Ron Taverner has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position of Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.
In a short letter sent Wednesday afternoon to the Community Safety Minister, Sylvia Jones, Taverner said the decision to withdraw stemmed from the controversy surrounding his appointment and to protect the integrity of the rank.
“I believe the OPP requires new leadership and a change in culture at its most senior levels,” Taverner wrote. “The thousands of men and women who make up the front lines of the OPP deserve leadership that will put their concerns and well-being at the forefront of decision-making.
“It is only then that the OPP will truly serve and protect the public to the best of its ability.”
WATCH: Ron Taverner OPP commissioner appointment controversy continues
The 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent is a family friend of Premier Doug Ford, and his appointment set off accusations of political interference in the hiring process for the province’s top policing job.
Taverner, who had been in law enforcement for 51 years, said in the letter that he was grateful to have the confidence of the government and believed his experience and skills would have served the public in the best possible way.
“Superintendent Taverner will continue to be the Unit Commander of our northwest District, where he has proudly served Toronto,” said police chief Mark Saunders to Global News.
“He has made this very personal decision today and he continues to have the support of the Toronto Police Service.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford thanked Taverner for putting his name forward, but lashed out at the opposition parties who had been pressuring him to dump Taverner, claiming the process had been politicized.
The government says Interim Commissioner Gary Couture will remain in the position.
— With files from Canadian Press