Brad Blair, an Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner, has been fired from the provincial police force, reports indicate. Deputy Commissioner Blair, who joined the OPP in 1986, has been called a "fierce critic" of the Ford government's appointment of Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner as the OPP's next chief of police.
In December, Blair questioned the appointment of Taverner - who also happens to be a longtime friend of the province's Premier - and believed there were "growing concerns of political interference" in the hiring process.
He claimed it had "deeply affected the morale of rank and file officers", and filed a request in court to initiate an investigation by Ontario's ombudsman into the case. As a result, the Commissioner's investigation has delayed Taverner's appointment.
News reports have noted that Taverner did not initially meet the professional requirements indicated for the Commissioner position, and the Ford government confessed that the requirements were "lowered" to appeal to a wider array of potential candidates, according to CTV News.
At the time, Blair was acting as OPP Commissioner, but was removed from the position shortly after the legal case commenced. He too was in the running for the Commissioner position.
The Ford government tight lipped in question regarding news that the Ford government has fired OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair. pic.twitter.com/9PT5KBHJuf
Blair has also threatened to sue Ford on the basis that, upon learning of Ford's accusations of breaking the Police Services Act, the Ontario Premier had negatively impacted Blair's professional reputation.
A spokesperson for the Premier denied allegations that Ford's comments were a "reprisal against Blair".
Blair was also regarded as a "whistleblower" for revealing internal OPP documents that described Premier Ford's plans to customize a van that would cost taxpayers a whopping $50,000 for luxury amenities - like reclining leather seats and a mini-fridge.
The Progressive Conservative party claims that the decision to fire Blair was made by the Deputy Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Mario Di Tommaso, and was approved by the Public Service Commission.
#BREAKING #EXCLUSIVE @globalnews has obtained letter @OPPAssociation sent to Deputy Minister Mario Di Tommaso regarding @OPP Deputy Comissioner Brad Blair before he was fired. #onpoli pic.twitter.com/Muk5553vAt
Earlier this morning, during question period in the Ontario Legislature, claims were made by opposition leader Andrea Horwath that suggested Blair was fired solely because he spoke out against Taverner's appointment.
According to Horwath, "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." She also commented that "It was a brave thing for this person to do, to come forward, and it looks like that bravery has lost him his job."
According to Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, "At the direction of the deputy minister of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and as approved by the public service commission, Deputy Blair was terminated this morning. We weren't provided any details as to the reason for the termination."
All questions regarding the cause of Blair's firing were directed to the ministry, who have not yet responded to media requests for comment.
Sylvia Jones, the Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, explained "The public service commission, in consultation with the OPP, made a decision independently of the political process to terminate the employment of Mr. Blair." She was steadfast in maintaining that she - nor anyone else - would comment on private HR-related matters.