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OPP Commissioner charged in Caledonia dispute

Charge of influencing or attempting to influence elected officials has been laid privately by native-rights activist

Christie Blatchford

Globe and Mail Update Published on Friday, Jan. 08, 2010 8:34PM EST

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino is now officially charged with influencing or attempting to influence elected officials in Caledonia, Ont., site of the long-standing native occupation.

Justice of the Peace David Brown on Friday “issued process” in Ontario Court in nearby Cayuga, which means a summons has been issued against the OPP boss. He, or his lawyer, must appear in court on Feb. 3.

The charge was privately laid by activist Gary McHale, a long-time critic of how the provincial force has policed the almost four-year-old dispute on the former Douglas Creek Estates, and a leading organizer of rallies in the small town just south of Hamilton.

The subdivision, part of a Six Nations land claim, was first seized on Feb. 28, 2006, by natives.

At the centre of the complaint is an April 7, 2007, e-mail Commissioner Fantino sent Caledonia Mayor Marie Trainer and her councillors, warning them if they continued to show support for Mr. McHale, he would hold them responsible, support any OPP officer who sued council in the civil courts, bill the county for any extra policing costs and “strongly recommend” the OPP not renew its policing contract.

Ken Campbell, director of the Crown law office, on Friday wrote Mr. McHale, telling him that because the charge is an indictable offence – meaning the accused may choose trial by jury – the Crown is required to intervene and assume carriage of the prosecution. Mr. Campbell said the matter will be assigned to the ministry's justice prosecutions unit, set up for “prosecuting criminal cases where the accused is someone involved in the administration of justice, such as a police officer.”