Suspended OPPA union leaders all on ‘sunshine list’

TORONTO—The names of three Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) officials who have been suspended (with pay) during an ongoing RCMP investigation of unproven allegations that the three participated in a sophisticated scheme to defraud the union’s membership through tactics that included a travel company, consulting firm and risky offshore investments, could be found on the annual “sunshine list” of provincial staff making more than $100,000.

Featured on the list are former OPPA President James Christie, salary cited at $187,701, former vice president Martin Bain, salary cited at $162,968, and former chief administrative officer Karl Walsh, whose salary was listed as $182,069.

The unproven allegations against the elected union officials, who stepped aside from their OPPA roles in the immediate aftermath of a police raid on offices, homes and vehicles, and the former CAO Walsh, who was fired from his position with the union, were contained in the search warrant used in the searches. Those unproven allegations included theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime. All three have been suspended from the OPP indefinitely with pay, but no charges have as yet been laid.

A recent communiqué from the OPPA has announced that the association’s 20 union branch presidents voted to charge the three high-ranking members with bylaw violations. “Specifically, the branch presidents allege that the three have engaged in actions that may have brought the reputation of the association into disrepute, and that, based on the allegations outlined in the (RCMP affidavit),” acting OPPA president Doug Lewis and the union board of directors said in the OPPA newsletter, “they have breached the OPPA bylaw regarding investments.”

Among those being investigated in the case are OPPA lawyer (and former police officer) Andrew McKay. Mr. Mckay is alleged to have developed a complex scheme involving the travel company, a consulting firm and the aforementioned high-risk offshore investments.

Among the alleged investments made by the union executives were two beachside condos in the Bahamas, one valued at $1.5 million and $100,000 in union money wired to a Cayman Islands income fund.

Two days following the OPPA decision to fire OPPA CAO Walsh, OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes ordered Christie, Bain and Walsh suspended from duty.

As the allegations have not been proven, either in court or through the OPPA’s own internal investigation, and under the presumption of innocence contained in Canadian law, the officers will continue to receive both their OPP paycheques and their honouria as union officials.