In his first public comments since the Toronto Police Services Board’s swift denial of his contract extension, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair admitted disappointment at not being granted a two-year extension of his current contract but offered no hints at his plans beyond its end next April.
“I had hoped to be renewed and I wasn’t,” Blair said at a news conference held Thursday to announce he was accepting an apology from Doug Ford and dropping the threat of a defamation lawsuit against the councillor.
“I accept the decision and I thank them for their consideration,” he said.
In late July, the seven-member board rejected a request from Blair to have his contract extended. Board chair Alok Mukherjee said at the time that “it was not an easy decision.”
The police board is meeting Thursday afternoon for the first time since the contract extension was denied. Sources have said Michael Thompson, Councillor Mike Del Grande, Councillor Frances Nunziata and Mukherjee did not support his contract extension.
Blair said Thursday that he would not comment on suggestions by Mayor Rob Ford last week that Blair’s severance – reported to be over $367,000 plus benefits — was “a little bit too rich personal loans for bad credit.”
Those comments, Blair said, were “political rhetoric” said in the middle of a campaign.
“I’ll leave the politics to politicians,” he said, adding that the terms of his employment were confidential matter between him and the board.
Blair also declined to offer his thoughts on who should be his successor, but said there were “extraordinary police leaders within the Toronto police service,” as well as across the province and the country.
“I hope that appropriate consideration will be given to their skills, their abilities and what they can bring to this job,” he said.
Blair became chief of police on April 26, 2005, and has held the position much longer than many Toronto police chiefs. In 2009, the board unanimously approved a contract extension for a second term.
Asked whether he would consider entering politics at the end of his contract next year, Blair said, “I’m a cop.”
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