Native protest targets Fantino

By IAN ROBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

Wed, February 27, 2008

Activists opposing the First Nations occupation at Caledonia plan on taking their protest to OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.

Organizers are inviting supporters to wave Canadian flags and posters outside his Woodbridge home at noon Sunday, after meeting at a local Lion's Club hall at 10 a.m.

Protester Gary McHale yesterday said in an e-mail: "We expect a few dozen people and I am sure Fantino will pressure the York Regional Police to stop us."

McHale, of Richmond Hill, has led several protests against the occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates since Feb. 28, 2006.

The provincial government had paid almost $17 million to buy out the development.

$26-MILLION OFFER

But natives continue to pursue a claim over 970 hectares of land flooded for the Welland Canal 179 years ago. Provincial Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant announced last December that the feds had offered the Six Nations $26 million to end the Caledonia standoff.

In the past, Fantino has branded McHale and his group as interlopers with their own agenda, and him as a "lightning rod for confrontation and potential violence."

Organizers of the rally say: "Since Mr. Fantino has repeatedly refused to meet with residents of Caledonia, the residents have decided to go to Fantino to bring their message to him. It is time for the OPP to restore policing on 6th Line and restore law and order in Caledonia."

The OPP had no official comment.