UPDATED 1656 EST Dec 02/08
Yesterday, I spent the entire day in a Hamilton courtroom sitting within arm’s reach of Hamilton Spectator reporter Rachel De Lazzer as we – and a group of Caledonia residents – listened to testimony from OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino that proves he has been misleading the public all along about Gary McHale. I watched as she took copious notes during testimony. Apparently there was a CHTV reporter in the court as well.
Fantino’s testimony – NO evidence against McHale
Before I comment on what these journalists reported to their respective audiences, here are what I consider to be the most important details that were exposed thanks to Fantino’s testimony under oath:
1. McHale went through a list of charges with Fantino asking if they had been laid in Caledonia, and whether or not they had been laid against him. Fantino agreed that charges for Attempted Murder; Aggravated Assault; Assault; property damage; and weapons offences had been laid in Caledonia, but not against Gary McHale. Fantino admitted that they video-record McHale’s protests, and that OPP officers were present at one of his townhall meetings.
Despite Fantino’s public allegations (repeated under oath yesterday) accusing him of committing acts of ‘mischief’ and of ‘inciting violence,’ and of being responsible for injuries to OPP officers, he admitted the OPP have never charged Gary McHale with any crime prior to the Dec 01/07 smokeshack confrontation because they have no evidence to support a charge.
2. Fantino has never publicly criticized a native protester by name as he has done with Gary McHale.
3. Despite OPP policies contained in their ‘Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents’ that require open and honest dialogue Fantino has never met with non-native protesters, but he has met on a number of occasions with various native protesters.
4. Fantino’s meetings with native protesters have included Clyde Powless, the man who led the vicious swarming attack that put McHale into the hospital on Dec 01/07. We have a picture of Fantino sharing a joke with Powless (charged with assaulting McHale) and Floyd Montour (charged with Mischief for illegal occupations) on Six Nations months after the attack on McHale.
- VoiceofCanada, May 31/08: Fantino yuks it up with Clyde and Floyd, ignores victims of native violence
5. Fantino testified that Clyde Powless had helped the OPP ‘defuse situations’ in Caledonia, but when shown a video of Powless intimidating and assaulting two OPP officers, Fantino blamed Powless’s actions on McHale, saying that if McHale wasn’t present the situation wouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Even after McHale pointed out that Powless hadn’t even mentioned his name while yelling at the officers and bumping them, Fantino continued to insist that it was all McHale’s fault because he was present at the protest.
6. When shown a video of Powless attacking Gary from behind, Fantino testified he couldn’t tell what Powless was doing.
7. Fantino did not know that McHale had been sent to the hospital on Dec 01/07 after the swarming attack led by Powless.
8. In order to counter his assertion that McHale was ‘inciting violence’ Fantino was shown a video from Dec 01/07 in which McHale is heard calming the angry crowd down after an OPP officer who refused to arrest the natives who attacked me decided to arrest a non-native man quietly drinking coffee on the blocked road. McHale is heard repeatedly telling the people to peacefully allow the officers to make the arrest. Fantino said he wasn’t aware of McHale’s actions.
9. Although his Dec 01/07 email advised officers that the Dec 01/07 protest at the illegal smoke shack was ‘spearheaded’ by McHale, Fantino claimed not to know that it was actually organized by Caledonia resident Doug Fleming. He claimed not to be aware that Fleming had placed a newspaper ad for the protest. McHale played Fantino an OPP interview with Sgt. Gutenberg who clearly stated that the event had been organized by Fleming. If Fantino is to be believed, this key fact was never transmitted to him by his subordinates.
10. Fantino was directing his officers via incorrect information when he asked Deputy Commissioner Chris Lewis in an email on Dec 02/07 if the OPP had a plan to “deal with him [McHale] on the basis of any breach he may have committed regarding his bail conditions?” After McHale asked him how it would be possible for him have bail conditions if he hadn’t been charged with any crime, Fantino was forced to admit he was misinformed.
11. Fantino was shown an OPP investigation proving that on Dec 03/06 Fantino gave the order that set off a plan resulting in McHale’s Dec 16/06 arrest and overnight detention even though there was no charge against him. Fantino denied he ordered McHale’s arrest, but when asked by McHale about the OPP targetting him even though he hadn’t committed any crime, Fantino replied that he was glad they did.
- OPP Professional Standards Division: Investigation into McHale arrest, Dec 16/08
12. In his emails dated Dec 01 and Dec 02/07 Fantino instructed his officers not to get ‘sidetracked’ by “timid’ and “feeble” Crown Attorneys when pursuing McHale, but he could not provide a clear explanation of what he meant by his apparent disrespect for the Crown. He also provided no clear explanation as to what he meant when he told his officers not to get “bogged down in legal nuances” when dealing with McHale.
13. Fantino testified there was “nothing fair” about McHale’s website CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com saying the site was intended to ‘misinform, incite, and mischief-make.’ However, he admitted he was not aware that the majority of the site consisted of news reports from other media. He was not aware that CWUC published articles from native media. He was not aware that the site contained stories critical of Gary McHale. Unfortunately, McHale forgot to ask if he was aware that the prestigious Ryerson Review of Journalism had cited CWUC and (VoiceofCanada) for providing news coverage when other media failed. Given Fantino’s obsession with painting McHale and his site as the cause of Caledonia’s problems he seemed woefully ignorant of what was actually on CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com.
14. Despite his admission that McHale had never been charged with a crime prior to Dec 01/07 due to a lack of evidence Fantino stuck to his story that McHale was responsible for inciting violence and ‘mischief-making.’ He also accused McHale of filing frivolous lawsuits and complaints against him. Yet, each time he was asked for examples to back up his claims, Fantino could not provide a single specific action of McHale’s to back up his allegations.
VoC comment on Fantino’s testimony
When he wasn’t blaming McHale for Caledonia’s problems – even after testifying about the OPP’s lack of evidence against him – Fantino’s testimony consisted mainly of ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I have no recollection.’ The judge had to warn the audience to keep their feelings to themselves after they groaned at one of Fantino’s replies.
One thing is perfectly clear, though: at the time Fantino ordered his officers to target McHale for arrest – before any investigation had even begun into the Dec 01/07 smokeshack confrontation – he absolutely knew the OPP had no evidence that McHale had committed any prior crimes in Caledonia. Why then, would he order his officers to target him before the investigation had even begun?
Fantino’s bizarre insistence – under oath no less – that law-abiding Gary McHale was the cause of Caledonia’s problems, was simply irrational obstinance by a man who just can’t admit he was wrong. In essence, he was saying that even though McHale had broken no law in protesting against OPP policies, all of Caledonia’s problems were his fault. At one point he actually said, about his decision to write a rebuttal before the Dec 04/07 news conference at Queen’s Park by McHale and Caledonia residents (links below), “I wanted the truth to be known about what, in fact, had been happening in Caledonia and the position of the OPP. Absent of your presence, we wouldn’t have had these problems.”
- VoiceofCanada, Dec 09/07: Queen’s Park speech by Merlyn Kinrade: “Are we a failed state?”
- CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com feature: Doug’s Smokes
Naturally, Fantino made no mention at any time of the problems caused by the illegal actions of native protesters in terrorizing Caledonia for two years or their role in committing crimes such as selling illegal cigarettes to the town’s children. His eagerness to blame the victim instead of the man who put McHale in the hospital and assaulted his officers on Dec 01/07 was irresponsible, anti-democratic and just plain weird given his position as commissioner of the province’s police force.
During his testimony, Fantino whined several times about McHale’s protest at his home in Woodbridge. It seems the commissioner didn’t like having his neighbourhood disrupted for a couple of hours by peaceful, law abiding Caledonia protesters. Imagine that. Apparently, however, the protest didn’t teach him anything about how Haldimand residents feel about being held hostage by native protests while his officers stand guard for the lawbreakers who have tormented them.
- VoiceofCanada category: Fantino Home Protest
It was clear to me, as it has been from the beginning, that Fantino’s motivation in attacking McHale had nothing to do with protecting the people of Caledonia, and everything to do with suppressing non-native criticism of him and his force. For a guy who has conducted a campaign of making serious and false allegations about McHale and his website, Fantino seemed woefully ignorant of the truth. His unfounded, misinformed, misguided vendetta against McHale was clearly on display for all to see. The only problem was, the media failed to report the whole story.
Media fail to report vital Fantino evidence from McHale trial
After testimony was over for the day, I spoke to Rachel De Lazzer and said, “Well, you heard it for yourself: the OPP have no evidence that McHale committed any crimes in Caledonia, and Fantino has never met with any non-native protesters.”
Not only did she not report these key facts, she didn’t report a single one from the list above – even though the Spectator has a history of reprinting sleazy Fantino allegations against McHale without allowing him to respond. De Lazzer did make a reference to Fantino continuing to call McHale a ‘mischief maker’ despite not having any video evidence although she chose not to make the day’s most important point of all – that the OPP had NO evidence that McHale had committed ANY crimes in Caledonia prior to Dec 1/07.
Read for yourself and decide if De Lazzer told the most important story of the day:
Despite my criticism, De Lazzer’s story (and her previous one – link below) was pure light and air compared to some of the garbage the Spec and other media have published in the past, so I don’t want to beat her up too badly. It certainly does get across the point that Fantino may not have acted in good faith in his treatment of McHale and that’s a good thing. It’s just a shame that an OK story couldn’t have been an eye-opening, outstanding piece of groundbreaking journalism that finally exposed Fantino’s groundless attacks on McHale’s character and civil rights.
- Hamilton Spectator, Rachel De Lazzer, Nov 26/08: Caledonia activist questions Haldimand mayor in court
CHTV ignores the truth, too
The CHTV news report I saw at 6pm yesterday was nothing short of outrageous. It made a big deal of reporting Fantino’s bizzaro accusations against McHale, but made no mention whatsoever of his admission that the OPP had no evidence McHale had committed any crimes in Caledonia prior to Dec 01/07. It was a disappointing piece of so-called ‘journalism.’ CH’s only pretence at fairness was to report that McHale had tried to calm the crowd down on Dec 01/07, a fact of which Fantino was unaware (see #8 above).
Six Nations school principal tries to mislead court
1. Brant: She says she saw Gary McHale leaning on a car and rocking it back and forth with his belly. She had also made a previous statement to this effect to the OPP that McHale obtained under disclosure. McHale played a video of her interview.
Truth: It never happened. Watch for video evidence to be introduced when the trial reconvenes on April 21/09.
2. Brant: Brant said that Lynda Powless was grabbed by McHale for no reason as they were just walking down the road. According to Brant he just put his arms out and grabbed Powless although she didn’t see the ‘grab’ herself – Powless told her about it later. She couldn’t think of any reason why McHale would put his arms out and she couldn’t recall anything else going on at the time.
Truth: Under pressure from McHale, Brant admitted that the alleged ‘grab’ of Lynda Powless occurred around the same time that Clyde Powless – wait for it – “reached up to tickle your neck.” Yes, that’s what she actually said – under oath. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
Unfortunately for Brant, the next Crown witness was Lisa Parent who recorded 1.5 hours of video on Dec 01/07. Parent’s video shows it was actually Lynda Powless who grabbed on to McHale while he was trying to escape Clyde Powless’s cowardly attack from behind.
Parent also captured Powless’s attack on McHale that began the vicious swarming that sent him to hospital. Under cross-examination, McHale asked Parent what she thought Powless was doing to him. When she replied, “attacking you,” McHale asked if she was sure Powless wasn’t tickling him. Parent, who wasn’t allowed in the courtroom for Brant’s testimony, was flabbergasted by McHale’s question, but eventually answered in the negative. Afterwards, Parent was amused, as were we all, at Brant’s silly and pathetic attempt to mislead the court with her outrageous testimony.
- NumbersWatchDog website: www.numberswatchdog.com
So much for the credibility of Crown witness #1, Ms. Terry-Lynn Brant, Six Nations school principal. Exposed as a liar by the Crown’s own witness.
VoC note: Readers can watch video of Clyde Powless ‘tickling’ Gary McHale’s neck, and Lynda Powless hanging on to his arm with both hands in this CANACE Incident Summary. While you’re there, be sure to watch the video of Camille Powless getting caught fabricating a false assault charge against McHale. It’s a beaut.:
- CANACE Incident Summary: CANACE calls for RCMP to take over investigation after Fantino blames victims of Caledonia violence
One day the people of Caledonia, Ontario and even Canada will realize the huge debt they owe to Gary McHale for forcing the Crown to take him to trial so he could expose the outrages of race-based policing. I was proud to watch him, again, as he stood with wife Christine beside him against the combined might of the Ontario government and the OPP to defend the civil rights of all non-native Canadians caught up in land claim turmoil.
Near the end of the day, McHale began a devastating examination into the OPP blueprint for racially-segregated policing – their Framework for Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents. It was under questioning about the Framework that Fantino admitted that he had never met with non-native protesters even though he had done so with natives. The examination will continue when court reconvenes on April 21/09.
For more info about the Framework and its role in subverting the rights of non-natives, please refer to Gary McHale’s Charter application document:
- R. v. Gary McHale, McHale submission, Nov 10/08: Amended Application of Charter Challenge
Whether it is this trial or a future trial, there is no doubt in my mind that one day Gary McHale will force the OPP and Ontario government to respect the rights of non-natives. What a shame that the media have failed to grasp the staggering implications of this case.
Mark Vandermaas, Editor