UPDATE 1348 EST Dec 07/07: The Managing Editor of the Brantford Expositor David Judd has accepted my offer to reprint the entire disputed editorial on VoiceofCanada in place of the short excerpt quoted in the original article. I have also reprinted here – see below.
The Brantford Expositor wasn’t happy with my recent article, Brantford Expositor endorses violence against civil rights activist.
Here is their response followed by my reply:
From: David Judd
Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 2:50 PM
Subject: expositor editorial
Dear Mr. Vandermaas:
Your offer to meet with Editorial representatives of The Expositor has been forwarded to me. We are not prepared to hold a meeting, but we invite you to submit a letter to the editor of The Expositor setting out clearly how you perceive the Caledonia situation. The letter should not exceed 500 words. The letter would be subject to The Expositor’s rules for handling letters to the editor. This means, amongst other things, that publication is not guaranteed and we reserve the right to edit the letter for libel and other legal considerations. You may submit your letter by e-mail to email@example.com, by fax at 519-756-9470 or by mail to The Expositor, 53 Dalhousie St., Brantford, Ont., N3T 5S8.
The Expositor rejects the suggestion that at any time we have advocated violence against anyone involved in the Caledonia dispute. We have consistently criticized the use of violence by either side to achieve their means. The Dec. 4, 2007 editorial, titled “Take a hint, McHale,” written by city editor Phil Tank, is consistent with this approach. At no time, do we
condone violence and only a narrow and selective interpretation would derive from this editorial that The Expositor approves of violence of any kind.
The excerpt used on the website voiceofcanada.ca is incomplete, misleading and taken out of context. We ask that it be removed as it is clearly misrepresenting The Expositor and this editorial in particular. The point of the editorial is direct and straightforward – that Gary McHale should take a hint from the growing lack of interest in his “protests,” rather
than move to Caledonia.
The editorial contrasts the Christmas season with the tension and threat of confrontation and violence that surrounds Gary McHale. That is the point being made through the use of the Christmas lyrics. Had The Expositor felt that McHale got what he deserved — as you suggest — the editorial would have said so plainly and directly. However, The Expositor is not condoning the alleged violence against McHale.
Incidentally, the editorial also points out that McHale has been discouraged by those affected by native protesters, specifically a Brantford developer. We could have pointed out that his presence has been discouraged by elected officials for the sake of safety and security. We also note that McHale has been charged in an incident in Caledonia and is facing a defamation suit by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Mr. David Judd, Managing Editor
Dear Mr. Judd:
1. I didn’t say that you “advocated violence.” I said you “endorsed violence against Gary McHale” which you most certainly have.
2. If there is such a growing lack of interests in his protests, why is Fantino obsessed with stopping them?
3. Contrary to the editorial, the Brantford developer did NOT tell us not to come, and Gary McHale has audio tape to prove it. In fact, he made a point of telling Gary that there was a vacant field beside his property.
4. Elected officials may not want people to exercise their rights, but it does not mean that those rights should not be exercised. Are you suggesting that people should refrain from exercising their rights because violent criminals may attack them? Isn’t that like blaming a woman for being raped because she walked down the wrong street? It is a specious argument, and a most undemocratic one, at that, and I am surprised (actually, not) that you would make it.
5. Your assertion that the editorial ‘is not condoning the alleged violence against McHale’ is not supported by a simple reading of the document by a reasonable reader. In fact, it conveys quite the opposite impression that the author was taking a great measure of pleasure in the fact that McHale was injured.
6. The protest was organized by a resident and attended by at least 50 residents. Even if there wasn’t a single resident who supported McHale, does it mean that he is not entitled to exercise his right to protest. Does it mean that thugs are entitled to use violence against him? I note that you use the word ‘alleged’ when describing the attack on McHale. Are you kidding me? Tell me that you at least looked at the videos before making that statement.
7. McHale was charged after Commissioner Fantino and the Caledonia OPP detachment tainted the investigation by making a public statement blaming the the non-native demonstrators for inciting the violence. The RCMP needs to be brought in because it is impossible for the OPP to conduct an unbiased investigation. I hope you will join me in demanding that the OPP step aside.
8. McHale is being sued by the OPPA, not the OPP. He is also suing the OPP, Fantino, Haldimand County, and 3 people in the Premier’s office for a conspiracy to defame him. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Are you aware that McHale and I are also both suing the OPPA for defamation after they issued a news release on Jan 18th falsely blaming us for trying to incite hate and provoke violence? Are you aware that we both have outstanding human rights complaints against Fantino for violating our civil rights? Are you aware that the Solicitor General dismissed all Police Act complaints against Fantino – including mine for defamation – without even waiting for his own consultant to finish his report?
9. Implicit in the editorial and in your reply is the assumption that somehow, Gary McHale has deliberately attempted to bring violence to Caledonia despite the wishes of officials. We go to Caledonia to bring attention, for example, to the young girl on 6th Line who is afraid in her home because she has no policing. (Tell me you actually clicked on the link to read her story!). You aren’t speaking for her. The politicians aren’t speaking for her. We are. We also go to Caledonia to speak for the native women who have been raped on the lawless DCE. Of course, you’d have to actually listen to my ‘Natives are victims of Two Tier Justice‘ speech to the 200 or so people at our October 8/07 ‘Remember Us’ March – that you forgot to list in your editorial – in order to know that. Or, you could click on the big link at the top that says, VICTIMIZING NATIVE PEOPLE.
10. My offer to meet with Osprey personnel was to try – in the best of faith – to mitigate the risks to life and limb posed by your commentary on a topic that has already had more than its share of irresponsible reporting. We could have provided you with a hard-won perspective on the human costs of illegal occupations and we would have gladly answered any questions about us, our allegations against the OPP, and we would have been able to bring written proof to back up our statements. Your refusal to even try to understand the issues by rebuffing my efforts to provide that information is disappointing, especially since so many of your ‘facts’ are dead wrong on a subject of vital importance to Ontario and to Canada.
The Brantford Expositor is no different than the politicians and police officials who condemn us, but have never (with one exception) taken the time to actually listen to us and understand. Thanks to the Ipperwash Inquiry, if we and the people who support us were of aboriginal heritage, politicians would be more than willing to listen to what we had to say and make a sincere effort to understand our position, and respect our rights. So far, we have been rebuffed at every turn. I sincerely hope that it will not take the death of a non-native protester and another Inquiry to cause them – and you – to extend the same courtesy to us.
I once read that you should never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel, however, I must stand by my opinion that the Brantford Expositor endorsed the violence against Gary McHale, and that it was an irresponsible act of ‘journalism.’
Since you believe that the excerpt was taken out of context, however, I would be more than pleased to reprint the entire editorial within my article. Please advise me if I have your permission to do so.
Let me leave you with a question: If a group of non-natives had ganged together to viciously attack natives during an otherwise peaceful protest as Gary McHale was attacked, do you think you would be trying to defend an editorial ridiculing the injured person and using Christmas carols to convey your pleasure at their injuries? I think not.
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Sent: Sat 12/8/2007 9:45 AM
You have our permission to reprint in its entirety The Expositor’s Dec. 4 editorial, “Take a hint, McHale,” on your website.
Take a hint, McHale [PDF]
Posted 4 days ago
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