Caledonia and Balm Beach have something in Common

By Gary McHale - The Regional

July 6, 2011

Caledonia shares something in common with many places across Ontario and that is the police and Crown conduct themselves in ways contrary to the rule of law and against the fundamentals of justice. I know most people in Caledonia believe their experience is unique and that the local issue of Native Land Claims caused a hiccup in the justice system. In truth, the problems in Caledonia have been experienced by communities all around Ontario.

The difference is that Caledonia has received media attention whereby other communities have suffered with little media attention. I have become aware of other communities’ problems as people from across Canada have contacted me over the past 3 years. I even have had sitting MPs fly in from other Provinces to talk about what steps can be taken to restore law and order in their communities.

In 2010 I received a phone call from John Marion who lives in Balm Beach near Midland Ontario. His story about how his family has lived in terror since 2005 was quite unbelievable. In his community the OPP were refusing to provide any law enforcement for local residents.

The story begins in the mid-1990s when the Ontario Government thought it would be a great idea to go throughout Ontario and seize a certain amount of land from everyone's property that touches any lake. The goal was to increase tourism by providing waterfront land to city people who travel on the weekend and take over these small towns north of Toronto.

At first the government’s plan worked but the people in Balm Beach fought back by taking the government to court and the government lost. However, by then the Province had convinced the tourists that they had the right to walk onto anyone’s property and do whatever they wanted.

After the residents won in Court the business community turned on the residents because local restaurants, bars and hotels wanted the influx of tourists to have free access to these waterfront properties. In 2002 the Crown wrote a letter to the OPP telling them not to enforce trespassing laws relating to these properties - the letter became public in 2005.

In 2010 the OPP testified that they had been to Mr. Marion’s home 300 times in 2 years - those are just the recorded visits. Each time the OPP refused to help the Marion family and repeatedly threatened to arrest the Marions instead of the lawbreakers. The family dog was charged 3 times for allegedly biting trespassers and both Mr. Marion and his son were arrested for assaulting trespassers. Both were prosecuted by the Crown in Barrie and finally the Superior Court not only acquired the Marions but outright rebuked the business community for their repeated criminal behaviour.

The Marions had been assaulted, their property had been set on fire more than once, the backyard was dug up by a backhoe, Ms. Marion was attacked and knocked unconscious and was taken to the hospital. This attack occurred when the local bar allowed people to come into the bar with chainsaws and after a few drinks a group of 140 people attacked the Marions' property. Even after Ms. Marion was taken to the hospital the OPP continued to stand by and watch the riot continue for another 2 hours.

Not surprisingly the local media and Mayor and Council blamed the Marions for inciting the violence because they put up a fence to stop the drunks from using their property as a public urinal. This is the same twisted logic some follow in Haldimand - instead of blaming the lawbreakers they blame anyone who stands up to them.

I first went to Balm Beach in Feb. 2010 and stayed a few days at the Marions' home and after reviewing all the documents they had and video from numerous security cameras around the property I went to court and laid charges against, not the local businessmen who encouraged criminal behaviour and not against the OPP, but against the Crown lawyer in Barrie who was repeatedly covering for the criminals.

At the same time I started having meetings with local OPP and quickly discovered that the local Inspector had served in Caledonia and had met me there. The same OPP B.S. was given in Balm Beach as it is in Haldimand, that the OPP cannot take sides and are there simply to maintain the peace.

The recent municipal election saw the residents uniting and removing all weak council members who refused to support the residents.

However, a local businessman allegedly hired 3 people to kill the Marion family - one turned out to be dating Mr. Marion's daughter. As a result the OPP were provided with all the details and had about 8 officers hiding in the Marions' home the night the group came in – all were arrested within minutes and no one was hurt.

However, three weeks later the OPP again refused to lay a single charge - quite unbelievable.

Mr. Marion and I visited the OPP to find out why. We were told all three people had confessed and named the business owner who hired them. However, the Crown in Barrie was refusing to allow the OPP to lay any charges.

At the end of the meeting I informed the OPP that they had to lay charges and the violence was no longer acceptable. I gave them two weeks or CANACE would start doing monthly protests in the area and post photos of the business owners who were actively encouraging criminal behaviour. I was asked why I would want to disturb the peace to which I replied, "when business owners are hiring hit men to kill people then you do not have any peace."

A week later Mr. Marion called me to tell that the OPP finally laid charges against the business owner. Since then there has not been a single event at the Marions' home. After five years of being terrorized, it was the threat of protests and criminal charges that forced the OPP to suddenly uphold the law.

The same is happening around Canada where citizens finally take a stand. The Criminals don't go away on their own, someone has to take a stand and bring an end to the lawlessness.