by Gary McHale - The Regional
August 19, 2009
At my preliminary hearing more details regarding Commissioner Fantino's threatening email to Haldimand Council were revealed. Fantino sent this email on April 7, 2007 because Councilor Grice replied to a private email sent to him by a resident of Caledonia. Grice's email became public and Fantino was furious that Grice would dare to suggest anything positive about Gary McHale.
In all democratic societies elected officials must be allowed to speak their minds regarding issues of public importance. However, in Ontario's new Police State environment, Fantino felt it reasonable to attempt to control or censor the contents of any letter/email being sent out by elected officials. It is incredibly dangerous to democracy to allow the OPP to control the views expressed by council members.
Fantino wanted to control what Council members were saying even in private messages. He threatened council that if it happened again then he would publicly hold them accountable, encourage injured officers to sue council members, transfer policing costs to Haldimand County and recommend that the OPP contract not be renewed.
Mayor Trainer was shown the Commissioner's email to council while she was on the stand at my preliminary hearing. She was asked several questions about her view about why Fantino sent it to council and what she believed Fantino was trying to do. Here are a few of the questions and answers:
Q: Did you believe this was a threat from the Commissioner? A: Yes.
Q: Did you go on TV and radio and say that you felt threatened by the Commissioner? A: Yes.
Q: Is the Commissioner angry because a council member made public statements that might be perceived as being positive toward Gary McHale? A: That's correct.
Q: This e-mail has nothing to do with Gary having a protest in Caledonia, correct? A: Correct.
Q: This e-mail has nothing to do with Gary inciting violence? A: No.
Q: Is it not true, in your view, that what the Commissioner of the OPP was saying to elected officials in this county is that they cannot speak in a positive way about Gary McHale? A: Yes.
On June 28, 2007 The Canadian Press ran the story regarding Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety, where he claimed he had reviewed the evidence and Fantino didn't breach the Police Services Act. In the story Mayor Trainer stated, "that 100% wrong, and was made before an outside investigator hired by Kwinter's office to look into the complaints had even finished his report".
While Monte Kwinter was publicly clearing Fantino, Rod McLeod, a lawyer hired by Kwinter to review the complaint, was leaving a telephone message on Trainer's answering machine thanking Mayor Trainer for the information she provided earlier in the day and that the scheduled telephone meeting for later in the day had to be rescheduled.
Under Oath Mayor Trainer stated the following:
"It was June the 28th. He [McLeod] called me in the morning... he was finalizing his report and he went over a few things - he was asking, he was going to put in these about things that I had said. And he said he wanted to soften the report a little bit so that Commissioner Fantino wouldn't look too bad. And that he would call me later in the day and go over that he, how he had quoted me or, or the parts that I was involved in, to verify that it was okay with me... Meanwhile, Chinta Puxley from the Canada Press had called, and wanted to know what I had thought of Minister Kwinter's announcement that Commissioner Fantino had been exonerated. And I said, 'Pardon me?' and she repeated it and I said, 'But the report isn't even written yet, I just talked to the fellow who's writing the report.' ... So, of course, I called him [McLeod] back and said, 'what's going on, you know, I didn't think the report was finished yet; and yet Chinta Puxley had said Minister Kwinter has already made the announcement... I wrote the conversation down.. He [McLeod] had changed his whole tone. He actually seemed quite upset and said, 'I have to write the report as I'm instructed.' "
Under cross-examination the Crown attempted to raise doubt by questioning the Mayor's memory about this event. She stood by her testimony because she wrote down Mr. McLeod's statement during the telephone conversation and that the statements stood out in her memory.
What the Crown was unaware of was that Mayor Trainer, along with Merlyn Kinrade and myself and others, appeared at the Ontario Ombudsman's office in Aug. 2007 where the Mayor played the telephone message from McLeod and provided a copy of her notes that she made.
The fact is there never was any investigation into Fantino's conduct. Mr. McLeod was NOT hired to investigate Commissioner Fantino but to report on what options were available to Minister Kwinter since no person in Ontario's history had ever filed a complaint against a Commissioner. Kwinter didn't know what legal options he had so he hired McLeod to get a legal opinion on what options were available to the Government.
On June 20, 2007 the Toronto Star reported statements by the Ontario Ombudsman regarding McLeod's so-called investigation into Fantino. The story stated, "Andre Marin [Ombudsman] said the government is 'queasy' about referring public complaints to his office – even when the province finds itself in a conflict of interest as it does with a current set of complaints against Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino.
Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter has hired an outside lawyer to investigate whether Fantino breached the province's Police Services Act when he wrote an email to politicians in Caledonia, Ont., suggesting they were encouraging divisive rallies against the policing of the ongoing aboriginal occupation there. 'The government could have asked him to investigate the complaint', Marin said, 'but instead often chooses to hire outsiders so it can dictate the scope of any investigation and retain some control over the results'. 'You don't have that when you come to the ombudsman's office,' Marin said in an interview. 'You don't know where the ball's going to land because we don't accept scripted mandates. The government ... wants to be in the driver seat. From the government's perspective, the risk is much more contained when you go out and hire a contractor.' "
On June 22, 2007 Fantino sent an email to Mayor Trainer telling her to 'tone down the inflammatory rhetoric' that was in her emails she was sending out. Fantino was upset because Trainer stated in an email, "... residents have lost faith in the OPP over an ongoing aboriginal occupation, and council will discuss not renewing their contract."
On June 26, 2007 Mayor Trainer sent an email to McLeod regarding Fantino which stated, "This man does not stop."
Commissioner Fantino believes he can censor and control the contents of letters/emails sent out by individual council members. You thought you lived in a democracy where politicians can say what they want.
Think again... it is the OPP that controls what Haldimand Council is saying and Mayor Trainer has been the only one willing to speak out about this.