Fantino’s critics demand resignation

OPP Commissioner bullied Caledonia officials, MPP alleges

CanWest News Service
Posted National Post
April 19, 2007

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino continued his silence yesterday, even as calls for his resignation mounted following what critics say is an attempt to bully elected officials in Caledonia, the site of an ongoing native blockade.

“Fantino can call it whatever he wants, but the message is very, very clear: He is threatening to effectively withdraw police services [from Caledonia],” New Democratic House leader Peter Kormos said.

“His efforts to intimidate elected officials in Caledonia go far beyond bullying … He has crossed the line, big time.”

Earlier this month, Commissioner Fantino sent an e-mail warning the Haldimand County Mayor and councillors that he would hold them responsible for violence resulting from future antioccupation protests by a group known as “Caledonia Wake Up Call.”

The group has criticized the OPP’s handling of a 14-month standoff with natives occupying a 40-hectare tract of land.

Commissioner Fantino’s e-mail was apparently sparked by one councillor’s comments supporting the leader of that group, Gary McHale, whom the OPP boss calls “a lightning rod for confrontation and potential violence.”

The e-mail went on to say that if further violence resulted from a McHaleled protest, Commissioner Fantino would support any lawsuits filed by officers, would pass on the ensuing policing costs to the county and would recommend that the OPP not renew its contract with the county when it expires in September, 2008.

“If I was a resident of Haldimand County, I’d be afraid that I’d wake up one morning and the OPP would be gone,” said Kevin Gaudet, Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen him do.”

Native protesters have occupied a former housing development in Caledonia, southwest of Hamilton, since Feb. 28, 2006, claiming the property belongs to them.