When I get the chance, I enjoy watching the Dr. Phil show on television. During a recent episode his wife, Robin McGraw, talked about a childhood incident during which her mother stood at the door of the family’s home and refused to let men in their house who had come to collect all the furniture – including the children’s beds – as payment for one of her father’s gambling debts. She said her mother’s determination to protect them that night taught her a valuable lesson about the strength of a woman.
Robin’s observation struck a strong chord with me as I have thought for some time now about writing a post or series of posts to honour the courageous women I have met or observed or corresponded with during the struggle to restore the Rule of Law and Equal Justice in Ontario. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that the two most powerful and moving speakers at the original March for Freedom back on October 15, 2006 were women.
Below is a letter sent to VoiceofCanada, CaledoniaWakeUpCall and various Haldimand-area media outlets by a Caledonia resident named Lisa Parent who asked that it be published under her own name. The Grand River Sachem has already done so. Lisa’s willingness to step forward – in a town where some residents are afraid to call 911 for fear of retaliation by criminals – confirmed for me that now was the time to use examples of ‘the strength of a woman’ to help inspire the people of Caledonia to step forward and take back their town from evil, apathy and indecisive leadership.
One day I expect to write a book about this struggle. There will be one (long) chapter entitled, ‘The Strength of a Woman,’ and it will tell the stories of how ‘ordinary’ women like Lisa Parent, Anne Marie VanSickle, Mary-Lou LaPratte, Donna Reid, Christine McHale, Beth Hutchison, Debbie Vandermaas and others yet to come, both shamed and inspired people, including me, to stand strong against the greatest threat to Canadian democracy since the Second World War.
These women – each in their own way – carry an unfair burden on behalf of Caledonia, Ontario and Canada as reluctant volunteers in a struggle they didn’t want, but chose not to back away from. Some showed courage by speaking to their town in public; others expose themselves to intimidation simply by choosing to write publicly using their own name; still others provide vital support behind the scenes, support that allows people like Gary McHale and me to keep our promise to do what we can to destroy Two Tier Justice in Ontario.
[The women mentioned above have all appeared in public or have written to VoiceofCanada using their real names. If you know of a woman who should be honoured for their courage in fighting Two Tier Justice please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – don’t worry, if they haven’t been publicly identified, I won’t do so without their permission.]
The photo below, right, is of Lisa being shoved across the road by an OPP officer during the December 16/06 March for Freedom during which two Canadians were arrested for trying to raise a Canadian flag. As you can see, she didn’t go willingly. Lisa Parent has definitely earned the right to be heard.
Lisa Parent’s letter (VoC editorial follows)
Feb. 12, 2007
I attended the Town Hall meeting on Friday February 9, 2007 along with 200 of your friends and neighbors.
The one thing the occupation of Douglas Creek Estates has done for the town of Caledonia is bring to forefront just how divided this town has become. I heard comments on Friday about those who are against Gary McHale, those who are for Gary McHale, those that won’t come out to meetings because they don’t care; those that won’t join their friends in protest since DCE is not their problem as they live on the other side of town. I’m not sure most people in this town have noticed but to get from west to east and north to south in this town it takes about 5 minutes.
Everything that happens in the town of Caledonia affects everyone in the town. Not one of us is immune to what is going on at DCE. When the Councillor calls a Town Hall meeting to discuss the situation surrounding DCE it would be my expectation that everyone gets off the couch and makes the 5 minute trip to the meeting.
If you don’t wake up soon you will find the Federal and Provincial Governments have gambled away your town out from under your very noses.
- About 3,000 new homes will not be built in this town because of the occupation. That’s taxes we all will have to bear unless we can get financial relief. The Province of Saskatchewan did receive Federal relief for lost realty and school tax base.
- The OPP contract is quite vague in the area of downloading costs to the County even though the Council claims it has an iron clad letter. If council is wrong we could face a bill of at least $20 Million. That’s what happened to Ipperwash.
- The OPP apply different policing rules in Caledonia than they do in the rest of Haldimand because of DCE – ask the Haldimand OPP Commander.
- Businesses are beginning to close in your community. That’s what happened in Ipperwash. If you had been at the meeting on February 9, 2007 you would have been able to sign a Toby Barrett petition against closing the MTO office in Caledonia.
- Your neighbors bordering DCE have been subjected to enormous stress for 9 months some of whom don’t have any policing. What are you doing to help them?
- Others have been subjected to Two Tier Justice and yet others have been physically assaulted. I have never seen one locally organized demonstration against the OPP for this travesty of justice. [see also, “Courage in Caledonia has a name: Chris Syrie“]
- You lost your electricity in May for 3 days and your roads were blocked for weeks and most of you sat and did nothing. Don’t complain if you don’t get involved.
- Dana’s house was broken into and nothing has been done by the OPP. When I was there that Sunday only a handful of you bothered to show up to support her.
- Chris Syrie had a native enter his property and remove his Canadian flags in front of the OPP. The OPP let the native leave without charges. There was a gathering on Chris Syrie’s property on January 20 and only a handful of you were there to support him.
I for one am ashamed that an outsider, a fellow Canadian, has put his own life on hold for months now to try and bring attention to the fact that your police force is not providing you with balanced policing while the majority of the people in this town hide in their homes.
Two Tier Justice does exist in this town. Your council has said it, Toby Barrett has said it, John Tory has said it, some OPP officers have said it. All 10,000 of you need to say NO to this injustice. Everyone in this town needs to demand that the Aboriginal Response Team (ART) and Major Events Liaison Team (MELT) are removed from this town immediately.
I heard on Friday that this is a Caledonia issue and it should be Caledonians that stand up for their town. What Caledonians? Who has called for a rally lately? Who stands up for the town? The Council made the statement that it should be Caledonians that stand up for their town yet they didn’t offer to have a rally. There are only about 300 people in a town of about 10,000 that have taken the time to stand up for their town.
Without the help of fellow Canadians this town would already be another Ipperwash. How many of you have taken the time to understand Ipperwash, a veritable ghost town as a result of Federal and Provincial inaction? Most of you don’t deserve the help that other Canadians have tried to give you. You deserve everything you get from the natives, the Province and the Federal government if you don’t get up and get involved.
If you’re waiting for those of your community that have joined the secret society of the Provincial and Federal Governments through non-disclosure agreements to stand up for you then you may wait a very long time. Every person in this town should refuse to succumb to the Provincial pressure for non-disclosure. Every resident of this town should refuse to join the secret society to the detriment of those that are left out.
You may be insulted by this letter but someone needs to say it, someone needs to slap you to wake you up. Your town needs you; your friends’ need you so stop hiding in your comfortable homes. They need you to do something positive to help your town deal with this stressful and shameful situation.
We need peaceful public displays of dissatisfaction aimed at everyone who holds us all hostages. Those include the native occupiers, the Province, the Federal Government, and the OPP and yes your own Haldimand County Council through their inaction. Toby Barrett suggested on Friday that we get organized, invite the media and start protesting as a community at his office and Diane Finley’s office in Simcoe, at offices of other Provincial politicians in surrounding communities such as Hamilton, Niagara, etc.Get out and get involved. Your future depends on it.
On October 15, 2006 two brave women stood in front of a crowd of 2,000 people to eloquently describe the terrors they and their families have faced in both Ipperwash and in Caledonia, and to demand action from their politicians. Both knew that they could become targets for the criminals who have plagued their respective towns, but they spoke anyway – for the good of their fellow citizens, for the good of their town and for their country.
I was there that day. I had begun posting my thoughts at VoiceofCanada as a way to support Gary McHale in his fight against Two Tier Justice, but given that McHale had already received threats against his life, I had taken measures to hide my identity. I was calling myself ‘Mark Allan Whitbread,’ the name I had before I was adopted at the age of six.
That all changed the day I watched two of the bravest human beings I have ever met stand up to evil for all of us to see. I was ashamed of myself for trying to hide my identity, and I remember thinking, “If they can do it, I can do it, too.” So, I walked into the light where they were and have never looked back.
Thanks in large part to two women in Caledonia I discovered my true calling in life as an activist for people seeking justice. With the extraordinary support of my wife, Debbie, I do whatever I can to support Gary McHale in his efforts to restore the Rule of Law and Equality to Caledonia. We try to speak for those who are afraid, but we do not do it alone, nor can we do it alone.
Our civil rights are being suspended at the whim of a corrupt police force trying to appease criminals using a bogus land claim to acquire money and/or power for themselves. Innocent people are being arrested in Caledonia simply for trying to exercise rights guaranteed by the Supreme Court of Canada (click on photo). Lawbreakers are blatantly allowed to escape justice because of their race/ancestry. Your politicians are allowing themselves to be rendered impotent by the provincial government through the use of secret meetings and non-disclosure agreements. Canadian citizens are being slandered and libelled and turned against one another in a concerted effort to prevent resistance to Two Tier Justice.
Others in Caledonia and Ipperwash and every other city in Ontario must begin to speak out, to join us in a struggle we cannot afford to lose. Our democracy is at stake, and we need your help.
Two thousand came out to march in Caledonia on October 15, 2006 for the first March for Freedom. Where are your voices today? Did you really believe that one march, one event would change everything overnight? Did you really think that your police and your politicians were suddenly going to admit that what they did in Ipperwash was wrong, that appeasing the DCE terrorists in Caledonia was wrong? They will never admit their mistakes and restore your rights until you force them to do so, until thousands of you take up Toby Barrett’s call to make their lives miserable with direct, non-violent protests all over Ontario.
Will you answer the call of Lisa Parent? Will you stand with her? With us? Will you speak out for your town, for your province, for your country, for the fellow Canadian ‘outsiders’ trying to help you? Will you write a letter to the editor of a newspaper or a website? Call a politician? Invite a guest speaker? Attend a workshop? Organize a car-pool to another town for a protest? Donate a few dollars? What price will you pay so that your children can grow up in a country where all citizens are equal before the law?
Will you live your lives in silent fear, and give evil a chance to take permanent root in your town, or will you choose to summon ‘the strength of a woman’ to defend your children and those of your neighbours from those who would take away their rights as Canadian citizens? It’s your choice.