Dear Commissioner Fantino: Sir, you owe Canadians an apology

UPDATE 0243 EST Jan 19/07: VoC is pleased to report that excerpts from this story have been posted – with permission – by Elliot Lake News & Views on Jan 17/07 in a story called, “O.P.P. Commissioner Needs to Explain Himself.” They also included a link to, “13 Reasons why you need to be in Caledonia, Ontario on January 20/07.  Thanks for the help, ELN&V! We appreciate it.   
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mark_vandermaas_62×88px_b-w.gifThe following is an open letter from VoiceofCanada.ca to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner, Julian Fantino, requesting an apology for his insulting remarks to all those Canadians who have come – peacefully – to the defence of the citizens of Caledonia. 

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Mr. Julian Fantino, Commissioner
Ontario Provincial Police
Lincoln M. Alexander Building
777 Memorial Avenue
Orillia, Ontario L3V 7V3

Dear Commissioner Fantino:

During the past few days you have made a number of statements regarding the activities of people from outside Caledonia.  While you have only mentioned Mr. Gary McHale by name it is clear from the context of your comments that you are including me in your accusations since I was arrested with Mr. McHale on December 16/06 and have actively supported his efforts through VoiceofCanada.ca.

It is also my belief that your comments are insulting to every other Canadian who chooses to peacefully protest with us. It is my wish to draw attention to the inaccuracies contained in your comments, and give you the opportunity to apologize for them.

YOUR COMMENTS:

On or about January 08, 2007, you made the following remarks during a conversation with Jamie West on 900 CHML radio:

1. “People coming into the community to stir things up are not helpful.”

“We’re trying to keep people from escalating the situation into what some people wish it would become – a violent confrontation.”

2. “We’ve incurred a great deal of added impact on our resources when we have people coming into the community to basically stir things up. That’s very unhelpful. It’s caused a great deal of added anxiety about the potential escalation of the situation while we’re trying to keep things peaceful and allow these people to negotiate.”

Jamie West: “Should anyone be arrested for putting up a Canadian flag?

3. “I don’t want to get into the merits of discretionary authority given to and used by our police officers. They were quite well empowered to prevent a breach of the peace or anything that in fact was escalating potential violence.”

Today, January 10/07, you are quoted as making the following statements in an interview with Marissa Nelson of the Hamilton Spectator called ‘Five questions for Julian Fantino’:

Marissa Nelson: “What about Gary McHale’s plan to hold a protest in Caledonia and what are you doing to prepare for Jan. 20?

4. “It is totally unhelpful. It’s agitating the community. It’s creating the potential for confrontation and violence. It’s totally unnecessary and unhelpful and what makes me very suspicious is that it’s done in the shroud of the Canadian flag and support for our men and women in the Canadian military – the whole notion of patriotism…

5. “People have to see it for what this is – it’s mischief-making and there’s another agenda here. We’ve been the target of this nonsense, just as the community has… The right to demonstrate peace-fully is not a problem. The right to incite a breach of the peace or spew hate and commit offences, that’s not a right, it’s an abuse of your rights… It’s like entering a darkened room where there’s a gas leak and looking for it with a match.”

REBUTTAL TO YOUR COMMENTS:

Comment 1: “some people wish it would become – a violent confrontation”

Do you have any evidence whatsoever that either Gary McHale and I wish that Caledonia would become a violent confrontation? Nothing is further from the truth, and you would know that if you took even a few minutes to read any of the numerous postings on VoiceofCanada.ca and CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com. Both of us have repeatedly called for a return to the Rule of Law, and our protests have been peaceful.

I would appreciate very much if you would provide any evidence you have to the contrary.

Comment 2: “added impact on our resources when we have people coming into the community to basically stir things up”

I did not come to Caledonia to ‘stir things up’ – I came to defend the Rule of Law and equality before that law, and – in the absence of evidence to the contrary – you have no reason to impugn my motives.

It was not Gary McHale and me who made the decision to pay hundreds of officers to guard a hydro pole against law abiding citizens who wanted only to erect a Canadian flag. That decision was yours. The added expenses incurred to the taxpayers as a result of lawful protests cannot be blamed on us, and I believe that it is highly inappropriate that you should do so – especially in public.

Comment 3: “They [OPP officers] were quite well empowered to prevent a breach of the peace or anything that in fact was escalating potential violence.”

lady_justice-350px.jpgThe Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that citizens have the right to place objects on hydro poles. I refer you to Ramsden v. Peterborough (City), [1993] 2 S.C.R. 1084. The court agreed with the argument that stopping someone from placing objects on hydro poles infringes on person’s guaranteed freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights.

girls-with-guts.jpgIf, according to the Supreme Court, erecting a flag on a hydro pole is within our rights as citizens, then you and your officers are not justified in arresting us because we are not attempting to breach the peace. In short, if the activity is legal there can be no potential breach of the peace. [photo by Jeff Parkinson: “Girls With Guts”]

As the Commissioner of a police force actively arresting peaceful citizens for trying to erect Canadian flags on utility poles, you knew or ought to have known about this decision prior to making your comments.

Instead of vilifying law abiding citizens and denying them their Charter rights, I would expect you to defend those rights, and protect citizens who choose to exercise them.

Comment 4 (part 1): Re McHale’s planned protest on January 20/07 – “It is totally unhelpful. It’s agitating the community. It’s creating the potential for confrontation and violence.”

garbag1.jpeMr. Fantino, it was not Gary McHale or Mark Vandermaas who used force to occupy land that was deeded to another citizen; assault your officers; destroy a power station; burn down a bridge; dig up and/or block highways (while your officers watched!); assault old people; assault a camera crew; destroy a resident’s home and paint ‘RACIST GO HOME’ on the walls, etc. [Reader’s note: click on the photo to enlarge – you can see what appears to be an OPP car at the far end of the bridge.]

openroad.jpgYou have no reason to believe that we were involved in those activities, just as you know or ought to know that we have never encouraged violence in Caledonia. Your statements imply otherwise. They also imply that any violence that does arise – no matter who commits it – will be my/our fault. I believe it is outrageous for the leader of a law enforcement agency to imply such a thing about law abiding people who have engaged in peaceful protest. I will not give up my rights simply because you refuse to defend them, or because you are unable or unwilling to protect me from those who would harm me as I exercise them.

patrol1.jpeI would ask that you provide any evidence you have that we are promoting, encouraging or provoking violence in Caledonia. If there are violent criminals on the occupied Douglas Creek Estates that are so dangerous and so well-armed and so volatile that hundreds of your armed officers could not protect us and/or the citizens of Caledonia from violence during the erection of a Canadian flag then I urge you to bring that fact to the attention of the media, the warrior2.jpggovernment and the citizens of this province.

I promise you, Commissioner, that if you were to issue such a statement AND it included a statement explaining that you had asked for ‘aid to a civil power’ from the military AND were refused that help, I will be the first to focus my attentions on the warrior3.jpggovernment(s) responsible for denying you the resources needed. Until you issue such a statement, however, it is you and your officers who must be held accountable for not enforcing the law equally despite your Oath to do so.

Comment 4 (part 2): It’s totally unnecessary and unhelpful and what makes me very suspicious is that it’s done in the shroud of the Canadian flag and support for our men and women in the Canadian military – the whole notion of patriotism…”

You knew or ought to have known at the time you made this remark that Gary McHale and I have never called for people to protest in order to support our military. Other people inside Caledonia may have done so, but we have not. I would ask that you provide any evidence you have to the contrary.

Gary McHale and I have – indeed – made known that our patriotism and duty to our fellow citizens are the reasons we protest in Caledonia in order to defend the values the flag represents. It is our right to do so, and I find it distressing that you find it necessary to publicly question our motives in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.

Comment 5 (part 1): “People have to see it for what this is – it’s mischief-making and there’s another agenda here. We’ve been the target of this nonsense, just as the community has… The right to demonstrate peace-fully is not a problem.”

What evidence do you have that Mr. McHale or I have been ‘mischief making?’ I would ask that you please provide any evidence you have that I/we have ‘another agenda’ and explain exactly what you believe that agenda is.

You know or ought to know that since Mr. McHale began organizing his March for Freedom events there has not been a single violent incident in connection with those protests. Since his demonstrations have been peaceful, why are you implying otherwise in light of your observation that demonstrating peacefully “is not a problem”?

Comment 5 (part 2): “The right to incite a breach of the peace or spew hate and commit offences, that’s not a right, it’s an abuse of your rights… It’s like entering a darkened room where there’s a gas leak and looking for it with a match.”

As noted earlier, the placing of objects on a public utility pole is a right upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. Therefore, inviting other citizens to erect a flag on such a pole cannot be a potential Breach of the Peace because the act is not illegal.

nazi.jpeWhat evidence do you have that Gary McHale or I have been ‘spewing hate’ and ‘committing offences?’ Your comments are disgusting in their inaccuracy and show a reckless disregard for the truth. Hate has definitely been ‘spewed’ and offences have been committed, but not by us. [reader’s note: photo is of a Caledonia resident’s home vandalized by cowards in the night. For the record – it was not done by Gary McHale or Mark Vandermaas.]

What evidence do you have that Gary McHale or I have been abusing anyone’s rights?

With respect to your ‘gas leak’ analogy: as noted above in Comment 4 (Part 1), if there is a “gas leak” in Caledonia, then I suggest you tell the media and the citizens of Ontario who it was that opened the gas valve and the danger they pose to law abiding citizens and your officers instead of slandering Gary McHale and the people who support him in his peaceful protests.

SUMMARY:

You must be surely aware that in the week following our arrests, editorials from the St. Catharines Standard (Dec 19/06) and the Toronto Star (Dec 21/06) were quoted by John Tory in the Ontario Legislature. These editorials have utterly and completely vindicated our consistent position that Two Tier Justice exists in Ontario and that the Rule of Law needs to be restored. These editorials say, in part:

“There cannot be different classes of law for different classes of people. That undermines the very equality that we strive for and cherish in Canada. The rule of law is paramount in Canada’s society and must be upheld.”

How is it that you feel justified in making spurious allegations against the motives of Gary McHale, myself and others on January 8-10 when the leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario and two of the largest newspapers in the Golden Horseshoe have clearly, forcefully and publicly vindicated our position just two weeks before?

May I also remind you that MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant) appeared as a guest speaker at the original March for Freedom that took place October 15/06, and was present when Quinton (Bo) Chausse was arrested for trying to erect a Canadian flag. When you insult me/us with your comments you insult him, too.   

I find it distressing that you have – in my opinion – resorted to defaming loyal and – yes – patriotic citizens who are prepared to defend Canadian values in order to deflect attention from your refusal to offer a straight-forward explanation for the Two Tier Justice system your organization has perpetrated upon the people of Caledonia and Ipperwash.

Mr. Fantino, you owe me, Gary McHale and every other Canadian citizen who came to Caledonia in defence of equality and the Rule of Law a sincere and public apology for your comments.

I look forward to meeting you and your officers again on January 20th when I – once again – try to exercise my constitutional right to erect a Canadian flag on a Canadian hydro pole. In the meantime, I look forward to your apology, and I will be delighted to publish it or any other comments you may wish to offer within this post. My email address is below for your convenience.

Yours truly,

Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Voice of Canada
Box 210-1326 Huron Street
London, Ontario N5V 2E2
info@voiceoflondon.ca

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7 responses to “Dear Commissioner Fantino: Sir, you owe Canadians an apology

  1. Bravo Mark,
    Perhaps Fantino is not too warped to appreciate a class act. When he reads your precise, to the point, letter of condemnation of his tactics in the public eye, I hope he thinks carefully and wisely about how to clean this mess up. If he continues his bucal diarrhea , it will be very difficult to give an interview with both feet in his mouth.

    Mary-Lou

    VoC REPLY: Hi Mary-Lou! It’s an honour to have you submit the first comment. I confess, I had to look up the word ‘bucal’ on http://www.dictionary.com Thanks for increasing my word power in addition to providing your endorsement. I was very hopeful when Mr. Fantino was named as the OPP Commissioner, but that hope is all gone now. I can’t understand how the leader of Ontario’s police force could be so foolish as to reduce himself to ridiculous and unfounded name calling – what a pathetic level to sink to when we have such serious problems with the real criminals.

    You know, Dr. Phil says the first step to solving a problem is to admit you’ve got one. Commissioner Fantino needs to step up to the plate, admit what his organization is doing isn’t working and do whatever it takes to fix it. That’s what a leader does. Our Commissioner needs to learn who is real enemies are, and it’s not us! Thanks again, ML. Mark

  2. Julian Fantino is a puppet for the Ontario government, and I think that one of the conditions of his new position was to “tolerate native terrorism”. I think it’s time to bring in the armed forces and clean up this mess.

    VoC REPLY: Thanks again for writing, John. You could be right – Gary McHale’s theory is that he was put into the job to take the heat off the provincial government; watch for his editorial just as soon as he catches up on all the breaking news in Caledonia today. If nothing else, Julian Fantino’s spectacular PR failures reveal just how badly off the OPP is with respect to leadership.

    For the armed forces to be called in the OPP and the government would have to admit that they have failed in both Ipperwash and in Caledonia, something that seems patently obvious to everyone but the people we have entrusted with the authority to protect us. They’re not quite ready to do that yet, but stay tuned. There’s a saying I once heard about Canadian soldiers: “We don’t start fights. We finish them.” I was a Canadian soldier – I will do whatever I can to help win this fight no matter what the cost. Thanks for writing and for your support – hope to see you on Jan 20th. Mark

    P.S. I hope you’re following today’s amazing developments at http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com!

  3. John Diefenbaker once said, “You can’t stand up for Canada with a banana for a backbone.”

    Standing up requires courage and a commitment to a long term goal. Nothing of any value is won in a short race nor can you build a house unless you start brick by brick. True courage is tested over time and only those who are willing to pay the price should start on the journey.

    Thank you for your work and your friendship and I look forward to finishing the race with you.

    Gary McHale

    p.s. feel free to correct for spelling and grammar.

    VoC REPLY:
    1. It is I who should be thanking you for allowing me to fight alongside you.

    2. If you read my just-finished post, “Courage in Caledonia has a name: Chris Syrie,” you will see a sub-title called, “That tiny bit of light you see at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train coming!” Gary, we will finish this race and we will win!!! Of that I have no doubt.

    3. Allow me to paraphrase AnnMarie here: Du ye tink dat Dalton Mergindy fella has a banana fer a backbone? Oderwise, how cud he stand widout a spine?

    Mark

    P.S. There were ZERO typos which makes me wonder – who REALLY wrote this? Who are you and why are you trying to impersonate Gary McHale? Heck, I don’t really care – I’m going to put in a couple of typos just to make it look good! 🙂

    Sorry, but I just have to close with my favourite Shakespearean quote. It’s the ‘extended play’ version just for you:

    The scene: King Henry is telling his cousin, Westmoreland, not to worry about those who are afraid to fight, and how people will remember what they did in the battle to come:

    …proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.

    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say, ‘Tomorow is Saint Crispian:’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    and say ‘These wounds I had on Crispins’s day.’

    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember with advantages
    What feats he did that day; then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words,
    Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
    Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.

    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    King Henry the Fifth, Act IV, Scene III

  4. Fantino dances to Dolton’s chin music. It’s obvious in these controlled media interviews he does not speak for himself as Ontario’s top cop or as the head of the provincial policing function but as a political officer representing the policies of the political regime that sits in Queen’s Park.

    He has openly admitted that he enforces policy not the rule of law.

    He has openly stated that principled. charter protected civil protest is “mischief-making”…big Freudian slip… to Fantino Democracy and free speech is a messy affair to those who have a police state authoritarian mentality….to bad all the gooning of the police state brass is directed at those least likely to be violent or criminal….he has a bad case of civil dyslexia.

    He has also openly stated that the police are so afraid of “violence” in the equal enforcement of the law that they are willing to compromise the impartiality/equity of the rule of law and the safety of the public to obey a political policy dictated by his boss in Toronto…who is he more afraid of the guy signing his paycheck or violent native law breakers (He is essentially the head chicken clucking over a gaggle of uniformed chickens who will do anything to avoid confronting criminal native violence).

    I also note his reason and logic are impaired if he believes he has “kept the peace”….the fact is, as long as violence-prone people are allowed to congregate/concentrate on the DCE ( and come and go as they please) in close proximity to non violent resident citizens the potential for violence is 1000 times more likely than if the protesters were removed and prevented from congregating on the DCE site….it is these protesters that should have been told to take the protest to Queens park.

    Had he upheld the bench order to clear DCE and keep it clear the potential for violence would be disbursed…..not concentrated right where it can do the most damage.

    I don’t want to be too hard on Fantino as he really was given an impossible job in a no win political situation…failure was assured by agreeing to follow political policy from a regime which refuses to adopt the proper resolution demanded by law.

    Then again, he must have known this and took the job for the lucrative pay….I just think it’s unmanly to resort to the “I’m just trying to do my job and everyone keeps picking on me.” saw. I think he’s being adequately compensated for being Dolton’s designated punching bag for this unneccessary mess.

    I feel no security with constabulary poltroons providing such politically compromised protection of communities that border reserves where 6 nations organized crime calls the shots.

    VoC REPLY: Hi WL! Your first paragraph says it all, I think. It does seem as Fantino has been set up to take the heat off the government. Good point about the DCE criminals going to Queen’s Park – let them try to take that land by force! I’m pretty sure the OPP and the politicians would do something to protect the politicians. If you want to talk about “politically compromised protection of communities” wait till you read a document I have in my possession – sorry, can’t explain more – additional research is ongoing. It’ll make your jaw drop as it did mine! Regards, Mark

  5. Maybe if other Canadians had to daily look at Mohawk flags waving in the breeze, they would understand the need to raise the Canadian flag.

    How can anyone, especially the Police Commissioner, know or understand how many in Caledonia feel. He does not live here, when he came to town it was a secreted visit. Why? I find it amazing that people we don’t know, or haven’t met, knows what we are thinking or what our motivations are.

    VoC REPLY: Hi Donna. I don’t know you personally, but I’ve heard your name mentioned by others who have a lot of respect for you. Thanks for taking time to write.

    I share your frustration with people who would rather call you names than take time to understand what you are saying. I expect that sort of thing from the thugs who have terrorized your town, but not from an OPP police commissioner. It is – indeed – truly amazing that people I’ve never met or Gary’s never met are so willing to believe the worst about us even though they have no evidence to back up their opinions.

    Things are changing, however; I was on the 49 Parallel forum for the first time in many months, and people are now starting to realize that everything Gary McHale has said or done was right after all.

    I believe that everything changed on December 19-21/06 when the Toronto Star and the St. Catharines Standard published those great editorials that were quoted by John Tory. It may have not changed on the ground yet, but it will. Chris Syrie’s emergence as a leader inside Caledonia is just what we have all been hoping for. My post about him facing down the creep who threw his flag on the ground was read 584 times today!

    Donna, even though I’ve been involved in this fight as an ‘outsider’ for a while I’m only just beginning to understand how it feels to be totally abandoned by your police, to feel helpless, fearful and alone in the face of real evil. I promise you that – with the help of Caledonians – Gary and I will continue to do everything we can to destroy Two Tier Justice in Ontario so you can feel safe once again. I promise you, as I recently did to a WWII vet named Jack, we will not lose this fight no matter what the cost. If you’ve been reading CWUC, you know that Gary’s said that he’s willing to go to jail again if necessary, and I will go with him. Even better, we have others who have volunteered to be arrested with us on January 20th. We even have a lawyer who’s volunteered to file lawsuits on behalf of everyone who gets arrested!

    Take heart, good lady! The battles continue, but the outcome of the war is not in doubt.

    Thanks again for writing. Visit again, OK? FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  6. Thanks Mark, and also to you Gary.

    You guys rock, to stand up for us when no one else will is just great. I can’t even stand up for myself for fear of retaliation against my family. I’m in the unfortunate position of not being home all the time and therefore can’t speak out in opposition of this injustice. Both you and Gary, thank you for standing up to this injustice brought on by the (G)overnment. Sorry Gary, I couldn’t bring myself to capitalize that word properly! This (G)overnment has failed.

    VoC REPLY: Wow, ‘BeothucVSA’! Thanks so much for the vote of confidence. It means a lot to Gary and me and our wives who have to live with the stress. I’ve forwarded your comment to Gary & Christine, and I’m going to quote parts of it in my ‘testimonials’ section on the right sidebar (below the photo of Toby Barrett).

    You know, it sounds like such a small thing to do, to write a note like yours, but it can make a big difference. I was just interviewed by the London Free Press and I happened to have your comment in front of me when he asked what reaction I was getting. Cool, huh?

    I think this country is in great danger when you do not feel safe to exercise your right to free speech because you are so afraid of intimidation by thugs. Let me tell you what I told the LFP reporter: I will risk my freedom, my financial well-being and even my life to help restore the rule of law and equality before that law. This fight NEVER ends until Two Tier Justice is a memory.

    Thanks for writing! Be safe and…FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  7. David Hartless

    Good-day Mark,

    I have to commend you on your writing, very direct, effective and from the heart.

    To be devils advocate a little, I do believe that Fantino is not getting the truth or a very watered down version of it from his on the ground commanders as such he is basing his comments/actions on that information. With that said, Fantino is not a stupid man and he should be able to see through the “bovine fecal matter” that is being piled upon Caledonia and what happens here.

    My suggestion to all of your readers and those of Gary McHale and any resident of Ipperwash, Caledonia, Deseronto and where ever the next place in Ontario is… hold them to accountability. File your complaints (articulate clearly what the complaint is) with OCCOPS. Force the OPP to account for their failure to abide by the provisions of the Police Services Act, describe through legitimate example each failure and directly relate it to yourself and those members of your family. Include the fact that the normal proceedure is to complain to the police service about the conduct of the officer(s) however, when the problem is the organization itself the only re-course is to go directly to OCCOPS to file your complaint .

    A complaint to OCCOPS cannot be avoided by anyone or any police service, it must be responded to directly within a very short timeline. OCCOPS is a civilian oversight body, they hold no affiliation to any police service and should therefore be considered completely impartial.

    Mark if you and those of us who are also effected by what has, is and (until stopped) will continue to go on here and other locations of similiar discord, if you want answers and accountability and a change for the better then this will be your forum, OCCOPS will be how you accomplish it.

    David Hartless
    Caledonia

    Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services
    25 Grosvenor Street
    1st Floor
    Toronto, Ontario
    M7A 1Y6

    VoC REPLY: Dear Dave. Thank you for your kind words, and thank you even more for the wise advice. I have most certainly heard your name mentioned and I am pleased to have you write. I won’t say any more about your credentials other than to tell my readers that you are well-qualified to provide advice on the topic of police complaints.

    I’m going to create a separate page with a link at the top of VoC so people can find this info more readily.

    In the next few days lawyer, John Findlay, will be serving notices of small claims court actions on the OPP on behalf of Gary and I and Bo Chausse (I think). Thank you so much for helping us open up a NEW front in the war on Two Tier Justice!

    Warmest regards, MarkFREE IPPERDONIA!