Email to Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
From: Mark Vandermaas, Editor - VoiceofCanada.ca [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 1:27 PM
Cc: Toby Barrett, MPP; email@example.com
Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
Thank you so very much for taking the time to call today, and for listening and for trying to understand; it meant a lot to me. [editted to remove one sentence]
As discussed, we desperately need federal legislation that makes it a Criminal Code offence to violate someone's Charter Rights. Both Ipperwash and Caledonia also reveal an immediate need for provincial legislation that allows elected officials to have a voice in policing issues in times of insurrection or when there is evidence that the police are systemically violating people's rights or abdicating their responsibilities. It can never again be permitted for a police force to abandon citizens such as has occurred in these two communities.
'Police Independence' must have reasonable limits placed on it, and this is something Gary McHale and I will be working very hard to reform in the coming weeks and months. We have already discussed the idea of working with someone like xxxxxx to create "Dancer's Law" to ensure that no children in Ontario ever again have to go to bed afraid because the police won't protect them. (You can read about Dancer
At the very least, legislation must be introduced to allow the Ombudsman's Office to act as an advocate for entire communities who now have no voice whatsoever. Why should it fall on individual citizens like us to jeopardize our safety, our reputations and our financial well being to fight this struggle on behalf of our fellow citizens, and have to do it alone, dependent on our ability to persuade a fickle media to eventually tell the story?
Yes, citizens can file individual complaints through OCCPS and the Solicitor General, and we are indeed prepared - if necessary - to organize peaceful protests against the OPP that will enable the citizens of Caledonia and of Ontario to file hundreds, even thousands of legitimate complaints if required, but why should it be necessary for us to do so? Why is there no one we can turn to who can speak for us and for our fellow Canadians who are too intimidated to speak for themselves?
Please do not misunderstand me; I know I speak for Mr. McHale when I say that we both feel that it is our duty and our honour to carry on with this struggle, but few people have any idea of the great personal costs involved. Mr. McHale and I have both been threatened with physical harm. He has almost lost his house and his car because he devotes so much time to helping his fellow citizens instead of running his business. Gary has also just been served with a multi-million dollar lawsuit by the very officers who have violated our rights and those of our fellow citizens.
I am somewhat better off since my wife is able to help us make ends meet as I work full time on this cause. We know that whatever price must be paid to preserve the Rule of Law and equality before the law is a small one, but it sure would be nice to have help from someone with integrity and a big stick. Our country cannot lose this struggle because the alternative to the rule of law is too awful to contemplate.
I will continue to keep you informed, and I will send you copies of relevant documents.
In the meantime, may I suggest that - if you get the chance - you take some time to see the most inspiring movie I have ever seen: 'Amazing Grace'. It's about William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament who, along with a small group of people, ended slavery in the British Empire. Its message - for me at least - is that it doesn't take many people to change the world if those people are committed to a cause.
We're still looking for our William Wilberforce to take up our cause. I know the Ombudsman can't - as you have said - get involved in policing matters, but I feel better just knowing that he and you know what is going on.
Sorry to go so long. :-) Once again, thank you so very much. Please do call me any time, day or night if you should have any questions.
Mark Vandermaas, Editor