Norman Gardner

Norman Gardner

Norman Gardner is a politician and administrator in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a former North York and Toronto City Councillor, serving most recently as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board (1998-2003).

Private life and career

Gardner served ten years in the Canadian Forces, and was a member of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, a Primary Reserve unit.

He has been the regional manager for a pharmaceutical company. [] He owns Toronto's Steeles Bakery, and often brought doughnuts, bagels and other baked goods from his store to distribute at council meetings in the 1980s and 1990s. [John Sewell, "Politically perfect in North York", "Globe and Mail", 21 May 1986, A8.] He was president of the provincial Armourdale Liberal Association in 1974, and served on the Labor Committee of the Ontario Liberal Party in the same period. ["Election '74", "Toronto Star", 28 November 1974, A19.]

North York councillor

Ward councillor

Gardner was first elected to the North York city council in 1976, following two unsuccessful attempts. He was re-elected as a ward councillor in 1978, and was selected as one of the city's representatives on the Metro Toronto council in December of the same year. ["North York elects four to Metro seats", "Globe and Mail", 5 December 1978, P4.] He soon became a reliable ally of Metro Chair Paul Godfrey. [Alden Barker, "Paul Godfrey: lots of power, no election expenses", "Globe and Mail", 9 October 1980, P5.] Gardner won the support of local Progressive Conservatives in his municipal campaigns, and left the Liberals to take out a Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario membership in 1980. [Paulette Peirol, "Controller in North York seeks Liberal nomination", "Globe and Mail", 3 March 1987, A14.]

He supported Canada's boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow as a protest against the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. He also recommended that Canada consider banning Soviet vessels from its trading ports. [Norman Gardner, "Invasion 'brutal, unwanted'", "Globe and Mail", 2 February 1980, P7.]

City controller

Gardner was elected to the North York Board of Control in 1980, a position that gave him an automatic seat on the Metro Council. He supported grants to community groups in the 1980 campaign to alleviate social problems, and was described in a "Globe and Mail" editorial as a possible voice of progressive reform. [Marina Strauss, "Hopefuls want end to chaos in North York", "Globe and Mail", 30 October 1980, P4; "The borough elections", "Globe and Mail", 5 November 1980, P6.] He was narrowly defeated in 1982, but returned to the Board of Control in 1985. His supporters in the 1985 election included former Toronto Mayor John Sewell, who said that Gardner's election would add "continuity, restraint and attention to administrative detail" to the Board of Control. [John Sewell, "Spirit of compromise for Board of Control", "Globe and Mail", 8 November 1985, A13.]

An avid gun collector in private life, Gardner served on the federal firearms advisory council after his defeat. He argued against tighter restrictions on gun ownership, saying "We're not the people who commit crime. Why make it tougher for somebody who is looking after his collection in a responsible manner?" [Denys Horgan, "Recent study cited Canada's gun build-up small concern, police say", "Globe and Mail", 20 September 1984, M5.]

Gardner ran for the Metro Board of Police Commissioners after his 1985 re-election, losing on his first bid to Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton in a Metro Council vote. [Alden Baker, "Eggleton retains seat on police board", "Globe and Mail", 11 December 1985, A18.] Gardner again contested the seat following Eggleton's resignation in 1986 and defeated Jack Layton, his only challenger, by a vote of thirty-two to six.

Shortly after his appointment to the Police Commission, the "Toronto Star" newspaper quoted him as saying that store owners should arm themselves against robbers. Gardner said he was misquoted, and that he had been talking about the response of store owners in Calgary and Montreal to recent shootings in those cities. The "Star" refused to retract its story. ["New police commissioner backs guns for merchants", "Toronto Star", 10 December 1986, A1; Yves Lavigne, "Police commissioner 'misquoted' on guns", "Globe and Mail", 11 December 1986, A3; Lynne Ainsworth, "Commissioner's gun statements lead to calls for his resignation", "Toronto Star", 11 December 1986, A3.] Some councillors suggested that Gardner be recalled from the commission, but no action was taken.

Gardner tried to discourage complaints against police officers for car chases in crowded urban areas. Critics argued that such chases put pedestrians at risk. Gardner warned that cars could become sanctuaries for criminals if the police discontinued such chases. [Walter Stefaniuk and Nicholas Pron, "Ten Metro police officers hurt as car rams roadblock in chase", "Toronto Star", 12 February 1987, A7.]

Gardner was generally on the right-wing of the North York council, although he took progressive positions on some issues. He endorsed a proposal to create co-operative housing for low-income families in the city, and later supported a five-year grant to a paper recycling firm. ["North York approves co-op", "Toronto Star", 27 May 1986, N6; Michael Best, "Grant to recycling firm called 'outrageous'", "Toronto Star", 14 July 1987, N2.] He also opposed plans for Sunday shopping extensions in the late 1980s. [Michael Best, "North York council divided on Sunday shopping plebiscite", "Toronto Star", 3 February 1988, A7.]

Provincial campaign

He rejoined the Ontario Liberal Party in early 1987, and sought the party's nomination for Willowdale in the 1987 provincial election. He said that his previous membership in the Progressive Conservative Party was "a good vehicle to use in the interests of my constituents", but added that he did not renew his membership in 1986. He also said that Liberal Premier David Peterson had "done a good job" in office. [Paulette Peirol, "Controller in North York seeks Liberal nomination", "Globe and Mail", 3 March 1987, A14.] Gardner lost the nomination to Gino Matrundola. [Michael Best, "Willowdale Liberals nominate Matrundola", "Toronto Star", 1 May 1987, A6.]

Metro Toronto councillor (full-time)

First term

Metro Toronto's system of government was changed in 1988, with the abolition of municipal control boards and the introduction of direct elections to Metro Council. Gardner was elected without opposition for the North York Centre ward. He supported Alan Tonks over Dennis Flynn for the position of Metro Chair, and was subsequently appointed to Metro's executive committee and re-appointed to the police commission. [Jim Byers and Michael Smith, "Alan Tonks is voted new Metro Chairman", "Toronto Star", 14 December 1988, A1; "Flynn wins appointment to executive committee", "Globe and Mail", 16 December 1988, A18; Sean Fine, "Metro Council appointments stick to conservative pattern", "Globe and Mail", 20 December 1988, A17.] Gardner frequently defended Metro police officers against accusations of racism, and was sometimes described as resisting efforts towards police reform. [Fiorella Grossi, "Tonks accused of racism after defending Metro police", "Globe and Mail", 28 April 1990", A12; Royson James, "Metro seeking control of police", "Toronto Star", 8 June 1990, A5; Michael Valpy, "Who will reform police board?", "Globe and Mail", 18 December 1990, A8.]

In early 1989, Gardner controversially recommended that the maximum age covered by the Young Offenders Act be lowered from 17 to 12. [Sean Fine, "Try over-12s as adults, commissioner suggests", "Globe and Mail", 3 March 1989, A9.] In 1991, he recommended a five-year minimum prison sentence without parole for criminals who use firearms in the commission of an offense. ["Jail sentences urged for armed criminals", "Globe and Mail", 19 April 1991, A10.]

In January 1991, Gardner appeared before a House of Commons committee examining gun control legislation. The "Toronto Star" quoted him as telling the committee that "foreigners and illegal immigrants" were responsible for most illegal guns coming into the city. Another media report indicates that Gardner identified "Jamaican posses and Asian crime gangs" as being responsible for most of Toronto's illegal weapons. [Jane Coutts, "Councillors reinforcing racism, Metro group says", 30 January 1991, A8.] Reformist police commissioner Susan Eng requested that Gardner resign in light of these comments. He refused, stating that he had been misquoted. [Robert MacLeod, "Gardner refuses to resign Denies remarks on immigrants", "Globe and Mail", 25 January 1991, A7.] Gardner later opposed Eng's appointment as chair of the Police Services Board. [Elaine Carey, "'Private' Eng stung by nature of attacks", "Toronto Star", 6 April 1991, A2. Gardner himself served as interim chair prior to Eng's confirmation in office.]

In late 1991, Gardner argued that attempts by the federal government to toughen gun controls would not make anyone in Metro Toronto safer. [Tony Wong, "Toughen 'lax' gun law Eggleton tells Ottawa", "Toronto Star", 26 September 1991, A6.]

econd term

Gardner was re-elected to council in 1991, was subsequently returned to the Police Services Board. In February 1992, he opposed a plan to allow civilian investigations to precede internal police probes into shootings by officers. ["Special investigations leader accused of bowing to pressure", "Globe and Mail", 4 February 1992, A7.]

In March 1992, Gardner shot and wounded a man who was attempting to rob his bakery. It was later revealed that Gardner had a special "protection-of-life" permit that allowed him to carry a loaded weapon. He later said that he received this permit following a death threat, an assertion that commission chair Susan Eng questioned. [Susan Eng, "Military and police must heed civilian rule", "Toronto Star", 13 May 1996, A17.] Eng called for him to resign pending an investigation, and councillor Brian Ashton suggested that Gardner should have been criminally charged to prevent Toronto shopkeepers from arming themselves and taking vigilante actions against criminals. Gardner denied that his actions constituted vigilantism, saying that the robber (who was unarmed) ran toward him yelling "Go ahead and shoot". [Scott Feschuk and John L. Gray, "Charges urged over politician's gunplay", "Globe and Mail", 16 March 1992, A1; Gay Abbate, "Police seek man who saw Gardner shooting", "Globe and Mail", 17 March 1992, A11.] The police declined to lay charges.

Gardner was a staunch supporter of the police administration during his tenure as a commissioner. In May 1992, Gardner was the only member of the Police Services Board to vote against restrictions on the use of firearms by police officers. [Gay Abbate, "New curbs put on police use of guns", "Globe and Mail", 29 May 1992, A15.] Later in the year, he supported a protest by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association against a new provincial law that required officers to file a written report after drawing their guns. [David Hilderley, "Only 7 forces visibly back Metro officers", "Globe and Mail", 12 October 1992, A11.] Gardner also defended police use of pepper spray, stating that it prevented numerous injuries. [Norman Gardner, "Pepper spray saves countless injuries", "Toronto Star", 1 September 1992.] In June 1994, he was the only police service board member to oppose a ban on the private ownership and possession of handguns. [Gay Abbate, "Police board urges ban on handguns", "Globe and Mail", 24 June 1994, A8.]

Gardner stepped down from the Police Service Board in November 1992, having reached the maximum of six years. Brian Ashton was chosen as his replacement. ["Ashton named to police services board", "Globe and Mail", 26 November 1992, A21.] Shortly after leaving the board, Gardner called for the creation of a special hate crimes unit in Metro Toronto to target neo-Nazis and other racists. ["Jewish group posts reward after vandals hit at natives", "Toronto Star", 30 November 1992, A26.]

Gardner was approached by the Reform Party of Canada to campaign in the 1993 federal election, but declined. ["The tattler", "Globe and Mail", 10 February 1993, A2.] He instead announced that he would seek the Liberal Party of Canada's nomination in Markham—Whitchurch—Stouffville. He campaigned in favour of tax breaks for corporations, and his nomination was supported by "Canadian Handgun" magazine, which featured him on its front cover. [Michael Valpy, "Of politics, elections and handguns", "Globe and Mail", 19 March 1993, A2; Norman Gardner, "Give business a tax break", "Financial Post", 1 May 1993, S5.] Gardner appears to have dropped out of the nomination contest before a vote was held.

He was re-elected to the Police Services Board in November 1993, defeating fellow councillor Dennis Flynn by a vote of 17 to 16. ["Gardner comes back", "Globe and Mail", 25 November 1993, A18.]

Third term

Gardner was re-elected to Metro Council in 1994, without opposition. He sought reappointment to the Police Services Board after the election, unexpectedly losing to Brian Ashton. [Royson James, "Ashton in as Gardner loses police board seat", "Toronto Star", 10 December 1994, A4.] Ashton resigned his commission seat in May 1996, however, and Gardner was elected as his replacement. [Gail Swainson, "Gun-totin' councillor named to police board", "Toronto Star", 9 May 1996, A7.]

In 1996, he supported a plan to fingerprint provincial welfare recipients. [Norman Gardner, "Finger scan less intrusive than a photo", "Toronto Star", 7 June 1996, A24.]

Federal campaign

Gardner left the Liberals to join the Progressive Conservatives a second time during the mid-1990s. He was the Progressive Conservative candidate in Willowdale for the 1997 federal election, and lost to Liberal incumbent Jim Peterson by 17,000 votes.

Toronto city councillor

He was elected to Toronto city council in 1997, the first election for the new amalgamated municipality under the City of Toronto Act. Each ward elected two councillors in that election, and Gardner finished second, 2,000 votes behind John Filion, a former school trustee making his first bid for city council. [ [ City of Toronto 1997 election results] ] . He supported Mel Lastman's bid to become mayor of the amalgamated city. ["Lastman off", "Toronto Star", 16 December 1997, p. 1.]

In early 1998, Gardner unseated Maureen Prinsloo as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. [ [ Gardner gunning for cop board] , "Now Magazine", January 22-28, 1998] He was supported by those board members appointed by the provincial Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris, as well as Mayor Mel Lastman and his supporters. [ [ Police reform's worst nightmare] , "Now Magazine", February 5-11, 1998] [ [ What's Paul Godfrey's game?] , "Now Magazine", February 19-25, 1998. The vote was 4-3 for Gardner.] The right-wing "Toronto Sun" praised him as "pro-police", while the centre-left "Toronto Star" argued that he had developed a "reputation as an apologist for police". [John Saunders, "Gun-collector takes reins at police board", "Globe and Mail", 30 January 1998, A12.]

In June 1998, Gardner supported a comprehensive overhaul of the police service's administrative structure. [Jim Rankin and John Duncanson, "Police board head calls for shakeup", "Toronto Star", 12 June 1998, B1.] He also supported a plan by Police Chief David Boothby to replace the city's public complaints bureau with a more decentralized model. [Jim Rankin and John Duncanson, "Complaint bureau changes slammed", "Toronto Star", 19 June 1998, F1.] The following month, he concluded a deal to make Toronto police officers the highest-paid in Ontario -- higher pay would help Metro retain skilled officers by offering competitive compensation. [John Duncanson, "Toronto cops to be tops in pay after deal reached", "Toronto Star", 3 July 1998, A1.]

In the summer of 1998, an Ontario judge ruled that the Toronto police were negligent in using an unidentified woman as "bait" to catch a serial rapist (the woman was not informed that the rapist lived in her area, and was sexually assaulted). Gardner initially said that he had difficulty believing the police were negligent, and remarked that some women lie about being raped. He later apologized for his comments, and offered an official apology to the unidentified woman. [Gay Abbate, "Gardner assailed for remarks", "Globe and Mail", 8 July 1998, A8; Colin Freeze, "Apology for Jane Doe", "Globe and Mail", 10 July 1998, A8; Phinjo Gombu, "Jane Doe gets apology", "Toronto Star", 10 July 1998, A1.]

Gardner supported the purchase of police helicopters in 1999 to provide the police additional tools to fight crime, an initiative that some other councillors criticized as both ineffective and too expensive. [Wallace Immen, "Helicopter dreams crash into budget reality", "Globe and Mail", 23 July 1999, A9.] He also recommended charging each business in Toronto a $15 fee to cover the costs of policing, an initiative that was quickly rejected by Mel Lastman. ["Lastman nixes police surcharge", "Toronto Star", 4 March 1999, p. 1.]

Gardner was a frequent rival of fellow commissioner Judy Sgro during this period. Sgro left the Police Services Board in 1999, after complaining of intimidation from the Toronto police union. [Theresa Boyle, "Crime hot issue in York West fight", "Toronto Star", 11 November 1999, p. 1.] On one occasion, Gardner was accused of allowing police union officials to harass intimidate and her at an informal board meeting. ["Police union ambush needs investigation", "Toronto Star", 25 January 2000, p. 1.] He denied that harassment occurred. [John Duncanson, "Police union to sue Sgro", "Toronto Star", 26 January 2000, p. 1.]

Gardner and Fantino opposed the police union's controversial "Operation True Blue" telemarketing campaign in early 2000 and forced it to cease. The "Toronto Star" alleged that Gardner had made a secret deal with police union leader Craig Bromell to permit similar fundraising efforts in the future. [John Duncanson, "Police board kills secret deal to end its battle with union", "Toronto Star", 3 February 2000, p. 1. Police board member Olivia Chow described this as "capitulat [ing] to bullying and intimidation".] Gardner denied that a deal had been struck, and maintained that he consistently opposed the True Blue campaign. [Norman Gardner, "No secret deal to end True Blue", "Toronto Star", 18 February 2000, p. 1.]

Provincial appointee

The method of election for city councillors changed with the 2000 election with a return to a one councillor per ward system. Facing a tough battle against Filion [ [ Wanted:Cop-watcher] , "Now Magazine", July 13-19, 2000] , Gardner opted to retire from politics. With the support of Lastman and Toronto Police Association president Craig Bromell, the Harris government agreed to appoint Gardner to one of the provincially appointed seats on the board allowing him to continue as Police Services Board chairman without having a city council seat. [ [ Political silly season takes hold at city hall] , "Now Magazine", September 21-27, 2000] He was reappointed by the province to serve a full three year term in September 2001. [Sewell, John; [ Gardner reappointment jumps the gun] , "Eye Weekly", September 21, 2001]

In October 2001, Gardner supported a decision by the Toronto police to compile a list of suspected terrorist sympathizers. During a radio interview on the subject, he said that he was "assuming that people on this list are predominantly of Middle Eastern descent". Both Gardner's comments and his support for the list were criticized by civil libertarians, including lawyer Clayton Ruby. Provincial Solicitor General David Turnbull defended both Gardner's comments and the police decision. [April Lindgren, "Solicitor-General defends police's terror checks", "National Post", 11 October 2001, A01.]

Gardner supported a race relations probe in late 2002, following media reports that the Toronto police engaged in systemic discrimination against blacks. [Michelle Shephard and Jennifer Quinn, "Police chief calls for race relations probe", "Toronto Star", 26 October 2002, A15.] He denied that racial profiling existed, but acknowledged that there was an understandable rationale behind the complaints. [Philip Mascoll, "No racial profiling by police: Gardner", "Toronto Star", 18 November 2002, B04.] He later criticized the "Toronto Star" for running a series of articles on racial profiling, arguing that they hindered the ability of police officers to do their job. [Tara Perkins, "Prize sparks debate over controversial series", "Globe and Mail", 11 April 2003, A2.]

Gardner stepped aside as Police Services Board chair in 2003, pending resolution of the matter, for having accepted the gift of a handgun from the vice-president of Para-Ordinance Inc., a Toronto firearms manufacturer that Gardner assisted in getting a discount rate for an exhibition booth at the 2001 International Association of Chiefs of Police convention. Gardner reimbursed the manufacturer $700 for the weapon, a restricted semi-automatic pistol, shortly before the controversy was made public. [Don Wanagas, "A gun again puts Gardner in line of fire", "National Post", 10 June 2003, A15.] The initial six-week investigation by the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (OCCOPS) resulted in a formal inquiry later in the year. ["Gardner to face inquiry over whether firearm illegal gift", "National Post", 9 September 2003, A7.] It was later revealed that Gardner also took 5,700 rounds of ammunition from the city's police services for his personal use, with the permission of the chief's office. ["Mr. Gardner's bullets" [editorial] , "Globe and Mail", 3 March 2004, A20.] In 2004, it was revealed that Gardner had approved his own expenses for conference travel. [Katherine Harding, "Gardner approved his own expenses", "Globe and Mail", 14 June 2004, A7.]

Gardner was replaced as Police Services Board chair in January 2004 by Alan Heisey. In April, the OCCOPS inquiry ruled that Gardner came "a hair short" of misconduct in his acceptance of the handgun, but also ruled that his decision to accept free ammunition brought discredit to the board. He was suspended without pay from the board until the end of his term in December 2004. Gardner argued that he did nothing wrong, and appealed the decision. [Bill Dunphy, "Stormin' Norman appeals suspension", "Hamilton Spectator", 17 April 2004, A17.] He also refused to resign his commission seat for several months, a decision that left the board deadlocked between conservatives and progressives. [Paul Moloney, "Gardner should quit, Miller says", 1 June 2004, B03.] This division contributed, in part, to the controversial non-renewal of Chief Julian Fantino's contract.

An Ontario Court of Appeals decision later overturned Gardner's suspension on technical grounds, while offering no opinion on whether or not he had violated policy. Gardner publicly stated that the decision cleared his name, and announced his resignation from the Police Services Board on November 1, 2004, one month before his term was complete, stating that his reputation was intact. [James Cowan, "Gardner quits police board after 'name cleared'", "National Post", 2 November 2004, A13.]

Current activities

Gardner announced that he will be seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in the Greater Toronto Area riding of Thornhill for the 2007 Ontario provincial election but, following pressure from the party leadership, agreed to withdraw in favour of CFRB talk show host Peter Shurman. Gardner told the "Toronto Star" that he will support Shurman in the general election because he's a "team player" but expressed his personal disappointment saying "I'm not jumping for joy, let's put it that way." [Ian Urquhart, [ Nomination headaches dog Tories] , "Toronto Star", June 25, 2007]


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