G20 legal probe draining Toronto police fund

John Morden’s G20 investigation is taking its toll on the Toronto Police Services Board’s finances.

The total bill for the former associate chief justice’s independent civilian review into matters relating to the G20 Summit hit $784,000 by the end of 2011 and looks set to cross the $1-million threshold before its targeted completion date of March 2012, according to the board’s agenda for its Jan. 20 meeting.

The review was only supposed to take 12 weeks when it was announced in July 2010, but by the time Morden, now counsel at Heenan Blaikie LLP, was hired in September 2010, the deadline had disappeared. The board didn’t set a specific budget but has been paying Morden’s $480-per-hour bills out of its special fund.

At its January meeting, the board approved the latest monthly bill and revealed its special fund is now virtually drained with just $17,000 left in the pot on Dec. 31. The board’s policy demands a balance of at least $150,000 at all times in the special fund, so the it had to go to the city for permission to transfer $480,000 out of its 2011 operating budget surplus to cover the remaining costs of the review.

City council gave the approval at its November meeting based on Morden’s estimated budget for the review’s final six months. The review was broken down into four phases: background research, document review, interviews, and report writing.

The third phase wrapped up in October after in-depth interviews with members of the board and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair. Morden is now focused on writing the report.

More than 18 months after the last world leader jetted out of the country, Morden’s review isn’t the only G20 straggler. Last month, the Ontario Independent Police Review Director released a 172-page report that recommended disciplinary charges for five officers accused of using unnecessary force against a protester.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is still waiting to hear on its complaint to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. At the same time, some criminal proceedings are still winding their way through the courts and a class action is edging its way towards the certification stage.
For more, see “Tallying the G20’s legal costs.”

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