Standing in an elevator about to ascend to a 19th-floor courtroom on University, I'm joined by Toronto police detective Dave Wilson and a few of his colleagues.Wilson, of course, is one of seven Toronto officers suing city councillor Kyle Rae. The cops are claiming damages for comments the local gay pol made against them following the notorious September 2000 police "raid" on the Pussy Palace.
The elevator door closes and there's silence. Then Wilson, a stolid, broad-shouldered cop who reminds me of Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon films, says, tongue firmly planted in cheek, "OK, guys, we've got a NOW reporter."
There's nervous laughter. These guys are supremely confident and the unapologetic keepers of Toronto the Good.
I spend a couple of days watching Wilson on the stand and a procession of city councillors who show up to give Rae quiet moral support. Whether Wilson and his colleagues win or lose, some councillors are clearly worried about the prospect of being hauled into court every time they criticize the police.
Relations between Rae and the cops weren't always like this. The councillor had been helping to build bridges between the gay and lesbian community and police chief Julian Fantino and 52 Division superintendent Aidan Maher. Less than a month before the Pussy Palace raid, the police association endorsed Rae.
But that was also the era when relationships between police association head Craig Bromell and senior police brass were at a low ebb. What combustibles were triggered by that? We're not sure.
Wilson testified that his relationship with his former commander, Maher, had become "strained." So strained that when Maher instructed Wilson to consult a police services lawyer about the charges in the Pussy Palace case, he took Bromell with him for "representation."
What, if anything, the police association's role is in this action against Rae is unclear. When I ask Wilson, his lawyer, Michael Freeman, and an association rep if the association is footing the legal bill, I run into a wall of no comments.