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Police union boss to stick it out: Bowtie and Bro

by Judi McLeod

April 7, 2003

Never thought I’d find myself feeling grateful for the Toronto Star. Now that I know that Craig Bromell has decided to postpone his retirement to seek a third term as head of the 7,000-member Toronto Police Association, I’m feeling as warm and fuzzy as most of the Star’s coverage of the news.

‘The-Newspaper-That-Strives-To-Make-Everybody-A-Victim’ describes the outspoken Bromell as "a controversial and combative figure," and says he’s been that way since he was first elected police union president in 1997. That means that Bromell has been decisive, and even under the most provoking of circumstances, has always stayed the course. These are both traits of character that wooly-headed editorial writers at the Star, in their politically correct ways, find highly distasteful.

Bromell is Mr. Popularity for those very reasons to the police rank and file to which he is so committed.

Toronto Star types who predicted his certain defeat last time out must have been reeling with disappointment when Bromell was elected to a second term in a standing ovation.

Refreshingly terse when he responds to the media, he told reporters, "I have quite a bit of support out there among the rank and file."

A certain type of media doesn’t know how to handle a street cop who refuses to bow to intimidation. In creative journalistic terms, they try to portray him as "the man in black," and when creative juices run dry, as a bully.

Like the rest of us, there are two sides of Craig Bromell. There’s "Bro," union leader who puts his members first, and the guy who can be counted upon to stand tough when under intense media scrutiny. Then there’s Bromell, the husband and father of the homefront, who has children are in grade school. That Craig Bromell is a pussycat, who once left the office early to go out and find the beloved family dog before the kids knew he was gone.

Stress had a lot to do with his original decision to step down. But he’s been able to work at striking a better balance between work and home life.

"It was a matter of being able to juggle more equally your professional and home life." With change on so many fronts, he said, it probably wasn’t the right time to step aside.

"There’s a concern about a new mayor, there’s a concern that there could be a new provincial government, there’s a concern that there could be changes coming to the SIU (special investigations unit), and the situation globally with the war in Iraq," he said.

It should be to his credit that he cares about these things.

According to the Star’s Bruce DeMara, "Bromell’s leadership has been marked by controversy. In 2000, he was a driving force in the union’s telemarketing campaign called Operation True Blue, in which donors were given stickers they could place in their vehicle’s windshield. Critics said the union was amassing a war chest in order to target his political opponents. That same year, Bromell released a list of 17 councillors he recommended the union endorse during the municipal elections."

To media detractors, it’s appropriate for any other union to target political opponents come election time, but not the police union.

Their main problem seems to be that Bromell is "a driving force." Unlike the plethora of public servants that hide out, avoiding decision making in well-paid posts, Craig Bromell is out in the public eye, doing what he does best, his job.

There’s nothing in the least namby-pamby about this outspoken union leader, therefore nothing to admire by the writers of a politically correct newspaper.

Among the controversies in which Bromell played a leading role, DeMara left out the mother of them all: Bromell’s unrelenting role in the Star’s ongoing racial profiling attack on Toronto police.

In that role, Craig Bromell was the man who remained unflinching in staring down this country’s largest daily newspaper.

Blessings on your bow tie, John Honderich, for restoring to Toronto the right man for the right job at the right time.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]

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