Shoddy Caledonia journalism continues: Toronto Sun reporter didn’t read ‘Helpless’ before publishing OPP rebuttal to Blatchford, Worthington allegations

UPDATE: Peter Worthington responds:  Peter Worthington uses Ipperwash Papers report to put the lie to McGuinty’s Ipperwash Inquiry ‘defence re Caledonia

VoiceofCanada has learned that Toronto Sun reporter Joe Warmington had not read Christie Blatchford’s newly released book exposing OPP racial policing practices in Caledonia prior to publishing a Nov 01/10 story devoted to giving OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis a chance to rebut the shocking allegations made by her in Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, And How The Law Failed All of Us, and in a subsequent review by Toronto Sun founder Peter Worthington.

[…]As the current leader of the OPP, and one with a deep understanding of the issues surrounding the Douglas Creek Estates conflict, it is very frustrating to hear and read one-sided views of incredibly complex, volatile and resource-intensive events,” Lewis said in an interview Monday.

The critics have spoken. Now it’s the Commish’s turn.

As the then-deputy commissioner of field operations who accepts “responsibility for the past and present operations of our service,” Lewis said he feels he has to stand up for the OPP in the wake of tough criticism coming from legendary Sun columnist Peter Worthington and Globe and Mail icon Christie Blatchford, whose new bestselling book, Helpless, offers scathing condemnation. […]

Joe Warmington appearance on Bill Kelly Show

Warmington appeared on the Bill Kelly Show on Nov 02/10 to discuss his column. Not only does he never mention the critical fact that he hadn’t read Helpless (just as he neglected to do in his article) , he contradicts his own Feb 21/08 story in which he declared, “The lawlessness that went on down there should not have been condoned or accepted by anybody” and, at the close of the interview he portrays himself as a defender of freedom of the press for helping to tell the OPP’s side of the story:

Some excerpts from the Kelly/Warmington interview:

I’ve covered Caledonia here and there and I’ve also been critical of the OPP at times…on issues…on specific issues, not overall. And at the same time try to be even because they’re not the bad guys in this and it’s a difficult job. 

I think sometimes what we do in the punditry world is forget the big picture and we focus on the one thing and cherry pick and I’m not suggesting anyone’s done that here in terms of Peter or Christie, but there is another side to the story and it’s always good to present it.

I understand the frustration and in some ways I agree with Christie and Peter on that, but at the same time I also believe in leaving policing to the experts and these people are experts.

I doubt they’ll [the OPP] get their due. But I think that they’re entitled to fight back a little bit and say, wait a minute. Mistakes were made and we’ll own those, but lets look at this burning inferno that we were dealing with, too, and the lives we did save. I think that’s what the commissioner is saying.

People are trying to get me not to write it and I’m getting people emailing my boss trying to get me fired for it. But, I don’t care. There’s no censorship here. I’m going to write what I want. And that’s what the guy says and I think he’s made some good points. I’m under it pretty good today and we’ll see what happens. But, I just thing that you have to fight for freedom of the press and [against] censorship. That’s what I’m all about. It sounds corny but when I criticized Chief Bill Blair during G20 and I was on your show for that I never disliked the man. I was writing what I thought was right.

Now, unfortunately, when you do that you pay a heck of a price. The Toronto Police still won’t talk to me. I thing that that reflects badly on them as much as it does anybody else, because I want to try to help them catch bad guys and I have some voice to do that.

So the personalities get in the way, but sometimes you have to do what you think is right, and I don’t think this was as big a deal as some people do. I think the guy’s entitled to his opinion, he was there, he was qualified and it wasn’t all on the OPP and I think that’s what he’s trying to say.

  • CHML, Bill Kelly Show, Nov 02/10: The new OPP commissioner is taking off the gloves… (Warmington re OPP in Caledonia) [PODCAST, WAV]

Gary McHale, who is a central character in Helpless, sent an email to Kelly suggesting that he be given a chance to appear on his show, but Kelly has not responded.

Christie Blatchford confirms – Warmington did not read Helpless prior to publishing Lewis’s rebuttal to allegations

HELPLESS: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, by Christie BlatchfordI found Warmington’s piece and his Bill Kelly appearance more than a little puzzling, and wondered if he had even read Helpless. I contacted Christie Blatchford who confirmed for me she had a conversation with Warmington who admitted to her that he had not read her book prior to writing his story.

VoiceofCanada asks Joe Warmington for his side of the story

I sent an email to Warmington at 11:18 AM Nov 03/10 to verify the facts, and give him a chance to respond:


Dear Mr. Warmington:  

I’m working on a story that will appear on VoiceofCanada and the Caledonia Victims Project about your article ‘OPP boss defends force over Caledonia,’ and I need to check some facts, please:  

1. Christie Blatchford advises me that you told her that prior to publishing this story that you had not read Helpless? Is this true? If so, why not?  

2. Since the entire purpose of the article seems to be to give the OPP an opportunity to refute the allegations made in Helpless, how were you able to prepare for the interview if you didn’t read the book?  

3. Do you think you should have read the book prior to the interview?   

4. In your 2008 article entitled, ‘On the eve of the 2nd anniversary of the Caledonia Crisis, it’s time for the premier to apologize for a horrible wrong‘ you state, among other things:  

Another question that came up in my [Joe Warmington’s] visit to Caledonia yesterday was: Has McGuinty forgotten about Caledonia? John Tory had the best line of the day. “He hasn’t forgotten. I guarantee you. It is on his conscience.”

It should be. What a disgrace it has been. His gutless approach then and his gutless approach now is unbecoming a premier of this great province. The lawlessness that went on down there should not have been condoned or accepted by anybody.

In light of your article that shows the OPP in a very positive light, can you clarify whether you now believe the OPP and/or premier conducted themselves appropriately in regards to the Caledonia crisis?   

4. Did you know, prior to writing your story, that the Ipperwash Inquiry never studied the issue of violence by native protesters against innocent residents, and that not one of its 100 recommendations specifically deals with that issue?   (See:  

5. The issue of media coverage on an issue of national importance such as the treatment of non-native citizens during land claim disputes is an important one, and I wonder if you would comment on whether there is anything you would have done or written differently regarding this story.   I will print your responses in full without editing. I expect to publish my story tomorrow afternoon.  


Mark Vandermaas 
Caledonia Victims Project


I have not received a reply from Warmington, nor did I receive a reply from him to my much earlier email of Feb 21/08 in which I offered to meet with Sun staff to brief them on our Ipperwash Papers project which proves the Inquiry suppressed all evidence of native crime against residents. 

The one question I forgot to ask Warmington was, “Did you know that Commissioner Lewis was once charged with Obstructing Justice (along with Superintendent Ron Gentle) for following Fantino’s order at the outset of an investigation to get Gary McHale charged with a crime?”

VoC Comment

“News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

  • Lord Northcliffe, British publisher 1865-1922 (SOURCE)

Fifteen Days, Christie Blatchford, 2008 winner of Governor General's Literary AwardChristie Blatchford is a Governor General’s Literary Award winner (Fifteen Days), and her introductory Author’s Notes for Helpless have this to say about the leadership of the OPP:

“As it turns out, the front line officers of the OPP were sold down the river too, by their senior ranks, in particular by two commissioners of the force, Gwen Boniface and Julian Fantino, who either subjugated themselves to government will, held their tongues or respectively dreamed up the disastrous operational plan for Caledonia and then stubbornly held onto it for dear life.”

Peter Worthington witnesses Lee Harvey Oswald shooting as Toronto Telegram reporter

Peter Worthington witnesses Lee Harvey Oswald shooting as Toronto Telegram reporter

Unlike Joe Warmington, Canada’s ‘legendary‘ Peter Worthington did read Helpless before he wrote:

“It is a horror story for ordinary people who were the victims of thuggery. But it’s a greater horror story for the OPP which behaved with negligence, dereliction of duty and, yes, cowardice. […] Top ranking OPP officers — starting with Commissioner Gwen Boniface and ending with Julian Fantino — wanted no trouble with Natives. By refusing to protect those threatened, or arresting those violating the law, senior ranks dishonoured themselves and the OPP. […] This is a landmark book that every citizen should read – and every politician and journalist. We’re all remiss for ignoring Caledonia’s message. And now Julian Fantino wants to be a federal MP and cabinet minister. Shame on him for Caledonia, and for his failure to lead.”

Two brilliant, award-winning journalists, one who researched the facts, and another who took the time to read what was written, came to the same conclusion that Caledonia was an absolute disaster because of OPP mismanagement and corruption, but the reporter who did NOT read the book blissfully concludes that the OPP were the ‘experts,’ and doubts they’ll ‘get their due.’

Once again, the people of Caledonia – and now, the brave officers of the OPP who stood up to help Christie Blatchford tell the story of how their force screwed everything up in Caledonia – have been betrayed by yet another advertising hack posing as a journalist. 

Joe Warmington’s story and his smarmy assertion that ‘freedom of the press’ compelled him to tell the OPP’s side of the story – without even bothering to read Blatchford’s well-researched book –  is a symbol for everything that is rotten about Canadian media, and especially its treatment of the Caledonia story during the past four years. Freedom of the press is useless if its practicioners are free to be so careless and/or wilfully blind when writing about an issue of national importance. 

Lucky thing Warmington isn’t working for me, I’d fire his ass or transfer him to an entry level position in the advertising department where he belongs.



Mark Vandermaas, Editor

3 responses to “Shoddy Caledonia journalism continues: Toronto Sun reporter didn’t read ‘Helpless’ before publishing OPP rebuttal to Blatchford, Worthington allegations

  1. I emailed my disgust about JW waxing ignorant poetic on her book which he never read) and to think he wrote a syndicated column re. Caledonia. (I’m in the midst of reading it and I am captivated).

    VoC REPLY: Thanks – for JW email (don’t expect a reply) and reading The Book. Mark

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