Holocaust Education Week is almost over and Remembrance Day is upon us. It seems sad, yet telling that OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino chose this week – of all weeks – to once again publicly disparage Gary McHale for exposing and opposing the many injustices suffered by innocent people in Caledonia.
In light of the sad, ironic juxtaposition of society’s cry of ‘Never again!’ and the determination of the OPP to silence those who speak out for our fellow Canadians, as well as the strange confluence of events, people and timing that have, this week, brought words and phrases such as ‘Holocaust Education, Remembrance Day, Injustice, Duty, Fantino, McHale, and Interloper into our thoughts, I thought I’d reprint a speech I gave at the Caledonia Lions Hall on Jan 14/07 after meeting a World War II veteran bomber pilot named Jack Dancy who had rocks thrown at his home by the occupiers of the Douglas Creek Estates while the OPP watched.
I call it, “It WAS worth it, Jack.”
“It WAS worth it, Jack!”
Hello Caledonia! It’s been an interesting past few weeks, hasn’t it?
Normally, I like to speak with minimal notes, but I want to be very precise and very clear in my language today, so I would like to read from a prepared statement. I’ll do my best not to put you to sleep.
My name is Mark Vandermaas. I was born in Hamilton. At age 6 I was placed in an orphanage in Brantford. I grew up in Grimsby and also lived many years in Hamilton before moving to London 4 years ago. Today – thanks to a fight I didn’t go looking for, I am the editor of VoiceofCanada.ca. and I work virtually full time supporting Gary McHale in his fight against Two Tier Justice.
Before we listen to what I know is going to be a great presentation by Gary, I hope you’ll allow me a few minutes to explain why I came to Caledonia and continue to do so, since that seems to be a topic of great concern to your Mayor and the OPP Commissioner.
First though, I think we all owe a round of applause to the man who was the first to be arrested for trying to erect a Canadian flag, and for the man who electrified all of us this past week by standing up for his rights both as a property owner and for the Canadian flag: Bo Chausse and Chris Syrie.
When I was released from the Cayuga jail on Dec 16th the Sergeant told me that if I came back to Caledonia for more protests I’d likely be charged. I told him that I would keep coming back until the OPP enforces the law equally, so I’d probably see him again.
So…why did I come to Caledonia and why am I gladly willing to be arrested for doing so?
Gary McHale once posted a letter from Martin Luthor King Jr. on his website. It was written while he was in jail in 1963 and it explains why he went to Birmingham despite warnings from well-meaning leaders who were worried that his visit could spark violence:
“I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders” coming in. I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. I cannot stand idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
Simply put…Injustice in Caledonia is injustice in London. In Toronto. In Ipperwash.
When the Mayor of Brantford did everything he could to take away Gary McHale’s right to speak to the residents of Brantford about why he was organizing the original March for Freedom I knew I had to go to Brantford. When, in Brantford, he was viciously heckled and slandered by supporters of violence and lawlessness, I knew I had to come to Caledonia on October 15th, 2006.
After hearing two brave women, Mary Lou Lapratte and AnnMarie VanSickle describe the terror affected their daily lives I was inspired by their courage for speaking out. I was also ashamed because – after witnessing the intimidation against Gary McHale – I was publishing Voice of Canada under a pen name. I decided right there and then that if THEY could make a stand, so could I. I began to produce Voice of Canada under my real name, and I also knew that I would have to continue to come back to Caledonia
I didn’t come to Caledonia to defend Caledonians. I came to defend Canadians as I once swore to do as a member of Canada’s Armed Forces.
I will pay any price so that your children, London’s children, Toronto’s children and Ipperwash’s children can live in a province where all people are equal before the law, and where the Rule of Law is not a subject for debate.
I am willing to risk my freedom, my financial well-being and – yes – even my life in order to make Two Tier Justice a bad memory in my old age.
I recently had the honour of meeting a WWII veteran who lives in Caledonia. His name is Jack and he was a pilot in North Africa. Jack has 8 screws holding his back together. He got those screws after he crash landed a bomber that didn’t quite make it back in one piece. Jack’s best buddy lost a leg in the crash.
For more than 65 years Jack has lived with pain in his back, but he has also had to live with a horrible nightmare that doesn’t go away. One day he saw another plane on the runway that had been badly shot up, so he went over for a look at where the tail gunner sits at the back of the plane. Jack told me that being a tail gunner was the worst job on the aircraft because they were always the first to be targetted as enemy planes came up behind. The tailgunner was still sitting in his seat, but his head wasn’t there. Jack remembers he had red hair though, because he could see it on his chest. He still sees that tailgunner in his dreams today and he’s been seeing him for more than half a century.
As we talked about how the DCE thugs threw rocks at his home, how dozens of them stood in his backyard as the OPP watched and did nothing, he said something that made me angry…and it broke my heart at the same time:
“I spent 4 years in hell for Canada and now I don’t even know if the police will protect me. It wasn’t worth it.”
Well, I say that Jack’s sacrifice WAS worth it, and I say that we dishonour him when we refuse to pick up the torch from him.
OPP Commissioner Fantino has publicly ridiculed and insulted those who come to Caledonia in the name of patriotism, proudly carrying flags, determined to stand against police officers who just as determined to deny us our rights.
Your own Mayor, too, has questioned our motives despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that we are who we say we are.
Are words like DUTY, HONOUR, SACRIFICE, EQUALITY, JUSTICE and PATRIOTISM words that deserve such scorn. Is it SO very hard to understand or believe that some ordinary, overweight, average citizens are willing to put their country’s interests before their own?
I must say that I am so proud of you in Caledonia for welcoming us and resisting those who would have you waive your rights as Canadian citizens. We are making history together.
But, let me return to the question that Jack raised, “Was it worth it?”
Were his 65 years of back pain and nightmares a price worth paying for his country?
Was his lost youth equal to the cost of preserving the freedoms that criminals, politicians and the police are trying to take from us?
What do I tell a man who gave SO much for me – for us – when he silently asks what I am prepared to do so that all the freedoms he thought he was defending are not lost?
What would Julian Fantino have me tell Jack? Sorry, I can’t come to help you because I might get arrested? Sorry, I didn’t come to help because I’m not a resident of the geographical area known as Haldimand? Sorry, the commissioner might call me names? Sorry, I didn’t come because I couldn’t afford it? Sorry, Jack, I’m not going to do what I can to preserve democracy and the rule of law because the Mayor doesn’t think it’s a good idea for “outsiders” to “provoke violence.”
Martin Luthor King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham jail, addressed this very issue of ‘provoking violence’ much more eloquently than I could:
“We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.
“In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?
We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.”
In other words, we can NEVER give up our rights simply out of fear that others will be angered to the point of violence.
Still, we must be sensible. If, for example, the OPP knows that the people on the Douglas Creek Estates are SO dangerous and SO well-armed and SO volatile that hundreds of armed officers could not protect us from violence during the mere erection of a Canadian flag, then they should bring that fact to the full attention of the media, the government and the citizens of Ontario.
I have promised the Commissioner in an open letter on VoiceofCanada.ca that if he were to issue such a statement AND it included a statement explaining that he had asked for military assistance AND was refused that help, I would be the first to focus my attentions on the government(s) responsible for denying him the resources needed to restore the Rule of Law in Ontario.
Until Mr. Fantino issues such a statement however, I will continue to fight alongside Gary McHale as we – with your help – hold the Commissioner and his officers accountable for their failure to restore law and order to every area of this province.
In summary, I say to Commissioner Fantino and Mayor Trainer and every other politician in this province that 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. This I say as a citizen of Ontario and of Canada.
I made a promise to Jack the day I met him that I would pay any price – any price – asked of me to restore the rule of law and equality before that law to Ontario. I promised Jack that I will do what I can to destroy Two Tier Justice, and that losing that fight is not an option I am prepared to accept.
This I say to Jack and to you all as a former soldier and peacekeeper who believes that there are causes worth fighting for no matter what the cost may be.
Thank you for listening. =============================
Before I let Gary McHale tell about all the good things that have been accomplished so far, and where he sees this movement going I need to share a funny story with you about the day we went to jail. The OPP thought they were going to intimidate him by holding him overnight even though they knew they weren’t going to charge him.
Just to show them how wrong they were Gary took off all his clothes except for his boxers and refused to eat or sleep. After he was released I said to him that I bet the officers who had to watch him on the cell camera would have paid him 50 bucks to get dressed.
During the night the officers came several times to his cell offering him a blanket. Since he kept refusing they were forced to turn up the heat to keep him warm. I wondered why MY cell was so hot. The police were trying to intimidate Gary, but the whole time Gary was messing with THEIR minds.
It’s rare to meet someone who’s willing to lay it all on the line for what he believes in, someone who can’t be bought off or intimidated into NOT doing what he knows is right. Gary McHale is such a man and I’m proud to know him.
And – needless to say – I would be proud to go to jail with him any time and any place for this cause.
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality
- VoiceofCanada, Nov 08/07: History comes to Hamilton: “No one was left to speak for me.”
- VoiceofCanada feature: Dancer’s Courage!
- Holocaust Education Week website: www.holocausteducationweek.com
- VoiceofCanada, Jan 14/07: VoC speech in Caledonia: “It WAS worth it, Jack.”