TORONTO – How Toronto police handled the cases of men missing from the city’s gay village will undergo some form of external review in light of six murder charges laid against an alleged serial killer, the police oversight board decided on Thursday.
In a motion to the board, Mayor John Tory said a series of “troubling questions” had arisen in light of the killings for which self-employed landscaper Bruce McArthur has been charged.
“The genesis of today’s motion goes back to series of tragic and horrific events that deeply affected all of us in Toronto,” Tory said. “It’s fair to say that the list of unanswered and very troubling questions that have caused a lot of anxiety in the community has grown longer.”
Tory said it was time to get answers to questions around missing-persons reports in an effort to maintain or renew confidence in policing in the city.
Tory’s unanimously approved motion calls for a four-member working group – which would be made up of three external members and one member of the Toronto Police Services Board – to be set up by April 28 to advise the board by June on the composition and structure of an external review or reviews.
What’s important, Tory stressed, is that any review not interfere with judicial proceedings against McArthur, who has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder. The remains of some of the 66-year-old’s alleged victims were found in planter boxes at homes where he worked.
Chief Mark Saunders, who has already initiated an internal review that will be made public once completed, has also been calling for some kind of a public inquiry. Saunders said it would be in the public interest to have the review.
“For Toronto’s LGBTQ community, this has been a very difficult time and I know that many are very upset and many are still grieving,” Saunders told the board. “They have many questions about what happened and what could have been done differently.”
LISTEN: LGBTQ community calling for public inquiry
Some members of the public who spoke to Thursday’s board meeting expressed anger at how police have treated the community. One of them accused Saunders of engaging in “victim blaming” by saying police had little co-operation in responding to missing-persons reports.