Letter to the Editor – Justice’s Connections Troubling – The Star

Re: Toronto Police Service Chief of Police William Blair promises unbiased review, Aug. 15

Source: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2013/08/19/justices_connections_troubling.html

We are concerned about the optics of Justice Dennis O’Connor connection to law firm Borden Ladner Gervais and this law firm’s connection to the Toronto Police Service. We believe that the internal review must be conducted by someone with impeccable impartiality.

It is problematic that Justice O’Connor’s law firm “BLG has acted for the insurers of the Toronto Police Service in civil suits, some of which include allegations of the wrongful use of lethal force. Currently, lawyers at BLG are acting on a number of such matters.”

We believe that this may have a negative impact on public’s perception of process and outcome of the police internal review of police use of force. As such, police chief Bill Blair need to be much clearer about the terms and conditions of Justice O’Connor’s review and the basis on which the learned justice will be advising him.

How seriously will retired Justice O’Connor’s advice be taken? How significant will his suggestions and recommendations be to the chief? Will this internal review lead to systemic change in policing and the imperative to act on recommendations such as those contained in the “Report: Saving Lives: Alternatives to the Use of Lethal Force by Police,” along with a reconvening of the Toronto Police Services “Saving Lives Implementation Group”?

Gary Pieters, President, Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Toronto

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