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article imageEmails show Ontario's top cop was out to 'get' Caledonia activist

By Stephanie Dearing     Feb 3, 2010 in Crime
Emails written by the Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner, Julian Fantino, introduced to court yesterday, appear to demonstrate that Fantino orchestrated a campaign to "get" activist Gary McHale.
The mainstream press says Fantino encouraged OPP officers to lay charges against activist Gary McHale during the tense standoff in Caledonia, Ontario between first nations people and their supporters, land developers and the residents of Caledonia in 2006 - 2007. In one email from Fantino to the Deputy Commissioner of Ontario, Fantino said "At some point McHale has to go." In an email from December 1st, when Fantino thought McHale had been charged for an alleged assault on a native woman that same day, Fantino coached his officers to find a way to pin violence on McHale saying "We should be able to prove to court that McHale's forays into Caledonia have been planned and executed for purposes of breaching the peace which today also resulted in violence. We can't allow this vicious cycle to continue to the point where time and again we have to expend an inordinate number of police resources to keep people from killing themselves." McHale was actually in the hospital receiving treatment after he had been assaulted that day, and had not been charged by the police at that point. The police later charged McHale of counselling mischief not committed when they could not prove he had assaulted the woman as had been alleged.
McHale is on bail over that charge, and he is attempting to change the bail conditions to allow him access to Caledonia, which forbid him to enter Caledonia. The emails were provided to the court on February 2nd by McHale as evidence in his attempt to change his bail conditions. McHale had obtained the emails from the OPP.
Described by the press as a "pain," McHale became Fantino's nemesis during the 15 month long Caledonia land dispute. McHale devoted much of his time in Caledonia fighting for civil rights. McHale organized rallies, filed lawsuits, prepared for court cases and researching. His claim to fame is that he managed to have three different charges laid against people when the police failed to act. McHale documented cases where police failed to enforce the law and asserted the OPP was engaged in what he calls race based policing.
In a recent landmark triumph, McHale managed to have a criminal charge of attempting to influence laid against Fantino. Fantino was to have a second court appearance on February 3, after the first appearance on January 15 was rescheduled.
The charge resulted from an email Fantino had sent to Haldimond County Councillors in 2007, advising Council to have nothing to do with Gary McHale at the risk of losing police service in the future. Before Wednesday''s hearing took place, the Crown Attorney withdrew the charge against Fantino. McHale said he will pursue the criminal charge against Fantino in Superior Court.
The Caledonia land dispute began hundreds of years ago, but the 2006-2007 tensions were rooted in a land claim filed in 1995 by the Six Nations. At dispute was 40 acres of land in Caledonia, land which had been purchased by a developer who planned to put in housing.
After a subdivision plan was filed in 2005, Six Nations protesters occupied the site in early 2006 to prevent the construction. The occupiers were ordered off the property by a judge, but refused to leave. After 21 occupiers were arrested by police in April 2006, the occupation drew more support. After protesters supporting the land claim blocked the main road into Caledonia, local residents responded with their own protests, and the situation disintegrated rapidly. Caledonia remained in the grips of violent and passionate tensions for over a year.
The Ontario Provincial Police and the Government of Ontario recently settled out of court with a Caledonia family that had sued because the police failed to protect the family during the Caledonia land occupation. Other cases from Caledonians against the police are pending.
More about Julian fantino, Ontario provincial police, Gary mchale, Caledonia, Criminal charge
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