Please no more POLITICAL inquiries

By Gary McHale
Regional News
Feb. 11, 2009

Caledonia sits in the aftermath of one of the biggest politically motivated inquiries in Ontario – the Ipperwash Inquiry. Instead of dealing with illegal acts, either by the OPP or individual protesters in Ipperwash, it was designed as the means to expose Mike Harris. The residents of Caledonia have paid the price of such any inquiry. You can read a detailed report of this political inquiry in the regional news over the next two weeks.

The people in Ipperwash had hoped the inquiry would help them just as the people signing the petition hope an inquiry into Caledonia will also help. Mr. Hewitt's petition states the following:

"… Following the flawed results and recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry, the OPP and the command decisions made by the OPP have violated and ignored the rules and guidelines as set out by a number of statutes. These include the Criminal Code and the Ontario Police Services Act. In addition the OPP have violated or ignored their training and standard operating procedures. There is documented and electronic evidence that the OPP did so knowingly…

We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

1. To request the Premier of Ontario to immediately launch a public inquiry into the actions and decisions made by the Commissioner of the OPP Julian Fantino and impose his immediate suspension without pay and upon confirmation of the facts, his immediate resignation.
2. To request the Premier Of Ontario to immediately launch a public inquiry into the actions and decisions made by the OPP with respect to Caledonia over the past 3 years."

The People are calling for a clear inquiry into Law and Order and decisions made by senior OPP officers. This is not a political inquiry but an inquiry into Race Based Policing. This is a grassroots demand that the People be allowed to have a voice into the actions of the police, not politicians. That is another matter.

With the increasing tide of support in Haldimand County it is becoming popular to stand up and demand an inquiry. This grassroots movement to demand real accountability of the police is so strong that even Councilor Grice and MP Diane Finley felt compelled to join in.

However, the People need to be concerned that political involvement (although needed and wanted) can have negative effects as well. Politicians rarely do things for purely selfless reasons in support of the people they claim to represent. As McGuinty once said, "Politics is a full contact sport" and politicians will use every means to win advantages over the other party – if the public benefits from this then that is merely a side affect.

In my view, there is a direct danger that the People's demand for an inquiry into how the OPP have 'violated and ignored the rules and guidelines as set out by a number of statutes' can be turned it into just another political inquiry. MPP Toby Barrett submitted the following at Queen's Park:

"Barrett’s Private Members Bill calls for an inquiry:

  1. to determine the truth with respect to allegations of political influence in the court’s administration of justice and the police enforcement of the law with respect to activities in Six Nations, Haldimand County, Brant County and the City of Brantford;
  2. to determine the truth with respect to the ownership of land within the boundaries of the former Haldimand Tract; and
  3. to make recommendations directed to preventing similar chaotic confrontations when dealing with future land dispute issues in the province, including recommendations with respect to ways in which we can improve dispute resolution in this area and enhance respect for the courts and the rule of law;"

Any new inquiry that includes talking about ownership of land or allegations of political influence will end up as nothing but a political inquiry whereby each party will use the inquiry to gain points against the other.

The People cannot allow this to happen.

For three years the People have clearly stated that it doesn't matter who owns the land because Law & Order and Race Based Policing is the real issue involved. Are we somehow to have an inquiry into 200 years of endless debates from both sides and only allow a few days to talk about Race Based Policing? If negotiations go on endlessly for years why would anyone want an inquiry that opens the door to endless years into the same question?

I appreciate Toby at least raising the issues at Queen's Park and if I have misunderstood his intention then I apologize. However, Mr. Barrett's motion before Queen's Park, in my view, in nothing but pure politics.

On June 5, 2007 John Tory called for an Inquiry into Caledonia stating the purpose of such an inquiry was to review the 'absence of communication and lack of leadership by Premier McGuinty and his Liberal government,' not to examine OPP race-based policing.

Where is the call into the actions of Commissioner Fantino or of the OPP as requested by Hewitt's petition? Where is the demand to investigate the illegal actions of the OPP? Where is the hope that one day this Province will firmly stand against all forms of Race Based Policing?

NDP Peter Kormos stated back on April 18, 2007, "Fantino has crossed the line in a big way… [Kwinter] has little choice but to ask Fantino to step down".

We don't need another political inquiry – we need to examine how individual officers who took an Oath to uphold the Charter of Rights chose to violate those rights solely because of the Race of the people involved.

An inquiry like this would rock this province to its foundations and force police officers and all Government officials to understand that they too are accountable to the Laws of Canada, to the Charter of Rights and ultimately to the People.

I ask Mr. Barrett to support this type of an inquiry and the only question is will he?