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'Standing up and doing what's right,' Fantino says

Caledonia Lawsuit

Sean Mallen,  Global News  - posted in National Post

OPP commissioner Julian Fantino says being charged with a criminal offence related to the Caledonia native protest is "something I've incurred for standing up and doing what's right."

The commissioner was served a summons yesterday to appear in court on Feb. 3 to face a charge of influencing or attempting to influence a municipal official.

The charge relates to a 2007 email he sent to the Mayor of Caledonia responding to complaints from municipal politicians about so-called two-tiered policing during the standoff with native protesters at the disputed Douglas Creek Estates.

In the email, the commissioner threatened to recommend that the OPP not renew its policing contract with the community.

"I do look forward to vindicating myself," Mr. Fantino said yesterday during a taping of Global Television's Focus Ontario.

"Obviously, we don't please everyone when we in fact do our utmost best to preserve the peace in very difficult and trying circumstances. I feel that this is part of what one has to endure for doing one's job."

While police officers often step aside from regular duties when charged with criminal offences, the commissioner said he never considered it. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he is content to allow the commissioner to stay on the job while the case proceeds.

The charge was laid privately by Gary McHale, a nonresident of Caledonia who has been active in complaining about the policing of the four-year-old native protest. The Ontario Crown is now prosecuting the matter.

The OPP has regularly come under criticism for its handling of the protest.

Last fall, a Caledonia couple sued the force and the Ontario government for $7-million, claiming the police failed to protect them and their home from rampaging protesters.

In December, the couple agreed to an out-of-court settlement. The financial terms were confidential, and neither side admitted any liability.

Mr. Fantino said he had no role in the settlement, but defended his force's actions.

"Every criminal occurrence that has happened in Caledonia has either resulted in a person or persons being arrested, warrants of arrest being issued or ongoing investigations being pursued," he said.

"No one has gotten away with anything."

The commissioner told Global News that he will not be appearing in person at the Feb. 3 court date, leaving his lawyer to represent him.

The full Focus Ontario interview will air on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET.