A former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer is suing Premier Doug Ford for defamation.
Brad Blair, who was fired earlier this month, filed the $5-million lawsuit at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on March 15 over comments by the premier that Blair had violated the Police Services Act.
Ford’s comments followed Blair asking the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Ron Taverner, a longtime friend of the premier as OPP commissioner, raising concerns about political interference. Taverner later withdrew his name from consideration for the position.
The government has said that the decision to fire Blair came from the public service because Blair released confidential OPP information through his court filings.
Blair also made headlines in recent weeks as the whistleblower who revealed Ford’s plans to spend $50,000 customizing a van through the OPP.
“It is patently clear to me that this is reprisal and an attempt to muzzle me, and that this reprisal is directly connected to my good faith efforts to seek redress before the Divisional Court and the provincial ombudsman,” Blair wrote in a statement following his firing.
“This individual didn’t get the job he applied for,” Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Sylvia Jones, said to legislators after the firing. “He is angry.”
Blair’s lawyer says in the defamation lawsuit that Blair has never received notice of a complaint under the Police Services Act, let alone any findings that he violated it, and he alleges that the premier’s words would lead an average person to believe Blair is someone who breaks the law.
Asked for a response to the lawsuit, Ford’s office said in a statement that “the premier’s concern is and always has been protecting and supporting the frontline OPP officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our communities.”
Ford will be responding to the filing through his legal counsel, the statement said, adding further comment would be inappropriate because the case is before the courts.
This story originally appeared on CBC