Toronto
2 min

Hard being called a ‘goon’

Did Rae attack Cop's integrity?

STICKS AND STONES. Officers claim their jobs were affected by 'name-calling'. Credit: Xtra files

Life’s been hard for the officers who raided the Pussy Palace in 2000. How much of it is the fault of openly gay Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae calling them “rogues” and “cowboys” in the media?



That’s what the six-person jury was left wondering last week after hearing the testimony of the seven officers – Dave Wilson, Peter Christie, Rich Petrie, Myron Demkiw, Chris LaFrance, Janet Hall and Adrian Greenway – who are suing Rae for defamation.



“I find it really hard to deal with being called a goon,” Petrie told the court last week. “People can express a viewpoint, but name-calling? I thought we left that behind in the schoolyard.”



Petrie denied Rae’s widely-reported suggestion that the male officers who visited the women-only event were on a “three-hour ogle-fest.”



“Nobody ogled anyone while we were there,” said Petrie. Rae also called the investigation – which resulted in liquor licence infractions that were withdrawn after the investigation was ruled unconstitutional – a “panty raid.”



“That diminishes my job and my profession and I do not go on panty raids. I do not believe it is right and proper to violate women’s rights,” said Petrie.



Although Petrie was never named in Rae’s comments, he said the comments have hurt his professional life. Since the raid, Petrie says he’s applied for a promotion and not received it.



“For me, that’s a huge hit, a huge kick, that I can’t get promoted after one night’s investigation,” he said.



Petrie estimates his total economic loss from the time of the comments until he retires at $79,500. After the Pussy Palace raid, he testified he was transferred out of 52 Division, where the gay village is located, and his request to be transferred back was denied.



Hall and LaFrance were the two undercover female officers who preceded the five male officers into Club Toronto that night.



In response to Rae’s comment about “no crime, no victims,” Hall said that she “didn’t realize that there were two separate Criminal Codes, one for the gay and lesbian community, and one for everyone else.” There were no criminal charges laid after the investigation.



Hall said Rae’s comments, though they did not name her, have had an effect on her family life.



“I had to defend myself and my actions as a police officer to my children,” she said. She had always taught her children not to be prejudiced, and she was worried they would think she was homophobic.



With tears in her eyes, Hall described how her mother was diagnosed with cancer around the time Rae’s comments started showing up in newspapers across Toronto. She called it a “stressful time in [her] life.



“Mr Rae attacked what I consider my professionalism and my integrity,” she said.



Christie also testified that Rae’s comments had a negative effect on his life. He was “deeply offended by the terms” Rae used to describe the police officers.



“A rogue to me is a rather nefarious creature, who would perhaps exploit people’s weaknesses. A cowboy is someone who’s reckless, takes risks, is careless.”



He called Rae’s comments “cold, callous, calculated jabs at me.” Rae never mentioned Christie by name, either.



On the stand, Christie described how he has been separated from his wife since July 2001. He described how it was difficult enough for her that his job frequently involved dealing with nude women. But Rae’s comments “caused her to question some of the things she had been told by me.”



Christie explained that his career goal was to be a detective at 52 Division. He was recently transferred out, and has not been transferred back.



“I have seen Mr Rae meeting with different senior officers. These are the senior officers who decide my future.”



The trial continues this week.