CANACE calls for RCMP to take over investigation after Fantino blames victims of Caledonia violence

13 12 2007

NOTE: this is a summary of the events that took place in Caledonia on Dec 01/07 during a protest against the appearance of yet another illegal smoke shack. It is intended to provide media and politicians with a ‘quick reference’ guide to counter pronouncements by the Ontario Provincial Police that peaceful non-native demonstrators were somehow responsible for the violence that occurred that day.

It will be updated as new evidence and information becomes available. Links to additional evidence and commentary can be found at the bottom.

Also note that this page does not contain a comprehensive list of all evidence that may be available.

UPDATE DECEMBER 03/08: Despite a history of making serious allegations against Mr. McHale that he and his supporters were ‘involved’ in or ‘inciting’ violence OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino testified under oath on Nov 26/08 that the OPP never charged Gary McHale with any crime prior to Dec 01/07 because they had NO evidence to support any such charge. Please see the following references that support the CANACE version of events set out below:

UPDATE OCTOBER 17/08: CANACE Executive Director Gary McHale presented evidence to a Hamilton court on Oct 16/08 proving that OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino directed his officers – prior to the investigation having begun – to target Gary McHale for arrest in connection with the confrontation described below even if there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. Please refer to VoiceofCanada article, ‘McHale Charter application alleges Fantino misconduct” for additional information and links to media articles.

gary_hospital-dec01-07-small.jpgDECEMBER 13, 2007 – On December 01, 2007 CANACE Executive Director Gary McHale was viciously swarmed and assaulted in multiple, unprovoked attacks by native supporters of an illegal smoke shack operation.

False allegation of assault, and initial assaults against Mr. McHal

The violence against Mr. McHale was initiated when a woman walked over to him and loudly screamed that he had pushed her when, in fact, he had not. She then pushed him and again loudly accused him of assaulting her.

Mr. McHale was immediately struck from behind by punches to the head. No one was arrested for the attack.

Mr. McHale was later told by OPP detectives that day that an assault complaint had been filed against him.

Video evidence clearly shows that the alleged ‘assault’ by Mr. McHale on the woman never occurred, and that Mr. McHale did not retaliate to her assault or the subsequent attacks from behind.

  • Video, Dec 01/07: Assault #1, Part 1 – McHale is set up for phony assault charge and then assaulted

Less than a week after the incident, the OPP charged Gary McHale with ‘Counselling Mischief, not committed.’ According to a Toronto Star story (Four more charged over clash in Caledonia) dated Dec 24/07 the woman who filed the false complaint against him which incited the crowd to attack has been charged with Public Mischief. The OPP refused to charge her for assaulting Mr. McHale so he was forced to lay the charge himself via a private prosecution. Ms. Camille Powless is now charged with Assault.

Subsequent assaults on Mr. McHale 

Approximately 20 minutes after the intial attacks on him, Mr. McHale was again attacked by the leader of the Douglas Creek Estates occupation Clyde Powless, and by Turtle Island News publisher Lynda Powless who claims that Mr. McHale assaulted her. Video footage clearly shows that Ms. Powless hanging on to Mr. McHale’s arm with both hands as Mr. Powless attacks from behind with his hand around Mr. McHale’s neck. Again, Mr. McHale did not retaliate.

  • Video, Dec 01/07: Assault #2, Part 1 – DCE occupation leader Clyde Powless arrives on scene screaming “You want this?!?,” before he attacks McHale. Woman yells, “Get him. Get him.” Another screams, “Kill him! Kill him!”
  • Video, Dec 01/07: Assault #2, Part 2 – Another camera shows McHale w/hands in pockets not responding or even looking as Clyde Powless screams at him and begins attack; police assaulted
  • Video, Dec 01/07: Assault #2, Part 3 – CHTV News coverage, includes video shot by; Powless attacks McHale from behind
  • Video, Dec 01/07: Assault #2, Part 4 – slow motion footage showing McHale being escorted by officers, one of whom has told him to “keep going no matter what happens.” Turtle Island News publisher Lynda Powless grabs McHale’s arm with both hands, Clyde Powless jumps on McHale and Caledonia resident Doug Fleming goes to McHale’s rescue by pulling Powless off. As Powless attacks, another man punches him in the face causing McHale to lose his glasses. The punch itself is not seen, but is delivered by the man in a tan coat who appears at :48 and again at 1:03. 
  • video, Dec 01/07: McHale attacked, second time Longer version. Natives yelling “Get him! Get him! Get the fat fuck!” as Mr. McHale is swarmed, jumped from behind, then punched and kicked as he lay on the ground.

CANACE co-founder knocked unconscious by police 

CANACE co-founder Jeff Parkinson, who was filming the attack, was violently shoved to the ground by an OPP officer and knocked unconscious for approximately 20 minutes. Witnesses report that, while Parkinson was laying unconscious on the pavement, natives were yelling, “Kick him in the head. Finish him off.”

Both McHale and Parkinson were released from hospital later the same day. Mr. Parkinson is still suffering serious effects from what is hoped to be a temporary brain injury.

Attack on CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas 

Earlier in the day, CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas was attacked by a group of smokeshack supporters who pushed him, threatened him and chewed on his Canadian flag in an attempt to rip it.

OPP officers refused to identify or arrest his attackers, with one sergeant telling him to ‘Back off!’ after he asked that they be charged. The same officer later arrested Kyle Hagan, a resident standing quietly holding a coffee among other residents at the protest. Mr. Hagan did not assault or try to assault the officer, and offered no resistance to his arrest.

hagan-falsearrest2_dec01-07.jpg   haganfalsearrest3_dec01-07.jpg


Protest organizer charged with ‘Mischief’ after blocking road

The organizer of the residents’ protest against the illegal smoke shack, Caledonia resident Doug Fleming, was charged with ‘Mischief’ for blocking the road. The native smokeshack supporter who blocked the road earlier in the day with his truck was not charged, however.

Police allow smokeshack supporters to reach scene, but not non-natives 

A man from Six Nations was charged for blocking the highway through town approximately one kilometre north of the developing incident using a hydro tower. According to residents, Police also set up a road block, but allowed natives through to the scene while preventing residents from passing.

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Fantino interferes with investigation before it begins

On December 02, 2007 – before the investigation had begun – OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, who has made numerous derogatory and unsubstantiated comments about Mr. McHale ‘and his followers’ in the past, was quoted in an Ontario Provincial Police news release blaming the peaceful residents and McHale and his supporters for the violence. This is how the release appeared in the Turtle Island News:

FROM: Haldimand County OPP
RELEASE: 01 Dec 07


(Caledonia, Ontario)

The Ontario Provincial Police, Haldimand County Detachment responded to a disturbance at the south end of Argyle St in the area formerly known as Plank Road, Caledonia, Haldimand County.

Today at approximately 10:00am, a small group of protestors known to pursue their own agendas approached a smoke shack on Plank Road taunting and provoking those present.

A confrontation broke out as police struggled to maintain order and peace. Haldimand County OPP was forced to call in numerous police reinforcements to restore peace and order.

Commissioner Fantino expressed his outrage at the interlopers; “The OPP will seek every legal remedy possible to end this madness and to bring them to justice. Taxpayers should be just as outraged at these instigators since these unintelligent acts have cost them in excess of a half million dollars. These incidents, where interlopers put their own personal agendas over those who are striving for a permanent and lasting resolution will not be tolerated.”

Haldimand County OPP Crime unit is fully engaged in a thorough investigation of all events including those leading up to today’s volatile situation.

The OPP is firmly committed to hold those responsible for today’s disturbance.

Turtle Island News, p6, Dec 05/07

As one can plainly see from the video evidence recorded that day, the violence was initiated by natives in every case while the victims refused to retaliate. Contrary to OPP assertions, the inital ‘taunting and provoking’ came from smoke shack supporters in the form of racial insults, obscenities and threats of violence against the non-native demonstrators. Several residents did – unfortunately – retaliate, but the tone of their insults and the quantity of them paled in comparison to the ugliness of those from the smokeshack supporters.

Video footage shows Clyde Powless telling police to get the ‘whites’ out of the area, and that any who remain ‘are on their own.’ Clips from this footage will be posted when available. 

Assaults on OPP officers 

Numerous OPP officers were also attacked by the group of natives during the day.

  • Video, Dec 01/07: “You’re on my land now, motherfucker!
  • Video, Dec 01/07: Clyde Powless assaults OPP officer
  • video, Dec 01/07: Clyde Powless wants to fight This video begins by showing Powless talking to an OPP officer who smiles after their conversation. It is the same Sergeant Sloan who told CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas to “Back off” after he demanded that the natives who attacked him be arrested, and the same Sergeant Sloan who later arrested Kyle Hagan while standing quietly on the road and charged him with ‘Obstructing Police.’

Despite all evidence to the contrary, Commissioner Fantino and the Caledonia detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police immediately conspired to deliberately mislead the public – including the people of Six Nations – about the events of the day. 

CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas was informed by a CTV journalist that when he heard about the events unfolding on Dec 01/07, he called Sgt. Dave Rektor of the Caledonia Detachment and was told the event was nothing major, and that it was over in just 20 minutes.

Commissioner Fantino directs officers to target McHale before investigation begins

In addition to issuing a media release which publicly blamed Mr. McHale and his supporters for the day’s events before the investigation had even begun, Fantino also ordered his officers to target Mr. McHale for arrest and restrictions even if there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.

Mr. McHale presented evidence to a Hamilton court on Oct 16/08 proving that Commissioner Fantino sent emails to officers ordering them to aggressively target him for arrest even though, as the commissioner would later testify on Nov 26/08, the OPP had NO evidence that Mr. McHale had committed any crime prior to Dec 01/07.

The first of Fantino’s emails was sent at 3:22pm on Dec 01/07. In addition to falsely accusing Mr. McHale of creating ‘mischief,’ it blames Mr. McHale for ‘spearheading’ the protest. Video evidence of a statement by a Sgt. Gutenberg presented in Court on Nov 26/08 proves the OPP knew – prior to the protest – that it was actually organized by Caledonia resident Doug Fleming, and NOT by Mr. McHale. The Dec 1st email also falsely accuses Mr. McHale of inciting violence, and instructs officers not to get ‘sidetracked’ by ‘timid Crowns’ when pursuing McHale.

On Dec 02/07 Fantino sent another email asking if the OPP had a plan to arrest Mr. McHale for breaching “his bail conditions.” On Nov 26/08, however, under questioning by Mr. McHale, he was forced to admit under oath that no such bail conditions existed at the time he wrote the email since the OPP had never charged Mr. McHale with a crime because they had no evidence. Fantino also told his officers not to get “bogged down with legal nuances” in targetting Mr. McHale.

Three of Fantino’s emails are contained in Mr. McHale’s Charter application. Please see the following references:

Please remember while reading Fantino’s emails that he testified under oath on Nov 26/08 that prior to Dec 01/07 the OPP had not charged Mr. McHale with any crime because they had no evidence to support any charge against him.

Past attempts to defame Mr. McHale and supporters

The misrepresentation of known facts, and the vilification of Mr. McHale and those who assist in his efforts to oppose Two Tier Justice in Ontario him did not begin on December 01/07.

On Jan 10/07 CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas posted a lengthy letter that rebutted the commissioner’s repeated attempts to impugn their reputations following their arrest Dec 16/06 while attempting to peacefully place Canadian flags on a public utility pole near the occupied Douglas Creek Estates [see Dear Commissioner Fantino: Sir, you owe Canadians an apology.]

Eventually, CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas filed a complaint to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services over Fantino’s statements. It was dismissed – along with all other complaints against the commissioner – before the minister’s consultant had submitted his report and recommendations as to how to proceed with the complaints.

The Police Act complaint was dismissed by the Solicitor General before the consultant he hired to advise him had finished his report.

In Nov 2007, Mr. Fantino made what can only be described as ‘bizarre’ statements about ‘McHale and company’ with respect to past protests in Caledonia which have all been peaceful:

“You can’t call in the army and deal with this issue. You can’t do it because what are we going to have? Civil war in our own country. I mean that’s crazy. These things have to be resolved. We’re a sophisticated society. We’re a democratic society. We don’t use the police as the army of occupation. Look what’s happening in Pakistan for goodness sakes. And that’s what the expectation is that a lot of people have, including McHale and company. But you know they want to see this thing escalate to a violent outcome, and for what? For a piece of land.”

“When you get these interlopers coming in the media should be asking the question about how is this in the greater good? I mean, I just told you how much the taxpayers of this province are spending and how much of a sacrifice it is for us to keep the peace when these people come in there. They’re like throwing a bomb into the community and having everyone live in the ashes.”

Hamilton Spectator, Nov 09/07: Full text of the Spec’s interview with OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino

Despite the inflammatory allegations from Mr. Fantino, various members of the OPP and the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) no one associated with the CANACE organization has ever committed a single crime in Caledonia, a fact that has been repeatedly communicated to the OPP, Mr. Fantino and the Solicitor General of Ontario. 

The Hamilton Spectator has so far ignored five separate requests to respond to Mr. Fantino’s statements including a request to meet with editorial staff to provide evidence proving that the commissioner’s statements are unfounded. Gary McHale attempted to file a lawsuit against the Hamilton Spectator however, it did not reach the court due to the fact that it was filed after the legal deadline.

On April 23/08 Commissioner Fantino appeared on the AM640 John Oakley show and falsely accused CANACE founders Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas of being ‘involved’ in violence and having a violent ‘agenda.’ When questioned under oath by Mr. McHale on Nov 26/08 Fantino couldn’t recall having made such statements.

Gary McHale: Notice to Julian Fantino under Libel & Slander Act, April 24/08

Mark Vandermaas: Notice to Julian Fantino under Libel & Slander Act, April 24/08

Caledonia residents and CANACE co-founder speak at Queen’s Park

smokeshack_argyle-hwy6.jpgCANACE co-founder Gary McHale accompanied three other residents to a quickly-organized news conference at the Queen’s Park Media Studio on December 04, 2007. These residents were: protest organizer Doug Fleming; resident Merlyn Kinrade; and father of the resident arrested while drinking his coffee, Mr. Brian Hagan.

Mr. Fleming explained his reasons for the protest, including his concern over the sales of contaminated cigarettes to children. Mr. Kinrade – a former United Nations peacekeeper and Korean War vet himself – took issue with the OPP/Liberal/Ipperwash Inquiry ‘peacekeeping’ model imposed on Caledonia, and Mr. Hagan spoke of his general concerns over the lawlessness in Caledonia and the OPP’s lack of response to it. 

All three residents called on Commissioner Fantino to stop blaming Mr. McHale for the policing failures of the OPP.

Mr. McHale closed the conference by directly accusing the OPP of allowing the violence to occur and to escalate in order to discredit him and the movement to end Two Tier Justice.

CANACE demands that the RCMP be called in to investigate events of December 01/07

Given that the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police has made repeated attempts to discredit and defame Mr. McHale despite knowing that his allegations were unfounded, and given Mr. Fantino’s wilful attempt to falsely blame protesters demonstrating peacefully against illegal activities in their town before the investigation had begun, all CANACE executives have refused to cooperate with the OPP investigation unless and until it is turned over to the RCMP. We have offered our full cooperation should this occur.

Ten days after the violence, despite repeated assurances that they are, in fact, able to conduct an independent, impartial investigation, the Ontario Provincial Police have so far not given any indication that this is true.

As of Dec 12/07, Ontario Provincial Police have charged the following persons:

1. Gary McHale – Counselling Mischief (victim of multiple attacks)
2. Kyle Hagan – Obstructing Police
3. Doug Fleming – Mischief
4. Clyde Powless -Assault, and Mischief
5. Jessie Porter, Mischief (Mr. Porter blocked the highway with a hydro tower so that only natives could get to the scene; OPP also had a road block. allowed natives through, but blocked non-native residents.)

As of Dec 24/07, the OPP have additionally charged the following persons:

6. Camille Powless – Public Mischief (filing false report alleging assault by Gary McHale)
7. Ron Gibson – Mischief (reason for charge unknown)
8. Steve Powless – Assault (one of those who allegedly attacked Gary McHale)
9. Ruth-Anne Chapman – Assault (the only resident charged with violence. After the main altercations were over, she allegedly pushed Timothy Sywyk away in an effort to stop him from aggressively videotaping Christine McHale after the attacks on her husband that sent him to hospital.

As of May 23/08, the OPP have additionally charged the following person:

10. Brian Wayne Skye – Assault (assault on Gary McHale)

The OPP have not charged Turtle Island News publisher Lynda Powless for her assault on Mr. McHale.

To the best of our knowledge, the OPP have not charged a single native person with respect to the numerous assaults on police that occurred on December 1st.

OPP targeting non-violent non-natives for charges

We believe that the OPP have targeted non-native, non-violent demonstrators with charges that would not have been laid against native protesters under similar circumstances.

A review of the video footage available at the sources below will show clearly that the police have ample evidence to lay charges against violent natives.

We believe that any investigation should first identify and charge those who initiated violence. Thus far, however, it appears that police are focusing their attentions on the non-natives who were victimized by the violence. This would be in keeping with the publicly expressed direction of their commissioner before the investigation had begun.

Unreasonable restrictions on Charter rights to ‘freedom of speech,’ ‘freedom to associate’ and ‘mobility rights’

When the OPP arrested Gary McHale on the Friday morning of  December 7, 2007 they misled him by telling him he would have to spend 3 days in jail before a judge would be available to hear a plea and set release conditions. Mr. McHale was forced, therefore, to agree to extreme restrictions on his freedoms that included:

He is not allowed to enter Caledonia.

He was not allowed to communicate – directly or indirectly – with CANACE associates Mark Vandermaas and Jeff Parkinson, neither of whom have been charged with an offence. We were not allowed to call, email or have others do it for us. NOTE: This restriction was lifted on Dec 31/07. Mr. McHale was not allowed to communicate with Doug Fleming, organizer of the the smokeshack protest, who is charged with Public Mischief for blocking the highway with his truck. This restriction was lifted months later.

CANACE takes the position that the restrictions on Mr. McHale are beyond ‘unreasonable’ given the minor, non-violent ‘crime’ he is charged with that arose out of an event where so many who did use violence against us that day have not been charged. We believe that the OPP are abusing the judicial process in order to silence a vocal opponent of racially-based policing practices that were on clear display on December 01, 2007.

Commissioner Fantino avoids questions from CANACE co-founder on CTV News

300dec-12-07-fantino-at-psb5.jpgOn January 12, 2007 Julian Fantino attended a closed door meeting of the Haldimand County Police Services Board. Prior to the meeting, CANACE co-founder Mark Vandermaas forwarded an email message to several Haldimand employees with a link to suggested reading matter that would help them prepare for their meeting with the commissioner.

When Commissioner Fantino exited the meeting, Mr. Vandermaas was filmed by CTV News from Kitchener as he confronted the commissioner, asking him why he was lying to the public about who was responsible for the violence on December 01, and if he planned to ask the RCMP to take over the tainted investigation.

CTV video of the encounter appeared on the late edition of local news.

Additional Information about Dec 01/07 and race-based policing in Caledonia can be found at: 

CANACE Media ContactsBecome a CANACE Advocate: Help us win the struggle to protect the Charter of Rights from abuses like this. Help us stop civil rights abuses, and lawlessness during land claim disputes that is also victimizing native people.



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