In a town that has struggled to find a strong, un-compromising voice from within its ranks to speak out against the Landclaim Terror that has victimized it for more than a year, Merlyn Kinrade, a retired member of the Royal Canadian Navy and veteran of the Korean war, has joined Chris Syrie and Bo Chausse in the annals of Caledonia history by firing a shot across the bow of the OPP’s highest cop – Julian Fantino, a shot heard across Canada.
I first heard of Merlyn Kinrade when I read his passionate letter to the Regional News in which he urged people in Caledonia to support the March for Freedom events. Being an ex-military guy myself, I couldn’t help but notice that he signed his letter, “Merlyn Kinrade, RCN, retired.”
It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, that when I asked someone in the crowd to hold my Canadian flag during my speech at the beginning of the Jan 20/07 March for Freedom event it was Merlyn who stepped forward. I remember us having a good laugh at Fantino’s antics as a helicopter flew overhead several times, the noise causing me to pause for a few minutes. We joked about how the OPP had sent out every weapon in their arsenal to stop a couple of people from putting up flags on hydro poles, and how proud Fantino must be of himself. There were tears in our eyes from laughing so hard at the absurdity of it all.
[photo above, left: Merlyn Kinrade (centre) holding Canadian flag, Jan 20/07]
Merlyn was the one who rose at the Craig Grice town hall meeting on Feb 09/07 to ask why Council had never supported our March for Freedom events. When Councillors Grice and Sloat made some silly remarks about us Merlyn wouldn’t let it go. Eventually, Grice got angy and shut down the discussion, but not before many other people in the room had made it clear they agreed with Merlyn.
Merlyn was instrumental in gathering evidence against the OPP regarding a hidden camera placed illegally in a Caledonia home, and he volunteered to present it with us at Queen’s Park on April 17/07.
Most importantly, however, Merlyn volunteered to be the first person to file a complaint under the Police Act against OPP Commissioner Fantino with respect to the commissioner’s attempts to intimidate his elected officials.
After our news conference we walked over to the office of Solicitor General Monte Kwinter where Merlyn turned in what we would later discover was the second of only three complaints [1, 2, 3] ever received about the Commissioner since Mr. Kwinter had become Minister of Community and Correctional Services.
Thanks to Merlyn Kinrade, politicians (other than Haldimand’s very own, of course) like Tim Hudak and Peter Kormos are calling for Fantino’s resignation and/or investigations. Since appearing at Queen’s Park, media across the country are writing stories about Fantino’s heavy handed tactics. They have kept Merlyn busy with interviews that are allowing the story of Caledonia to be told in a way that has never been possible before.
Yesterday, video of Merlyn at our press conference was used extensively by CHTV. He did several radio interviews including one with a station in Ottawa, and Bill Kelly of CHML. Today, he was interviewed by a Kitchener station where the announcer went out of his way to be supportive of the people of Caledonia.
Strangers have stopped Merlyn at Tim Hortons to thank him, and neighbours and friends have been calling to ask how they can help. Some even want to know how they, too, can file complaints against Fantino (we’re going to make it very easy for them!).
What a breath of fresh air Merlyn is for Caledonia.
The most intriguing thing about Merlyn Kinrade, however, is just how modest and humble he is. In fact, when I spoke with him yesterday he was more interested in telling me about how he had been calling other people to thank them for writing supportive letters to newspapers against Fantino’s antics than he was in telling me about his own media interviews. When I mentioned that I was writing a story just about him, Merlyn told me not to make him into some kind of hero that he wasn’t. “I’m just an ordinary guy serving my country, and I’m not looking for the limelight.”
I told Merlyn that he had better get used to it.
- CaledoniaWakeUpCall: FantinoGate – speech notes for news conference, complaints, evidence, links to media reports
- AM900 CHML, Bill Kelly Show, April 18/07: Merlyn Kinrade re Fantino email
- CHTV News, April 18/07: FantinoGate, includes footage of Merlyn at press conference
- Sarnia Observer, April 18/07: OPP boss’s e-mail upsets Caledonia-area politicians
- Toronto Star, April 17/07: Province to probe complaint on Fantino email
- CBC News, April 17/07: Complaint filed against OPP chief Fantino over Caledonia e-mail
- Brandon Sun, April 17/07: Caledonia resident lodging complaint against OPP commissioner over e-mail
- Many more news reports and letters to the editor at FANTINOGATE.