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politics

David Soknacki Raises Concerns About Police Chief Search

Mayoral candidate argues that beginning the search while an election is underway raises issues about fairness.

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The selection process for a new Toronto police chief should not begin until the municipal election is over, argues mayoral candidate David Soknacki in a press release. Yesterday, the Toronto Police Services Board indicated that it would not be moving to renew current chief Bill Blair’s contract, and that it would now begin to take “the necessary steps” to choose his successor—but Soknacki claims that moving forward now, with only 88 days remaining before the election, would be both problematic and premature.

Holding such a search now, he suggests, would raise a number of concerns. Politicians receiving updates about the process could then “turn every step in the selection process into a circus for political advantage”; of the three sitting councillors on the seven-member board, two are up for re-election, and if they were to be defeated, the process would lack continuity and consistency; and finally, it’s possible that the issues discussed during the mayoral campaign, and the issues supported by the winning candidate, could shape the board’s sense of what they should be looking for in a candidate, meaning that delaying the decision would result in a more informed and appropriate one.

“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.”

Soknacki isn’t the only one urging caution on the matter—Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly also voiced support today for a post-election search: “My first impulse would be to roll it over to the new administration,” he said. “We are coming to the end of this four-year term, and I think the board that would be formed next year should be the board that would make that decision, as they are the ones who would have to deal with the new chief.”

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