Premier Doug Ford has been through it all this month - province-wide protests, accusations from concerned Ontarians about the PC government's changes to education, and now a defamation lawsuit from a former member of the OPP. Ford is getting sued by former Ontario Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair for allegedly damaging his reputation.
Brad Blair was terminated earlier this month under questionable circumstances. Blair took the defamation lawsuit to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on March 15th after Ford claimed that the former high-ranking officer had violated the Police Services Act.
Blair had asked the courts to enlist the provincial ombudsman to look into the appointment of Ron Taverner, a close friend of Ford’s whom he appointed as OPP Commissioner. Blair suggested that the selection of Taverner was a conflict of interest and could be the result of political interference.
"Premier Ford made these defamatory remarks fully aware that the natural and probable consequence of making these defamatory statements would be the widespread re-publication by the Canadian media, which would be heard and viewed by millions," read Blair's statement at the time, according to CTV.
The speculation of political interference caused a province-wide scandal ultimately leading Taverner to remove his name from consideration. However, no formal investigation was ever launched into the matter since the ombudsman refused the appointment. In response to the ombudsman refusal, Blair made a secondary effort to enlist the province’s watchdog agency to investigate the hiring of Ford’s friend.
That case is expected to be heard by the Ontario Divisional Court sometime in April.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath previously commented on the issue, suggesting that Blair was terminated from his role with the OPP simply for speaking out against Taverner's appointment.
"It's a chilling day in Ontario when a well-respected OPP deputy commissioner who dedicated his life to this province is fired for standing up for the integrity and independence of our provincial police," Horwath said. "It was a brave thing for this person to do, to come forward, and it looks like that bravery has lost him his job."