Toronto Mayoral candidate David Soknacki urged caution on the Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board today, arguing that it was “premature” for the Board to begin a selection process for a new Chief of Police only eighty-eight days before a citywide general election.
“The Board has full jurisdiction over the selection of a Chief, and Chair Alok Mukherjee has full jurisdiction to lead the selection process,” Soknacki said, “but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to exercise that authority without sensitivity to the situation at City Hall,” he said.
Soknacki raised three points to explain the need for the Board to hold off until November:
- Political figures who are briefed on aspects of the process – like, for example, Mayor Rob Ford – could use their influence to “turn every step in the selection process into a circus for political advantage,” he said.
- Soknacki noted almost half (3 of 7) of the Board’s active membership is made up of sitting councillors, two of whom are running for re-election. “I can’t imagine a productive hiring process where almost half of your Board’s leadership could turn over in less than three months.”
- While Soknacki is the only major candidate to have called for police budget and operations reforms, “the Board should allow for the possibility that the election debate could still influence the criteria they set for hiring a new Chief.” For example, if winning candidates supported policy changes to limit growth of the police budget, a chief with operational reform experience could be more appropriate than candidates with other skills or strengths.
Soknacki noted that the Chair of the Guelph Police Services Board explicitly cited the ongoing election as a factor in their decision to go slowly on replacing Chief Bryan Larkin, who announced he was leaving Guelph just days ago. “If that logic applies in a smaller city with less political controversy, it’s certainly prudent for Rob Ford’s Toronto in 2014.”
Soknacki also reaffirmed his statement yesterday that regardless of any controversies or differences of opinion, he was thankful for outgoing Chief Bill Blair’s many years of tireless public service.
For more information, please call Senior Communications Advisor Jonathan Scott* at 647-998-8461 or contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Soknacki 2014 spokesperson Supriya Dwivedi is absent today.