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Fired OPP deputy commissioner, whose lawyer alleged ‘abuse of power,’ to speak with media

WATCH ABOVE: Former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair is speaking out calling his firing reprisal by the Ford Government. Travis Dhanraj reports. (May 5)

A former high-ranking Ontario police officer is expected to address the media on Friday for the first time since his lawyer alleged the Ford government engaged in an “abuse of power” when he was fired.

Brad Blair, who served as the deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, was a sharp critic of Premier Doug Ford’s appointment of Ron Taverner — a long-time friend of Ford — to OPP commissioner.

Taverner, a long-time Toronto police officer, ultimately turned down the position amid a rise in public concern over possible political patronage.

READ MORE: Brad Blair’s lawyer says firing of former OPP officer was wrong, did not follow proper procedure

A statement from Blair’s lawyer Thursday said he “will be providing public comment for the first time about his efforts in safeguarding independence and credibility of the province’s largest police service and exposing government abuse.”

Blair will “discuss next steps in his search for government accountability and transparency,” according to the statement.

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The event is set to take place during the noon hour at Queen’s Park.

In December, Blair, who was also in the running to become OPP commissioner, sent a letter to the Ontario Ombudsman requesting an investigation into Taverner’s appointment.

The NDP said the ombudsman deferred the case to the integrity commissioner, who then opened an investigation into the matter.

Blair has since tried to get the courts to force the ombudsman to look into the case as well.

WATCH: (Dec. 12) Government refutes OPP acting chief’s allegations of possible political interference in Taverner appointment

Government refutes OPP acting chief’s allegations of possible political interference in Taverner appointment
Government refutes OPP acting chief’s allegations of possible political interference in Taverner appointment

Blair was fired from his position in early March, but the Ford government denied any political interference in the firing.

The government said the decision to fire Blair came because he allegedly released confidential OPP information through his court filings.

Julian Falconer, Blair’s lawyer, claimed the firing was “legally suspect” and constituted an “abuse of power.”

Blair himself argued in court filings that the firing was “an attempt to muzzle” him as a result of his efforts to request an investigation into Taverner’s appointment.

He also argued that being fired by the deputy minister of community safety, who sat on Taverner’s hiring panel, was a conflict of interest since he was a part of the court case.

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READ MORE: Fired OPP deputy commissioner launches $5M defamation lawsuit against Premier Doug Ford

Meanwhile, the integrity commissioner cleared Ford of any wrongdoing in Taverner’s hiring.

While Taverner turned down the appointment and officially withdrew his name from consideration for OPP commissioner in early March, the battle between Blair and Ford has continued.

In mid-March, Blair launched a defamation lawsuit against Ford, claiming the premier smeared his reputation by saying the officer violated the Police Services Act when he publicly raised concerns about Taverner’s appointment.

When asked Thursday about Blair’s plans to speak to the media, Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said she could not comment on “an ongoing HR court matter.”

— With files from Travis Dhanraj and The Canadian Press