Please…no more political inquiries

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The weekly Regional News in Caledonia has stood like a rock on the side of justice by ensuring that non-native activists and residents have been able to express their opinions and educate readers as to the facts and stories that other so-called ‘mainstream’ media in the area refuse to tell. One of their key contributions to readers has been to provide Gary McHale with a regular column to allow him to report, indepth, on the struggle against racial policing.

Yesterday, the Regional was scheduled to print part one of a two part series by Mary-Lou LaPratte, McHale and myself called, ‘McGuinty’s Ipperwash Cover-Up: the Caledonia Legacy.‘ Prior to publication however,  MPP Toby Barrett issued a call for an inquiry into Caledonia, ostensibly as a follow-up to Ken Hewitt’s petition — a petition that was sparked by McHale’s publication of Fantino’s character reference for Clyde Powless submitted to the Court on Dec 05/08 after he pleaded guilty to assaulting McHale at an illegal smoke shack on Dec 01/07. 

Unfortunately, the objectives of Barrett’s proposed inquiry bore little resemblance to  those proposed by Hewitt in his petition.

This prompted McHale to delay part one of our story by a week so he might devote his column to alerting readers to the potential flaws in Barrett’s private members bill:

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REGIONAL NEWS Feb 11/09

Please no more POLITICAL inquiries

By Gary McHale

Caledonia sits in the aftermath of one of the biggest politically motivated inquiries in Ontario – the Ipperwash Inquiry. Instead of dealing with illegal acts, either by the OPP or individual protesters in Ipperwash, it was designed as the means to expose Mike Harris. The residents of Caledonia have paid the price of such any inquiry. You can read a detailed report of this political inquiry in the regional news over the next two weeks.

The people in Ipperwash had hoped the inquiry would help them just as the people signing the petition hope an inquiry into Caledonia will also help. Mr. Hewitt’s petition states the following:

“… Following the flawed results and recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry, the OPP and the command decisions made by the OPP have violated and ignored the rules and guidelines as set out by a number of statutes. These include the Criminal Code and the Ontario Police Services Act. In addition the OPP have violated or ignored their training and standard operating procedures. There is documented and electronic evidence that the OPP did so knowingly…

We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

1. To request the Premier of Ontario to immediately launch a public inquiry into the actions and decisions made by the Commissioner of the OPP Julian Fantino and impose his immediate suspension without pay and upon confirmation of the facts, his immediate resignation.
2. To request the Premier Of Ontario to immediately launch a public inquiry into the actions and decisions made by the OPP with respect to Caledonia over the past 3 years.”

The People are calling for a clear inquiry into Law and Order and decisions made by senior OPP officers. This is not a political inquiry but an inquiry into Race Based Policing. This is a grassroots demand that the People be allowed to have a voice into the actions of the police, not politicians. That is another matter.

With the increasing tide of support in Haldimand County it is becoming popular to stand up and demand an inquiry. This grassroots movement to demand real accountability of the police is so strong that even Councilor Grice and MP Diane Finley felt compelled to join in.

However, the People need to be concerned that political involvement (although needed and wanted) can have negative effects as well. Politicians rarely do things for purely selfless reasons in support of the people they claim to represent. As McGuinty once said, “Politics is a full contact sport” and politicians will use every means to win advantages over the other party – if the public benefits from this then that is merely a side affect.

In my view, there is a direct danger that the People’s demand for an inquiry into how the OPP have ‘violated and ignored the rules and guidelines as set out by a number of statutes’ can be turned it into just another political inquiry. MPP Toby Barrett submitted the following at Queen’s Park:

“Barrett’s Private Members Bill calls for an inquiry:
1. to determine the truth with respect to allegations of political influence in the court’s administration of justice and the police enforcement of the law with respect to activities in Six Nations, Haldimand County, Brant County and the City of Brantford;
2. to determine the truth with respect to the ownership of land within the boundaries of the former Haldimand Tract; and
3. to make recommendations directed to preventing similar chaotic confrontations when dealing with future land dispute issues in the province, including recommendations with respect to ways in which we can improve dispute resolution in this area and enhance respect for the courts and the rule of law;”

Any new inquiry that includes talking about ownership of land or allegations of political influence will end up as nothing but a political inquiry whereby each party will use the inquiry to gain points against the other.

The People cannot allow this to happen.

For three years the People have clearly stated that it doesn’t matter who owns the land because Law & Order and Race Based Policing is the real issue involved. Are we somehow to have an inquiry into 200 years of endless debates from both sides and only allow a few days to talk about Race Based Policing? If negotiations go on endlessly for years why would anyone want an inquiry that opens the door to endless years into the same question?

I appreciate Toby at least raising the issues at Queen’s Park and if I have misunderstood his intention then I apologize. However, Mr. Barrett’s motion before Queen’s Park, in my view, in nothing but pure politics.

On June 5, 2007 John Tory called for an Inquiry into Caledonia stating the purpose of such an inquiry was to review the ‘absence of communication and lack of leadership by Premier McGuinty and his Liberal government,’ not to examine OPP race-based policing.

Where is the call into the actions of Commissioner Fantino or of the OPP as requested by Hewitt’s petition? Where is the demand to investigate the illegal actions of the OPP? Where is the hope that one day this Province will firmly stand against all forms of Race Based Policing?

NDP Peter Kormos stated back on April 18, 2007, “Fantino has crossed the line in a big way… [Kwinter] has little choice but to ask Fantino to step down”.

We don’t need another political inquiry – we need to examine how individual officers who took an Oath to uphold the Charter of Rights chose to violate those rights solely because of the Race of the people involved.

An inquiry like this would rock this province to its foundations and force police officers and all Government officials to understand that they too are accountable to the Laws of Canada, to the Charter of Rights and ultimately to the People.

I ask Mr. Barrett to support this type of an inquiry and the only question is will he?

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VoC notes

1. Be sure to read ‘McGuinty’s Ipperwash Cover-up: the Caledonia Legacy’ in the Regional News — Feb 18 & 25/09.

2. The Regional News does not publish an online edition of its paper.

Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Voice of Canada
info@voiceofcanada.ca

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3 responses to “Please…no more political inquiries

  1. Ken Hewitt and Dave Brown had it right in the wording of the petition. People signed the petition under that wording and for the reasons stated in it.

    I have a great deal of respect for Toby Barrett, but we do not need a request for this petition that embraces superfluous wording and a politically correct motivation to get the gov’t in power. Been there, done that in McGuinty versus Harris ( Ipperwash Inquiry). I know on several occasions Runciman and Barrett have asked about political interference especially in the Desoronto OPP response compared to what is happening in Caledonia , Brantford, Hagersville and Dunnville. This hints at interference for all of us who know the details.
    If race-based policing is stopped and the law of the land upheld, this interference would not be an issue. Simple words say it best. Equal law for all and Equal representation under that law.

    VoC REPLY: When Dave & Dana’s lawsuit (released just weeks before the last provincial election) contained allegations against 3 cabinet ministers, the PCs never uttered a word about political interference.

    When Fantino threatened Haldimand Council, the PCs barely uttered a whimper. It was NDP MPP Peter Kormos who said Fantino should be fired.

    When Michael Bryant smeared us and announced that my human rights complaint didn’t help to settle land claims, I asked several PC MPPs to speak out. I never heard from any of them.

    The PCs have known since March 14/07 that the Ipperwash Inquiry suppressed evidence and that the Inquiry’s recommendations have no relevance to the Caledonia situation, yet have said nothing.

    Now the PC’s want an inquiry into the political interference they have deliberately ignored for going on three years, all the while allowing constituents to believe the Ipperwash Inquiry was fair? Give me a break.

    I was always the first to credit Toby when he did something positive, such as speak at the Oct 15/06 march, create the Haldimand Proclamation, etc. He has certainly given the impression of ‘listening’ — which is why I find the wording of his proposed inquiry so very troubling; he knows what has transpired (we have provided him with LOTS of evidence) and he knows what the people want.

    A very brave fifteen-year-old girl from 6th Line and Joe Gaultieri stood alone at our Oct 8/07 ‘Remember Us’ March because not a single politician — Barrett and Tory included — would agree to stand with two victims of race-based policing, even though the election was just one week away. For shame!

    Forgive the cynicism, but from my perspective, the PCs have sat nearly silent on the sidelines while ordinary Canadians risked everything they had to defend justice and the rule of law, and now, the party wants to take credit for a grassroots movement they had no part in creating, and then twist its accomplishments and objectives to suit their own political agenda.

    This province needs what Ken Hewitt’s petition demanded – an exhaustive study into why an entire police force abandoned the Charter, the PSA, the Supreme Court and its Oath of Office, and a declaration that racial policing will never be allowed to exist in Ontario. Political interference is just one part of that story.

    As for settling the issue of land ownership??? You’ve got to be kidding! Six Nations can do what the rest of us have to do — present their evidence in court. We have spent 2.5 years fighting to de-link policing and land claim disputes, only to now watch the PCs play right into McGuinty and Fantino’s hands by linking the two issues! It’s enough to make you cry.

    Thanks for writing, ML. Regards, Mark

    P.S. If the PCs truly want evidence of political interference in policing and the courts, they know exactly where to find a pile of it with one phone call.

  2. WL Mackenzie Redux

    Good call on the inquiry…whenever a government is open to these “inquiries” they are always an elaborate theatrical political white wash of the issue. Dolton McSkidmark seems to have learned this lesson well from Stalinist technocrats. If he allows Barrett’s inquiry it is because he already has the evidence stacked, the Judge on the pork trough and his scape goats lined up.

    The “inquiry” has to be judical, and preferably the federal courts, because of the breech of constitutional protocol via Dolton’s defacto abandoning equitable rule of law to selective enforcement premised upon a nepotistic pecking order of identity group politics.

    VoC REPLY: Thanks for writing and for the compliment, WL, but it was Gary who caught the wording, not me. I was so excited that Barrett was demanding an inquiry I never bothered to read his preamble; I just assumed that it was in keeping with Hewitt’s petition. After I called Barrett’s office to thank them, Gary pointed out the fact that his inquiry had very different objectives than those in Hewitt’s petition.

    Thankfully, Barrett’s political inquiry doesn’t have a prayer of coming to pass. McGuinty won’t allow it, and the people who have been fighting for justice won’t allow it either. If the PCs think that they can just ignore the will of the people and duplicate the IpperWhiteWash they’ve got another thing coming.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been suckered by the PCs, thinking they’re finally going to do the right thing and help win this struggle only to be disappointed. Hopefully, it will be the last.

    Regards, Mark

  3. abettermanwouldawisermanwill

    Mark,

    To get this off my chest; the photo that you have representing the smoke shop on provincially owned property is out dated. It no longer looks like that photo which leads me to believe one of two things: A) You are being misleading with your photographic representations of the present day in Caledonia on your forum, or B) You haven’t been to Caledonia in quite some time to update your photographic content for reference of changes that actually represent the here and now.

    Thanks for letting me say that, it needed to be said. Other things need to be said as well. Things like this:

    1. It is widely believed by many that Ken Hewitt’s initial effort was advertised well prior to meeting the media and its spin. Everyone knows that the media will incorporate stories from the past on a situation no longer relevant to that moment in time to give credence and/or a sense of continuity to sell advertising space, air play, papers and numbers in an effort to jog the memories of readers/listeners…don’t they? OH YES THEY DO!

    2. Politicians are no different.

    It really is too bad that Toby Barrett took this opportunity away from Ken Hewitt (whom Toby gave credit as being “grassroots” in one article relating to Mr. Hewitt’s efforts) and thereby, with his selfish decision, sprayed Killex all over those grassroots. Now there’s some nice “representation” eh?

    Deep breath. More to say.

    3. It was widely advertised via mouth (even before the Hewitt petition launched in the media) that it had nothing to do with “the natives”. It gained much support prior to any on-line petition that was started or printable copy made available online by CWUC. And then the online version showed up with Ken’s name attached prior to the printable, signable copy. Everyone knows that a petition (of the real tactile sense) doesn’t hold water with government unless actual/factual signatures are attached…don’t they?

    What is the single biggest mistake made with the online version of the Hewitt petition? In my opinion, it left people the option to comment openly on the www for everyone to read and, thereby, allowing the petition to become about the one issue it was not designed to be about. Or was it? I no longer know.

    4. Enter Gary McHale in what can only be considered an honest effort to keep this train (the Hewitt petition) on the tracks. Begs the question; “Has anyone seen Ken Hewitt?”

    I have to wonder who is leading this latest charge. Is it Ken Hewitt, Toby Barrett or Gary McHale?

    When I can get an honest answer to that question, I will consider signing a petition that represents just one conclusion, the truth for the betterment of all involved.

    A better man would, a wiser man will.

    VoC REPLY: Thanks for the comments.

    1. First of all, the photo isn’t in this post, it’s in the last one. I took that photo personally of the smoke shack at some time after Dec 01/07 when I/we were attacked there by Six Nations residents during a protest.

    2. Pictures are an historical record of what happened at a certain time in history. The hydro station that was burnt out looks different today, but I don’t take pictures of it today unless I have a reason to do so. People aren’t throwing stuff over the bridge today, but I don’t take pictures of the bridge with no one on it today just so someone can’t accuse me of “misleading” them.

    If the actual state of the smoke shack was relevant to my story, then I might need a new picture. The fact is, the smoke shack is still on provincial land; it is still illegal; I and other people were attacked at it; and readers are not being misled in any way because it may not look exactly the same. It’s irrelevant to the story.

    I find it curious that you feel the need to comment on irrelevant details and use them to falsely accuse me of deliberately misleading readers, but you have nothing to say about the fact that McGuinty is responsible for helping children – native and non-native – get access to contaminated tobacco. Hmmm.

    2. As for the petition, who cares who is leading it? The history of the petition is well documented and clear from this story and from the ones linked to it. There’s no need to get into it any further.

    It is true, the online petition is of no use which is why Hewitt, with the help of CANACE members, made a printed version available.

    Again, I wonder why it matters to you who started the petition? Either you believe in it or you don’t. Sorry, but it sounds like you’re using McHale as an irrelevant excuse not to do the right thing, just as you’re using irrelevant details about my photo to try to discredit me with false accusations. From where I sit it seems that you’re the one with an agenda of misleading people. Mark