Oct. 13, 2004JOHN DUNCANSON
Those words were on the lips of stunned Toronto police union officials as they watched the announcement yesterday of their new president — one they weren't expecting.
And now that Dave Wilson is in charge, guessing what the new boss wants will be the first order of business.
He'll have his work cut out for him, battling both the stench of corruption in the force that has yet to clear and repairing a deep rift within the union executive itself over the handling of one of its own members caught up in a corruption scandal, but who is still serving as a union official.
Wilson, a 16-year veteran, is a sergeant who teaches at the force's C.O. Bick College. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminology. His election shows many officers on the street want change and saw a chance to take power from the union's old guard.
But largely, Wilson's win should be attributed to a numbers game. Although it was a key election, just 40 per cent, or 2,800, of the union's 7,000 members voted. With six candidates running, the vote was split badly, giving Wilson enough ballots — 839 — to pull off a victory that no one saw coming.
"I had to ask somebody who this guy was," said Craig Bromell, a former Toronto Police Association president who backed long-time union official Steve Smith for the job.
Smith garnered 644 votes, while the other presumed front-runner, Dennis Ewaniuk, received 668 votes. Most association officials believed Ewaniuk, a union director, would win and they credit Wilson's sleek Internet campaign for his victory.
Wilson ran on a commitment to restore the union's credibility with the public, which has been eroded since former president Rick McIntosh was arrested last May on corruption charges. Ever since McIntosh resigned in May, the union has had a series of interim bosses, leaving many in the rank and file asking when stability would return.
Throughout the campaign, Wilson said it was time for a change, saying the union was at a crossroads. "Do we go backward and elect someone from the past ... or do we look forward to the future and take our association to a new level of fight and professionalism?" Wilson's website states.
He also promised a full audit of the union's books because of ongoing concerns by members that their money wasn't being directed to places they wanted.
But Wilson is also promising to fight any attempt by the police force to bring in drug, polygraph or further psychological testing for officers, as recommended by retired judge George Ferguson in his anti-corruption report.
"As members of a police service, we understand and support levels of accountability," Wilson said in his campaign literature. "I believe, however, that recommendations made in this report attack our constitutional rights."
He wasn't making any comments last night after winning and instead was hunkered down with a media consultant and other union officials to prepare for a news conference today.
The president's job was one of three up for grabs yesterday in a by-election sparked by McIntosh's resignation.
The crisis at the union hall was further deepened in July with the resignation of McIntosh's potential successor, Andrew Clarke, who cited stress as the reason for leaving his association job as director of uniform field services.
Clarke's old job of taking care of the troops in the field went to Tim Zayack, a veteran drug-squad officer. A third opening for the position of director of member benefits was filled by Larry Molyneaux, the son of former deputy police chief Robert Molyneaux.
Mike McCormack, the son of former police chief Bill McCormack, and the union's director of uniform administration, has been charged under the Police Services Act with one count of corrupt practices, two counts of discreditable conduct and one count of insubordination.
The charges stem from his alleged ties to used-car salesman Jeffrey Geller, a now-deceased drug addict who associated with underworld figures. Three other officers are also charged in the case.
In May, there was a move afoot to impeach McCormack from his job as director. He refused to resign and had suggested he might run for union president. A rift has since developed between his backers and those who feel he should have resigned.