Link to Original Story

Fantino case moving ahead

Activist McHale given less than a week to produce more evidence

Barbara Brown
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 16, 2010)

Gary McHale has less than a week to produce additional evidence to back up his allegations against Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino, whom he accuses of using bullying tactics to influence politicians.

Prosecutor Milan Rupic issued the deadline in Cayuga's provincial court yesterday before asking to adjourn the proceedings until Fantino's originally scheduled first-appearance date of Feb. 3.

The Crown brought the case forward unexpectedly despite the fact that Fantino still has not been served with a summons to appear in court by York Regional Police. He was charged one week ago with influencing or attempting to influence municipal officials in Haldimand County.

Although neither Fantino nor his legal counsel appeared in court, the commissioner did release a statement to the media later, saying he intends to vigorously defend against the charge.

"I am committed to leading the OPP and putting forward a strong defence of myself and this organization against this allegation," he said. "I have the utmost respect for and confidence in the judicial system and in its ability to treat everyone equally and fairly."

There was no bid to stay the charge yesterday as some had feared.

"There's only one or two reasons why you bring a case forward like this," McHale said outside the courtroom. "Either the other side has agreed to enter a guilty plea or you're planning to stay the charge."

The Binbrook man speculated that the Crown had been intending to stay the charge but realized it had brought the case forward prematurely without giving itself sufficient time to assess all the evidence.

McHale, founder of Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality, has been a vocal critic of how the OPP handled the sometimes volatile native occupation of the former Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia.

The activist led a number of public rallies to protest what he views as two-tiered policing, meaning one standard for Six Nations protesters and another for residents of the town.

The private charge arises from an e-mail that Fantino sent in April 2007 to Mayor Marie Trainer and Haldimand council, which was distributed to senior members of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's staff. The two-page letter warned councillors against expressing support for McHale. The e-mail stated that Fantino would recommend against renewing the OPP's contract with the county if politicians publicly supported McHale.

Fantino's letter was widely circulated and Trainer was quoted on radio and television to say she understood his words to be a threat to withdraw police services from Haldimand County.

Justice of the peace David Brown "issued process" against Fantino a week ago after his earlier decision not to lay the private charge sought by McHale was overturned by a superior court judge.