TORONTO – The lawyer for the top officer who gave illegal arrest orders at the G20 summit in Toronto six years ago says firing him would be patently unreasonable.
Supt. David (Mark) Fenton’s lawyer says the officer was motivated only by a desire to restore public order and a reprimand would suffice.
Lawyer Peter Brauti also tells the sentencing hearing that Fenton enjoyed a stellar record since joining the service in 1988.
Brauti says the officer still enjoys the confidence of both senior command and subordinates.
Complainants for those arrested during the summit weekend want Fenton fired.
The prosecutor says a year-long demotion would be enough.
Fenton was found guilty under the Police Services Act last year for ordering the indiscriminate arrests of hundreds of people during the chaotic weekend in June 2010.
Brauti made much of the fact that Fenton took over an operational command in “panic mode” following a spate of unprecedented vandalism by “roving packs of hooligans” that transformed the downtown into a war zone.
Under orders from his superiors to take back the streets, Fenton issued his sweeping arrest orders on the fly in an effort to ensure public safety, and his supervisors did not object, the tribunal heard.
“Fenton was not a lone wolf in dealing with this situation,” Brauti told retired justice John Hamilton.
“It was not the failings of one man, but rather the failings of an entire senior command.”
The lawyer noted that Fenton’s prosecution came at the direction of an independent watchdog, not his superiors – in particular former chief and current Liberal MP Bill Blair – who later thanked him for his G20 efforts.
Brauti accused the complainants’ lawyers of being over-zealous in their single-minded push of a “professional death sentence” for Fenton by turning mitigating factors, such as his exemplary record, into aggravating factors.
The prosecution in the case on Wednesday called for Fenton to face a one-year demotion, saying that would be a significant penalty.
But Brauti argued even that would be too harsh for a dedicated officer who once had his eyes set on further promotions that will now never take place.
“There is a severe professional consequence that will take place regardless of whatever penalty you mete out,” Brauti said.
The officer’s 20-year marriage ended and his health has suffered because of the stresses of the charges, the tribunal heard.
Fenton, who remains in charge of his large division, should not have to bear the brunt of the failings of an entire senior command that had no idea to contain the violence, the lawyer said.
“Supt. Fenton has become the focus of the failings in the G20,” Brauti said.
That is not about avoiding responsibility – Fenton apologized after his guilty finding for his mistakes – but an indication of the context in which he made difficult, if flawed, decisions, Brauti said.
Hamilton will sentence Fenton on June 15.