Saturday, June 25, 2011

City officials remain silent on Blair's G20 report

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford would not comment on Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair’s report admitting they were ill-prepared for the G20 Summit one year ago.
Ford’s staff said the mayor was unavailable but spokesman Adrienne Batra said the police appear to have learned a lot.
“If an event like this were to come to our city in the future they’ve acknowledged the areas they need to improve upon,” Batra said.
All three Toronto councillors who serve on the Toronto Police Services board also stayed silent.
Councillor Chin Lee did not return a request for comment.
Councillor Frances Nunziata’s office staff said she hadn’t read the report yet so she “doesn’t feel comfortable commenting on it.”
And Councillor Michael Thompson wouldn’t be available until Monday, a staff member said.
In his report released Thursday, Blair said police were “not properly trained or equipped” for the quick moving violence of the riots and were caught flat-footed by the Black Bloc tactics.
Councillor Adam Vaughan, whose ward was the scene of some G20 violence, applauded Blair for “owning up to the challenges” of policing in a difficult environment.
“This is the only police force that is standing up and saying we made mistakes,” Vaughan said.
But up the road at Queen’s Park NDP justice critic Peter Kormos said the chief’s report fails to address the real issues raised by G20 security, such as why police officers ignored vandals trashing the downtown core.
“Blair blew it again,” Kormos said. “We have more equivocation, more contradictions, no more transparency. We have astonishing and absurd claims by Blair that with six months the largest police force in Ontario didn’t have enough time to prepare. We have Blair pretending not to know about the role of the so-called anarchists or Black Blockers, never mind police intelligence available from the RCMP, from OPP as well as presumably from other police forces.”
A sophisticated police force should not have “turtled” when the black bloc protesters turned violent, nor should it have been surprised because similar tactics were used at several previous summits.
“Usually it’s criminals that flee the scene of a crime, not the police,” Kormos said.
A statement issued by the provincial Ministry of Community Safety says that they are reviewing Blair’s report.
In the past, Community Safety Minister Jim Bradley has said that it is the federal government’s responsibility to call a public inquiry because it was in charge of the G20.
Meanwhile, the head of the Toronto Police Association said people are reading more into the chief’s report than they should.
“I think it was a pretty candid report,” Mike McCormack said. “It’s my understanding it’s an operational review. It’s not a conduct investigation or anything like that which would be specific to persons.”
He said Chief Bill Blair is “clearly” accepting responsibility for the conduct of senior command officers during the G20.
—Files from Antonella Artuso and Rob Lamberti

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