Fri, October 1, 2004
TORONTO POLICE Chief Julian Fantino's last faint hope of keeping his job was shot down by Ontario's premier last night. In an interview with CITY-TV, Dalton McGuinty vowed to follow Toronto Mayor David Miller's lead in choosing two provincially appointed members to sit on the Police Services Board.
"I think the Toronto Police Service should be primarily the responsibility of the people of Toronto," McGuinty said. "So I'll be looking for advice from the council, and from the mayor, with respect to the people that he would like us to appoint to his police services board."
The chief's future has been a lightning rod of controversy since the board decided not to renew his contract in June. The 3-3 vote showed the deadlock between the right and the left on the board.
Since then, two members, Alan Heisey and Benson Lau, have left the board.
Norm Gardner remains suspended until December.
Heisey, a city appointee who voted to replace Fantino, has had his seat filled by Alok Mukherjee, who is also seen as wanting to replace the chief.
LEFT OF CENTRE
Lau, a provincial appointee and Fantino supporter, is the next to be replaced. If the city is allowed to choose, his successor is likely to be one of the two left-of-centre runners-up: Valerie Steele, past president of the Jamaican-Canadian Association, and Mariana Velverde, a U of T criminology professor.
The pro-Fantino faction hoped to re-open the contract debate when a new board was in place, but with left-leaning replacements, that is now highly unlikely.
Miller welcomed McGuinty's surprise announcement. "I think it's terrific the province respects the city enough to allow us to make these kind of decisions," he said.
The board is made up of the mayor or a designate, two city councillors, three citizens chosen by the province, and one appointed by council.