Of Mice or Men

by Gary McHale - The Regional

June 3, 2009

There is little doubt that in 2006 Councillor Ashbaugh lost to Craig Grice because he did and said nothing to help residents. The following paragraph taken from Grice’s election material proclaimed him to be different from Mr. Ashbaugh because he would speak out against what was happening in Caledonia:

"Our current Council, (save Mayor Trainer), or perhaps more importantly our own Ward 3 Councillor Ashbaugh, would have you believe that there is little that can be done about the Native occupation. They say 'its' a Provincial or Federal Government issue;' Since when does that mean you lose your voice, and stand quietly by? When you're elected to speak for the people, you use your voice and that's what I will do? I will not only be active, but will provide an educated voice on the realities of what Caledonians' see and feel every day."

Grice may have had good intentions when he first became a councillor but he was suddenly neutered when Commissioner Fantino threatened him in April 2007. From that point on the man who presented himself as a Lion quickly became a mouse who couldn't even squeak.

It has been Fantino's propaganda that things would be 'peaceful in Caledonia but for Gary McHale'. Last week Councillor Grice repeated Fantino's message by claiming that he lives on a 'quiet corner' where kids can play because it is a "fun little community". This quiet peaceful community apparently is no more because Merlyn Kinrade dares to believe he has the right to free speech and the right to raise a Canadian Flag. Of course, Grice did not explain how a protest half a mile away from his house caused his kids to be unable to play.

Even though Grice is echoing Fantino's propaganda you need to realize that at one time he supported protests against racial policing. In 2007 Mr. Grice and I had a conversation regarding the flag raising events in which I asked him to show up at the next event so he could be a voice for the people to the media. During that conversation Grice clearly stated that he had been out to every one of my events and he would be out at my next flag event.

The flag raising events are quite simple to understand: we peacefully walk down Argyle Street to put up a flag where the first Caledonia resident was arrested for trying to do the same on Dec 2, 2006. It is the OPP who picked the location of our protests since they determined that residents will be arrested for raising a Canadian flag there. These arrests are a violation of a Supreme Court ruling.

Councillor Grice came out on the Jan. 20, 2007 Flag event but after Fantino's threatening email he then tried to rewrite history by claiming on TV that he never supported these events. In court Fantino testified he had an agreement with Haldimand County which he believed Mr. Grice violated. According to Fantino's testimony, his email to Haldimand County was to make Mr. Grice 'accountable' to the Commissioner. I thought in a democracy elected officials were accountable to the people and not to the police - Fantino believes otherwise.

The question is whether your elected officials in Haldimand have any voice other than what Fantino allows them. In the past Haldimand council has denied being influenced by the OPP but court testimony proves this is not true. Mayor Trainer testified that the OPP does provide the county with draft press releases that they want issued.

On Dec 01/07 non-natives peacefully protesting at an illegal smoke shack were viciously assaulted. Fantino, falsely blamed the victims for the day’s events before the investigation had even begun. When Don Boyle, the CAO of Haldimand, went to Queen's Park to attend a news conference by residents on Dec. 5, 2007 that exposed the truth, he appeared with, and sat with, an OPP officer. Afterwards he left a message on Merlyn Kinrade’s answering machine saying that the presentation was “good, but not helpful.”

In all the protests I have organized in Caledonia the County has never sent me anything stating I needed a permit. Just prior to the May 24th protest, however, Merlyn was served with papers from the county demanding that he get an event permit even though the by-law does not apply to political protests. The county claimed there was no contact with the OPP regarding this. However, OPP Sgt. Carter informed Merlyn and myself that he personally spoke with the county about the parade permit. So it now appears the county only requested Merlyn get an un-necessary permit for a Charter-protected protest after the OPP contacted them.

This past Sunday the OPP asked the occupiers on DCE whether residents were allowed to put up a Canadian Flag across from DCE. They said, "No." No surprise there but why did the OPP ask them in the first place? Do the OPP ask residents for permission before the Natives march down Argyle or before they raise a flag or before they do an occupation? Haldimand County following the OPP policy demanded that Lisa Parent get permission from the DCE occupiers and from Six Nations before the county would issue a permit in 2007.

What is truly happening in Haldimand is that the OPP have become the enforcement arm of Native occupiers. Once Natives occupy a construction site the OPP move in to force the builder to leave. Once the Natives say ‘no’ to anything they don't want residents doing the OPP move in to stop residents. People's rights play no role in the thinking of the OPP. The repeated, direct threat by native protesters against residents ensures the OPP use their resources to enforce the will of native occupiers upon the community.

Haldimand County has completely succumbed to the OPP pressure to deny residents their rights and their voice. Council members are too scared to speak out due to the threat by Fantino to sue individual councillors and the threat to pass OPP expenses on to the County. When the OPP speak the County jumps. When the OPP want the County to spread their propaganda the county is more than willing to do so. Various council members may speak out during in-camera meetings but publicly the council has been under OPP control for well over two years, at least since Fantino stated in his April 2007 email to Council that he believed they had an 'understanding' about 'McHale.'

On July 9, 2007 the county issued a press release that started with these words; "Haldimand County has become an innocent victim of circumstances created by the Federal Government". The council got upset when the Mayor publicly made it known that the council refused to add McGuinty's name to the release. Council has always hoped to get 'blood money' from the Ontario Government in order for them to buy public support.

You would think by July 2007 the council should have figured out that Haldimand is actually the 'innocent victim' of OPP policies which allow Native Protesters the freedom to commit crimes. Today, however, Haldimand Council is no longer one of the many victims of racial policing, it has increasingly become a willing collaborator with those who violate your rights.

Eighteen months from today you get to vote in new council members. Do you want a council that speaks on behalf of you or one controlled by the OPP and McGuinty Government?

Mice or men. It’s your choice.