Vaughan Citizen pulls no punches vs. Fantino’s record – including Caledonia

The Vaughan Citizen – sponsor of the Nov 23/10 debate which Julian Fantino snubbed – has released a scathing editorial about his failure to face voters, and which questions Fantino’s fitness to serve as Vaughan’s Member of Parliament.

This is the relevant excerpt for Caledonia victims:

[…] Mr. Fantino’s contrary decision [not to participate in the debate] is particularly unfortunate because, while his prior career activities have made him the best-known candidate, they have also made him by far the most controversial.

They raise questions that voters should have been entitled to have a chance to put to him at Tuesday’s debate before deciding how to vote.

For instance, it appears indisputable that during the aboriginal occupation in Caledonia, Mr. Fantino as OPP commissioner ordered his officers to stand idly by without enforcing the law while the occupiers committed serious criminal acts.

At the same time, he had his officers intimidate and even arrest law-abiding local residents who tried to assert their rights.

Whether Mr. Fantino was acting on his own initiative or following directions from the provincial government, couldn’t this be seen either way as a breach of the oath he swore under the Police Act to “prevent offences and discharge my other duties faithfully, impartially and according to law”? If so, wouldn’t that make him unsuitable for elected office, let alone to be a potential minister? […]

Editor of the Citizen Kim Champion also made it clear in her editorial, as she did on debate night, that Fantino did his best to thwart her efforts to accommodate his schedule when organizing the debate:


Since Conservatives Against Fantino was launched I have been pleasantly surprised to see that the Vaughan Citizen has never backed away from covering us, or holding Julian Fantino accountable where a lesser outlet might have shied away from the controversy out of fear of losing access to him should he win. Fantino isn’t the type to let go of a grudge, so the Citizen must have made a wilful decision to fulfil their role as watchdogs knowing it could have negative consequences for them.

Editor Kim Champion, reporter Caroline Grech and the Vaughan Citizen remind me of the Regional News in Caledonia, its publisher Chris Pickup, and reporter Bill Jackson who was himself assaulted and his camera stolen by native protesters when he photographed an assault on an elderly couple in Caledonia.

Bill Jackson takes notes at 2008 debate in Caledonia during 2010 municipal election

Bill Jackson takes notes at 2008 debate in Caledonia during 2010 municipal election

Not only did the Regional print hard-hitting letters from Caledonia residents and cover the stories without giving ink to the lies and propaganda of the native radicals terrorizing the town, Chris Pickup made the extraordinary decision in 2008 to give what some readers called the “devil incarnate” Gary McHale a weekly column so he could share details on the legal battles, protests and other matters related to our struggle in his/our own words. These columns provide an unequaled historical record of our work and Gary’s extraordinary use of the courts to seek justice on behalf of Caledonia residents, and they cannot be found anywhere else.

The Regional allowed Gary to use his column for other works he thought important such as my speech given at our flag raising protest on May 24/09 Provoking Violence? Lessons from Dr. King and the Little Rock Nine; and it became became the first media outlet in Canada to allow us to share the important lessons of our Ipperwash Papers project in our own words. The Regional’s gutsy decision to do so was recently acknowledged by the legendary Peter Worthington in Caledonia Crisis of Facts.

From our perspective the little, independent, weekly Regional News did more to stand up for justice in Caledonia and uphold its responsibility as ‘watchdogs of democracy’ than every other so-called mainstream media outlet combined. This is not an exaggeration. Other locals such as The Sachem, and the Dunnville Chronicle carried good articles occasionally and important coverage of our activities, but they did not take a clear, consistent editorial stand on the side of the victims. The MSM outlets were simply abysmal in their coverage; preferring to do mainly ‘he said/she said,’ ‘drive-by’ stories with occasional bursts of condemnation for those responsible for Caledonia’s misery.

The terrible truth is that until Christie Blatchford agreed to look at our evidence in late 2009 after the Brown/Chatwell trial began there had been zero investigative reporting in Caledonia since 2006, and not one media outlet had agreed to meet with us to go over our considerable evidence. Regional News stood alone with us to tell the truth, and it paid a price for doing so.

We wanted to honour the Regional and its staff for their commitment to the highest ideals of journalism in giving a consistent voice to Caledonia’s victims and those of us speaking out on their behalf, so we (CANACE and the Caledonia Victims Project) presented the Regional – at Christie Blatchford’s book Helpless launch party on Oct 27/10 – with a print of Barb Patterson Tuck’s award-winning painting ‘Caught in the Middle‘ which was signed by the artist and by us. Earlier in the evening we had given an identical print to Blatchford.

In a subsequent editorial Bill Jackson commented at length on the Regional’s approach to covering the Caledonia crisis; his gratitude at being honoured by CANACE; and the vindication of the Regional and CANACE activism in the light of Helpless. Bill’s editorial should be required reading in Canadian schools of journalism:

  • Regional News (Caledonia), Nov 03/10: Comment by Bill Jackson [PDF] (re vindication of Regional News coverage and CANACE efforts to oppose racial policing in light of Helpless)

I thank the Vaughan Citizen for holding Fantino accountable with their excellent coverage of this campaign. If I/we ever manage to have enough income to do so (now that would be a happy day!), I would propose to my colleagues that we institute a joint ‘CANACE/Caledonia Victims Project Watchdogs of Democracy Award’ to highlight excellence in Canadian journalism, and the Citizen would be its third recipient – after Christie Blatchford and Caledonia’s heroic Regional News.

I can only hope that Ms. Champion and Ms. Grech can appreciate the tremendous compliment paid to them and the Vaughan Citizen with the comparison to Caledonia’s Regional News. They are in very fine company indeed.

Letter to Vaughan Citizen by Bill Dietz, Sgt., RCMP (retired)

Caledonia resident Bill Dietz is a former Sergeant with the RCMP. He wrote a letter to MP Diane Finley expressing his outrage at the party’s embrace of Julian Fantino which he allowed us to post here on CAF, and use in the 60,000 brochures we are distributing to Vaughan voters during the campaign. We used one of Bill’s quotes on the front cover.

Coincidently, as I was working on this article, Bill sent me a copy of a letter he emailed Nov 25/10 to Kim Champion, Editor of the Vaughan Citizen:

Hi Kim

I have just had the opportunity to listen to your introduction of the Candidates at Tuesday’s All Candidates meeting….courtesy of Jeff Parkinson of CANACE, and have just read the article posted online at the York regarding “Fantino Cops Out”.

I am so pleased and thankful that you have given us an ear, and taken the time to try to understand Mr. Fantino, I truly realize what a challenge that must have presented, when I first contacted you.

I understand that you have had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the members of CANACE; and while I am not a member of that organization, I fully support what they are trying to do.

Mr. Fantino seems oblivious to his surroundings and to the ordinary people that his actions affect deeply. I sincerely hope that the good voters of Vaughan, including members of the Conservative Party, will recognize that

this is not the type of person that should be representing all of us in Ottawa.

Thank You for Your efforts to understand the truth.


Bill Dietz
Sgt, RCMP (Retired)
Caledonia, Ontario

Thank you again Bill, for speaking out, and sharing similar thoughts. As a note, I’m not sure if Ms. Champion herself has met CANACE members, but I believe reporter Caroline Grech has.


Mark Vandermaas, Editor

NOTE: Mark was an original founder of CANACE as described in Helpless, but left in early 2010 to found the Caledonia Victims Project.

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