UPDATED Jan 29/10
UPDATE 1425 Dec 08/07: The Managing Editor of the Brantford Expositor has accepted my offer to reprint the entire disputed editorial on VoiceofCanada in place of the short excerpt quoted in the original version of this article.
UPDATE 1720 EST Dec 07/07: Brantford Expositor responds. See Brantford Expositor: “at no time do we condone violence”
Since last Saturday’s events, we have been busy reviewing evidence, and preparing for yesterday’s news conference at the Queen’s Park Media Studio which was attended by MPP Toby Barrett, Haldimand’s new CAO, Don Boyle (thank you for coming!) and at least one OPP officer. You can find complete coverage at CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com.
Hamilton Spectator, CHTV assist in vilifying Gary McHale
On November 09, 2007 the Hamilton Spectator published a complete transcript of Susan Clairmont’s interview with OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino in which he accused “McHale and company” of – among many other things – wanting civil war, violence and a Pakistani-style dictatorship. So far, we have written a total of 5 letters to the Spectator, including to Editor-in-Chief David Estok, asking that we be allowed to respond to Fantino’s irrational accusations, and to meet with them to help them understand the truth. So far, the Spectator has not given us the courtesy of a response.
On November 25, 2007 CHTV aired a viewer comment in response to a previous day’s interview. The viewer was allowed to call McHale a “loser” and say that the citizens of Caledonia should “kick this piece of garbage to the curb…”
Multiple assaults on McHale by swarm of smokeshop thugs
On Saturday, December 01, 2007 native thugs viciously attacked McHale twice in separate, completely unprovoked attacks, sending him to the hospital. The first attack was instigated by a native woman who pushed McHale and then filed a false assault complaint against him. A native man then used the imaginary ‘assault’ as an excuse to punch McHale several times in the head from behind. Fortunately, the set-up was caught on videotape which clearly shows the woman coming up to McHale and yelling “Don’t fuckin’ push me” before SHE pushes HIM!
Approximately 20-30 minutes later Clyde Powless – ringleader of the landclaim lawlessness that has plagued Caledonia for almost two years – incited a group of natives to join him in attacking McHale . He, along with another man and a woman, attacked McHale and nearby police officers in another unprovoked attack. As the attack is going on natives can be heard screaming, “Kill him! Kill him!” This second assault put McHale in the hospital. His glasses were knocked off; his face was badly bruised from punches to the face; he was kicked in the ribs; and his foot stomped so badly that his shoe had a large blood stain on the top.
Video: Assault #1, Part 1 – McHale is set up for phony assault charge by native woman, then assaulted by her and another man. McHale was cautioned by OPP later that day that an assault complaint has been filed against him.
Video: Assault #1, Part 2 – McHale complains of assault; assault on police (one of many that day by natives)
Video: Assault #2, Part 1 -Clyde Powless arrives on scene screaming “You want this?!?,” before he attacks McHale. Woman yells, “Kill him. Kill him.”
Video: Assault #2, Part 2 – Another camera shows McHale w/hands in pockets not responding or even looking as Clyde Powless screams at him and begins attack, police assaulted
Video: Assault #2, Part 3 – CHTV News shows video of Powless jumping on McHale
Video: Assault #2, Part 4 – slow motion footage showing McHale being escorted by officers, one of whom has told him to “keep going no matter what.” Turtle Island News publisher Linda Powless grabs McHale’s arm, Clyde Powless jumps on McHale and Caledonia resident Doug Fleming goes to McHale’s rescue by pulling Powless off. As Powless attacks, another man punches him in the face causing McHale to lose his glasses. The punch itself is not seen, but is delivered by the man in a tan coat who appears at :48 and again at 1:03.
Other unprovoked attacks on peaceful protesters
CANACE co-founder Jeff Parkinson was filming the attack on McHale when he was thrown to the ground by an OPP officer where he hit his head and remained unconscious for approximately 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital. He is currently suffering from what is hoped to be a temporary brain injury that is expected to take several weeks to heal. Credible witnesses say that, as Parkinson lay on the ground unconscious, natives were yelling, “Kick him in the head. Finish him off!”
Earlier in the day, Parkinson filmed an unprovoked attack on me and the Canadian flag I was holding as well as the OPP officer who told me to “Get back” when I asked him to charge the people who assaulted me. Fortunately, I was not injured.
There were multiple assaults on peaceful protesters and police during the day, but not a single native attacker was arrested.
McHale does not retaliate against attacks
Despite multiple attacks, verbal and physical, Gary McHale never loses his cool, and never tries to retaliate, or even defend himself. In the best of civil rights activism tradition he puts his hands in his pockets when confronted by Clyde Powless’s screaming insults and looks away. Gary McHale has taught all of us who follow him well; when we lower ourselves to the level of those who attack us by retaliating, we demean ourselves and our struggle because we have lost the moral high ground.
Thanks to McHale’s leadership, Canada can now see with its own eyes just how ugly landclaim lawlessness and OPP Two Tier Justice is, and why they must be stopped.
Fantino and OPP Caledonia Detachment place blame before investigation begins
On December 1st – same day as the attacks – the Caledonia detachment of the OPP issued a press release in which OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino interferes in the investigation by falsely accusing the peaceful residents and McHale of provoking the violence.
But the OPP said in a release that protesters approached the Argyle Street [illegal smoke] shack “taunting and provoking” the people there.
OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino vowed in the release that the force, “will seek every legal remedy possible to end this madness and to bring them (protesters) to justice. These incidents, where interlopers [Fantino’s code name for McHale & his supporters] put their personal agendas over those who are striving for a permanent and lasting resolution will not be tolerated,” said Fantino…
London Free Press, Dec 02/07: Protest in Caledonia turns ugly
The entire press release was published by the weekly Turtle Island News who followed it up a week later with a disgusting editorial cartoon making fun of the fact that McHale was injured:
- Turtle Island News (editorial page), Dec 05/07: OPP RELEASE, 01 Dec 07: COMMISSIONER FANTINO OUTRAGED [PDF]
- Turtle Island News (editorial cartoon), Dec 12/07: PUN INTENDED!! [PDF]
As one can plainly see from the videos, it was native thugs who initiated violence that day. We were about 300 feet from the smoke shack, and they came out to confront and provoke us with disgusting racist comments, screaming obscenities and threats of violence towards us as we stood peacefully on the side of the road. (We have additional video evidence of racist comments that has not been released.)
The OPP were there. They were victims of the violence, too. Despite knowing the ugly truth, however, Fantino and the Caledonia detachment conspired together to lie to the public about what happened.
Lying about McHale and those who follow him is nothing new for Fantino. On Jan 10/07 I posted a lengthy letter that rebutted his attempts way back then to smear us; see Dear Commissioner Fantino: Sir, you owe Canadians an apology. Fantino was later named in a lawsuit and a Police Act complaint, both for defamation. (The latter is ongoing, the former was dismissed by the Solicitor General before the consultant he hired to advise him had even finished his report.)
Brantford Expositor endorses violence against McHale
Not to be outdone by OPP maliciousness, the Brantford Expositor ran an editorial in which the writer – as unbelievable as it may sound – used lyrics from a Christmas carol to gleefully offer the paper’s public endorsement of the violence against Gary McHale and the injuries he suffered:
Take a hint, McHale [PDF]
Caledonia residents must be feeling like they’ve been naughty this year because they appear to be getting one of the worst Christmas gifts imaginable: activist Gary McHale is planning to move to the besieged community – just in time for the festive season.
What Christmas would be complete without a merry melee, like the one that happened Saturday in Caledonia with McHale once again at the centre?
This time, McHale appears to have got more than just a lump of coal as he was injured during the clash, which grew out of a confrontation between natives and a group including McHale that was protesting the presence of a smoke shack in the community.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …”
McHale, currently a resident of Richmond Hill, has the right to move where he wants within Canada. With few exceptions, that mobility is one of the rights we all enjoy in this country.
He also has the right to stage and participate in protests like the one that turned violent on Saturday.
But this self-styled defender of justice could also take a hint once in while.
Is there anyone in Caledonia, where residents have lived with the fear and uncertainty of a Six Nations occupation for close to two years now, who would want McHale living next door?
Instead of isolated incidents of violence, the ingredients for trouble could be there all the time. The gift that keeps on giving. We’re reminded that in September McHale brought his increasingly irrelevant protests to a Brantford housing project stalled by native protests.
A mere seven people joined McHale despite developer Mike Quattrociocchi, himself a critic of police and politicians’ handling of native protests, having warned the activist to “stay away.”
So if those who stand to lose the most as the result of native protests don’t support McHale or his actions, on behalf of whom is he fighting?
And why can’t he listen to the people of Caledonia, who want less conflict in their community, not more?
Surely, he can’t be planning to move to Caledonia just for the reasonable real estate prices.
It appears the people who might get hurt or who have to live in fear as a result of McHale’s “one law for all” agenda are completely irrelevant to him.
McHale’s lawyer pointed out to The Expositor that his client was not one of the organizers of Saturday’s protest.
No, the violence last weekend doesn’t come down to one person. But McHale, once again, appears to have made himself the focal point of the land claim dispute.
Reportedly, there were about 60 to 80 protesters, who clashed with about 40 natives.
McHale’s first rally in Caledonia, which was billed by him as possibly attracting 20,000 people, drew only 400 to 500 in October of 2006.
His second effort in December of 2006 dropped to about 200. In January, his third attempt attracted about a dozen.
Apparently, McHale mistook this growing disinterest as an invitation to move to the community.
Some people just can’t take a hint.
Copyright © 2007 Brantford Expositor
Brantford Expositor editorial, Dec 04/07: Take a hint, McHale
Reprinted with permission. NOTE: The Brantford Expositor has expressed their disagreement with my characterization of their editorial. See, Brantford Expositor: “at no time do we condone violence.”
The Expositor’s stamp of approval on violence against a peaceful, law-abiding, civil rights worker who has not committed a single crime in Caledonia is callous, cruel and nothing short of shockingly irresponsible. When considered in conjunction with the other specific instances cited above, and the failures of media generally to cover important stories, I am very troubled by the progressive degradation in journalistic ethics, and the very real dangers it poses to those of us who choose to exercise our constitutional rights. As such, I will be devoting my full attention to several tasks:
1. As stated in ‘OPP Brass, native thugs ensure violence,’ we are refusing to cooperate in any way with the OPP due to Fantino’s past defamation of us, and his statement blaming us for the violence before any real investigation had begun. We are demanding an RCMP investigation into Saturday’s events, and we will be working to pressure the provincial government into making that happen.
2. I will be focussing on reaching out to the journalism community in order to help them understand the issues at stake, and the dangers to life, limb and democracy posed by irresponsible journalism.
Send a message to the Brantford Expositor
I have already spoken with the Vice President of Osprey Media and am awaiting word from him as to what they will do to mitigate the damage done. In the meantime, may I suggest that you contact the editor of the Brantford Expositor at 519.756.2020 and tell them how disgusted you are with their editorial.
You may also wish to submit a complaint to the Ontario Press Council.
The Dark Days of Canadian Journalism
During the past year, Julian Fantino, the OPP and the Ontario Provincial Police Association – at various times – defamed Gary McHale and the people who support him with false accusations of trying to incite violence and hatred yet, to the best of my knowledge, not a single media outlet has ever asked any of these individuals or organizations if they have a shred of proof to back up their allegations.
Is this what passes for ‘journalism’ in Canada? Why bother going to journalism school when you can just reprint sleazy statements by those who hold positions of power? No need to ask tough questions like, “Do you have any evidence?”
During our Oct 8th ‘Remember Us’ March, Gary McHale spoke at length about the traditional failures of media to respond to injustices while they were occuring, citing the example of how the CBC once put a positive spin on Native Residential Schools.[video dial-up] I once had a very informative exchange with a native man named Karone:rorakwe who told me of the damage these schools had done to his life. As McHale said on Oct 8th, the first people to speak out against Residential Schools were probably viciously condemned, too. Do we learn nothing from history? Are we doomed to forever repeat it?
Have we not learned from Woodward and Bernstein that people in positions of power can tell lies?
As explained in a recent post (VoC interviewed for journalism school project) I was recently interviewed by a senior journalism student for a research project she was conducting into how the media has covered the Caledonia issue.
When I met her at our ‘Remember Us’ March on Oct 08/07 I told her of my intention to write an essay called ‘The Dark Days of Canadian Journalism’ in order to tell the story of just how badly mainstream media has covered the Caledonia story. That was before the Spectator and CHTV hatchet jobs on Gary McHale.
Tomorrow, I will send this journalism student a copy of an editorial for use in her research. A disgusting, small minded, anti-democratic, dehumanizing piece of hateful drivel that applauds the injuries caused by a swarm of racist thugs to a caring, selfless, non-violent man who has risked his reputation, his freedom, his financial well-being and even his life to help fellow Canadians for more than a year.
I pray we have reached the bottom of the Canadian journalistic barrel because there’s nowhere to go but up from here. As someone who was educated to believe that journalists were the ‘watchdogs of democracy,’ and once seriously considered journalism as a profession myself because of that belief, my heart is breaking today.
We are not afraid
Should any of those who have attacked us with violence or with words be under any illusion that we will cease our efforts, please allow me to disabuse you of that notion right now. We will continue to peacefully protest until all citizens in Ontario are once again protected by the rule of law, and all violations of civil rights by the OPP cease, and until a certain young lady on the Sixth Line in Caledonia feels safe in her home again. We will never stop. This struggle does not end until Two Tier Justice is dead and buried.
Should citizens just allow landclaim lawlessness and OPP violations of civil rights to continue while we wait for the politicians to solve the problems in Caledonia?
To those well-meaning people who are honestly wondering whether or not peaceful, direct action is the best way to defend civil rights may I suggest you have a look at Provoking violence in Caledonia. History has already answered this question for you.
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Co-founder, CANACE (Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality)
NOTE: I will not be able to post replies to comments for a while, but I will get them up as time allows. To those supporters of native extremists who write in to justify the violence, or to falsely accuse innocent residents of provoking it despite all evidence to the contrary, don’t bother. I don’t have time for your lies and revisionist garbage.
- Brantford Expositor editorial, Dec 04/07: Take a hint, McHale [PDF]
- VoiceofCanada, Nov 13/07: VoC interviewed for journalism school project
- VoiceofCanada, Dec 03/07: OPP Brass, native thugs ensure violence in Caledonia
- CaledoniaWakeUpCall feature: Doug Fleming’s campaign (includes Doug’s Smokes, Dec 01/07 videos of attacks on peaceful demonstrators, and Dec 04/07 Queen’s Park news conference by residents and Gary McHale)
- VoiceofCanada, Dec 05/07: CHTV ‘pieceofgarbage’ comment
- VoiceofCanada, Nov 12/07: Fantino – delusional or desperate?