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Fantino, accuser have long history

Kathryn Blaze Carlson,  National Post 

January 2, 2010

The allegations against OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino highlight the long-standing tension between the former Toronto police chief and his accuser, a man Mr. Fantino has called a "lightning rod for confrontation and potential violence."

Mr. Fantino and Gary McHale have a history of skirmishes, often centred on police handling of the occupation of a Caledonia housing project.

Mr. McHale, who lives in the GTA and heads a group called Caledonia Wake Up Call, has led rallies denouncing what he calls a "two-tier" justice system that he says discriminates against non-aboriginals.

Mr. McHale's grievances are numerous, and range from being prevented from mounting Canadian flags in Caledonia to allegations of defamation.

At the centre of the current dispute is Mr. Fantino's April 7, 2007 email to Haldimand County's mayor and councillors in which he said the "already chaotic and very turbulent" situation in Caledonia is "made especially difficult every time McHale and his followers come to town."

Mr. McHale retaliated with an April 12, 2007 letter to Mr. Fantino -- which was also sent to the Premier and the Attorney-General -- in which he accused Mr. Fantino of slander, and demanded that the commissioner issue a public apology and resign.

"You are unwilling to talk about the Charter of Rights or Freedom of Speech, but apparently you have the time to use school-yard bully tactics against an average citizen of Canada," Mr. McHale wrote.

Tensions flared again last spring. Mr. McHale faces charges of counselling mischief not committed. Because he is representing himself, he questioned Mr. Fantino on the witness stand. At the preliminary hearing, Mr. Fantino said he would have gladly arrested the "goof" himself. When Mr. McHale asked to whom he was referring, Mr. Fantino said plainly: "You."