Courage and Cowardice in Caledonia

On Monday, the day after the March for Freedom, I stood on the sidewalk opposite a London church for two hours so I could pay my respects to a brother I didn’t know. His name was Mark Wilson, and he was killed in Afghanistan. He was my brother because we were both soldiers who served with the United Nations in the service of peace.

During the past week, I have also considered the courage and cowardice I have witnessed in connection with the Caledonia/Ipperwash agony. Here are a few observations…

THE COURAGE

1. AnneMarie VanSickle 
2. Mary-Lou LaPratte

march_for_freedom_oct15-06-067.jpgThese women showed all of us who were present at the March for Freedom on October 15th the power of standing up to bullies and saying, Here I am, and I’m not going to take it anymore! No one who was there will ever forget the words of these two brave women who should serve as an inspiration to us all.

3. Toby Barrett, MPP (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant)

march_for_freedom_oct15-06-011.jpgThis leader and advocate for the people was the first speaker at the March for Freedom. He had the guts to tell it like it is, and offer a solution. As with AnneMarie and Mary-Lou, very few media outlets reported his actual remarks after the event. 

4. Participants in the March for Freedom

march_for_freedom_oct15-06-036.jpgIf you showed up for the March for Freedom on October 15, 2006 I hope your participation will be a great source of pride to you later in your life.  Despite the worst fear-mongering efforts of your police and political leaders, you had the courage to defy them and the very real possibility of violence at the hands of the Caledonia gangsters.  The reality is that none of us knew what would happen that day. Before leaving London for the march, I told my wife that if anything happened to me I wanted her to know that I was doing something that I believed in so much that I was willing to risk my life for it. The fact that so many people were frightened into staying away makes your courage more commendable.

5. Gary & Christine McHale

march_for_freedom_oct15-06-059.jpgHere are two ‘ordinary’ people who were able, with the help of some great people behind the scenes, to bring a new focus  on the evil at work in Caledonia despite ongoing death threats and intimidation at the hands of criminals and/or their supporters. The McHales have also  endured mean-spirited attacks and manipulation of the truth by the media and politicians who – with a few exceptions – seemed determined to belittle his attempts to restore equal justice for Ontarians. 

What a difference a week makes, however – the police, politicians and the media are waking up to the fact that they can no longer ignore Caledonia and hope for the best.  Watch for my upcoming post, ‘MARCH FOR FREEDOM: “Non-event” or Historical Crossroads’ for more info. In the meantime, see the following stories cited at McHale’s website  www.caledoniawakeupcall.com since the March on October 15th:

Everyone in Ontario – citizens, journalists, political leaders, and honest, law-abiding native peoples –  owe Gary McHale and his wife, Christine, a huge debt of gratitude. 

To all the people who have stood with Gary McHale in the fight against Two Tier justice, I salute you all, and I am proud to have played a small part in your success.

THE COWARDICE

1. Mark Vandermaas

print5_crw_2440_5by7.jpgI must be honest enough to place myself at the top of the list of cowards. After witnessing the intimidation of Gary McHale in Brantford (see MARCH FOR FREEDOM: the movie)  I initially decided to produce Voice of Canada under a ‘pen’ name. After watching AnneMarie and Mary-Lou at the March, however, I was both shamed and inspired into stepping out into the light and using my own name. If they could do it, I knew I could do it, too.

2. Supporters of the Caledonia criminals who know better or ought to know better

see_no_evil_woman.jpegVoC occasionally gets silly comments and criticism that conspicuously ignore the violence, destruction and intimidation used by the Caledonia gang and their supporters.  The comments from one such individual are particularly illuminating, so I’ll re-print our exchange word-for word. It’s a little long, but it says much about the truism that there are none so blind as those who will not see: 

foolswisdom : I watched the first five minutes [of MARCH FOR FREEDOM: the movie]. I found the video upsetting. I found the video lacks neutrality and therefore lacks journalistic integrity. That makes it propaganda.This blog seems poorly named to me,
Lloyd
VOC REPLY: Thanks for the comments, Lloyd.I’ve been noticing a pattern to critics of McHale, the March for Freedom, and my own writing – the critics never address the actual facts, they always speak in vague generalities. Let’s be specific, please. Are you saying that DCE was not taken illegally by force? Are you saying they didn’t assault some old people and the police and a camera crew? Are you saying that the bridge didn’t get burned down, and the hydro station wasn’t destroyed? Are you saying that local residents are lying about being terrorized by the occupiers? Please – get specific about the “first five minutes” of the movie.As for the blog [Voice of Canada] being “poorly named” I could make the same claim about the so-called “reclamation” site, a euphemism for “theft” if ever I heard one.Thanks for the comment, though. I appreciated it. Mark
foolswisdom: All those things may be true, but the language and presentation makes it appear you are fanatic in your beliefs. Without empathy in your presentation, how can I have empathy for you? Reporting does not require completeness, but it does require a balanced view (more than just one side).The inclusion of the bit on the War Measures Act is sensationalism.“poorly named”: we learn as children that someone else’s wrong does not justify our own choices.
VOC REPLY: Thanks for the followup post. As for my inclusion of the War Measures Act speech by Pierre Trudeau being “sensationalism,” it wasn’t me that stole a subdivision by force; it wasn’t me that blockaded a road; it wasn’t me that assaulted old people and police and the camera crew; it wasn’t me that said someone should put a bullet in Gary McHale’s head. Any ‘sensationalism’ in this issue was and is being created by the criminals at Douglas Creek Estates.You’re still offering generalities because – I suspect – you can’t bring yourself to just come out and say that you believe that it’s OK to use violence, destruction, vandalism, theft, intimidation and threats to get what you want. Is that what you honestly believe? Then come out and say it – stop dancing around, OK?You replied that I was “without empathy.” Did you get to hear Mary-Lou LaPratte and AnneMarie VanSickle’s speeches? What about empathy for the terror that they and their families are enduring? Why aren’t you talking about that? Do I have empathy for native peoples? Of course – that’s why I talk about ‘criminals’ instead of ‘natives’ in MARCH FOR FREEDOM, so I can try, in my own feeble way, to differentiate between organized gangsters and the average, law abiding, hard-working native peoples who reject the use of violence as a way to settle issues.As for your argument about my choice of the name, ‘Voice of Canada’, it’s noted. Now, why not focus some of your time on the actions of the masked gangsters in Caledonia who have hijacked the legitimate grievances of native peoples and brought disrepute on their cause. Thanks for writing. Mark
foolswisdom: It is absurd of you to accuse me that I believe that it’s OK to use violent means to achieve one’s goals. Nothing is farther from the truth. I do think if you reflect, there is a violence in your own presentation.
VOC REPLY: OK, ‘foolswisdom,’ I’ve given you 3 opportunities to make your point – any point. Since you say you’re against using violence to achieve one’s goals, let me repeat my earlier suggestion that you invest your time in arguing against the criminals who actually have used violence instead of trying to put words in my mouth with vague, specious arguments. Sorry, but I’m not going to go round in circles with you; my readers and I have better things to do. Mark

Virtually all negative comments I receive regarding Caledonia fall into the ‘willful blindness’ category occupied by ‘foolswisdom.’  I’m a big boy (a VERY big boy J) and I can handle legitimate disagreements with what I say or write. What I can’t handle are cowards who offer frivolous, mealy-mouthed accusations they can’t back up while  ignoring the actions of gangsters who are subverting our democracy, free speech and equal justice. 

3. Self-serving politicians who put their own ambitions ahead of the truth and the well-being of their citizens.

mcguinty77.jpegMuch has been written about McGuinty’s failures in Caledonia, and he will – hopefully – pay a heavy political price for his failure to act effectively. My greatest scorn, however, is for Caledonia’s own politicians.

One that’s just popped up is Councilor Craig Ashbaugh who, according to the Grand River Sachem (October 20/06), described the March for Freedom as an “abject failure.” The Sachem also attributes this sentiment to Mr. Ashbaugh: “ the ‘failure’ of the rally shows that common sense prevails and that should help move the negotiations forward.”  I’ve never heard of this guy before today, but all of a sudden he’s trying to bad-mouth the march and his fellow Caledonians who stood up against evil.  If Caledonia allows this guy to remain in office or even serve as the town’s dog-catcher, they deserve everything the Caledonia criminals can dish out.

4. The Ontario Provincial Police

Here’s part of what I said in ‘MARCH FOR FREEDOM: the movie 

dummies_2tierpolicing.jpeg“Some have made the argument that individual OPP officers are not to blame since they were and are only following orders from their superiors. As a former United Nations peacekeeper and member of the Canadian Forces, I was made well aware of my duty to disobey an illegal order from a superior, so I reject the ‘I was only following orders’ defence out of hand.

I do not know if ordering officers not to arrest criminals is an illegal one, but I do know that it is not one that should be obeyed by any police officer worthy of the name.   

“I spoke to an officer being paid to be in Caledonia who justified the force’s inaction by saying “We made the initial arrests but then they called in reinforcements. What are you supposed to do you do when hundreds of natives are attacking you. We’re not equipped to handle that.”  

Once the OPP rank and file knew that their superiors had no intention of enforcing the law in Caledonia, they should have resigned their positions. Instead, they chose to allow themselves to be co-opted into a pathetic role as taxpayer-funded security guards for organized criminals.  In my opinion, none of these officers should ever be allowed to wear the uniform of a Canadian police force again.”

5. Caledonians who think things will be OK if they just stay silent or hidden in the shadows.

hiding_computer.jpegI thought long and hard about writing this because I know some people are going to be angry with me, but I didn’t start VoC because I thought the world needed the dogmatic ravings of another fanatic who is unwilling to see the truth when it’s right in front of him.   

During the past 48 hours thousands of people have come to VoC to read my post called, “URGENT APPEAL FOR YOUR HELP!” in which I asked readers to contact their MP and MPP to help try to stop the curiously-timed deportation of ‘Steve X,’ who happens to be the brother of AnneMarie VanSickle.  

To be honest, I don’t know Steve X personally, and no one asked me to take up his cause. I only know what I do from the sources listed in the post, and from a couple of emails I exchanged with him in which he asked me to remove his last name from the post. He said that he was getting legal advice and didn’t want his “family being hurt in the process.”

I did as he requested, but the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me. His own sister is the one who inspired me to stand up against Two-Tier justice using my own name, even though it potentially makes me (and my wife) a target for intimidation. If you think I’m not a target because I don’t live in Caledonia, think again – the Caledonia gang supporters waste way too much time discussing me and Voice of Canada on their site. They even tried to have VoC shut down in the last couple of days, but that’s a subject for another post.

Steve X thanked me for removing his last name, and also said, “I will continue to fight for Caledonia and the people who have been terrorized by the government and the native warriors.” I then sent Steve the following (edited) reply: 

Hi Steve,Re using your name: here’s what I think:a. Your sister and an old lady had the ‘balls’ to speak in front of everyone at the march and look these thugs in the eye. Up until then, I myself was trying to use an assumed name for Voice of Canada. b. After hearing your sister speak, I was ashamed of my own cowardice. She inspired me to stand up and use my own name. If she could do it, I knew I could do it, too!

c. Gary McHale is standing up and using his own name to fight for people in Caledonia.

d. I am standing up and using my own name to fight for people in Caledonia.

e. I spent more than 8 hours yesterday working only for you – calling politicians, emailing politicians and creating the posts. Since putting that post up I have had over 2,000 hits on my site; so tell me this? What are people supposed to do – call their MP and MPP and say, “I want you to stand up in the House of Commons and tell the Prime Minister to do something about “Steve X”?

f. Your sister and Mary-Lou LaPratte are the bravest people I have ever met, and they have shown all of us that when we cower from these thugs, we make it so easy for them to target the few who DO speak out. But, when we all stand up and say, “Here we are!” we make it harder for them.

g. I’ve got to be honest with you here: you need to stand up like a man alongside your sister, and tell Canada who you are and what you believe in. I don’t think you or anyone else in Caledonia should hide in the dark while we do your fighting for you. That’s the big problem in Caledonia right now – you’re not standing together.

Unless you have a really good reason for hiding your identity that I’m not aware of,  i.e. you’re an undercover cop, or ??? you need to step out into the light – NOW.   

I hope you’ll forgive my bluntness – I hope there’s no doubt in your mind that I care. I just really don’t want to have to explain to my wife why I’m making myself (and her) a target for intimidation on behalf of a guy who won’t step up to the plate.  

If I’m out of line please tell me.

Regards,
Mark Vandermaas

 I’m not trying to pick on Steve X – he’s no different than a lot of people  in Caledonia. I know you’re afraid; I was afraid, too. But, what’s the alternative? Turn over your town and province to lawlessness and political appeasers ?

edmund_burke.jpegThe British statesman, Edmund Burke, is often credited with saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” According to contributors to Wikipedia.org, this quote is not found in his writings, and is likely a paraphrase of an actual statement that is even more on point for the people of Caledonia today:

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”  Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, April 23, 1770.

AnneMarie and Mary-Lou have shown all of us the way and – after their courage – what excuse can any of us use to remain silent or in the shadows?

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3 responses to “Courage and Cowardice in Caledonia

  1. From: Mary-Lou (moved by VoC from another post)

    Hi! Mark,
    Looks like you have had a bad weekend.
    It is difficult not to be critical when you put your heart into something you feel is important, and the recipient of that effort on your part does not wish to be known publicly. In this situation perhaps Steve XXXX has a different set of circumstances than you are aware of. Bad things happen to good people. The timing sucks. Was he targeted because of his take on the two tier justice in Caledonia. Yes, I believe he was. Does Immigration have a good reason to deport him.? It may well be they have and this is totally separate from his views on policing in Caledonia. .Perhaps his view on policing, the catalyst that started the investigation on him, provided the information that started the whole process. Sometimes we have to back off a problem to truly show the person we would like to help, that we understand. I can see that you are dedicated to the wrongs of society. I can see that you care what happened to this man at this time. I also suspect that you have a keen mind, and would know that a done deal is a done deal, and Steve XXXX needs to sort this out in his own way. We all hope it turns out well for all concerned.

    Take Care Buddy,
    We need you sharp for the next Challenge
    Respectfully Submitted
    Mary-Lou

    VoC REPLY: Thanks for the observations, Mary-Lou. Reading between the lines, I could tell you understood how anguished I was about including Steve X’s story in ‘Courage & Cowardice.’ I want to help this guy so much, I could cry; what is being done to him is outrageous.

    I’m old enough to realize that we can never understand another person’s story without walking in their shoes, and that each of us must decide for ourselves what is right for us. I also know, however, that we all sometimes need to have our conscience ‘pricked’ to remind us to weigh our actions or inactions carefully. You and AnneMarie and Gary have shown us the difference that just one man or woman can make. In the end I had to weigh the benefits of using my letter to Steve X to prod others into action against the possibility that Steve and people close to him would be offended by it. It’s not a decision that I enjoyed making, but I’d do it again.

    The other aspect to using Steve X’s story in the manner I did is that I personally felt very conflicted about him remaining anonymous in the shadows (however valid his reasons may be) while I praised his sister for her courage. I strongly believed it was a contradiction worth noting, and I wouldn’t have felt honest had I not done so. Believe me, it was tempting to just let it go, but you and I and Caledonia don’t need another propaganda machine. I believe we are all better off with the truth, even if it hurts. Thanks so much for your comments. Mark

  2. Mark………….
    Let me tell you Ann Marie is all you have said she is and so much more and like Anne Marie her brother Steve XXXX is as much a fighter as she is perhaps even more so……..He has been on the front line for all Residents of Caledonia and would give his last dime to anyone of us should we need it ………He doesn’t care what color your skin is or what Race you are if you need help he is there. One thing he does not support and will stand up and fight is Terrorism and he has been doing just that here in our town that has been taken over by Lawlessness……..

    To know him and his family is one of the greatest privileges on could ask for in their life. His reason for not putting his surname out in public are just that his personal reason’s, those that need to know exactly who he is, do. As far as calling any office to ask that they help him, all one would have to state is they are calling regarding Ann Marie’s brother.

    Did you ever think that perhaps a Lawyer informed him not to put too much personal information out there. In fact it was requested that this all be kept from the media, however some felt it was their right to ignore the request. Don’t ever say Steve X is “a guy who won’t step up to the plate” he has been on that plate since day one…Or that he is hiding “while we do your fighting for you” He has been out there every day and night fighting for every resident of this town…….Or that he needs to “you need to stand up like a man” He is more of a man then yourself or anyone in this country could ever hope to be………..Know the man and be careful how you speak in regards to him or his family………………..

    That being said Thank you all for standing up and making calls on Steve XXX’s behalf HE IS HERE TO STAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    VoC REPLY: Thanks so much for the comments, Lora. 

    1. I’ve heard, un-officially, that Steve X is staying, but I’m trying to get that verified so I can take down/update my ‘URGENT REQUEST FOR YOUR HELP.’  If it’s true, then I am truly happy for him and for his family. 

    2. I considered everything you raised in your comments at the time I wrote ‘Courage & Cowardice in Caledonia’ because they were/are valid considerations. As I said in my reply to Mary-Lou’s comment above, I almost ‘let it go.’ I think you can tell that I was more than a little conflicted. But, it was that conflict that made me realize that I would not have felt honest with myself or with my readers if I hadn’t addressed the juxtaposition of the courage of a woman against the secrecy of her brother – whatever his reasons. No matter how much one cares about the guy, it’s a glaring contradiction that I felt needed to be noted, and then used as a ‘call to action’ for other Caledonians. If Steve X really is the activist you say he is, then he will understand that if ‘Courage & Cowardice’ prompts just one more Caledonian to stand up against evil, then it will be well worth it.

    3. As for my comments to him in the email, I was speaking from the heart as someone who cared about him and about his sister, and you will also notice that I allowed for the possibility that there was a valid reason for him to remain in the shadows. He did not advise me otherwise. 

    4.  No, I do not know Steve X intimately. But, I do know that I spent many hours making phone calls and sending emails on his behalf based solely on the admiration I felt for his sister. Was I wrong to judge? Maybe. But, if I accept his ‘reasons’ then I have to accept the ‘reasons’ from everyone else in Caledonia who refuses to speak up. And, after listening to AnneMarie and Mary-Lou, I absolutely refuse to do that.  I honoured his request to remove his name, but I don’t have to like it, and I am not going to allow it to go un-noticed. AnneMarie and Mary-Lou could have come up with every excuse in the book not to speak out, but they did it anyway and inspired me to do the same. Why should I expect less of Steve X? 

    Thanks again for the comment. It gave me a chance to revisit my decision to include him in the post, and I do stand by that decision. Mark 

  3. Steve X accosted and harassed and video’d us as we walked through their subdivision. He then called ahead to others who accosted, harassed and assaulted one of us. Steve X does not understand his adopted country very well. This kind of behaviour is not acceptable. I believe he has now been made to understand. We will see.

    VoC REPLY: Thanks for writing, Saga. I’ve been having trouble editing comments with my WYSIWYG editor for the last few days; I have to edit in HTML, and it’s a real pain, so bear with me.

    I’d like to pass on a few suggestions/observations if I may:

    1. I visited your blog for a few minutes, and I have to say that it was refreshingly notable in its lack of rabid anti-whiteman, anti-Canada propaganda which is why I left your URL in the post.

    2. You said that Steve X “…called ahead to others who…assaulted one of us.” I’d be very grateful if you’d send me a copy of the police report that you made in connection with this assault; you can send it to: Voice of Canada, 210-1326 Huron Street, London, Ontario N5V 2E2.

    3. You made reference to your allegation that you were “accosted and harassed and video’d” by Steve X. Given all that’s taken place in Caledonia at the hands of the Caledonia criminals (I am NOT including you in this characterization – I accept the possibility that you were just walking along with some friends.) and given that you were in close proximity to where some anti-resident terror activities have occurred, why would you be surprised to be accosted and videotaped, especially if you were seen coming from the DCE land, if in fact that’s where you were coming from?

    Do I think it’s a great way to live? Do I think this should be happening to you or your friends? I sure don’t, but these residents didn’t just wake up one day and decide to videotape native-appearing individuals for no reason. I really don’t know what to tell you; you should be able to walk the street without being harassed, and the residents should be able to live in peace. I don’t like the idea of suggesting that you avoid their turf because that’s distasteful to me as a Canadian who is proud of our ability to live with one another.

    4. You said that, “Steve X does not understand his adopted country very well. This behaviour is not acceptable.” Your blog is notable in its complete lack of condemnation for the violence and terror activities conducted by the Caledonia criminals. On one hand, you want Canadian law to protect YOU, but you are completely silent about the rights of others (i.e. residents) to be free from the whims of violent criminals. Why is that?

    Thanks again for writing. Mark