Brown-Chatwell trial: crimes against democracy

UPDATE: The Ontario government chose to end its public relations disaster known as the Brown-Chatwell lawsuit by reaching a mid-trial settlement on Dec 31/09.  National media outlets have issued strongly-worded commentaries on the settlement and the failure of the McGuinty government to  order the OPP to enforce the law equally: 

Please see the feature page for complete media coverage of the Brown-Chatwell trial.


And the government denies it owes any “duty of care” to Mr. Brown and Ms. Chatwell because all its decisions “in relation to the occupation of the DCE lands were policy decisions.”

Effectively, Mr. Brown’s and Ms. Chatwell’s lawsuit alleges the same thing – that the government, as a result of policy decisions taken for improper reasons including “political gain,” actively condoned the unlawful and criminal conduct of the protesters and failed to protect non-natives, denying them “the equal protection that they are entitled to under the law in a free and democratic society.”

Globe & Mail, Nov 10/09: Just how sensitive is Canada’s native file? REPRINT 

Brown & Chatwell trial: crimes against democracy

The $7M trial of Brown-Chatwell v. OPP (Ontario government) is in recess with at least 3 more weeks of evidence to come in the new year.  As part of a group of people who have been trying promote truth, justice and eventual healing/reconciliation on behalf of the innocent victims of racial policing – both native and non-native – I have some mixed feelings about the lurid evidence that has so utterly captivated the national media, and about what should come next.

I was only able to attend one day of the trial – when Dave Brown was testifying – but I speak to Gary McHale daily who is covering the trial for Caledonia’s Regional News. Both he and wife Christine are taking extensive notes and aiding other journalists with background and evidence. Gary and Christine have created a special page for the trial with links to legal documents, blog articles, and the numerous media stories,  including a great video commentary by Rex Murphy of CBC:

For a unique perspective on the trial, Caledonia and how native people themselves were victimized, see these articles by the author of ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry’ which contain quotes and comments from VoC:

Brown & Chatwell Trial Evidence

In addition to the awful experiences of Brown, Chatwell and their son Dax which can be read in numerous stories listed, the most startling evidence were the sworn statements of senior OPP officers (read into evidence by Brown/Chatwell’s lawyer) and submissions by the government’s defence lawyer which finally acknowledged what we and Caledonians have been saying all along:

1. the OPP knew the DCE occupation was taken over by organized crime – the Mohawk Warriors – almost from the beginning;

2. the OPP were conducting racially-based policing, knew it was wrong, and knew that the conduct of native extremists was not lawful;

3. racial policing was conducted for political reasons euphemistically called, ‘policy implications.’ 

1. DCE controlled by organized crime group – the Mohawk Warriors:

road-barr4.jpgEvans [Brown/Chatwell’s lawyer] said the protesters were joined by a group known as the Mohawk Warriors. He said the Warriors were acknowledged by the OPP’s director of operations, Superintendent John Cain, to be a “lawless group, usually armed, with a reputation akin to the Hell’s Angels.”

Hamilton Spectator, Nov 13/09: Caledonia family lived ‘terrified existence’  REPRINT

barricade1.jpgThe officers said the OPP grew more concerned about the possibility of violence after the arrival of militant members of the Mohawk Warriors, a group described as “akin to the Hells Angels.” The Warriors were involved in organized crime and cigarette running and had a reputation for physical confrontation and access to guns, including assault rifles, court heard.

“Their flag was raised higher than the Six Nations flag which is symbolic of who controls the site,” Insp. Haggith testified.

National Post, Nov 13/09: Faith lost in OPP’s ability to protect  Caledonia: testimony  REPRINT 

2. OPP refused to enforce law against native criminals 

Court heard evidence Friday from Gwen Boniface, the Ontario Provincial Police commissioner at the time, that police were aware of criminal activity directed at Brown and Chatwell by the protesters and that in some cases police did not take action.


bridge-fire2.JPGAlso on April 20, the protesters set fire to a wooden bridge not on the housing development site and when the fire department arrived, protesters shouted death threats at the firefighters. The fire chief said police stood by and did nothing, so he ordered his firefighters to let the bridge burn, because he wasn’t sure police could ensure their safety.

“He just didn’t believe that police would stop it,” Haggith said.

Haggith’s interview touched on several other incidents in which he described aboriginals committing crimes in actions unrelated to the land claim, and police not taking action.

On one day in June 2006, protesters swarmed an elderly couple’s car and the man had a heart attack. The same day, court heard, protesters attacked a TV cameraman trying to film the incident and took his camera, and an officer driving on a nearby public road was forced out of his car, which protesters then drove at him as he lay injured on the ground.

Haggith said he went to his superiors, saying these were acts of aggression that had nothing to do with the protesters exercising a land claim right.

“Arrests should have been made and they weren’t (right away),” Haggith told his bosses.

Toronto Star, Nov 13/09: Police sometimes did not act on Caledonia crimes, court told  REPRINT 

Mr. Bordin was reading excerpts from evidence given by OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino in a pre-trial procedure called examination for discovery.

The OPP boss was asked numerous times if conduct such as threatening death, swerving a vehicle and trying to hit someone, threatening to burn down a house, shining spotlights into the house at all hours – these are all allegations made in the lawsuit against native protesters – was either peaceful protest or “lawful assertion of a land claim,” and each time replied that it was not.

“Our position is that those are essentially acknowledgments on the part of the OPP commissioner that this [conduct] was not part of peaceful protest or assertion of land claim,” Mr. Bordin said.

Globe & Mail, Nov 11/09: Government preoccupied with how suit seen by natives: Motion to have judge disqualify himself seeks two-tier justice for aboriginals  REPRINT

After a failed raid on the property on April 20, 2006, the protesters erected barricades blockading the town’s two main roads.

Court heard excerpts Friday from an interview conducted under oath on Dec. 11, 2008 with provincial police Insp. Brian Haggith, who said the actions surrounding the blockades were “all unlawful.”

“I know we asked them if they would kindly remove the barricades,” Haggith said in the interview. “They said no.”

Haggith said the illegal barricades were not considered to be part of any aboriginal land claim protest.

warrior31.jpgThe police raid saw hundreds more supporters arrive and police had to retreat. People were streaming onto the site with “every kind of weapon imaginable” other than firearms from what he could see, Haggith said, including sledgehammers, axes, bats and a chainsaw.


In his “read-in” evidence, Haggith acknowledged much of the illegal activity Brown and Chatwell allege in their statement of claim, including threats to burn their house down, searches of their vehicle and theft of groceries, trespassing on their property and loud noises through the night.

Haggith also acknowledged that the protesters burned down a wooden bridge on April 20, 2006 and that it wasn’t part of the housing development site. In that incident the fire department came, but pulled back and let it burn because the protesters were shouting death threats and the fire chief didn’t believe the police could protect his firefighters.

“He just didn’t believe that the police would stop it,” Haggith said. “He was very skeptical as to how much protection we could offer.”

In another incident in May 2006, which also occurred off the housing development site, protesters caused about $1 million in damage by burning down a hydro station, court heard. In normal circumstances arrests would be made following such vandalism, Haggith said, but the hydro station was “off-limits to the police…that particular day.”

Canadian Press, Nov 13/09: Illegal activity in Caledonia unrelated to land claim protest, court hears  REPRINT

“They set up a checkpoint… Almost like they were entering another country,” OPP Inspector Brian Haggith said in previous sworn testimony that was officially read into the court record on Friday.

The bizarre, chaotic situation, not only at the occupied site but in the community, was detailed in court.

The community lost confidence in the OPP’s ability to protect them, according to Insp. Haggith’s testimony.

When natives set fire to a wooden bridge in town, the fire department withdrew from fighting the blaze when confronted by shouted death threats from the protestors. The fire chief told the OPP he did not believe they would protect him or his men if they went against the natives’ wishes, Insp. Haggith said.

power2.jpgA hydro substation was then destroyed, causing more than $1-million in damage and a blackout, when a truck crashed through its gates and was left, ablaze, next to the equipment. There was little police response.

On June 9, 2006, when two elderly citizens were followed and surrounded in their car in a commercial parking lot away from the occupation site, with native protestors jumping onto the vehicle and threatening to kill them, police did not intervene, court heard.

When a television news crew was seen shooting video of that attack, protestors walked past police officers and confronted the cameraman. A reporter was grabbed, put in a headlock and punched in the head, requiring hospital treatment. The camera was grabbed, dropped to the pavement and the video stolen.

Police did not intervene.

Insp. Haggith then heard a woman from the town on the phone to police, crying. But she refused to give officers her name because she said she knew police would not protect her from the protestors.

Even law enforcement personnel were not safe, court heard.

When an unmarked U.S. Border Patrol car with two U.S. agents and an OPP intelligence officer inside arrived to look at the site of the occupation, it was also attacked by natives. The car was stopped and the driver pulled out and a protestor climbed in.

As the OPP officer tried to escape out the back door of the moving car he was injured. The car was then driven directly at him as he lay incapacitated on the pavement and was narrowly pulled to safety by onlookers.

“I said it had gone on too far,” testified Insp. Haggith, of a subsequent meeting he had with his OPP superiors. His request for a change in policy was denied.

“We were dealing with this differently because it was a land claims issue,” he said.

opp.jpgPolice officers did not even go to the home of the plaintiffs in this case, David Brown and Dana Chatwell, in response to 9-1-1 calls. “We weren’t permitted to cross the barricades,” Insp. Haggith said, citing explicit orders from superior officers.

In their previous testimony, Insp. Haggith and OPP Superintendant John Cain acknowledged protestors committed numerous criminal offences including: attempted murder, uttering threats, assault causing bodily harm, robbery, trespass, mischief, forcible confinement, perhaps kidnapping and others.

National Post, Nov 13/09: Faith lost in OPP’s ability to protect  Caledonia: testimony  REPRINT

There it was, in lawyer David Feliciant’s opening statement yesterday, a glimpse of the dark heart of the government case.

Mr. Feliciant was attempting to put lipstick on the pig of the defence case in the civil trial that started here this week before Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Bielby.


Mr. Feliciant was discussing Mr. Brown’s arrest that May.

On the night in question, Mr. Feliciant alleged, Mr. Brown, who was returning home from a Blue Jays game in Toronto, appeared to be intoxicated and, when he was denied entry to his home by the native protesters who were then running things, he got belligerent.

He squealed his tires,” Mr. Feliciant said – good God, the horror – and drove through the barricade, and when he got to his house, instead of going directly inside, Mr. Brown dared to confront the protesters who had followed him there.

He was arrested “to prevent further breach of the peace,” Mr. Feliciant said.

Mr. Brown spent the night in jail and was released without charges in the morning.


And there you have it: One single incident of tire-squealing by a non-native Caledonian equalled a night in the clink; conduct by natives that was recognizably criminal was somehow counted as part of their land claim.


And natives were arrested, Mr. Feliciant said – 75 people charged with 160 offences in relation to the occupation, though notably, he did not say when these arrests were made.

Yet one of the key police witnesses, OPP Inspector Brian Haggith, who was at the time the commander of the nearby OPP detachment at Cayuga, appears to disagree with Mr. Feliciant’s sunny assessment.

One of Mr. Brown’s lawyers, Michael Bordin, yesterday engaged in a process called “read-ins,” where he read aloud from testimony taken earlier at a pretrial process called discovery.

Insp. Haggith was familiar with the force’s aboriginal framework, the document that emphasizes mediation with native protesters. “I think this was a good document,” he testified. “I believe in that document, and I believe in the principles behind it.

roadblocked.jpg“But what happened was that as time progressed, I could see that the – I could see as a police officer that the natives on that site were becoming more bold and that laws were being broken, and a lot of discretion was being used by us to deal with it.

“And I understood it at first, but as I said, as [the occupation] progressed, it became bolder and bolder and more things were occurring. So at one point, I started to suggest instead of investigating and charging later, which is not conventional policing, I suggested maybe we should start arresting some people while the offence is being committed.”

He raised that novel concept with his superiors; he was “disappointed” by their response.

Insp. Haggith also believed that the OPP’s failure to make arrests in a timely way, as they would in the normal course of duty, was empowering the protesters.

By June, he knew protesters had burned an old wooden bridge, and that when the Haldimand firefighters arrived to fight the blaze, threatened them with death. Fire Chief Dan Robinson refused to allow his men to return to the fire because, as he told Insp. Haggith, “he didn’t believe we would protect him.” He knew protesters had thrown a vehicle off another bridge and damaged a Hydro transformer to the tune of $1-million plus.

As he said in testimony, the normal OPP reaction to such wanton lawlessness would be quick arrests; at Caledonia, that wasn’t possible. “That area was off limits to the police,” he said.

On June 9, 2006, an elderly couple had stopped their car to have a look into the now-famous occupied lands. They were followed by protesters into a nearby Canadian Tire parking lot, surrounded and bullied. The man suffered a heart attack. Two local cameramen arrived and began filming the scene; OPP officers who were watching it all, but not stopping it, advised them not to get too close. When the protesters spotted the TV crew, the cameraman was assaulted and videotape removed.

Insp. Haggith arrived to see the cameraman with his bloodied face and heard from spectators what had happened.

The turning point came when he overheard a woman talking on the phone to a police dispatcher, saying she wouldn’t give her name because she was afraid. “The police won’t do anything,” the woman said, “Who is going to help us?”

It was, he said, “a perception I could share.”

Globe & Mail, Nov 14/09: Two standards of policing failed the residents of Caledonia  REPRINT 

3. Racial policing was politically motivated

What remains a mystery is how the province hopes to defend itself. In the years since the mayhem began the OPP has made no secret that its officers weren’t about to aggravate the situation by provoking the natives. In instance after instance Caledonians complained that police stood by and watched natives violate the law. People came to believe that while they remained subject to normal legal expectations, the natives could get away with almost anything without fear of police interference

Why? Crown lawyer David Felicient told the court Monday the couple’s claim “must be understood against the backdrop of the unique character of aboriginal occupations and protests.” The OPP were handcuffed by the “policy implications” of negotiation and reconciliation with natives, he said.

“Policy implications.”  In other words, the politics of the situation. The effect of earlier confrontations with natives — particularly at Ipperwash and Oka, was to terrify Ontario’s government into a state of near paralysis. Premier Dalton McGuinty is a man heavily disposed towards confrontation avoidance. His solution to potential conflict is often to try and buy off the other party, with juicier employment contracts, for instance, or, as in this case, by buying up much of the land at dispute and letting the natives have the run of it. The McGuinty government’s approach to native problems is to do as little as possible and hope it goes away. Not surprisingly, that has done little to dissuade natives from further confrontations.

National Post, Nov 17/09: Kelly McParland: ‘Policy Implications’ and law enforcement in Caledonia  REPRINT 

HAMILTON — The OPP is handcuffed by the “policy implications” of negotiation and reconciliation with aboriginal peoples when it comes to policing the fiery native occupation of land in Caledonia, forcing officers not to intervene in a startling litany of crimes, court heard on Friday.


samgualtieri-sm.jpg“The plaintiff’s claim must be understood against the backdrop of the unique character of aboriginal occupations and protests,” said Crown lawyer David Feliciant in his opening remarks.

Mr. Feliciant described the OPP’s role as “peacekeeping” in a volatile situation outside the normal bounds of law enforcement. Evidence presented in court, however, painted a shocking picture of a community that saw little in the way of peace at the height of the native protest.

National Post, Nov 13/09: Faith lost in OPP’s ability to protect  Caledonia: testimony  REPRINT 

Ms. Blake’s remarks also suggest the government appears ready to defend the case on the basis that native land claims are such precarious matters that their settlement, however achieved, trumps all non-native rights.

Indeed, in its “statement of defence,” the government says it and the OPP considered many complex issues including, but not limited to, the fragile peace in Caledonia, the importance of the rule of law, aboriginal and treaty rights, constitutional rights, the rights to lawful enjoyment of property, the right to lawful protest, concerns about public safety and the Crown’s role in bringing about the reconciliation of aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples through negotiation.”

And the government denies it owes any “duty of care” to Mr. Brown and Ms. Chatwell because all its decisions “in relation to the occupation of the DCE lands were policy decisions.”

Effectively, Mr. Brown’s and Ms. Chatwell’s lawsuit alleges the same thing – that the government, as a result of policy decisions taken for improper reasons including “political gain,” actively condoned the unlawful and criminal conduct of the protesters and failed to protect non-natives, denying them “the equal protection that they are entitled to under the law in a free and democratic society.”

Globe & Mail, Nov 10/09: Just how sensitive is Canada’s native file? REPRINT 

Indeed, Mr. Brown yesterday indicated that the OPP will defend the allegations its officers didn’t police Caledonia properly by taking “the position it was a land claims matter,” deserving of special kid-glove treatment, and not a law-and-order problem.

Globe & Mail, Nov 11/09: Government preoccupied with how suit seen by natives: Motion to have judge disqualify himself seeks two-tier justice for aboriginals  REPRINT  

The presiding judge didn’t buy a Defence argument that he should recuse himself because the Brown/Chatwell case might involve land claims and the Crown/Aboriginal relationship. The Defence argued that since eleven years ago the judge had some minor, indirect legal dealings with the Plaintiff’s lawyer he should excuse himself from the case to avoid even the slightest hint of bias. 

In my opinion, if the case before me involved two neighbours as parties in a nuisance action, as opposed to the context suggested by counsel for the defendants, the issue of an apprehension of bias regarding a past relationship should be dealt with in the same manner and by taking into account the same principles.

The principle of impartiality is a cornerstone of our judicial system and out to apply equally to all parties in all cases. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees everyone to equality before the law. The fact that this action will probably focus in part on the Crown-Aboriginal relationship and the public interest that arises therefrom is, I think, to some degree – to the most degree, rather, irrelevant to the issues of whether or not my past relationship with Mr. Evans gives rise to reasonable apprehension of bias.

 Justice T. Bielby, Nov 12/09: Endorsement on Motion for Recusal

More evidence to come

Keep in mind that the trial is just beginning – there is much more evidence to come when it resumes in January 2010. For example, the Brown/Chatwell statement of claim alleges that 3 of McGuinty’s cabinet ministers directly interfered with policing, an issue that has not been addressed yet in the trial. For more info and a copy of a letter by Monty Kwinter promising natives he wouldn’t call in the military to protect Caledonia see:

NOTE: Several weeks before the Ontario election in Ocober 2007, VoiceofCanada and CaledoniaWakeUpCall received copies of the Statement of Claim. Media reports and a casual reading of the claim itself give the impression the amount was $12M.)

VoC Comment

1. SYMPATHY FOR BROWN & CHATWELL: No person with even the tiniest conscience could feel anything but sorry for Dave Brown and Dana Chatwell. It is disgusting to me that, given the admissions by the OPP and the indisputable violence and intimidation committed by native extremists in Caledonia, and against them in particular, that the Ontario government would force them to air every lurid detail of their anguished descent into madness driven by the Ontario government’s own sick racial policies that made them (and every other victim in Caledonia) expendable to the native appeasement agenda. 

2. VINDICATION! Obviously, I/we feel a sense of vindication for our work now that senior OPP officers have testifed, via depositions partially read into evidence at the Brown/Chatwell trial, that they did not enforce the law equally in Caledonia. Inspector Haggith, the former Haldimand Detachment Commander wanted to do so as things got out of hand but was ordered not to. Let’s also not forget that police officers have already confirmed the existence of race-based policing under oath at Gary McHale’s trial. The Brown/Chatwell trial confirms what was already obvious:  OPP statements blaming Gary McHale for Caledonia’s woes were – as we have said all along – unadulterated, outrageous, malicious fabrications.

3.MORE EVIDENCE FOR LEGAL ACTIONS: Thanks to Gary McHale’s trial and the Brown/Chatwell suit we now have access to infinitely more evidence to support ongoing legal actions against those responsible for taking us so close to the precipice of total anarchy. Word is that some lawyers employed by the Attorney General’s office are just as outraged as the rest of us by the government’s attempt to defend the indefensible. I would like to believe (and not without some foundation!) that senior OPP officers and/or politicians are now realizing that there WILL be an inquiry into their conduct one day, and they had better not go into it without having taken some action to put an end to racial policing.

4. JUST THE LARGE TIP OF A HUGE ICEBERG: The MSM have done an extraordinary job so far of not only telling the story of Dave and Dana’s miserable existence, but of expressing their outrage at the conduct and attitudes of the government and the Crown. You can read and watch them here.  I can tell you that we have provided information and evidence to certain journalists covering the trial. They seem to be finally grasping our message about the horrible implications of allowing non-native rights to be subordinated to the whims of the OPP, McGuinty and the native militants they support.

Still, as I told author Frances Widdowson (Donner Book Prize Finalist Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry), what has been revealed thus far is only the large tip of a huge iceberg. Her article offers a perspective on the aboriginal sovereignty movement revealed by Christie Blatchford’s articles. I sent Widdowson some lengthy comments by email which she then invited me to post publicly. You can read them here:

5. VICTIMIZING NATIVE PEOPLE AND, WHO’S WHO ON THE LUNATIC RIGHT? Frances Widdowson wrote a follow-up story based on my comment (see #4 above)  that readers may find interesting. In addition to following up on my observation that native people themselves have been victimized by native extremism and racial policing she explains how non-natives who pretend to be on the left in their support of native militants have much more in common with the extreme right wing where the supremacist ideology of inequality dwells.

  • Offended by Offence, April 29/09: ‘Pseudoleftist support for “Mohawk Warriors” in Caledonia
  • These stories, videos, and editorials will give some insight into the native supremacist movement:


    6. LET THE HEALING & RECONCILIATION BEGIN – WITH THREE APOLOGIES:  Now that racial policing has been acknowledged by the OPP, and the depravities of native extremism have been undeniably documented, and to a small degree – acknowledged by Six Nations, it may be time to ask where we go from here? On Sept 29/08 CANACE founders Merlyn Kinrade and Mark Vandermaas (VoC) presented a vision to Brantford Council called, ‘Reconciliation: the CANACE Path.’  It included a diagram [right click and choose ‘rotate clockwise’] showing what CANACE believes is the true and only path towards justice and equality. One of the key steps consists of apologies; from the OPP, from the Ontario government and from Six Nations. During the past few months CANACE founders have met with the OPP and shared this diagram with them to help them fulfill their stated goal of healing the native and non-native communities.

    Healing and reconciliation can never truly take place until heartfelt apologies have been made to the victims. Will this happen today or tomorrow or even next year? No, but that is what we must insist upon and fight for even if it takes 20 years. One thing is clear – Race-Based Policing is dying and public opinion has turned against those who allowed it to exist. Will the perps acknowledge their catastrophic blunders and apologize so we can all move on or will they force us to fight to the bitter end. We’ll see.

    In ‘Let healing begin with Six Nation apology‘ I wrote, “I hope that the good people of Six Nations and their leaders are now ready to accept the truth into their hearts that remaining silent and/or encouraging those who victimized your non-native neighbours during the past 3 years was the wrong thing to do. I beg those in positions of respect on Six Nations to now collectively renounce the use of violence and apologize for what has taken place in the past so that we may all move to a much better time. I believe that the people of Haldimand are ready to take your hands in friendship and forgiveness, but the first move is up to you.”

    It would be my hope that whatever DCE may become in the future that a monument be erected at the entrance inscribed with apologies from the OPP, the Ontario government and the people of Six Nations. Then, the healing could begin in earnest.  CANACE would welcome any leader from Six Nations who is willing to walk through that door with us – provided they had no involvement in the violence and intimidation of residents. It’s long past time to show that people of good will are running things now – not the sociopaths who victimized innocents like Dave and Dana.

    Mark Vandermaas, Editor


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