Commissioner Fantino is character witness for Clyde Powless

Submitted by Gary McHale - The Regional

December 17, 2008

On Friday Dec. 6, 2008, Clyde Powless pled guilty to assaulting Gary McHale at the protest on Dec. 1, 2007. Mr. Powless had 5 character witnesses on his behalf – 3 sent letters to the court and two were present in court. Of the 5 witnesses 4 of them were OPP officers. Commissioner Fantino and OPP Supt. Cain along with an ART team member and a MELT team member were willing to speak on behalf of Mr. Powless.

Mr. Powless was charged with assault and with Mischief for his role in blocking Argyle St. with the hydro tower for 5 hours. The court was told that the mischief charge was stayed by the Crown because it wasn't in the best interest of the public to prosecute Mr. Powless – more on this in a future report.

The court heard that Mr. Powless was in his 40s and had no criminal record. He is a father and grand-father and is an iron worker both in the US and Canada. The defense asked for a conditional discharge and received it. The condition is that Mr. Powless cannot communicate with Mr. McHale or go to his home or workplace.

The Crown came into the court completely unprepared. It is standard practice that all evidence be correctly labeled with multiple copies available for the Judge, the Defense and for the Crown. In this case the Crown appeared with none of this and had a hard time finding the correct videos to show the court. Four times the Crown walked over to Gary McHale and asked him questions about the evidence.

The Crown had subpoenaed Jeff Parkinson because his video was very important to the case but the Crown never showed the judge the video because he couldn't find it on his laptop. Of the 5 videos shown the court 2 of them had nothing to do with the case.

Furthermore, the Judge directly asked two questions. 1) The video appears to show that Mr. McHale was on the wrong side of the police line, is this true? 2) Mr. McHale states in his victim impact statement that Mr. Powless wrestled his way through the police to attack him, is there any evidence to support this?

The Crown never answered the first question but allow the defense to provide the court with details, and the second question the Crown claimed there was no evidence to support it.

However, Mr. Parkinson's video clearly shows Mr. Powless driving up and getting out on the wrong side of the police line then walking through the police line to rally his people and walking back through the police line to attack Mr. McHale. The Crown couldn't find the video nor presented any of these details.

The Crown had shown the video from Turtle Island News which did show Mr. Powless grabbing and pushing officers around so that he could attack Mr. McHale but these officers were plain clothes officers and the Crown was unwilling to point this out. During a break Mr. McHale presented these details to the Crown and asked to take the stand but he was denied. The Crown told the court Mr. McHale wanted to take the stand but the Crown was not going to call him.

In the end, it was clear little of the real evidence was presented to the Judge and the Crown made no effort to answer the Judge's questions. Unfortunately this is the same Crown attorney that is handling all the charges of assault upon Mr. McHale from Dec. 1, 2007. Next up in court is Steve Powless for assault on Mr. McHale and Camille Powless for assault on Mr. McHale and filing a false police report claiming Mr. McHale assaulted her. The question is whether the Crown will come prepared or once again appear in court with half the evidence.

Here is Fantino's email to the court in support of Mr. Powless.

To the Honourable Court:

In my capacity as the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police I have known Mr. Powless for the past two years.

As well, since taking office I have become directly involved in a number of meetings and dialogue with members of the Six Nations Confederacy in mutual effort to keep the peace in Caledonia where many flare-ups have taken place resulting from historical land claim disputes that have necessitated the deployment of an extraordinary amount of OPP resources when flare-ups and conflict has erupted.

Much of the conflict, confrontation and provocation has occurred during the times that Mr. Gary McHale and his followers have converged on Caledonia that invariably resulted in heightened tensions and conflict that has required an extraordinary deployment of police resources in our efforts to preserve the peace.

Although I am not in a position to address the specific circumstances that resulted in criminal charges being brought against Mr. Powless, I do feel that but for Mr. McHale's mischief-making forays into Caledonia, the very volatile situation that exists there would not have escalated time and again as it has virtually every time Mr. McHale came to town.

I am not making excuses or apologies fro Mr. Powless's actions about which he is accused, however, and with respect, the Honourable Court may wish to consider the volatility of the situation and provocation that simply could have been avoided but for the presence of Mr. McHale and his like minded followers.

As well, I wish to advise the Honourable Court that on a number of occasions Mr. Powless has been instrumental in diffusing serious conflict and confrontation during which times he has actually been the peace-maker.

Respectfully submitted.

J. Fantino, Commissioner

Ontario Provincial Police