Fired OPP officer sues premier for defamation

The Canadian Press
Shawn Jeffords

TORONTO–A former high-ranking OPP officer is suing Doug Ford for defamation, alleging the premier smeared his reputation for political gain.
Former deputy commissioner Brad Blair filed the $5-million lawsuit over comments made by the premier that he had violated the Police Services Act.
Ford’s comments came after Blair asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of a long-time friend of the premier as OPP commissioner, raising concerns about political interference.
“Premier Ford made these defamatory remarks fully aware that the natural and probable consequence of making these defamatory statements would be the widespread re-publication by the Canadian media, which would be heard and viewed by millions,” Blair’s unproven statement of claim said.
The lawsuit further alleged that Ford’s comments, and the attention they received, subjected Blair to “embarrassment, scandal, ridicule, and contempt” and were meant to intimidate the veteran officer.
The government has said that the decision earlier this month to fire Blair, who also was in the running for the commissioner post, came from the public service because it found his court filings in the ombudsman case contained confidential OPP information.
Blair’s lawyer said his client never received notice of a complaint under the Police Services Act or any findings that he violated it, and alleged the premier’s words would lead an average person to believe Blair is someone who breaks the law.
“The premier’s utterances receive close attention, are widely broadcast, and are more likely to be taken as the truth by the average person,” the suit alleged.
Last month, Blair threatened to sue the premier if he did not apologize and retract the comments he made.
The suit alleged Ford has made no effort to do so.
A spokesman for Ford said the premier will be responding to the suit through his legal counsel.
“As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” Simon Jefferies said in a statement.
Ontario’s Divisional Court is expected to hear that case in April.