The eight members of the Canadian Advocates for Chartered Equality (CANACE) are free citizens after the Crown announced that they have dropped the trespassing charges against the members.
The "Caledonia 8" walked out of the courtroom on February 3 with all of the charges lifted. It was their second hearing and though most people in their position would have been relieved, Gary McHale, founder of CANACE said his feelings were a little different.
"I was hoping we would be prosecuted because that way we would get disclosure,” said McHale. “We would have gotten the videos from the OPP [and] the radio transmissions, but obviously, they knew that they weren't going to get a conviction so why hand over all of that great evidence."
McHale predicted that the Crown would drop the charges after his last rally on January 27. He said that OPP officers had told the CANACE members that they would not arrest them for walking on the same road as they did back in December.
"The prosecutor realized that the OPP illegally arrested us [on December 3]," said McHale. "It's pretty obvious that people standing on a road are not trespassing on private property."
The CANACE members announced that they would hold another rally on February 18 at 2 p.m. starting at the Lions Hall in Caledonia.
"We will walk on Surrey Street on Douglas Creek Estates because clearly now it's completely legal,” said McHale. “We will give the OPP one more time to see whether or not they will enforce the law without discrimination."
McHale said he predicts that there will be a preventive breach of peace arrest made at that rally.
"I believe that once again, the OPP will find a different tactic this time. Now it won't be trespassing. It will be something else.”
The eight defendants were facing trespassing charges after being arrested at a similar rally on December 3 where the eight members were trying to raise a Canadian flag on Douglas Creek Estates. The charges have since been dropped. The case had been a controversial one for the last couple of months and related to the six-year old land dispute and what critics call "two-tier justice".