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Ontario's top cop says he'll fight criminal charge

By Stephanie Dearing.

January 10, 2010 Digital Journal

After a Superior Court judge cleared the way for a criminal charge to be laid against Fantino at the end of December, Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General issued the summons Friday.

Ontario, Canada - The criminal charge has yet to be laid, but the summons paves the way. The summons for Ontario's highest level police officer is for one count of influencing or attempting to influence municipal officials. A court date has been set for February 3rd in Cayuga, according to Gary McHale, the person who has pursued the charge against Julian Fantino. Ontario Superior Court Judge Crane found there was a basis for the charge and ordered the summons to be issued. Fantino said

"I intend to vigorously defend myself and the OPP against this allegation and have the utmost confidence in the judicial system."
Julian Fantino heads up the Ontario Provincial Police and the summons and charge-to-come result from an email communication he sent Haldimond County Council in 2007, during the tumultuous protests over the building of housing on disputed lands in Caledonia. Fantino's letter directs Council members to not have anything further to do with activist Gary McHale, otherwise Fantino would recommend not to renew the policing contract for Haldimond. Fantino also said he would help any officers injured while policing in Caledonia seek redress from Haldimond County; saying extra policing costs incurred because of disturbances caused by McHale would be billed to the county. If found guilty of the charge, Fantino could face up to five years in prison.
McHale has asked for a prosecutor to be brought in from outside Ontario, pointing out the bias. The Ministry of the Attorney General, which has taken over the case said it will handle the matter fairly. McHale is still facing charges of counselling mischief that were levelled during protests over the land development in Caledonia. The land claim still has not been settled.
During the at-times-vicious disputes in Caledonia, the OPP failed to protect some people, and the OPP and Province of Ontario recently settled a law suit launched by one family who live almost surrounded by the land under dispute. Testimony outlined the "bizarre, chaotic situation" that existed in Caledonia that saw the OPP failing to protect people during violent confrontations.
Fantino defended the OPP in a statement released by the OPP Saturday, saying the police
"... have taken a measured approach and acted in accordance with legislated responsibilities and exercised police discretion appropriately, fairly and equally."
Julian Fantino, who described McHale as a "lighting rod for confrontation and potential violence," has himself been somehow involved in controversy since he was Toronto's police chief. The allegations range from use of racial profiling to corruption scandals.
Ontario's top cop since his appointment in 2006, Fantino's contract as head of the OPP ends in July 2010.