McHale drops mayoral bid in favour of ward three seat

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

Aug. 18, 2010

Well-known local activist Gary McHale said that he's decided to halt his original, planned pursuit of mayorship, but he still wants to represent Caledonia on the next Haldimand County Council.

Although he never officially registered as a mayoral candidate in the upcoming municipal election, he intended to do so until just recently, but during an interview said there are several reasons why he wants to become ward three's councillor instead.

McHale, famous for his rallies against two-tiered justice during the height of the Douglas Creek Estates occupation, has been at the forefront of litigation involving the province, native protesters and provincial officials during the past four years, most notably laying private prosecution against former OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino for attempting to influence municipal officials. Although the charges were thrown out by the Crown, McHale is currently seeking a judicial review.

His work as a prosecutor has been recognized and revered by several lawyers and judges who wrote letters of recommendation, yielding him a scholarship to law school. McHale plans on attending law school part-time and discerned that being a mayor is a full-time job, whereas many councillors also have full-time jobs, and families.

"Having the time needed to be a good mayor and a good student would be difficult," he said.

McHale, 48, recently celebrated his 29th anniversary with his wife Christine. He has no children.

He joins incumbent Coun. Craig Grice, Bryan Barker and Rob Duncan as a ward three candidate in the upcoming municipal election, Oct. 25.

In 2008, McHale ran as an independent candidate in the Haldimand-Norfolk riding, finishing fourth, but garnering the most votes (1822) of any candidate at Caledonia polls.

"I want to focus more on Caledonia's needs," McHale told The Regional News.

"Businesses need law and order and there will be no investment unless there is law and order.

Without any security, developers don't feel comfortable, he said, adding that many Caledonia issues overlap into surrounding areas.

"We have to admit the while elephant - the law and order issues - and promise and guarantee protection of businesses... They need to know their investment is safe."

McHale said that Haldimand's current council could be doing more to ensure that provincial police enforce laws when illegal native occupations and road blockades occur.

Native activists, as they did earlier this year in northern Ontario, threatened to set up toll booths on Highway 6 next year.

McHale said that assurance clauses should be built into Haldimand's police service agreement to prevent such illegal acts.

"If the OPP doesn't want to, that's their problem," he said.

According to the Police Services Act, the OPP is obligated to serve any municipality that is without contracted police service.

"Bothe a judge and the Crown said that Fantino would not have authority to cancel the contract," McHale said. "So where's the downside? They really don't have a lot of pull."

McHale said that council needs to get behind criminal charges against illegal protesters, the owners of contraband tobacco huts, and government officials.

"Nothing stops bylaw officers from laying criminal charges," he said.

"Council should be laying charges against the provincial government for lost taxes. There's no reason why the community should pay the price for McGuinty's racism."

Mayor Marie Trainer's official decision to run for one last term also helped McHale decide to run in ward three.

"I feel it's best to have myself and Mayor Trainer on council at the same time," he said. "I feel she will be better with a council that supports her."

The previous Haldimand Council sought legal advice to remove her from office after she spoke out about native protesters and the Douglas Creek Estates occupation in 2006, McHale charges.

In 2007, council issued a press release stating that Haldimand County had become an "innocent victim of circumstances created by the Federal Government." Trainer wanted the province added to the press release and was voted down, McHale said.

More recently, council tried to gain absolute control over her emails and has attempted to restrict communication between councillors, constituents and the province. Such attempts at control are unheard of, McHale believes.

"This council has serious problems at all levels."

In the future, council must be more proactive in attracting jobs and maintaining development, he concluded.

"We can't wait for other levels of government."