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Conflict of interest exists: McHale

January 21, 2010 Simcoe Reformer

An activist pursuing a charge against OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino says he'll demand Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley bring in an out-of-province prosecutor.

Gary McHale, who has led a number of protests in Caledonia, said this week's provincial cabinet shuffle that gave Attorney General Chris Bentley responsibility for aboriginal affairs was the "final straw" for him.

"There's a clear conflict of interest in the Attorney General's office," McHale said. "Even more so now that McGuinty officially made him the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. How does anyone in Haldimand County, who's already been struggling with the failure of the police to uphold the law against native people,... believe that now the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs is going to be the one making the decision on how to prosecute cases in Haldimand County?"

McHale has alleged that Fantino sought to illegally influence politicians on Caledonia council by urging them in email correspondence not to attend his rallies.

An Ontario Supreme Court justice has ruled that Fantino must face McHale's privately laid allegations in a criminal court. The case comes up on Feb. 3.

In a media release Wednesday, Fantino confirmed that he has been served with a summons based on McHale's allegations.

"I have been a strong advocate throughout my career for a fair and impartial criminal justice system," Fantino said. "My intent, as I have previously made known, is to vigorously defend myself and the OPP against this vexatious allegation. I have absolute confidence in the ultimate outcome of this process."

Premier Dalton McGuinty has expressed faith in his OPP commissioner.

But PC Leader Tim Hudak said Wednesday that the case warrants an independent prosecutor.

"Obviously, Premier McGuinty doesn't want to get to the bottom of this," Hudak said.