Fantino 'deeply disturbed' by comments, threatens to withdraw OPP from Caledonia

By Marissa Nelson
The Hamilton Spectator(Apr 13, 2007)

OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino is staying mum on a controversial e-mail he purportedly sent to Haldimand councillors threatening to pull his force out of Caledonia.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer received Fantino's e-mail on April 7.

In it, Fantino says he is "deeply disturbed" by what he described as comments from Councillor Craig Grice in support of Gary McHale, a Richmond Hill man behind several protests in the town, who has been described as an outside agitator.

Fantino's e-mail says if any of his officers are hurt because of a McHale protest, he will hold Grice, the county and McHale responsible. He added he will support any injured officer launching a civil suit; will forward ensuing costs to the county and will recommend that the OPP not renew its policing contract with the county.

Comments attributed to Grice are "gravely detrimental to the morale and safety of my officers," the e-mail states.

But Fantino wasn't taking questions about the e-mail yesterday.

OPP Inspector Dave Ross said the OPP will neither confirm nor deny its authenticity because it is correspondence to a particular person.

"We're not interested in getting into a discussion about an e-mail sent to a specific recipient," Ross said.

Ross's only response to the e-mail was to say that there are "no plans for the OPP to pull out of Caledonia."

Grice says Fantino has misinterpreted his e-mail, which was posted on McHale's website.

"He thinks I support McHale and his marches and that's the furthest thing from the truth," Grice said.

Grice attracted Fantino's ire by sending an e-mail to a constituent, which was then forwarded on to McHale.

In the e-mail, Grice says McHale brings attention to the town's situation and that he agrees with his stance on "two -tier justice.

"Do I commend Gary for some actions and standing up? Yes I do. Do I have concerns on how Caledonia is seen and how others I represent feel when he comes town? Yes I do," the e-mail says.

Trainer said she expects council will respond after a meeting Monday.

"I take it as threatening," she said of Fantino's e-mail.

Trainer said council had already considered not renewing the OPP contract when it expires in the fall of 2008.