WATCH ABOVE: Extended interview: Bill Blair on running for Liberals.
TORONTO – Bill Blair, the former police chief of Toronto, said Sunday he won’t be retiring from public life as he announced his intention to run for the federal Liberals in the upcoming fall election.
Blair told Global News he made his decision to enter politics after some soul searching and speaking with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
“I’ve been thinking about this for some time and as I ended my career as the police chief, a career I’ve loved, and a great opportunity and extraordinary privilege to serve the people of this city, but as I was coming to the end and I wanted to find another way to serve,” said Blair.
READ MORE: Looking back at 10 years of Chief Bill Blair
WATCH ABOVE: Blair officially announced Sunday he’s seeking the Liberal nomination in the Scarborough-Southwest riding. Candance Daniel reports.
Blair said he will seek the Liberal nomination in the riding of Scarborough Southwest, which is currently held by New Democrat MP Dan Harris. He made the decision after speaking with the NDP, the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals.
“What I was looking for is the team that represented my values. I’ve been police chief in Toronto for a long time, it’s a very diverse city and I’ve worked in all of our communities,” he said. “I think those values of pluralism, multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion in our community are really important. Those were the values I found reflected in Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. I felt very comfortable.”
Blair, 61, spent the last decade working as Toronto’s top cop and hopes to continuing serving the public.
“I was looking for an opportunity to serve our communities, our neighbourhoods and to improve the quality of people’s lives,” he said.
Blair, who has an obvious expertise in law and order, said one of the reasons he chose the Liberals over the Conservatives was his personal discussion with Trudeau about reaching out to communities to help fight crime and victimization.
“I think there is more to effectively respond to fear, crime and victimization in our society than tough talk,” he said. “You have to make investments in communities, you have to roll up your sleeves and go in and work with communities. You have to be willing to listen to people in those communities.”
The tough on crime Conservatives have been a popular choice for past Toronto police chiefs, who attracted former chief Julian Fantino as candidate and was elected in a 2010 byelection in Vaughan, Ont. He won re-election in 2010.
Blair grew up in Scarborough and raised his family there and hopes his long time roots in the area could give him a leg up in the Scarborough Southwest riding, which has been held by NDP Dan Harris since 2011.
Former CTV anchor Tim Weber, who is also seeking the Liberal nomination for the riding, tweeted that he welcomed Blair to nomination race.
Blair’s tenure as chief began in 2005 and has been marred by past controversies most notably during the 2010 G20 summit that saw police conduct come into question over the heavy handed treatment and detention of protesters.
Recently Blair also has faced criticism over the issue of carding, a police practice that involves the stopping and questioning of residents. Critics say black men and visible minorities are unfairly targeted by the police practice.
Deputy Chief Mark Saunders was named the chief after the Toronto Police Services Board declined Blair’s offer to remain in the post.
*With files from Crystal Goomansingh