Fantino admits the truth in court

by Gary McHale - The Regional News

December 8, 2010

People in positions of authority, like ex-Commissioner Fantino, know how long it takes to have legal cases make their way through the court system. They rely on the fact that both the media and the public will be quick to lap up all the defamatory statements they make but get bored and not listen when the truth comes out.

For two years Fantino demonized people who attempted to hold the OPP or McGuinty government accountable. In one such attempt Fantino stated on the John Oakley Radio Show "there are those [Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas] who are quite intent on escalating the situation, where the conflict and confrontation will result in violence. It's happened before, they've been involved in it, and that's their agenda."

Over two years have passed since Fantino made these and other statements, but just over a week ago Chris Diana, Mr. Fantino's lawyer, appeared in Cayuga to provide proof to the court to support Mr. Fantino's statements.

Instead of hard hitting evidence to support any claim that we had an agenda of violence or inciting violence, Mr. Diana on behalf of Fantino repeatedly told the court that we "have never advocated violence but simply want to draw attention to our concerns." He further told the court that it was clear that "we had not promoted violence" and that any statement that said we did would "be contrary to all the evidence and against everything Mr. McHale has said."

Imagine my surprise when Fantino was admitting the truth to the court. In fact, I thanked Mr. Diana for being the first government lawyer to admit this in court.

What Mr. Diana was attempting to do was to say that Fantino never said we had an agenda of inciting violence but had an agenda of escalating the situation - a little nuance he hoped the court would agree with.

The public may remember Mr. Diana's name since he is mentioned a few times in Christie Blatchford's book and was directly involved in most of the legal arguments in 2006. While Mr. Diana is the OPP's top lawyer he was assigned this case a short time ago and didn't know all the evidence that was before the court.

While Fantino wanted the court to believe that he never stated we had an agenda to incite violence, his emails had already been submitted to the court where he told his officers, "I want every avenue explored by which we now can bring McHale into court seeking a Court Order to prevent him from continuing his agenda of inciting people to violence in Caledonia."

Before Fantino was telling his officers I had an agenda of violence but now he is telling the court that any such statement would be contrary to all the evidence.

There appear to be only two options - either he is lying to the court or he lied to his officers.

Furthermore, Fantino stated on the Oakley show that we had been involved in violence. As I pointed out to the court the way Fantino worded it the public would naturally understand it to mean that we have committed violent acts against others.

I was interested in seeing what evidence Fantino would bring to court to support his statement. At the time the lawsuit was filed Fantino was the Commissioner and therefore had access to overwhelming evidence about who had actually been involved in violence. However, he didn't bring a single piece of evidence that would be admissible in court.

I say admissible because Fantino submitted one newspaper story, yes just one, that he believes proved we had been involved in violence. The story was from the Brantford Expositor who ran a story which made fun of me being sent to the hospital when Clyde Powless attacked me. The story stated, "McHale appears to have got more than just a lump of coal as he was injured during the clash... It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

With all the evidence the OPP had at their disposal it is quite amazing that Fantino would use such a biased story to prove his statements were truthful. At the best of times a newspaper story would not be admissible in court because without the reporter taking the stand who knows what part of the story is truthful. Worse still was the fact that the story they attempted to enter into evidence didn't came from the Brantford Expositor but was a copy from my website.

They actually believed I would stand up in court and tell the court the story was accurate and should be allowed as evidence. Needless to say the judge didn't accept the story.

With no proof that we have been involved in violence Mr. Diana was forced to read into the record from our own Factum [court argument] which stated the following:

"Violence erupted after the smoke shack supporters from Six Nations initiated the first of several unprovoked assaults against the Plaintiffs [McHale & Vandermaas] and other residents. Mr. Vandermaas was first to be attacked, but the OPP refused to arrest his attackers. McHale was assaulted on 3 distinctly separate occasions after he was falsely accused of assaulting a native woman. In the final assault Mr. McHale was swarmed by a group of Six Nations residents led by a man who jumped on his back from behind after screaming obscenities in his face and pushing through police to get at Mr. McHale... As Mr. Powless was jumping on Mr. McHale a woman grabbed his left arm with both hands to assist in pulling him to the ground. Mr. McHale was punched and kicked numerous times as he was pulled to the ground as his attackers screamed, "Get him! Get him! Get the fat f***! Kill him! Kill him!..."

Now with this evidence on record, not the fairytale story from the Expositor, the court must decide whether Fantino's statements on the Oakley show are truthful to what occurred.

The court was told that when the police say that someone has been involved in bank robberies or a sex crime the public naturally believes the person has committed these acts. We don't use such words when we refer to victims of such acts.

The court has reserved judgement on whether this case will proceed to trial.