No to Bill Blair in Justin Trudeau's cabinet

Bill BlairWe are calling on incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not to name newly elected Liberal MP Bill Blair to his cabinet on Nov. 4.

Blair was the Toronto police chief during the G20 summit in June 2010 which saw the police violate civil rights, detain people illegally, and use excessive force. More than 1,100 people were arrested during the summit, meaning Blair presided over the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

In May 2012, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, an arms-length civilian agency, stated, “Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification. ...Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence."

The Toronto Star editorial board commented at that time, "Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair still doesn’t get it. How can that be? Every independent review of G20 policing is worse than the one that came before it. The latest report, by the province’s police complaints watchdog, identified hundreds of unlawful arrests, numerous examples of police using excessive force – code, in some cases, for an outright beating – and rampant Charter rights violations. To all this, Blair essentially shrugged and issued a casual, things 'could have been done better' statement. 'If there is misconduct, we’ll deal with that', he said."

That editorial adds, "If? How can he possibly still use a word like that? There is no if. The report makes crystal clear that some police actions during the G20 were unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful. That includes boxing in hundreds of people who had done nothing wrong behind riot-clad police lines; using excessive force during the largest mass arrests in Canadian history; arbitrarily searching young people who happened to be wearing backpacks; and locking up more than 1,100 people in gulag-like conditions that contravened Canadian law and police policy."

And it emphasizes, "[The Office of the Independent Police Review Director’s report] has more than proven the case that starting at the very top of the senior police command, there were bad plans, bad orders and a willingness to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing by police officers – such as taking off their name tags so protesters and bystanders could not identify them. That simply can’t be excused by having too short a time to prepare for the summit."

In July 2014, the Toronto police board decided not to give Blair another five-year contract as police chief for unspecified reasons.

Less than a year later, in April 2015, when Blair announced he would seek the nomination in the riding of Scarborough Southwest, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau standing beside him stated, "One of the things you've all seen from me over the past two years is that I have dedicated myself to trying to draw great people into politics."

But keep this in mind. Noting Blair's G20 policing record as well as the race-based carding by the Toronto police force under his watch, Now Magazine warns, "Few people outside Stephen Harper may better personify the incremental violation of civil liberties than potential cabinet minister Blair."

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