breaking the law but went ahead and did so anyway, because a superior told them to — you owned the streets, all right. Now own your complicity.
But for Bill Blair, let there be nothing but disdain until, for the first time in this whole grotesque episode, he does the right thing and steps down. And then he can apologize. And then, maybe, the people of Toronto, and of the country whose laws and liberties he treated so cavalierly, can think about forgiving him.
But not until. Resign, Chief Blair. Resign.