By NAN News Editor
News Americas, TORONTO, Canada, Mon. March 27, 2023: Toronto’s former Jamaican Canadian police commissioner, Mark Saunders, has thrown his hat into the race for Mayor of Toronto.
Saunders, the UK born son of Jamaican immigrants who moved to Canada, when he was a child, says his goal is to restore a sense of safety to the city.
“In my decades of service as a Toronto Police officer, I never experienced this level of fear creep across the city,” Saunders said. “Every corner of Toronto is feeling the unease, from Scarborough to Etobicoke, Black Creek to the downtown core. Restoring public trust and bringing a sense of community safety back to our streets must be the No. 1 priority for Toronto’s next mayor.”
As a former police chief, Saunders said he knows that just adding more police officers or spending more money are Band-Aids that won’t cure the city’s ills.
“We need leadership focused on restoring Toronto to the city where my Jamaican immigrant parents dreamed their children could prosper,” he added.
Saunders is entering what is shaping up to be a crowded mayoral campaign, but he brings strong name recognition both as a former police chief between 2015-2020 and former provincial Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding of Don Valley West.
He resigned in 2020 with just eight months to go in his term as chief of the Toronto Police Service, surprising everyone without full was not why he resigned abruptly. He served as chief of police with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) from April 26, 2015 to July 31, 2020.
Saunders was born in England to Jamaican parents. His family moved from England to Quebec in 1967, and in 1969, they settled in Milton, Ontario. He was student council president while attending Milton District High School, and also attended W. I. Dick Middle School, J.M. Denyes School, and Martin Street Middle School. He earned an honours bachelor of applied science in justice studies from the University of Guelph-Humber.
Saunders began his policing career after graduating from high school. Before being appointed chief in 2015, he held the position of deputy chief in charge of specialized operations command. …..
Saunders was selected by the Toronto Police Services Board on April 17, 2015, to succeed Bill Blair as the chief of police. Saunders is the first Black Canadian to lead the Toronto police and the second Black Canadian to lead a police force in Canada -having been preceded by Devon Clunis of the Winnipeg Police Service in 2012.
In October 2017, Saunders had a kidney transplant surgery with his wife as the donor. He was born with only one kidney and underwent nightly kidney dialysis at home for 15 months prior to the surgery. He stated that the family went public about the transplant in order to raise awareness of the organ donation program.
In August 2019, the Toronto Police Services Board extended Saunders’ five-year contract by one year, until April 2021. However, Saunders announced his resignation on June 8, 2020, after serving 37 years with TPS. July 31, 2020, was his final day as chief – 8 months prior to the expiry of his contract. Saunders said then that he made the decision to leave sooner in order to “put family first.”
Nominations for the 2023 Toronto mayoral candidates officially open April 3, but several people have already indicated they will run or are seriously considering it.
Saunders has four children with his wife Stacey; they live in Etobicoke. He unsuccessfully contested the 2022 Ontario general election as the Progressive Conservative candidate for the riding of Don Valley West, previously held by former premier Kathleen Wynne since 2003, who was not seeking re-election. He was defeated by the Liberal candidate, accountant Stephanie Bowman.