York Regional News
By: Joe Fantauzzi, Staff WriterA cold wind and below-freezing temperatures didn't deter about a dozen protesters concerned about the ongoing First Nations land dispute in Caledonia, Ont. from taking their message to OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino's home this afternoon.
The quiet, non-violent rally began around noon in Mr. Fantino's Woodbridge neighbourhood when protesters marched holding Canadian flags and signs bearing slogans such as "One law for all" and "Rule of law not rule of thugs".
As the protesters gathered in front of the Fantinos' home, some curious residents could be seen looking on.
"Two years of hell in Caledonia, Mr. Fantino," Caledonia resident Merlyn Kinrade called to the commissioner's home from the street.
"Come on out if you're in there, Mr. Fantino, we just want to talk. We need you out here Mr. Fantino, if you're home."
A standoff between the First Nations, police and developers over land claims has been going on for two years in Caledonia.
Neighbourhood residents, for the most part, did not want to comment on the protest, but Rocco Lofranco said he disagreed with the protesters picketing Mr. Fantino's home.
A Canadian flag was raised on a pole on Mr. Lofranco's property.
"Invading the residence is not right. I think they're abusing the democratic process," Mr. Lofranco said but added he was not upset with the protest provided no damage was done.
Mr. Fantino did not appear during the rally and protesters later claimed they had received word the province's top cop was in Caledonia.
"We're here because Mr. Fantino has repeatedly refused to meet with the residents of Caledonia, so the residents though they had no other choice but to come down here and bring their message to him," said Christine McHale, the wife of Richmond Hill resident Gary McHale, who has played a high-profile role as a Caledonia protester.
Mr. McHale did not show up to the protest. He was at home taking phone calls, Ms McHale said.
"It's an issue that concerns me regardless of where I live and it's an issue that should concern anybody in Ontario, anybody in Canada regardless of where they live," Ms McHale said.
Asked if she believes protesting in front of Mr. Fantino's home is appropriate, Ms McHale said Caledonia residents feel like no one is listening to them and have become fed up.
York Regional Police made no arrests during the protest.