Fantino will have to resume testifying at OPP hearing
Ontario's Divisional Court has rejected a move by the head of the OPP to stop a disciplinary hearing involving two high-ranking officers.
OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino was halfway through a tough cross-examination last month, facing accusations of abuse of power, when he tried to shut down the hearing, accusing the adjudicator of bias.
The hearing in Orillia was investigating whether Supt. Ken MacDonald and Insp. Alison Jevons — who were charged with neglect of duty over their handling of an internal investigation in Eastern Ontario — are victims of a political witch hunt by Fantino and the OPP union.
On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Janet Wilson of Ontario's Divisional Court ruled against Fantino.
"Most importantly ... [the court] found that it was inappropriate to have stopped the proceedings midway into Commissioner Fantino's cross-examination for the purposes of going to the higher courts," said Julian Falconer, the lawyer for the two accused officers.
Falconer went on to say that he was relieved by the decision.
"I think these interruptions do nothing but create longer, larger proceedings and expenses that are simply crushing for these officers. They are anxious — from a reputation point of view and their ability to do their jobs as police officers — to bring this to an end," he said.
Fantino has said suggestions he is abusing his power are "hysterical nonsense."
MacDonald and Jevons were ordered to look into why OPP supervisors in Eastern Ontario looked the other way when a local officer allegedly took a baseball bat to his wife's car.
When MacDonald and Jevons concluded there was misconduct, the police union filed a complaint claiming major problems with the whole investigation. Fantino, then fresh to the commissioner's job, ordered a review of the findings. He later agreed with the union and charged the two senior officers with neglect of duty and deceit for their handling of the investigation.
In turn, the two officers have charged Fantino with abuse of power.
No date has been set for the resumption of the hearing. When it gets going again, Fantino is expected to return to the witness box to face more questions about his involvement in the case.