Fantino challenged on Caledonia e-mail

Thu, April 19, 2007

By Canadian Press
Posted London Free Press

TORONTO -- An e-mail sent by the province's police commissioner to small-town politicians living with a year-long aboriginal occupation was inappropriate and should cost Julian Fantino his job, New Democrat Peter Kormos said yesterday.

Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter is currently investigating the e-mail after it was called "threatening" by the town's mayor and prompted three official complaints to Kwinter's office.

The e-mail from Fantino -- which was copied to senior bureaucrats and staff in the premier's office -- suggested the town of Caledonia is encouraging divisive rallies against the policing of the ongoing aboriginal occupation.

Fantino also suggested if any of his officers were injured as a result, he would back any lawsuit they brought against the town and would not recommend the OPP renew its contract to police the town.

"This is entirely inappropriate," Kormos said.

"Fantino has crossed the line in a big way. This isn't an inadvertent slip of the tongue . . . (this is) some pretty heavy-handed stuff. That's not the function of police."

Kwinter has "little choice but to ask Fantino to step down," Kormos added.

But Premier Dalton McGuinty said he continues to have confidence in Fantino "and in his ability to manage a very difficult situation."

"Given the circumstances, I think he and the OPP have been doing a very commendable job," he said.

Kwinter wouldn't say whether he thinks the e-mail was inappropriate.

"That's part of what I'm reviewing and that's a matter of opinion," he said.

Many of his senior staff were copied on Fantino's e-mail so a ministry investigation might present a conflict of interest, Kwinter said. Once he receives legal advice, Kwinter said it shouldn't take long to complete the investigation.

"It's going to be days," said Kwinter, adding he is unsure what kind of sanctions Fantino might face if the e-mail is found to be inappropriate.