Caledonia residents protest outside Fantino's home

toronto.ctv.ca
March 2, 2008

Ontario's top cop had a few unwanted house guests this weekend as more than a dozen protesters gathered outside his home in Woodbridge to voice their concerns over the controversial Caledonia land claim dispute.

About 20 Caledonia residents drove two hours to the quiet residential community and demanded to speak to the Ontario Provincial Police commissioner.

"Come on out if you are in there, Mr. Fantino, we just want to talk," a protester yelled from outside the home.

Fantino spent the day in Caledonia where he planned to speak with residents.

Nonetheless, the group stayed on Fantino's street in a peaceful protest, holding signs and voicing their concerns over what they say is a lack of law and order in their Caledonia community.

The land claim dispute began two years ago and residents have often had violent clashes with the First Nations' protesters in their town.

Residents said they no longer feel safe in their community and have made several requests to speak with Fantino but to no avail.

"By bringing it down here, it puts it in his face," Christine McHale, a protest organizer, told CTV Toronto about bringing their concerns to Fantino's home. "The people in Caledonia have just gotten to a point where they are fed up."

Protesters said they don't feel they've crossed the line by going to Fantino's home because in Caledonia, protesters often come on their property.

"We brought it to Fantino so he knows we are not going to go away," said Merlyn Kinrade, a Caledonia resident. "We want law and order reestablished in the community."

Fantino's neighbours and even politicians said protesters crossed the line by bringing their fight to the commissioner's doorstep.

"If they want to protest the OPP they should go to headquarters," Ontario PC Leader John Tory said earlier this week. "If they really want to protest at the right place then they should come (to Queen's Park). What they shouldn't do is interfere with Mr. Fantino's privacy."

But the protesters offered no apologies and vowed to do it again if the situation in Caledonia doesn't improve.

"If I have to, I will go to (Native Affairs Minister Michael) Bryant and (Ontario Premier Dalton) McGuinty's home too," Caledonia resident Mark Vandermaas told protesters.

A spokesperson for the OPP told CTV Toronto Fantino continually meets with Caledonian residents to discuss the dispute and has even sat in on council meetings.

According to the OPP, 54 people have been arrested since the protest began.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness