Bill Blair (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bill Blair

Bill Blair - 2012 (cropped).jpg
Blair in 2012
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Assumed office
November 20, 2019
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byRalph Goodale
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
In office
July 18, 2018 – November 20, 2019
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
In office
January 28, 2017 – July 18, 2018
MinisterJody Wilson-Raybould
Preceded bySean Casey
Succeeded byMarco Mendicino
Member of Parliament
for Scarborough Southwest
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded byDan Harris
Chief of the Toronto Police Service
In office
6 April 2005 – 25 April 2015
Preceded byMike Boyd
Succeeded byMark Saunders
Personal details
William Sterling Blair

1954 (age 66–67)[1]
Scarborough, Ontario
Political partyLiberal Party of Canada
Spouse(s)Susan Blair
Children2 sons; 1 daughter
ResidenceSouth Hill, Toronto[2]
Alma materUniversity of Toronto (BA)
Police Career
DepartmentToronto Police Service
Service years1975–2015
RankToronto Police - Chief of Police.png Chief of Police
AwardsCommander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces
Police Exemplary Service Medal
Commander of the Order of St. John

William Sterling Blair PC COM MP[3] (born 1954) is a Canadian politician, currently serving as Canada's Minister of Public Safety and as a Member of Parliament representing the federal electoral district of Scarborough Southwest. Formerly serving as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Blair was appointed Minister of Public Safety on 20 November 2019. Before federal politics, he served as the chief of the Toronto Police Service from 2005 until his 25 April 2015 retirement. Blair's appointment as chief culminated a three-decade-long career in the police service.


Blair was born April 9, 1954 in Scarborough, Ontario. Blair's father had served as a police officer for 39 years.[4] Blair considered pursuing a degree in law or finance, when he initially enrolled at the University of Toronto Scarborough in the mid 1970s.[4] Blair initially studied economics at the University of Toronto. He left to follow his ambition of being a police officer, but returned later and completed a Bachelor of Arts in economics and criminology.[1]

Blair is married to Susan McMaster, and together they have three grown children (2 sons and daughter) and 2 grandchildren.[5]

Police career[edit]

Blair joined the Toronto Police Service while in university to make money and began taking courses on a part-time basis.[4] Blair walked a beat near Regent Park and later worked as an undercover officer in Toronto's drug squad.[4]

After Blair earned his bachelor's degree in criminology, he advanced his career in the police service in the late 1980s, taking part in drug busts involving the seizure of millions of dollars of cocaine.[4] Chief David Boothby assigned Blair to improve the poor community relations between the officers of 51 Division, which patrolled Blair's old beat near Regent Park.[4] Blair normalized police relations with the community by measures such as sending cops to read to kids in local elementary schools and engaging with local businesses and churches.[4]

In 1999, Blair was considered as a candidate to replace outgoing chief Boothby, but mayor Mel Lastman, with the support of Premier Mike Harris, chose to hire Julian Fantino, then head of the York Regional Police.[4] After reorganization of the senior ranks after Fantino's ascension as police chief, Blair became head of detective operations.[4]

Chief of the Toronto Police Service[edit]

Blair in 2015

Blair was selected in a 4–2 vote of the Toronto Police Services Board in early April 2005,[6] and formally appointed Chief of the Toronto Police Service on April 26, 2005.[7] He succeeded Mike Boyd, who had served as interim chief after the expiry of Julian Fantino's contract.[6] Prior to his appointment as chief, Blair worked for approximately 30 years as a Toronto police officer, with assignments involving drug enforcement, organized crime and major criminal investigations.[7] Blair served as president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.[7]

In the spring of 2009, Tamil Canadians in Toronto upset by civilian deaths in the Sri Lankan Civil War, which included an overnight artillery bombardment that killed 378 civilians and wounded 1,100, allegedly perpetrated by government forces, staged a series of protests in Toronto,[8] including shutting down the northbound and southbound lanes of University Avenue for four days while protesting in front of the US Consulate,[9] and illegally blocking traffic on the Gardiner Expressway.[8] Blair and the police faced pressure to crack down on the demonstrations,[10] arrest and deporting the protesters.[11] Instead, Blair used his experience in community policing to ensure that minimal force was used, spoke respectfully of the protesters' rights to expression, and negotiated the peaceful resolution of the events.[8][10][11] The Canadian Tamil Congress would later award Blair an inaugural "Leaders for Change Award" for his leadership during the protests.[11]

During demonstrations against the G20 Toronto Summit nearly 1000 arrests were made, making it the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.[12] In the aftermath of the protests, the Toronto Police Service and the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) for the summit were heavily criticized for brutality during the arrests. Protests called for Blair to resign.[13] In a December 2010 interview, Blair indicated that he would not resign, despite growing criticism of his leadership during and after the summit.[14]

A class action lawsuit was begun against the Toronto police on behalf of all of those who were arrested in spite of the Toronto Police's several attempts to stop proceedings. As of November 10, 2016 The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it will not hear the Toronto Police Services Board's appeal, and the suit was able to proceed to trial.[1] On August 17, 2020, The Canadian Press announced that the lawsuit had resulted in a $16.5 million settlement. Those arrested were each awarded dollar amounts ranging from $5,000 to $24,700.[15]

Responding to questions about a controversial regulation enacted by the Cabinet of Ontario to increase police powers during the summit, Blair was supportive, stating that "it was passed in exactly the procedure as described in our legislation in Ontario."[16] Post-summit reports revealed that on June 25, prior to the start of the summit and shortly after Blair defended a widely reported misinterpretation of the regulation in a press conference, the police department received a government bulletin clarifying the misinterpretation and explaining that the new regulation accorded them no additional power to demand identification outside of the summit perimeter.[17][18] Blair's spokesperson stated that as of the press conference, Blair was unaware of the clarification;[17] however, Blair did not retract his prior remarks to the press after receiving the bulletin.[18] When interviewed after the summit, Blair confirmed that there was never an extraordinary legal requirement for the public to present identification within 5 m of the perimeter fence, but that he "was trying to keep the criminals out."[18] In December 2010, following a critical report by the Ontario Ombudsman, André Marin, Blair admitted regret that he had initially interpreted the regulation at face value, and did not promptly clear up confusion about the meaning of the regulation.[14]

In 2013, Blair came into conflict with Toronto mayor Rob Ford after confirming to the media that the police had obtained a video of the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. Blair said he was "disappointed" in the mayor.[19] As the investigation into the mayor and his friend Alessandro Lisi continued, Mayor Ford dared Blair to arrest him and accused him of wasting money in their surveillance of Ford.[20] Rob Ford's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, claimed that Blair had "gone rogue" and violated the Police Services Act when speaking out about the mayor during the ongoing police investigation.[21] On August 11, 2014, Blair served councillor Doug Ford with notice of defamation. Doug Ford accused the police chief of using the suit as "payback" in retaliation against the mayor for not extending his contract, but apologized for his comments shortly afterwards.[22]

In his last years in office, Blair was in conflict with several members of the Toronto Police Services Board over resistance to proposed reforms as well as his resistance to cut the police service's budget. On July 30, 2014, the Board announced that it would not renew Blair's contract for a third, five-year term. He retired from the police service when his contract ended on April 25, 2015[23] and was succeeded by Deputy Chief Mark Saunders.[24]

Federal politics[edit]

Blair declined to comment on his future plans while he was still police chief.[25] The Liberal Party of Canada recruited Blair to be its candidate in Scarborough Southwest for the federal election held October 2015. A poll conducted by Forum Research suggested Blair would receive 39% of the vote against 29% for incumbent Dan Harris of the New Democratic Party and 27% for the Conservatives.

On April 25, 2015, Blair confirmed his intention to seek the Liberal Party nomination in Scarborough Southwest.[26] He won the Liberal nomination on June 13, 2015.[27]

On October 19, 2015, Blair was elected in the Scarborough Southwest riding.[28] On January 28, 2017, Blair was named parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice.[29] In January 2016, Blair was named as the head of the federal-provincial task force tasked with creating a plan for the legalization of cannabis in Canada.[30]

On September 19, 2017, Blair assumed additional parliamentary secretary responsibilities assisting the Minister of Health.[31]

In cabinet[edit]

On July 18, 2018, Blair was appointed Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.[32]

On November 20, 2019, Bill Blair was appointed Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.[33] In his role he oversaw the closure of the border between Canada and the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.[34]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2007, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces[35] and in 2012, he was elevated within the Order to the level of Commander.[36] He is a Member of the Venerable Order of Saint John.[3] On January 19, 2013, Blair was honoured by the Canadian Tamil Congress, with their inaugural "Leaders for Change Award" for his exemplary leadership during the protests of 2009 in Toronto.[11]

CAN Order of Merit of the Police Forces Commander ribbon.svg Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg CAN Police Exemplary Service ribbon.svg

Ribbon Description Notes
CAN Order of Merit of the Police Forces Commander ribbon.svg Order of Merit of the Police Forces (COM)[21]
  • Commander 5 January 2012.
  • Officer 11 January 2007.
Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg Order of St John[37]
  • Member
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal[38]
  • 2012
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
CAN Police Exemplary Service ribbon.svg Police Exemplary Service Medal[37]
  • Medal 17 July 1997
  • 1st Bar 21 June 2007

Electoral record[edit]

2019 Canadian federal election: Scarborough Southwest
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Bill Blair 28,965 57.2 +4.73 $59,424.78
Conservative Kimberly Fawcett Smith 10,502 20.7 -0.52 $31,378.91
New Democratic Keith McCrady 7,865 15.5 -8.23 $32,226.21
Green Amanda Cain 2,477 4.9 +2.32 $4,140.81
People's Italo Eratostene 590 1.2 $5,716.04
Animal Protection Simon Luisi 236 0.5 none listed
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,635 100.0
Total rejected ballots 449
Turnout 51,084 65.3
Eligible voters 78,246
Liberal hold Swing +2.63
Source: Elections Canada[39][40][41]
2015 Canadian federal election: Scarborough Southwest
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Bill Blair 25,586 52.47 +23.13 $153,155.47
New Democratic Dan Harris 11,574 23.73 -11.14 $48,940.84
Conservative Roshan Nallaratnam 10,347 21.22 -10.46 $64,631.85
Green Tommy Taylor 1,259 2.58 -1.48 $5,572.61
Total valid votes/Expense limit 48,766 100.0     $205,220.58
Total rejected ballots 277 0.56
Turnout 49,043 67.96
Eligible voters 72,164
Liberal gain from New Democratic Swing +17.13
Source: Elections Canada[42][43]


  1. ^ a b Carlson, Katherine Blaze (9 November 2013). "When 'the weight of the city' is on you". The Globe and Mail. p. M4.
  2. ^ "Search For Contributions". Elections Canada. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b Sajous, Emmanuelle (2006), Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (PDF), 140, Canada Gazette, pp. 868–871, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2013, retrieved 3 May 2020
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lorinc, John (2016). "Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Interview, Crime in Toronto | Force for Change". University of Toronto Magazine. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  5. ^ MacCharles, Tonda (2 April 2017). "Bill Blair and the politics of being joint chief | The Star". The Star.
  6. ^ a b Wanagas, Don (14 April 2005), "Bill Blair's inside job", Now Magazine, 24 (33), archived from the original on 22 October 2012, retrieved 24 December 2010, Blair won in what sources indicate was a four-two vote. Word is, he managed to appeal to Fantino fans Case Ootes and Hugh Locke without completely alienating the so-called progressive contingent.
  7. ^ a b c "Command Officers' biographies | William Blair". Toronto Police Service. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  8. ^ a b c CTV Toronto (11 May 2009). "Tamil protesters leave Toronto highway". CTV News. Bell Media. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  9. ^ CTV Toronto (30 April 2009). "Police chief says Tamil protest moved 'peacefully'". CTV News. Bell Media. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b The Canadian Press (11 May 2009). "Police tolerance of Tamil protests may lessen after highway storming: expert". CP24. Bell Media. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d Tamils Admin (24 January 2013). "Toronto Police chief Bill Blair honored at Canadian Tamil Congress dinner". Canadian Tamil Congress. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  12. ^ Morrow, Adrian (23 June 2011). "Toronto police were overwhelmed at G20, review reveals". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 24 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  13. ^ Bugajski, Tomasz (29 June 2010). "Peaceful protesters demand resignation of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair". BlogTO. FreshDaily.
  14. ^ a b Poisson, Jayme (8 December 2010), "The buck stops here, Chief Blair says", Toronto Star, archived from the original on 14 October 2015, retrieved 23 December 2010, In the face of growing criticisms of his handling of the G20 and its aftermath, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says he will not resign.
  15. ^ "$16.5M settlement in class-action lawsuit over mass arrests at 2010 G20 summit". Global News. The Canadian Press. 17 August 2020. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  16. ^ Police powers expanded for G20, CBC News, 25 June 2010, archived from the original on 17 February 2012, retrieved 24 December 2010, Civil liberties groups are concerned about the new regulations, but Toronto police Chief Bill Blair defended the move to add the new powers and denied there was any attempt to deceive the public about how or when they were enacted.
  17. ^ a b Paperny, Anna Mehler (29 June 2010). "Toronto police knew they had no extra arrest powers". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2 July 2010.
  18. ^ a b c "Police admit no five-metre rule existed on security fence law". The Globe and Mail. 29 June 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2015.
  19. ^ CBC News (31 October 2013). "Police Chief Bill Blair on the Rob Ford video". CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  20. ^ Hui, Ann & Mahoney, Jill (28 February 2014). "'Arrest me,' Toronto Mayor Rob Ford dares police chief". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  21. ^ a b Deschamps, Tara (30 July 2014). "Highlights of the Chief Bill Blair era". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  22. ^ Pagliaro, Jennifer (12 August 2014). "Toronto police Chief Bill Blair serves Doug Ford with notice of defamation". Toronto Star.
  23. ^ Powell, Betsy (30 July 2014). "Toronto police board won't renew Bill Blair's contract". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  24. ^ "LIVE: Toronto gets new police chief". Toronto Star. 20 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  25. ^ Khandaker, Tamara (15 April 2015). "Campaign to recruit Bill Blair for Liberal party launched online". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  26. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (25 April 2015). "Bill Blair wants to run for Liberals in fall election". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  27. ^ The Canadian Press (13 June 2015). "Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair wins Liberal nomination". Toronto Star. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  28. ^ Rushowy, Kristin (19 October 2015). "Toronto's former top cop was elected for the Liberals in Scarborough Southwest". Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Trudeau names his 'middle bench,' as parliamentary secretaries assigned". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  30. ^ Leblanc, Daniel (8 January 2016). "Bill Blair faces 'formidable challenge' in leading marijuana task force". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  31. ^ Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. 2017. "Statement by the Prime Minister on changes to the Parliamentary Secretaries." Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
  32. ^ Harris, Kathleen (18 July 2018). "Trudeau cabinet shuffle brings new faces, several changes for run-up to 2019 campaign." CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada.
  33. ^ Zimonjic, Peter (20 November 2019). "Who's who in Justin Trudeau's 2019 cabinet Peter." CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada.
  34. ^ "Canada-U.S. border restrictions extended until at least July 21: Bill Blair". CP24. 18 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Canada Gazette, Part I" (PDF), Canada Gazette, 142 (13), pp. 840–841, 29 March 2008, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2013, retrieved 3 May 2020
  36. ^ "Appointment by Order of the Governor General of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces". Canada Gazette. 5 January 2012.
  37. ^ a b Bieser-Hutchinson, Carol (2 March 2015). "Chief of Police, William (Bill) Blair".
  38. ^ "Bill Blair | Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)". The Governor General of Canada.
  39. ^ "List of confirmed candidates". Elections Canada. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  40. ^ "Election Night Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  41. ^ "Candidate Campaign Returns". Elections Canada. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  42. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Scarborough Southwest, 30 September 2015
  43. ^ Elections Canada – Final Candidates Election Expenses Limits

External links[edit]

29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
November 20, 2019 –
Position created Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
July 17, 2018 – November 20, 2019
Position abolished