The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA), the collective bargaining agent which represents the Ontario Provincial Police, has announced that it will run two fifteen-second campaign ads from June 2nd to 10th in advance of the June 12th election.
These ads are the first in the union’s history, and they are uniquely targeted against the Progressive-Conservatives. Jim Christie, President of the OPP Association, said that “A Tim Hudak led government would launch a direct assault on the Collective Agreements of Police Associations right across the Province.” While he makes it clear that he only has the interests of police officers at heart, let’s not forget that being President and CEO of the OPPA is a lucrative political position.
After all, the previous OPPA president, Karl Walsh, ran as the Liberal candidate for Barrie in the 2011 election, while on paid leave. Just to be clear, campaigning while on paid leave is definitely not okay, but luckily the police are on his side. He specifically mentioned that his main reason for running was that he didn’t like Tim Hudak. When he inevitably lost, he simply resumed duties at the union as Chief Administrative Officer. So, the OPPA is obviously a non-partisan organization that could never be mistaken as advocating for one political party over another.
The main issue at stake is the weakening neutrality of the Ontario police force. The police, those we empower to enforce the law, should do so with absolute neutrality, and treat everyone equally before the law. For police officers to okay targeted attack ads against the Ontario Progressive-Conservatives casts doubt onto whether they will cooperate with the PCs if they are to win. Especially with quotes like “We just don’t want this Conservative as Premier.”
Worst of all is that this is a branch of the government undertaking activities beneficial to the party in power. I have no doubt that the OPPA will not forget this incident the next time they’re negotiation salary with Wynne, and that the OPPA will make sure Wynne remembers. These attack ads open a can of selectively enforced justice and corruption, and the Ontario Provincial Police should be ashamed. Donating one’s own money to a campaign is fine, but advocating on behalf of the government for the government is unethical at best.