Letter - Councillor Sloat should apologize 

The Regional

June 3, 2009

We would like to thank Mayor Trainer for publicly defending our right to peacefully oppose racial policing by attempting to force the OPP to respect our right to raise a Canadian flag across from DCE. I hope she will take comfort in knowing that she is on the right side of history. 

In my speech at the May 24th flagraising protest, I talked about how the Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas asked Eisenhower to call in the Army to protect nine black students known as the Little Rock Nine who wanted to exercise their right to go to a white school. I contrasted the decisive actions of Little Rock's council with the inaction of Haldimand's by telling the crowd, "There will be no heroic call for intervention by the Mayor of Haldimand County.' I am pleased to admit that I was at least partly wrong - Haldimand's mayor does indeed know what Canadian soldiers have died for even if some of her colleagues do not.

While Councillor Grice's comments about his "quiet court with no concerns" (right next to DCE!) are merely silly given the history of Caledonia's agony, Councillor Sloat's statement that we "use and abuse the Canadian flag" for personal gain is particularly offensive given that Merlyn and I have both served with the Canadian Forces and overseas on UN peacekeeping missions to defend the values that our flag represents and give others hope of a life free from war.

It is shameful therefore that Canadian politicians should degrade our efforts at home to peacefully defend the belief that all human beings are equal before the law, and the rule of law is not subject to the whims of police or extremists. Four people have now been arrested by the OPP while trying to raise a Canadian flag, and it is repugnant that Sloat should remain silent regarding the illegal, undemocratic police actions while impugning the law abiding victims of their racist policies.

CANACE founders have risked our safety, our reputations, our financial security and our freedom to oppose racial policing, so if Sloat has evidence that we are using the Canadian flag for personal gain, we demand that he produce it. Otherwise, he should issue a public, unequivocal apology to us and everyone else in and outside Caledonia who has marched with us and/or supported our fight for justice.

As for those councillors who would, apparently, prefer that non-natives learn to live with racial policing in their 'quiet town' so people can get on with the business of making money, let me close with the words of Dr. King in his April 16, 1963 letter from the Birmingham jail:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

We will not cease our protests until justice is present once again in Caledonia.

 Mark  Vandermaas, Cdn Forces, UNEF I (Retired) 

Merlyn Kinrade, RCN, UNEF II (Retired)

Co-founders, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality