Misplaced Moral Outrage

By Gary McHale - The Regional

August 24, 2011

Recently T. David Marshall has had letters printed in the Spectator, the Sachem and the Regional News. After five years of silence he appears to be upset by the use of the phrase two tier justice and the protest in front of the Mayor’s home.

While it is not news worthy to reply to every person who writes a letter, he wants the public to know he is a lawyer and lectures on ethics. I guess he believes that gives him greater credibility to speak out on issues.

Mr. Marshall states, “The logical conclusion, so the story goes, is that the police are using reverse discrimination to prefer the interests of Natives over that of non-Natives... the person alleging race-based policing is making a leap of faith. He or she is assuming decisions that result in the seemingly different treatment of different peoples must be based on race."

The problem with Mr. Marshall’s logic is he fails to provide any facts to support his opinion. As someone who has many times stood before Judge Marshall, I can tell you that Judge Marshall wouldn’t listen to mere opinion over hard facts. This is why Judge Marshall ordered two OPP officers to face criminal charges because they were aiding Natives in building a barricade to stop the owner from using his own property in Hagersville. It is also the reason why, when the Crown stopped criminal proceedings against senior OPP officers that Judge Marshall became the first judge in Canada to order the criminal proceedings re-instated. The Ontario Government appealed this ruling and Ontario's highest court upheld Judge Marshall's ruling.

Additionally, OPP officers have testified that they have been ordered to identify the race of persons involved in criminal behaviour before choosing a course of action. The OPP have a written policy passed in 2002 called A Framework for Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents. Officers have now testified that based on this policy they cannot treat Natives and Non-Natives the same.

Senior OPP officers have now testified that two OPP officers were kidnapped without the OPP ever filing criminal charges or launching an investigation. Dave Brown was kidnapped as the OPP watched, and instead of arresting the kidnappers the OPP placed Dave Brown in jail overnight. Even Commissioner Fantino testified to a long list of criminal acts that had nothing to do with land claims and admitted that many times OPP didn’t even investigate the crimes.

It was OPP Association President Karl Walsh who publicly stated in June 2006 that there was Two Tier Justice in Caledonia. He recently stated, “I can't forgive them [OPP Brass] for a lot of the approaches they took to this and I think numerous officers got unnecessarily injured, I think people from the general public got unnecessarily injured, I think everybody that was involved in this suffered injuries that could have been avoided had they just stuck to their training, stuck to their policies and stuck to the law. You know, the law doesn't discern colour of skin or ethnic background, and it's not supposed to. Justice is supposed to be blind.”

In 2006 the OPP Association demanded from OPP Brass to know “why the Command Post was asking their members if the person in question is white or non-white? When the person is non-white or First Nations, they are being told to ‘stand down’ or ‘release them’.” The association also asked, “Why are the First Nations people treated differently than any other citizen?”, and “Why has the government perpetuated a two tier judicial system?”

These are just a few of the facts, not merely opinion or a “leap of faith.

Mr. Marshall appears to be outraged by the fact that there was a protest in front of the Mayor’s home. Not outraged enough to drive over to see what happened but morally outraged enough to sit in his home and write a few letters. It appears the only other time he was outraged was in Nov. 2006 when he wrote a letter regarding Liberal leader Ignatieff's refusal to acknowledge “Native Nation’s inherent right to self-government”.

Of course there wasn’t much going on in 2006 in Haldimand County that caused Mr. Marshall to be morally outraged to speak out. In 2007, he posted 76 stories on his website but nothing about Caledonia.

Mr. Marshall's moral argument appears to be that it is legally okay but morally wrong to protest at a person’s home. Apparently he believes that this protest was done at the mayor’s home because Natives protested at people’s home – as he says two wrongs don’t make a right. He uses examples like not protesting at a chef's home if you don’t like the food or a lawyer’s home if you don’t like the service.

What Mr. Marshall fails to understand is that I and most everyone else in Haldimand have never protested because of the actions of the Natives. If I was to protest because people commit crimes I would spend all my time in Toronto. Believe me, I didn’t travel to Caledonia from the suburbs of Toronto because Toronto ran out of criminals.

We protest because of the failure of government – the refusal to uphold the law. At least in Toronto police don’t stand around watching people attacking each other without taking action. There is lawlessness in every community. The only uniqueness of Haldimand is that it is allowed by every level of government.

When a lawyer fails to provide a service or a chef refuses to provide food that has been paid for then you simply sue the person. However, when those who made the choice to enter into public life refuse to provide service then the standard course of action is public exposure of these politicians.

It is fundamental to democracy that politicians are held publicly accountable – not true about your local chef. To quote Judge Marshall the refusal of the police to uphold the rule of law doesn’t just undermine democracy it destroys it.

Some of us get morally outraged by those who are allowing our justice system to be destroyed while others overlook such serious issues and are outraged by minor issues.