Walk Like an Egyptian

by Gary McHale - The Regional News

February 16, 2011

Sorry folks, I am not referring to the 1986 hit song by the Bangles but how, in 18 days a united peaceful movement brought about the downfall of the corrupt Egyptian government. Average people took to the street to demand that their rights be recognized.

This was done without bombs or using guns or threatening to terrorize people. It was done without setting the country aflame or by destroying their past. It was done peacefully and with absolute determination that they would not stop until the government was forced to change. This revolution against the Egyptian government was not done by the wealthy, the lawyers or businessmen but by average people who finally said enough is enough.

These people, who had no power or resources, directly challenged a government that had all the power and resources. They risked their very lives for what most Canadians take for granted. Even when they were attacked by pro-government forces they remained peaceful.

Can the people of Haldimand and of Ontario learn from these people?

While we cannot change the past, I wonder just how much easier and quicker two tier justice could have been ended in Haldimand if the Caledonia Chamber of Commerce, the business community, the established families in the community, the lawyers and those with influence had united in 2006 and demanded an end to the injustice. This is not to say that individual people didn't try to speak out but it is amazing how people didn't unite their efforts to publicly demand an end to the injustice.

In 2006 the Haldimand Law Association issued the following statement, "The Haldimand Law Association, in the interests of the administration of justice in Haldimand County and all parts of the Province, calls upon the Ontario Provincial Police and those other individuals and authorities with the power and duty to enforce and protect the operation of the Rule of Law in this Country to take action to do so. For as long as they refuse, they fail us all and all of our rights and freedoms remain under attack."

In 2007 Ed McCarthy (McCarthy & Fowler, Barristers & Solicitors) issued an open letter to McGuinty which stated, "Mr. Premier...  [it is] the responsibility of your government to enforce the law. This has not been done. When we witnessed the spectacle of what happened at Douglas Creek a year ago, what happened in Hagersville this past spring, and what is now happening at the Stirling Street Development, we have to stop and ask ourselves why we are allowing any one group in society to engage in civil and sometimes violent disobedience in an attempt to impose their political beliefs. This is not the tradition in which most of us have been raised. I have written on earlier occasions about the law breaking activities of these protestors who violate not only the Provincial Trespass to Property Act, but also the Mischief and the Intimidation sections of the Criminal Code. I find it repugnant how our police stand by and let these crimes occur in their face..."

In October 2007 Joe Gaultieri spoke, on behalf of the Gaultieri family, at our rally two days before the provincial election. At the same rally the Ontario Taxpayers Federation provided us a statement to be read out on their behalf which stated, "... you are here making an important point about freedom: freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom not to live in fear in your own homes and your own city. We have been blessed to live in Canada, a country that usually celebrates these freedoms even when they challenge us on sensitive issues such as this... the government has not been accountable for the tremendous hardships all have faced. People like the Gualtieri’s and the Brown’s, injured OPP officers and so many others can attest to that... When governments offer cash settlements to occupiers and their supporters they damage the principle of the rule of law. They also give the appearance that there are different laws for native lawbreakers than for non-native law breakers. The government should enforce the rule of law."

In 2008, now Mayor, Ken Hewitt started a petition to demand an inquiry into the lawlessness in Caledonia and stated in an open letter to ex-Commissioner Fantino, "I witnessed many occasions when the OPP, confused by the lack of leadership by both yourself and your predecessor Gwen Boniface, both of you allowing the Ipperwash Inquiry to influence your decision making, knowingly violated or ignored your own training and standard operating procedures. I was thoroughly offended when you came to meet with business leaders through the local Rotary, to listen to you lay blame on the citizens of Caledonia for injuries sustained by your police force in several confrontations. To hear you justify the lack of arrests made with respect to the many crimes committed by protestors around Caledonia. To hear you continue to use the phrase that you’re only the "meat between the sandwich" yet laws continue to be broken under your watch. These are laws that have nothing to do with land claims but your fear and your mismanagement has created a fear amongst your officers in knowing when to apply the law and when not to."

Our political leaders have, at times, spoken out. In May 2007, Mayor Trainer and Councillor Grice took part in a convoy to Queen's Park in order to draw attention to the ongoing illegal actions of the OPP. On Oct. 15, 2006 Toby Barrett spoke at my first rally in Caledonia. In 2009, Diane Findlay signed Hewitt's petition calling upon an inquiry into Caledonia. In the early days in 2006 most of the councillors were reported in the news speaking out against what was happening.

The question now is whether average people will unite, as they did in Egypt, and demand an end to the injustice that occurred?

Unite with us on Feb. 27 at 1 pm outside the Lion's Hall in Caledonia for our Truth and Reconciliation Rally. Be part of history and change the future for the better.