- 1. We Believe…
- 2. Founding Advocates
- 3. Resume (contact info)
- 4. ‘Caught in the Middle’
- 5. Corporate Info
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CANACE founders have more than 20 years of combined experience in opposing and exposing racial policing and lawlessness directed at innocent third parties during land claim disputes in Ipperwash and Caledonia. Despite the lack of formal legal training, we have made Canadian legal history in the area of private prosecutions via four important legal rulings in the Ontario Superior Court.
CANACE (Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality) is a federally incorporated organization for Canadians who want to lend their voice to one of the most important human rights struggle in our country’s history: the effort to restore and preserve the rule of law, and equality before the law, for all citizens irrespective of race, religion, national origin or grievance.
Current focus Our very limited resources have been focused exclusively on rule of law issues, specifically – opposing lawlessness and racially-based policing during aboriginal land claims with the goal of preventing violence and civil rights abuses of both native and non-native citizens. We believe that reconciliation between native and non-native people – the importance of which has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada – must be based on truth, justice and respect for all human beings irrespective of race or grievance. CANACE is committed to the use of lawful, non-violent methods of holding police, politicians and native extremists accountable for committing crimes and/or allowing others to commit crimes during land claims disputes.
Violations of non-native Charter rights during land claim disputes
CANACE arose out of a grass-roots movement that began in Caledonia, Ontario in 2006 to defend democracy against racial policing practices of the Ontario Provincial Police during a violent aboriginal land claim dispute which was threatening to areas of the province into a state of anarchy as police officers simply refused to uphold the law against native radicals. Perhaps the most concise and revealing glimpse into the dire threat to the Canadian rule of law was written by the Member of Provincial Parliament for the area, Mr. Toby Barrett, in a remarkable document that has no equal in modern Canadian history:
AND WHEREAS, there is a perception, and evidence, of two categories of law, of justice, of police protection, and government action based on one’s race and geographical location within Haldimand County and beyond.
AND WHEREAS, the lawlessness, and the less than adequate prevention and response on the part of police and other government authorities regarding these illegal acts appears to be tolerated, and perhaps condoned, by provincial and federal government policy.
WHEREAS, since February 28, 2006, people across Haldimand County and beyond have been subjected to arson, extortion, barricades, land seizures, occupations, militant protests, and related harassment, intimidation, mob violence and threats to public safety.
AND WHEREAS, the community safety, social and economic life, of Haldimand and neighbouring residents, has declined because of the climate of fear, chaos and uncertainty generated by various acts of lawlessness and related intimidation.
MPP Toby Barrett, Feb 11/08: Haldimand Proclamation for Peace, Order and Good Government
Local politicians were paralyzed into inaction with fear as were many residents who were terrified to speak out. Many who did became targets for intimidation by both the radicals and police using various means to try to silence their voices. It is difficult to overstate the level of intimidation and fear felt by Caledonia’s residents and politicians of both the native militants and the OPP, as well as their anger at how the media was covering the story.
The watchdogs were asleep
It is telling that from the beginning of the occupation in February 2006 until we started introducing some of our evidence to award-winning journalist Christie Blatchford as she was covering the $7M Brown-Chatwell trial in November 2009 there was almost no investigative journalism whatsoever conducted in connection with Caledonia other than that done by CANACE founders.
No media – other than the heroic Regional News in Haldimand (whose own reporter was assaulted by native militants) which would eventually give Gary McHale his own column there were few willing to take a strong stand against the crimes against democracy that the McGuinty government was committing beyond occasional editorials, human interest stories and run-of the mill reporting.
All that changed with Christie Blatchford’s first stories about us:
- Globe & Mail, Christie Blatchford, Jan 08/10: Activist outmatched in fight with top top [PDF]
- Globe & Mail, Christie Blatchford, Jan 16/10: A new court date, another blow for fairness in Fantino case [PDF]
Once the first Blatchford article was published we were contacted by other, respected investigative reporters, one of whom was angry that his organization had not covered the story and wanted to make up some time. It was, he said, not until Blatchford’s article appeared, that he realized that there was something truly wrong with how the OPP was conducting themselves.
Until Blatchford arrived on the scene, the utter lack of interest by journalists in even knowing what was going on was truly bizarre – as if someone had given an order to switch off every media outlet in Ontario on the subject of racial policing in Caledonia. It was also frightening for us and for the people of Caledonia: Ontario was sliding closer and closer to complete anarchy and no one seemed to care that 10,000 people had become expendable to the McGuinty government.
Taking a stand
Given the nearly total abandonment of Caledonia by politicians, police, media, civil rights groups, and churches while crimes against democracy and human beings were taking place it became necessary for ordinary Canadians, from both inside and outside Caledonia, to take it upon themselves to document the evidence, and speak out to defend the Charter and the rule of law itself to the best of their abilities against the Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty and the racial policing practices that were victimizing thousands of innocent people.
Crimes against democracy exposed – at a price
On April 28, 2009, in a Hamilton courtroom, Gary McHale obtained the first testimony ever from an OPP officer confirming the existence of race-based policing practices within the OPP, but it came at a high price, and not a single journalist was in the court to hear his evidence.
On Dec 01/07 he was viciously swarmed and sent to hospital by a group of native thugs who jumped on his back and beat him to the ground, kicking and stomping him as he lay on the ground. CANACE co-founder Jeff Parkinson was knocked unconscious on the ground and suffered some brain damage that makes it difficult to concentrate even now, two years later (Jan 15/10).
Emails entered into evidence show that on the same day, before an investigation had even begun, OPP Commissioner Fantino ordered his officers to target McHale for arrest, falsely claiming that he – the victim of the brutal swarming assault – was responsible for the day’s violence. He also told his subordinates not to “be constantly frustrated by timid Crowns who seem to only get charged up when they have a sure prospect of conviction.” He issued a press release on Dec 01/07 that falsely blame the day’s violence on the victims – the non-native protesters. The next day the commissioner again ordered his officers to target Mr. McHale for arrest and not “to get bogged down with legal nuances” while doing it. He also expressed his view that laying a charge against McHale would be good even if it didn’t stick: “And even if we are unsuccessful we will be able to publicly expose him for the mischief-maker that he is…” going on to blame McHale for violence that he had nothing to do with.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Fantino’s officers found a charge to lay, but no one – not the pre-trial judge; not even the prosecuting Crown Attorney had ever heard of it before: ‘Counselling Mischief Not Committed.’ A counselling charge is a serious crime normally used in cases of murder therefore, it carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail. Mr. McHale’s crime is that he is alleged to have suggested to a Caledonia resident – in a conversation that lasted 14 seconds – that he ask other residents to help him block the road at the protest site, which he did not do.
The transcripts show that the pre-trial judge actually asked the Crown during the pre-trial phase, “Why is the Crown even pursuing this case?” He said, “Here in Hamilton we have serious cases before the court including murder, rape and crack dealers. Tell me why this case is serious enough to use up court time?” Despite several hours with Judge Cooper the Crown was obstinate in its determination to prosecute the case which is still ongoing today, more than two years after Commissioner Fantino ordered his officers to find something with which to charge him.
McHale could have taken a plea arrangement that would have resulted in no jail time, but he refused because, not only did he not believe he was guilty of the crime, he believed it was important to expose the ugly details of a race-based prosecution by the OPP and Crown.
So far, just the preliminary hearing has taken 17 days with the possibility of more to come. The trial, in the unlikely event the hearing judge orders it to proceed, will last as long as 3 months. Mr. McHale will be presenting Charter motions to dismiss based on the egregious alleged abuses of power that are self-evident from Mr. Fantino’s emails and other evidence. Numerous police officers were assaulted on Dec 01/07 by out-of-control native smokeshack supporters but not a single arrest was ever made for any of them.
The investigating team did propose charging the native men who attacked McHale with a count of ‘Assault Police’ but the commissioner overuled them, and was later photographed sharing a joke with Mr. McHale’s attacker who would eventually plead guilty to assault for the crime. Fortunately for him, however, Mr. Fantino provided the court with a glowing character reference that blamed Mr. McHale for being the victim of the crime, calling his attacker a “peacemaker.”
There were a few stories about the emails run, but without taking time to investigate whether or not the commissioner’s claims that McHale was – as the commissioner said – responsible for the day’s violence, their impact and context was lost on the public. Regional media outlets were taking the commissioners email accusations at face value. Worse, when Fantino actually testified that he had no evidence to lay any charge prior to the smokeshack protest because there was no evidence, the paper refused to print it even when it was pointed out to them inside the courtroom.
When, on June 29/09, Officer Jeffrey Bird answered, “I would have to say, Yes” to a question about whether or not he personally heard instructions from despatchers to identify the race of the person being stopped in Caledonia, there was not a single journalist in the court to hear it. The evidence proving we and the people of Caledonia were right about race-based policing was only reported by CANACE founders. The watchdogs were still asleep.
Testimony by senior OPP officers and statements by the Ontario government defence lawyer in the 2009 Brown-Chatwell trial (settled mid-trial after scathing media coverage of the shocking testimony) provided additional confirmation of race-based practices. Due to “policy implications” – officers were – indeed – under orders not to make arrests of aboriginal militants as they were committing violent, destructive crimes and these orders were followed knowing that this was encouraging further crimes against people and property.
Victimization of native citizens
Despite initial support from the elected Six Nations band council for those committing crimes in Caledonia CANACE founders never believed that the extremists were, in any way, representative of aboriginal people as a whole, or that they had the support of the community for their criminal activities. We were, therefore, pleased when the Brantford Expositor published a letter from Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller confirming our views:
As the situation in Caledonia evolved it also became clear – as in Ipperwash before – that native people were also being victimized by the race-based policing policies of the OPP. This has manifested itself in the form of multiple rapes, assaults, vandalism, drug use, and gun violence, all associated with the current occupation site of the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia, Ontario. Native journalists trying to cover the story have themselves been the target of intimidation. CANACE founders have spoken out passionately for these victims, too:
- Natives are victims of Two Tier Justice [VIDEO 18.29 mins, PDF] by Mark Vandermaas, ‘Remember Us’ March, Oct 08/07, Caledonia Lions Park
- Media Fails Residential Schools Victims & Caledonia [VIDEO 29.40 mins] byGary McHale, ’Remember Us’ March, Oct 08/07,
Our methods – non-violent protest, the courts and the media
We are guided by the principles of non-violent advocacy taught to humanity by Dr. Martin Luther King who proved -as did his own role model before him – Gandhi – that non-violence is not only the the most effective solution to systemic oppression, it is also the most soul-sustaining for those who engage in it and dare to dream of things to come.
In addition to peaceful protest, and our documentation and educational projects, CANACE has been very successful at using the courts to hold native militants and police officers accountable for their actions. Despite having no formal legal training CANACE founders have won four Superior Court of Ontario victories over Crown attempts to limit the rights of citizens during private prosecutions, the first of which was Parkinson v. R., 2009 resulting in criminal charges of Mischief being ordered against two OPP officers who were videotaped by co-founder Jeff Parkinson as they aided native protesters in building a fence to keep the lawful owner out of his Hagersville property.
The most well-known CANACE case is McHale v. Attorney General of Ontario, handed down Dec 31/09, which ordered a justice of the peace to issue process for a Criminal Code of Canada charge against the current commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Julian Fantino, for Influencing or Attempting to Influence a Municipal Official.
On Jan 14/10 CANACE’s Executive Director Gary McHale again represented himself before the Ontario Court of Appeals for the first time ever to defend another important ruling – McHale v. R., 2009 – against a Crown appeal seeking to overturn a Superior Court decision that the Crown may not stop a private citizen from preventing evidence of a crime before a justice of the peace. In his original ruling, Justice Marshall of the Ontario Superior Court called this right “a bulwark of democracy and an “important one.” He highlighted the importance of the case Mr. McHale had brought against the Crown by quoting from one of the fathers of the United States Constitution, Alexander Hamilton:
 Indeed, Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist Papers at page 78: “Considerate men…ought to prize whatever will tend to…fortify that temper in the courts (independence); as no one can be sure that he may not be tomorrow the victim of a spirit of injustice, by which he may be a gainer today.”
Ontario Superior Court, July 02/09: McHale v. R., 2009
Judgement has been reserved by the Court of Appeals. A journalist with the National Post was present during the hearing and noted some of the important issues at stake and the concern of the Court regarding the Crown’s case – in addition to his report on Mr. McHale’s case against the OPP Commissioner outlined above: National Post, Jan 15/10: Fantino case delayed until February [PDF, REPRINT]
About the CANACE website
The CANACE website was hand selected for the unique, world-wide Google Web Directory by volunteer editors who also use a special algorithm to rank sites in order of importance. As of Jan 14/10 our site was #17 [PDF] in terms of importance in the category of Canadian political issues, sharing a list that includes:
- G8 Information Centre (University of Toronto)
- Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute
- Air India Inquiry – Commission of Inquiry
- CBC Indepth: Canadian Sponsorship Scandal Inquiries
- Court Challenges Prgram of Canada
- Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities
- The Canadian Museum of Genocide
- Canadian American Strategic Review (Simon Fraser University)
- Wear Red Canada (showing support for troops overseas)
- Trudeau Society
I want to learn more
RESOURCES: ‘Race-Based Policing feature page.
Thank you for visiting!