S Yatim: Dennis O’Connor resigns from Chief Blair’s police review in wake of streetcar shooting

From the Toronto Star website, August 28, 2013

Dennis O’Connor, the former associate chief justice of Ontario, has decided he is no longer able to assist Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair in a review into the use of force by police.

O’Connor made the surprise announcement following questions raised about his affiliation to the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.

“The basis for the decision is my position as counsel with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), which also acts for the insurers of the Toronto Police Service in civil suits, some of which include allegations of the wrongful use of lethal force,” O’Connor said in a statement released Wednesday.

“As set out in Chief Blair’s August 14 press release, we are both satisfied that my association with BLG would not in fact impair my ability to provide the Toronto Police Service with sound advice on the matters involved in the review.

“However, after the announcement, we were surprised by the objections raised by lawyers for some of the victims’ families to my conducting the review. We had thought that I could structure and conduct the review to satisfy any concern but apparently not.

“Upon careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that my association with BLG may raise a public discussion about this issue that would be distracting and unfortunate. I regret that this issue has arisen but I am of the view that if there is any possibility of concern in a matter such as this, it is best to address it at the outset.”

O’Connor said Blair would announce a replacement on Friday.

Blair later released a statement saying, “The Honourable Dennis O’Connor, Q.C., has just explained why he felt he had to withdraw from my internal review I announced on August 12, 2013. I have great respect for Mr. O’Connor and his work and I understand his decision.”

For the rest of the story, and analysis, on the Toronto Star website, click HERE

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