Toronto
2 min

The Other Guy

Acting Supt Emory Gilbert, the cop in charge of the liaison committee with the gay and lesbian community, has differing ideas from his predecessor.



“I felt Emory’s thing came across as quite intimidating,” says Supt Bill Blair of the presentation made at the Sep 17 gay community liaison gathering held at Metro Hall.



Blair says prostitution offences are no big deal. And he says some scary-sounding sex offences shouldn’t be a problem, either. Sexual assault convictions should be checked out, he says, to discover whether they’re connected to a rape or the groping of an undercover cop in a washroom.



Blair is worried about bank robbers and violent crimes. He says the black liaison committee has discussed criminal background checks and made certain adjustments in eligibility “because so many people unfortunately have been criminalized in that community.”



Blair is often considered the force’s fix-it guy. He ran 51 Division, and the community liaison unit, and is now the head of corporate communications.



WHERE’S FANTINO?



In Sydney, Australia, the 24-hour city, how hard can it be to find a high-ranking Canadian police chief?



My assignment: Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino is in town on a fact-finding mission. Toronto’s mayor Mel Lastman was also in town, boosting the bid for the 2008 Olympics. Shouldn’t be too difficult to crack the case.



The big question: 200 gay men and lesbians took the streets Sep 21 to protest a raid on the women’s bathhouse. What was Fantino doing in Sydney?



Day one: I embrace my role as Nancy Drew and begin with the New South Wales Police Service.



In Sydney’s home state, lesbians and gay men enjoy good working relationships with the police.



There’s a consultant who’s worked with the police for the last 10 years, developing strategies to ensure that rights and needs are represented. There are 125 homo liaison police officers. They liaise closely with community groups like the Lesbian And Gay Anti-Violence Project and feature regularly on the pages of the city’s pink media. These officers march each year in the Mardi Gras parade.



The police spokeswoman knew nothing about Fantino’s visit. Two attempts battling the phone system at the Canadian Consulate drew a blank, but I got the cell number of the man coordinating the media for the Canadians during the Olympics. I left a message.



Figuring there might be some political powerbroking afoot, I tried the City Of Sydney. No joy.



Feeling increasingly like V I Warshawski, I tried the communications wing of the Olympic Coordination Authority. Another dead end.



Day two and my inspiration is Kinsey Millhone. The police and Olympic Coordination Authority both call back, but with no news.



I call anyone I think can give me a lead on the elusive Fantino and Lastman.



The message I left on the mobile gets returned. Yes, a guy named Mark tells me, Lastman was here, but he’s returned to Toronto. Fantino’s just arrived and needs to acclimatise before talking to the media.



Mark promises to check Fantino’s schedule and get back to me.



I check in again with Mark. “I’m sorry,” he says, “I should have got back to you.” Fantino left Sydney “three or four days ago.”



Mathematics has never been my strong point but this timing is beyond me: Fantino arrived mid-week and six days later he’d left three or four days earlier.



He’s off to Vancouver now, and will be back in TO Tue, Oct 10.



In a city of 3.8-million people, Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino was a hard man to find.

–Freya Rodger