In Part 1 of ‘Human Rights complaint forces Fantino to tell truth,’ I summarized the background to complaints made by Gary McHale and I to the Ontario Human Rights Commission in July 2007, and showed how the subject officers, Commissioner Fantino included, actually admitted in writing to the OHRC in July 2008 that they made a deliberate decision to stop us from putting up flags and arrest us in order to ‘protect us’ from native ‘extreme elements’ who might choose to use violence against us.
Here, in Part 2, I have reprinted the conclusion (section 6) and supplementary note (section 7) to the document I sent to the OHRC on Sept 02/08 to counter the OPP position:
Mark Vandermaas v. Ontario Provincial Police
OHRC file xxxx-xxxxxx
Complainant’s Response To Respondent’s Submissions Of July 22/08
I cannot help the fact that I was born of non-native parents with white skin. Having white skin, however, does not prevent me from recognizing racism when I see or experience it. Nor does white skin prevent me from learning and applying the lessons taught by Dr. King in order to confront injustices.
We would be fools not to learn from Dr. King who demonstrated that deep-seated racism can be overcome by peaceful, non-violent direct action; that institutionalized racism needs a prolonged approach to bring about true equality of all people; that we can dare to dream that an unjust system can be changed when average people take a stand against racism and against government policies that victimize innocent people.
We would also be fools not to realize that when average people stand up against racism the ‘system’ kicks in to suppress their rights, to attack their character, to criminalize their actions and to justify the use of any means necessary by those in power to maintain the status quo. In the minds of those responsible for creating and perpetuating the injustices, the ends justify the means, no matter how damaging or counter-productive the means may be.
I understand that certain politicians and leaders within the OPP would prefer not to be confronted with the ugly truth about race-based policing and its devastating effects, but I believe that society is always better served by truth and openness; it is only in an atmosphere of truth and justice and respect for the rights of all citizens that meaningful reconciliation between natives and non-natives can flourish. Suppression of truth is anathema to both democracy and the healing process between aggrieved citizens. Dr. King realized this when he wrote:
Actually, 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. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail,’ April 16/63
There are powerful people in our province who would prefer that the OHRC not even entertain – let alone investigate and act upon – the human rights complaints submitted by Mr. McHale and me. The Commissioner of the OPP and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs have both made public derogatory comments about me and my complaint as mentioned above. It is difficult for me to imagine in the Canada of 2008 that any politician, let alone a cabinet minister, could actually believe – apparently – that non-natives should not have the right to submit a human rights complaint during a land claim – according to the reporter who interviewed him about the scheduled OHRC mediation between the Respondents and myself:
“Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said the human rights complaint doesn’t help resolve a complex situation dating back hundreds of years.”
Reconciliation between native and non-natives cannot be forced by allowing the use of violence, intimidation, suppression of truth and racial policing to create new victims of discrimination in an effort to appease those who threaten violence. In actual fact, allowing police to suppress the rights of non-natives in order to appease the whims of violent native extremists is counter-productive to the stated goals of the Supreme Court and the Canadian state of bringing about reconciliation because it alienates and embitters non-natives and provides undeserved legitimacy to thugs and extremists who do not deserve it, thereby depriving law abiding native peoples from the attention and consideration they deserve.
Allowing fear and intimidation to create new injustices today in order to rectify past injustices will only serve to legitimize injustice in the future. This cannot be allow to occur if we truly believe in a multicultural Canada.
The people in positions of power who oppose our right to seek justice are absolutely counting on the OHRC not to protect the rights of a couple of white guys who dared to believe that their rights and those of other non-natives in neighbouring communities deserved to be protected from violence and racial policing during land claims. This white guy travelled half-way around the world with the Canadian Forces in 1978 to serve in a United Nations peacekeeping mission, proudly wearing the Canadian flag on his shoulder, only to come home to be arrested and told by the OPP that he had no right to raise the flag that represents every Canadian value he swore an oath to defend, or even to speak out against racial injustice in another Ontario town because he himself was the ‘wrong’ race.
And, my ex-soldier’s heart has been breaking for the past two years as I watched and experienced first-hand the hate and violence spread by native extremists, the injustices of race-based policing, and the almost overwhelming burden of confronting my government and my police in an exhausting struggle to put an end to it all. As MPP Toby Barrett told the National Post after releasing his historic Haldimand Proclamation on February 11/08 calling for an end to race-based policing, ‘This has to end, we cannot continue to chip away at the edges.”
The OHRC is faced with a choice of two paths: the first path allows the Respondents to escape accountability for the role that race played in their decisions to subordinate my rights to the whims of violent criminals, thereby allowing race-based policing – in all its ugliness – to continue to claim more victims.
The second path – that of understanding and confronting OPP racial policing – leads to an Ontario where police protect the innocent irrespective of race or grievance instead of enabling the violent, thereby allowing native and non-native communities to begin the process of reconciliation free from the terrible influence of extremists – as equals working together on the basis of truth, non-violence and respect for the rights of all citizens.
The Respondents ask you to choose the first path. I believe that if the OHRC chooses the second – initially more difficult path – one day people will say, ‘This was the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s finest hour.’
Please see Supplementary Note on following page.
7. Supplementary Note – Caledonia victimized by race-based policing on Labour Day
On Monday, Sept 1/08, as I was putting the finishing touches on this document, we received word from Caledonia that native protesters had once again blocked the main roads through town, and had set tire fires and attacked residents in retaliation for the arrest of several native protesters by Brantford Police earlier in the day.
As residents explained to a CHTV reporter the OPP refused to act against the native lawbreakers in Caledonia, but managed to arrest a non-native for breaking the aerial on a passing car belonging to a native driver. Later they threatened to forcibly remove and arrest non-native residents on the road who, frustrated with the conduct of the police and the native intimidation, initially refused to leave once the native barricades came down.
[Complainant’s evidence, #50 – Sept 02/08: Video recording of 6pm CHTV News, Sept 01/08]
[Complainant’s evidence, #51 – Sept 02/08: Video recording of 12 Noon CHTV News, Sept 01/08]
Here is an excerpt from an email sent to me by a resident who was there:
I could fill volumes as to how I feel, and many of the silent majority out there feel as well, about the lawlessness in this area, and most of the province it seems, when it comes to native thugs and terrorists. How things that are done by non-natives, no matter how minor, are prosecuted to the max by our authorities, yet natives who have done horrendous things are treated with kid gloves and in most cases allowed to walk with no more than a slap on the wrist. How political activists, such as Gary McHale, are arrested and banned from Caledonia for daring to point out publicly the OPP’s obvious shortcomings, while aboriginal terrorists are allowed free reign to block roads, tear down hydro towers, set fires, threaten people’s lives, all without consequence.
Has Caledonia, or even Ontario for that matter, become like Chicago of the 1920’s where the criminals rule and the police and authorities do what they’re told? It’s only a matter of time before there is a violent uprising from the frustrated citizens of the area and someone gets really hurt or killed.
Caledonia resident, Sept 01/08
I urge you to watch the news reports listed above, especially the 6pm newscast from CHTV [Complainant’s evidence, #50 – Sept 02/08], in order to understand that the very same OPP race-based policing policies that led to our protests, our arrests, the violations of our rights and our complaints are the same policies that are continuing to allow native extremists to intimidate and hold hostage entire communities.
Yesterday, Caledonia was the victim of a police force acting in accordance with the Respondents’ stated position that they have the right to enable and give force to the whims and threats of native extremists rather than protect the rights and safety of law abiding citizens. This racist attitude is destroying the collective faith of Ontario citizens in the democratic institutions that are supposed to protect us without regards to the colour of our skin.
VoC Comment: I wonder if the Canadian Civil Liberties Association cares now?
I have begged for help for the people of Caledonia from the Canadian Civil Liberties association on a number of occasions, but they refused to talk or meet with us. You would think they’d be the first organization to show concern about racially-based policing, but alas…
VoiceofCanada, Dec 19/07: Canadian Civil Liberties Association replies to our cries for help
VoiceofCanada, Dec 09/07: Canadian Civil Liberties Association turns blind eye to Caledonia’s agony
I doubt the CCLA even allows my emails to get through anymore, but yours might. Why don’t you send them a link to ‘Human Rights complaint forces Fantino to tell truth (PART 1)‘ and ask them if they think it’s OK for a police force to arrest and/or violate the rights of potential victims of crime to ‘protect them’ from violent racists? Ask them if they are now prepared to speak out against the dangers of race-based policing.
Mark Vandermaas, Editor