Flag raising date change leaves no excuses

by Bill Jackson - The Regional
May 6, 2009

The organizer of a Canadian flag raising march in Caledonia said that switching the date to May 24 leaves people no excuse to sit on their apathetic behind.

Originally the flag raising was scheduled for this weekend, on Mother's Day.

According to Merlyn Kinrade, OPP officers balked at the timing because they didn't want to schedule additional officers for work.

He decided to delay the event for two weeks in order to also avoid the Victoria Day long weekend.

The main issue remains law and order.

Police should protect us, Kinrade said, and "if they don't want to do that there's going to be charges."

Some members of the group Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE) and its Executive Director Gary McHale were successful in laying mischief charges against two OPP officers for helping natives erect a barricade during a smoke shack protest in Caledonia back in 2007. The charges were later rescinded by the Crown, but CANACE will continue to pursue charges against OPP as long as their force continues to employ a two-tier system of law enforcement.

Raising a Canadian flag is not an illegal act and the only reason that police prevent them from doing it is because of the threat of violence on Douglas Creek Estates, CANACE contends.

McHale is facing a charge of "mischief not committed" for his role in a past protest and is barred from coming to town due to bail restrictions.

Some local residents such as Dana Chatwell say they've been tricked into signing trespassing notices by police.

"They gave us this paper to sign and they sat here and said right to my face that it was over (Douglas Creek Estates), and that if any of my neighbours from DCE came on my property they could arrest them and charge them with trespassing."

The notices which prohibit access to certain properties have been distributed to homeowners and businesses in the corridor, according to OPP Cst. Paula Wright. The letters basically say that the OPP can act on behalf of a homeowner or business as an agent if the property owners aren't there, she said.

"We've done this in the past few years so this isn't uncommon... They can be rescinded at any time."

Chatwell believes she was duped into thinking the notices were to deal with natives but believes that they're really a direct response to the planned flag raising event.

Kinrade expects that it will be him who will get arrested on the 24th, but he isn't dissuaded.

"The OPP don't give a damn about Supreme Court rulings or enforcing the law."