UPDATE, Oct 24/10: Caledonia Victims Project: ‘Helpless’ excerpt 1, [by Christie Blatchford] – ‘Caledonia: the town that law forgot’
The end result was a form of policing that would be simply unrecognizable to Canadians living anywhere else in the country: cops who watched or turned away as the law was broken, sometime brazenly; cops who appeared to take sides and would take action against only one group of people and not the other; cops who refused to make arrests, conduct investigations or protect the public.
Some of those officers who resisted were either punished, reprimanded or disciplined, with the result that the others lost heart. Few people are as shamed by Caledonia, sickened by their own impotence, as the men and women of the OPP who worked there regularly.
UPDATE re Dec 01/07 Assaults on OPP officers: Gary McHale presented video evidence to the Court during an attempt to file a private prosecution for some of the many assaults on OPP officers on Dec 01/07. Unfortunately, and unbelievably, he was successfully opposed by the Crown Attorney(!) who argued that the police were capable of laying their own charges should they wish to do so.
You may also be interested in seeing the photo of Julian Fantino laughing it up with Clyde Powless, the guy who led the vicious swarming attack on Gary McHale on Dec 1/07 and who was responsible for several assaults on OPP officers himself that day.
UPDATE re Dec 01/07 Caledonia violence: On Dec 01/07 the Haldimand detachment issued a press release quoting Commissioner Fantino that falsely blamed non-native residents and ‘interlopers’ i.e. Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas for the day’s violence before any investigation had been done. Please see, ‘CANACE calls for RCMP to take over investigation after Fantino blames victims of Caledonia violence.’
We would also like to advise that we are in the process of using private informations to lay charges against those who assaulted police on Dec 1st. According to Detective Murray’s testimony under cross-examination by Gary McHale, not one of the officers who was assaulted that day filed a complaint. This can only be the result of OPP policy – written or tacit – that native suspects are not to be charged for assaults against officers. If OPP brass won’t protect frontline officers, we will.
If you wish to help, please contact the OPPA and request that they offer assistance to us. Also, if you have any documentary evidence related to OPP policies of treating citizens differently based on their race, please mail it to: Mark Vandermaas, 371 Vesta Place, London, ON N5Y 1G4.
A message for OPP officers in Caledonia
In my article, OPP Email: Hartless Complaint was revenge for McHale association!, I released an email from OPP Caledonia/Cayuga Detachment Commander Dave McLean that exposed how the OPP had been motivated by a desire to punish Dave Hartless for his association with Gary McHale. I was disgusted by McLean’s false statements about McHale and with his apparent disregard for the Charter of Rights that guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of association.
I couldn’t help but think that there must be at least one or two OPP officers in Haldimand who feel the same way.
Did you swear an oath to uphold the law, or to uphold lies?
If you are an OPP officer in Caledonia you must surely know in your heart that it is wrong for senior officers to spread lies about law-abiding citizens. You must know that it is wrong to conspire to stifle free speech and citizens’ right to free association. You must surely know that you are undermining Canada’s democracy and its very security every time you refuse to enforce the law; every time you arrest a Canadian citizen who wants to exercise their right to place a flag on a pole; every time you take orders from the DCE thugs; every time you enforce race-based policies; every time you refuse to do what you know is right.
You know the truth; you were there!
We have protested against your force’s activities peacefully and legally. Contrary to what your senior officers have told the public, not a single person – civilian or police officer – has ever been hurt at a March for Freedom event organized by Gary McHale. You know this is true; you were there!
We reached out to help front-line OPP officers, and were libelled for our efforts by the OPPA
In January 2007, I personally left two detailed messages for OPPA Vice President Ron Middel on his cell phone asking that he meet with us for the purpose of discussing how we could get the negative attention off front-line officers and onto the brass where we thought it belonged.
Our reward for reaching out on your behalf was a disgusting media release issued by OPPA President Karl Walsh on Jan 18/07 that accused us of promoting hatred and inciting violence. You – through your association – are now being sued for that outrageous libel, libel that cannot be substantiated because it simply is not true. Our lawyer told us that the OPPA news release was the worst case of libel he has ever seen.
Please, don’t take my word for it. I urge you to read my complaint to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services regarding the defamatory statements made against me/us by senior OPP officers.
You are defending a culture built on the lies of Ipperwash
On March 14/07 we went to Queen’s Park to release The Ipperwash Papers, a collection of more than 400 pages of documents that were ‘overlooked’ by the Ipperwash Inquiry. The Commissioner of the Ipperwash Inquiry says that the OPP are using ‘best practices’ in Caledonia, yet The Ipperwash Papers show that the Inquiry completely excluded the residents and key evidence. It never studied the issue of violence against innocent third parties and, therefore, reliance on its 100 recommendations (not one of which specifically addresses the issue of violence vs. residents) by Fantino & McGuinty to ‘justify’ the illegal racial policing policies in Caledonia represents a policy fraud of the highest order.
You can read a fully-cited summary we authored which was published as a 2 part series in the Regional News here:
- Regional News series, Feb 18-25/09: McGuinty’s Ipperwash Cover-up: the Caledonia Legacy [PDF, 10p]
Again, don’t take my word for it; spend some time reading the documents the Inquiry didn’t want you to see. They will shock you and reaffirm what you already know – that the OPP’s policies that you are enforcing are based on lies.
[Photo/link above is to July 02/07 article called ‘Protection Racket: an Ontario judge glosses over illegal aboriginal acts at Ipperwash.’ It was inspired by The Ipperwash Papers project, and it quotes project contributors Mary-Lou LaPratte and Mark Vandermaas.]
You are being ordered to violate the Charter of Rights and the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada
One says that citizens have the right to place items on public utility poles. The other says that third parties to aboriginal land claims have NO duty to consult or accommodate aboriginal concerns. In other words, the OPP do not have the right to suspend the rights of non-native citizens as a convenient alternative to enforcing them.
Every time you prevent us from putting up a flag you are breaking the law and undermining democracy. Once again, don’t take my word for it; read the VoiceofCanada articles listed in ‘References’ below, and see the court’s decisions for yourself:
Ramsden v. Peterborough (City),  http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/scc-eliisa/highlight?language=en&path=http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/1993/1993rcs2-1084/1993rcs2-1084.html&query=%2Bhydro+%2Bpoles
Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 
In section 78 on page 27 of the Jan 12/07 ‘Plaintiff’s Factum’ for the Caledonia Class Action lawsuit, solicitor John Findlay of Findlay McCarthy states the following: “The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that third parties to Aboriginal treaty claims have no duty to consult or accommodate the group that is making the claim. Further, third parties are not subject to any duty or are required to make any accommodation to enable the Province to obtain a remedy to an Aboriginal claim. It is up to the Province to find that remedy without affecting or compromising third party interests. “Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), supra., per McLachlin C.J. at paras 52 to 56” Caledonia Class Action Plaintiff’s Factum, Jan 12/07
Why your morale is low
We know that morale within OPP officers serving in Caledonia is low. It is low because you know that you are part of a culture that goes against everything you were ever taught about democracy. You know that what you are doing is wrong. You know, deep inside, that you are acting as enablers to senior officers who think they have the right to suspend the constitutional rights of non-native citizens as a convenient alternative to protecting them. You know it’s wrong, but you do it anyway.
We are NOT the enemy of police officers or of law & order
I have never met a single person involved in the struggle against Two Tier Justice who dislikes police officers. When I met recently with a representative from the Solicitor General’s office regarding my complaints against your Commissioner, I explained to him that if someone had told me a year ago that I would be involved in a struggle to get police officers to enforce the law I would have told that person they were crazy. Yet, here I am.
We believe in the rule of law. We believe in equality before the law. We believe in the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. We believe in the Supreme Court of Canada. And…we believe in supporting police officers who honour their oaths of office. We want to support and honour you, but we cannot because you are dishonouring your oaths and subverting the principles of democracy.
No, we are not your enemy. But, so long as you enable your superiors to subvert democracy and do nothing to help us resist them, we will continue to oppose your actions. All of us must be responsible for our actions, and you – as a police officer – accepted an even greater responsibility when you put on your uniform. Until the OPPA apologizes for their attacks on us and makes it clear that they are opposed to Two Tier Justice on behalf of all OPP officers, the responsibility for resisting this evil rests with each officer individually.
We would prefer that you become partners in the struggle against Two Tier Justice, but so long as you continue to violate our constitutional rights and so long as the OPPA refuses to join the struggle we will be forced to continue to file OCCPS complaints and lawsuits against you, your force, your association and its leaders.
History rejects the ‘I was just following orders’ defence
My parents lived through the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II, so I have read a great deal about that period. In 1935, long before the first gas chamber was built or the Final Solution was proclaimed, Nazi Germany decreed the Nuremburg Laws that were designed to exclude Jews from participating in German society. The horrors that would come barely five years later were made possible not by storm troopers, but by quiet acquiesence by low-level clerks, bureaucrats, police officers and judges who were ‘just following orders’ as they enforced racist laws they knew or ought to have known were wrong.
I am not saying that your actions in Caledonia will lead to genocide, but I do believe that anarchy is a distinct possibility as more and more people lose faith in your willingness to enforce the law, and/or to do it fairly. You and your fellow officers have a duty to do whatever you can to prevent the rule of law from being lost. You and your fellow officers have a duty not to enforce laws based on race. No good can come from race-based policing.
You may know that I have served with the Canadian Forces and the United Nations on a peacekeeping mission. We were taught that we had a duty – not a right or an option – to refuse to carry out illegal orders, so I reject out of hand the ‘I was only following orders’ excuse. I have said that I would rather be a bum under a bridge than an OPP officer enforcing Two Tier Justice in Caledonia, and I mean it.
An appeal to all OPP front-line officers in Caledonia
I call on you to join us. Help us by gathering and sending evidence anonymously as some of your fellow officers are already doing. Call the OPPA leadership and ask them to tell you the truth about us. Ask them to show you the ‘evidence’ against us. Then, when they cannot, tell them to defend democracy instead of attacking law abiding citizens.
Am I saying that you should quit your job with the OPP? No, not if you’re doing whatever you can to resist. Not if you’re calling the OPPA to pressure them to fight for the rule of law on your behalf. Not if you’re sending evidence to those of us who can help expose the truth about the force so it can be reformed. Not if you’re speaking out against Two Tier Justice like Dave Hartless did.
One day you will be judged
One day you will be called to account for what you did or didn’t do in Caledonia by your God, by your courts or by your children. Will you be able to say that you did everything you could to defend Canada’s democratic institutions against injustice and abuse, or will you say, “I was just following orders.”?
I look forward to hearing your answer.
I will protect your identity
I will do my very best to protect the identity of any OPP officers who wish to comment on this page. Since I have proven that I am more than willing to go to jail over my right to raise a Canadian flag, you can guess how far I would be willing to go to protect officers from reprisals for exercising their constitutional right to free speech.
PLEASE SEE COMMENTS BELOW ‘REFERENCES’ SECTION
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
371 Vesta Place
London, ON N5Y 1G4
- VoiceofCanada, July 07/07: OPP Email: Hartless complaint was OPP revenge for McHale association!
- Western Standard magazine, July 02/07: Protection Racket (about failures of Ipperwash Inquiry)
- VoiceofCanada, May 30/07: Ipperwash Papers vs. Ipperwash Inquiry: 12 Questions for journalists
- VoiceofCanada, May 26/07: OPP Two Tier Justice policies victimize native people
- VoiceofCanada, May 17/07: Audio recordings reveal OPP hid DCE dangers from public
- VoiceofCanada, April 30/07: Federal civil rights law would protect us from OPP
- VoiceofCanada, April 11/07: Fighting back against the OPP & OPPA
- VoiceofCanada, Jan 25/07: VIDEO EVIDENCE: Two Tier Justice – By the Numbers
- Regional News series, Feb 18-25/09: McGuinty’s Ipperwash Cover-up: the Caledonia Legacy [PDF, 10p]
COMMENT: Haldimand County Officer – Anonymous
I have read this with an open mind – being an officer assigned to Haldimand County. I was there on Sterling street last friday evening – and believe me, we all understand your frustrations and so do 99% of the officers currently assigned to the county. We are fed up with it too – we’ve seen the problems and we’ve seen the dangers.
There is one part I whole heartedly agree with though – when you asked us to believe that you are not the enemy. Friday evening, i stood on the line, and then i drove in and out. I had my window down and i had a large male (i’m a fairly big guy myself) walking down the street directly in front of my cruiser. I had a civilian media rep with me (non native). This male refused to get out of my way – luckily I was only going 15 km/h… as I moved around him and pulled up outside, he felt the need to scream directly into my window and throw his hands into the cruiser towards me. Now, I’ll give other townspeople credit for asking him why he would do that – but that goes beyond being frustrated with the natives. I drove through the lines and back out again and I’ll have you know, we were called every single name in the book by several towns people. and thats no joke. How do you think the media personality I had with me felt about that? And how do you think that may make that person feel about reporting on issues in a non biased way?
I personally stood on that line and turned 4 natives away that tried to cross. Don’t tell me I will or will not be judged by anyone for what I’ve done. What frustrated me and pissed me off more then anything that day? Being called a useless piece of shit by some guy on the front lines because I was driving out of there to protect the rest of the county that night.
If you are sincere in this email about anything you say about supporting the front line guys – the number one thing you can do is have these people who only come there to cause trouble with the police removed. Just keep in mind, almost all of the people manning the checkpoints and standing on the front lines now are permanent haldimand county officers. ones that are still gonna be there when this is all over.
I know one things for sure – there is a few faces from that night I won’t forget – and they aren’t native.
VoC REPLY: Thanks so much for writing HCO. Sorry to take so long to reply, but I’ve been really tied up. I’ll try to address each of your points as best I can:
1. Thank you for reading this with an open mind. I can tell that you did so, and I think all of us appreciate that.
2. I’m really glad to know that the officers in Caledonia, especially the permanent Haldimand officers, realize the dangers, and are fed up with the situation. That gives me some hope. I can’t tell you how many times we have wondered if any of you still knew the difference, or if you realized how close your leaders are to taking our province to the brink of anarchy. Thanks for that.
3. I saw you and the other officers turn back that carload of natives, and we were grateful for it. I have to admit that I was tempted to put it down to ‘optics,’ but I decided to report it at face value.
4. I appreciate very much you telling me that you believe we are not the enemy. My lawyer and I had a meeting a while back with Rod McLeod, a former deputy minister appointed by the Solicitor General to review our complaints against Fantino and report back to the minister. (The SG dismissed all our complaints before McLeod finished his report, but that’s another story.) I told McLeod that if someone had told me a year ago that I would be begging him to get police to enforce the law and do it equally, I’d have said they were crazy! (I also told him that the big mistake the OPP and government were making was treating a small group of native criminals as if they speak for all honourable native people.)
I used to drive for the Toronto Transit Commission, and there were several occasions when I went to the aid of police officers who were being harassed by crowds. I promise you this: even given how I feel about the OPP policies and the refusal of individual officers and their union to speak out, I would be the first to risk my life to protect yours if you were attacked by native thugs or anyone else. I can say this because I believe that none of us should stand idly by and allow injustice to occur. Given what I know of Gary McHale, Jeff Parkinson and Merlyn Kinrade, they would do the same for you. Merlyn and I feel a special kinship with police officers because we both swore oaths to serve our country and we both wore a uniform that represented those oaths, just as you do now. It saddens me greatly that your leaders and your union think of us as enemies. We are not.
5. KEEPING OUT TROUBLEMAKERS, Part 1: Contrary to what you might have been told, we do not incite hate or provoke violence because we don’t believe in it. We ask people not to use racial slurs and not to swear even when they are provoked to the extreme. On January 20/07 a large group of natives on DCE screamed insults and obscenities at us for 30-40 minutes as we stood silently looking at them. Eventually, they realized we were not going to react and they just drifted away, rendered completely impotent by silent non-violence. Afterwards, a native man who was there wrote to me and eventually expressed his shame at how his people had acted that day. You can read our exchanges in “She:kon Mark” – Karone:rorakwe shares thoughts from DCE with VoC.
Unfortunately, we have no control over who shows up at an event any more than you have any control over whether we show up. So far, however, our marches and townhall events have been completely peaceful, and that is what we will continue to strive for.
As far as last Friday at Stirling Street was concerned, we did not organize that event or promote it. We simply showed up to support the residents and the injured man.
6. KEEPING OUT TROUBLEMAKERS, Part 2: If we (McHale, Parkinson, or I) had witnessed anyone swearing at officers or putting their hands in your car or blocking your car or even getting close enough to be threatening to you, we would surely have done our best to let them know that such antics do not help our cause. On Dec 16th, for example, I asked people to back away from the officers keeping us from putting up a flag so they wouldn’t feel threatened.
Gary McHale has said many times that the moment people in Caledonia use violence against police officers or natives, the media will run the video clips for the next year portraying residents as the aggressors.
7. KEEPING OUT TROUBLEMAKERS, Part 3: I think the people of Caledonia have been remarkably restrained in the face of unbelievable provocations from native thugs and a police force that has gone out of its way to enable them. I am sorry they swore at you, but at least they weren’t attacking you and your vehicles with baseball bats or violently occupying your police station, or threatening to shoot you, or ordering you not to police certain areas, etc.
Still, your point is well taken. I’m sure the verbal insults hurt you as much or more than the physical threats. I will certainly continue to do my best to encourage people to treat OPP officers with the same dignity that any human being deserves.
8. KEEPING OUT TROUBLEMAKERS, Part 4: A big part of the problem with getting a consistent ‘keep the peace’ message out to everyone in Caledonia is the role OPP and OPPA leaders have played in trying to discredit our peaceful, lawful efforts to oppose what the force is doing. Fantino and McLean’s emails show that there was a deliberate attempt to destroy our reputations and impede our efforts despite all evidence to the contrary that we are who we say we are, and that our methods and objectives are lawful.
We suspect that these efforts have been part of a deliberate attempt to stifle opposition and to divide the town. At some level, this has been ‘successful’ in preventing a unified front against Two Tier Justice, but the price of the OPP’s ‘success’ is that residents feel that no one is listening to them, that they have no voice. Even worse, reasonable and honourable native people have been led to believe the worst about us and have made disgusting allegations about us. This, of course, discourages residents from speaking out and joining peaceful efforts such as ours. It also means that we have much less influence over them than you might think during an event such as last Friday’s where we were not the organizers.
We are the ‘moderates’ in this struggle. Some people want to hide their heads in the sand and wait for landclaim lawlessness to suddenly disappear. Others want to fight. Their rage leads them to say and do things that do not help anyone. We are in the middle; we believe in direct, but peaceful confrontation. It is this confrontation that forces officers to violate our rights for all to see. We, in turn, can then file complaints, lawsuits and write stories to further our goals of ending Two Tier Justice (a phrase first used by Karl Walsh, by the way).
Martin Luther King Jr. knew the power of direct, but peaceful action and we take a lot of our inspiration from him. If you’d like some interesting insights into how we think, have a look at these two items: one is a letter from well-meaning clergy asking Dr. King not to go to Birmingham, the other is an excerpt from his reply – his famous Letter from Birmingham jail in April 1963 when he was jailed for parading without a permit.
Dr. King could have chosen to do nothing and remained an anonymous ‘outsider,’ or he could have chosen to use violence as some blacks were urging. History remembers him for choosing the middle road of direct confrontation.
“I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against outsiders coming in. I am in Birmingham because injustice is here”
“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path? You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, non-violent tension which is necessary for growth.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
Our efforts do raise tension, but they do it in a non-violent manner in such a way that OPP leaders and the government cannot ignore the fundamental injustice of race-based policing forever.
9. HOW DO WE SUPPORT YOU? As I said above, I tried to reach out to the OPPA and was rewarded with hateful accusations in a press release. In the absence of their voice on your behalf, how DO I speak out for you without compromising my fundamental belief in individual accountability? In my heart I know that if I were an OPP officer I would speak out and be prepared to resign rather than play any part in destroying the rule of law.
The best solution is that you and your fellow officers convince your union to join this struggle. The OPPA’s silence on preserving the rule of law while attacking us is most puzzling.
The other way would be to find a way to pass on comments from a group of officers in Haldimand in a way that wouldn’t identify them. I’m open to your suggestions. I would certainly be willing to meet with you or even a group of officers to listen, to answer any questions they might have about me/us, and to take your stories to the public anonymously. You tell me when and where. If there were enough officers willing to participate, we could overcome the OPPA’s refusal to speak altogether and get your message out that you do not agree with OPP policies. Send me an email at info@voiceofcanada, or call me. I’m in the London phone book.
Thanks for writing. Be safe. Regards, Mark