TORONTO -- Ron Taverner says he is withdrawing from consideration to be the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, citing the need to protect the integrity of front-line officers.

The 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent says in a statement he will not take on the role given the controversy surrounding his appointment late last year.

Taverner is a family friend of Premier Doug Ford and his appointment set off accusations of political interference in the hiring process for the province's top policing job.

Essex native Brad Blair was fired this week from his role of deputy commissioner at the Ontario Provincial Police.

Blair alleges he was targeted by the government for waging a legal battle over the hiring of Taverner.

Blair’s lawyer Julian Falconer has called it an abuse of power.

Falconer says the province could have demoted Blair instead of firing him outright and says his client had no opportunity to defend himself.

The government has said Blair was fired by a group of managers in the civil service who allege he broke an oath of confidentiality when he made internal OPP documents public.

Falconer says a discipline process must be initiated under the Police Services Act -- legislation that governs the conduct of officers -- in order to fire a police officer, and he says that didn't take place in Blair's case.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Ford thanked Taverner for putting his name forward and says he would have been a "tremendous asset" to the OPP and the people of Ontario.

Ford says opposition parties have politicized the hiring process rather than focusing on supporting front-line officers.

The government says Interim Commissioner Gary Couture will remain in the position.

But the government did not immediately respond to Falconer's claims.

With files from CTV Windsor