Victory for Haldimand

by Gary McHale - The Regional

April 28, 2010

After 30 months and over $500,000 spent on prosecuting me on a bogus charge that the OPP, the Crown and a Judge admitted in court they never heard of, last week the Crown finally came to their senses and stayed the charge against me.

The Toronto media called it a bizarre offence of counselling mischief not committed. Disclosure information demonstrated how the full weight of the state was brought to bear to ensure a charge was laid and the case was prosecuted.

Commissioner Fantino was e-mailing senior OPP officers, demanding the OPP exploit “every possible pro-active investigative strategy that could curtail the activities of McHale et al,” and asked,  “Did we assign an arrest team dedicated to McHale if/when the opportunity presented itself to take him out?"

He told senior officers not to “get bogged down with legal nuances” or to get sidetracked by 'feeble' and 'timid' crown. He stated, “I want every avenue explored by which we now can bring McHale into court...”

A Justice of the Peace issued obstructing justice charges against OPP Deputy Commissioner Chris Lewis and Supt. Ron Gentle related to the OPP investigation that Fantino had ordered.

Recent disclosure showed that the Commissioner was in direct communication with the deputy minister regarding what they called the "McHale Investigation". The public had been told the political arm of the government doesn't get involved in the daily operations of the OPP.

The Crown stayed the charge two days before two applications in Superior Court were to proceed. One of the applications asked the court to order the release of all communication between the OPP and the deputy minister regarding the "McHale Investigation". It also requested that the court throw out the charge because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated by the OPP and Crown's office.

Not surprisingly the Crown stayed the charge after 30 months but just prior to when the Court would be reviewing the actions of the OPP and the Crown.

While it would have been great to have the court rebuke the OPP and the Crown for their abuse of the justice system, this is a major victory against the OPP and the McGuinty Government. It is also a victory for people of Haldimand County because it sends a message that small town communities do not need to roll over and play dead to the politics of big city Toronto.

There is no doubt that if the events in Caledonia had occurred in Toronto or any large city in Ontario the Police would have put an end to it immediately. There is no way Native Protesters would have been able to block highways and railway lines or destroy the power station in any large city.

Haldimand, and particularly the people of Caledonia, were easily written off by McGuinty and the OPP. There is little doubt the province used tactics to silence Haldimand Council including Commissioner Fantino outright threatening them. Each council member caved to the intimidation by the OPP and the McGuinty government.

This victory symbolizes what can be done when average citizens step forward and say, "Enough is enough." It symbolizes what can be accomplished when you refuse to give up your rights and freedoms even when the full weight of the Government is applied against you. It demonstrates that might doesn't make right.

As Canadians many of us believe, almost inherently, that you cannot fight city hall or you cannot change anything so why brother fighting. This is why governments and the various political parties dismiss the views of the average person so quickly - they know most people will not take a stand.

We do not have to cave to the intimidation tactics of the OPP. We can hold them to account for their actions or their failure to act and we can stand up for our Rights and Freedoms others have fought and died for. We do not have to give up our rights because one group chooses to use violence. The OPP or McGuinty government have no authority to decide which rights the residents of Haldimand County will have yesterday, today or tomorrow.

We have the right to live in peaceful communities and to believe that our taxes pay for police to do more than stand and watch crimes be committed. We have the right to believe our children do not have to live in fear because of the failure of the state to uphold the rule of law.

We have the right to gather, to speak out, to raise the Canadian Flag, to peacefully protest against injustice, to stand with our neighbours and to demand more from our government.

If Canada can send troops to Afghanistan because freedom is important and individual rights are worth fighting for over there then why can't people in one town care enough about another town to stand up for the freedoms and rights we all believe in?

The failure of the residents in Ipperwash is that they never did rallies, never spoke out against the injustice, never challenged the OPP or government, never held their political leaders accountable and in the end never had a voice in the Inquiry. Thus, they were forgotten by the public.

The OPP and the McGuinty government fear the residents of Haldimand County will one day unite in demanding change, in demanding that their rights and freedoms be honoured and that their community not just have the absence of violence but the presence of peace that comes from obeying the rule of law.

Do you have faith the OPP will never again stand by and watch crimes take place? If not, then the battle to ensure that this community will never again experience such injustice continues.

There still needs to be real change within Haldimand to ensure that businesses feel safe to invest in order that job creation can start. There needs to be change to ensure that families can believe in the OPP and raising your children can be done in a safe community.

Join us for a victory rally on Sunday May 16 at 1 p.m. for a March and BBQ - free food and pop. Come out and celebrate with the community and help send a message to McGuinty.

CORRECTION: Last week's story stated that the Crown stayed a charge of obstructing justice against Superintendent John Cain. This was printed in error. Supt. Cain was not charged with any offense. It should have stated that that Crown stayed the charge against Supt. Ron Gentle. I apologize for this error.