Smoke shop next stop for CANACE

Recurring rallies highlight ongoing injustice, organizers say

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

March 31, 2010

For the second Sunday in a row, a rally organized by Gary McHale and members of the Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE) was cancelled after natives and out-of-town activists with the Canadian Union of Public Employees showed up to counteract the group's efforts outside the Lions Hall in Caledonia.

McHale planned to file common nuisance charges against senior OPP officers including Haldimand Insp. John Periversoff, due to a lack of police presence, when "quite clearly there was danger present."

McHale and members of the group CANACE contend that the OPP's method of "peacekeeping" during the past four years was to separate groups of natives and non-natives during controversial protests and rallies.

"Can you imagine if we tried to mingle with Six Nations when they do a protest somewhere?" McHale queried rhetorically. "We don't try to shut down other people."

Although Sunday's event was dubbed an anti-racism rally, it ultimately intended to highlight two-tiered law enforcement that's prevalent in Caledonia.

McHale said that the next rally organized by CANACE will be held on Sunday, April 11 outside the Plank 1 smoke shack that's been established on provincial land at the south end of Argyle Street, near the Highway 6 bypass.

Violent confrontations occurred at the same location during a rally back in 2007.

Since that time, several other illegal smoke shacks have been established along the Highway 6 corridor on both public and private properties.

Instead of nixing proprietors, enforcement officers with the Ministry of Revenue have charged purchasers of illegal tobacco products who have been handed thousands of dollars in fines.

DCE potluck denied

A request put forth by the Ontario Provincial Police on behalf of local resident and CANACE co-founder Merlyn Kinrade, who wanted to hold a potluck supper on Douglas Creek Estates, was denied by the Ontario Realty Corporation, according to police.

"The ORC said, as a matter of fact, it's prohibited... 'We don't want anyone there'," said Haldimand OPP Staff Sgt. Phil Carter.

"It's not our domain," Carter told The Regional News.

"They (the ORC) grant access as they deem appropriate."

Calls from The Regional News to Hubert Labelle, the ORC's senior vice president of property management, were not returned.

Some county councillors have expressed the desire to seek a common use for the controversial piece of property that was occupied by native protesters and purchased by the province from a developer in 2006. The federal government has denied any legitimate claim to the property by Six Nations.

More recently, some councillors sought legal advice to deal with recurring rallies that they fear could present a liability issue on county property.