Caledonia – Dark Days for Canadian Law Enforcement

Written by Harold McNeill on February 16th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


 Burning the Bridges of Canadian Justice

Homes were damaged or destroyed, public and private property destroyed, businesses bankrupted, ordinary citizens intimidated, threatened, attacked and one man left for dead with permanent brain damage, families torn apart, careers ended and, as a final insult, those same citizens, while trying to defend themselves, became the subjects of police “enforcement”. (the Image Gallery at the end of this post provides a solid visual of these events)

The Rape of Caledonia

Those who have read my posts, particularly in the Editorial Section, will know I am passionate about many subjects. Although I was a policeman for 30 years, you will also know I have never backed away from critizing the police when I believed the criticism was warranted.

A few months back, I made the mistake of reading a book titled: Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of fear and anarchy, and how the law failed all of us” by Christi Blatchford.  Blatchford, a respected journalist for both the National Post and Globe and Mail, spent many months researching, documenting and writing on the reign of terror that engulfed the good citizens of Caledonia. You might think these things only happen in some war torn country fighting a vicious dictator, but you would be wrong and in Canada, Caledonia was that place.

For some unfathomable reason, nearly all media outlet’s, save for one small town newspaper and a few dedicated bloggers, failed to pick up a story of local, National and International interest. Blatchford’s book has helped, but to this day the story has never gained media traction even though the events at Caledonia will someday be remembered as one of the darkest in the annals of Canadian Law Enforcement, a failure of epic proportions.

One person stands central as events spiralled out of control in Caledonia and that person is the current Associate Minister of Defence, former Chief of the London Police, former Chief of the Toronto Police and former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. That person is Julian Fantino.

Why did these events occur and why were the townspeople subjected to a reign of terror beyond anything in recent Canadian history? Simple, it was because the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police was a ‘yes-man’ to his political masters, a bully towards his men, uncaring about the needs of the people of Caledonia and, in short, a man with no balls! Inflammatory? Perhaps, however, if you ever take the time to read Blatchford’s detailed account and perhaps some of the eye-witness reports and pictures posted on the web, you will likely come to the same conclusion. You may better then understand my intense dislike for Fantino and the legacy he left in Caledonia.

Fantino entered the political realm during the last election as a “law and order” guy after he was quietly forced to resign his position as Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. To Prime Minister Harper, Fantino seemed an ideal candidate – a retired cop of senior rank with a ‘hard nosed’ view on law and order issues (he even broke with his fellow Chiefs and embraced doing away with the Long Gun Registry), an intense distaste of minorities, homosexuals and ‘rabble rousers’, well connected in Ontario political circles and generally well spoken. In other words a true conservative, although likely to far ‘right-wing’ for most Conservatives. However, Fantino had a dirty little secret of which the Prime Minister was either unaware or simply choose to ignore. That secret was Caledonia and his unceremonial departure from the OPP.

Photo: A car goes over during one of the many criminal acts conducted in full view of the Ontario Provincial Police. The OPP, on observing this type of criminal activity and acting on Fantino’s orders, were forced to turn around and drive or walk the other away.

Fantino’s resignation came not many months after he ordered his men to ‘stand down’ while the community of Caledonia, Ontario, was pillaged, burned and held hosage by the nearby Six Nations band. The stand-off, in one form or another continues to this day. For a list of the most recent events link here.

As much as I sympathize with native issues, the actions perpetrated by the Six Nations band against the citizens of Caledonia, a quiet community that had peacefully co-existed with the band for decades, was nothing short of unchecked domestic terrorism. If you compared the amount of police effot put into pursuing that hapless group known as the Toronto 18 (who regularly met at Tim Horton’s of all places), with the real-time terrorism being perpetrated in Caledonia (both events began around 2006) where the police, acting on orders from Commissioner Fantino, did nothing, you could not help but walk away stunned.

Consider also, the Toronto 18 were eventually charged with Participating in a Terrorist Group (they never actually committed a terrorist act) and a variety of lesser offences (firearms, etc), whereas in Caledonia, the acts of Terrorism were actually being carried out on a daily basis. Many of the Toronto 18 have been sentenced to terms of 15 years to life. In Caledonia, one 22 year old terrorist recently received 18 months for a vicious assault the left a man permanently brain damaged. How can this be reconciled. Link here for more details.

As noted in the introduction, the citizens of Caledonia were left entirely to their own devices while their homes were damaged or destroyed, public and private property destroyed, businesses bankrupted, ordinary citizens intimidated, threatened, attacked and one man left for dead, families torn apart, careers ended and, as a final insult, those same citizens, when trying to defend themselves, became the subjects of police “enforcement”.

Commissioner Fantino, fully aware of the ongoing criminal activity perpetrated by the Six Nations, but having no desire to upset his political masters, established a policy of ‘no-go’ and ‘non-intervention’ as far the as the Six Nations were concerned. This left the natives free to act without restraint both on and off their land.

Officers and members of the OPP who witnessed criminal acts being committed against the citizens of Caledonia and who spoke out against the orders issued by Fantino, were quickly re-assigned, their careers within the OPP effectively ended.

Photo (above): A man lies unconcious after being viciously attacked with a 2 X 4 while trying to protect his home. Link to Story  Finally, after years of delay, a young Six Nations boy was charged with the assault.  His recent sentencing in the Ontario Supreme Court has raised many concerns. Link here.

Instead of being charged with Neglect of Duty or any of a half dozen other charges under the Police Act, or, perhaps, even a Criminal Code Charge of Obstruction of Justice or Aiding and Abetting, Fantino was quietly dumped from the OPP. Not many months later he ran for Conservatives in the most recent election and after being elected by a slim margin, resurfaced, first as the Minister of State for Seniors, then later, the Associate Minister of Defence.  How is that for a living, breathing oxymoron, Fantino and Defence?

To watch that weak-kneed, spineless, sorry excuse for a retired cop, Fantino going about his election campaign spewing platitudes about the importance of ‘law and order’ and the ‘rule of law’, (issues being promoted daily by his party) is still more than painful.  Granted, Commissioner Fantino was pushed by his political masters, but as former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney might have told him: “Listen Fantino, you had a choice Sir, you could have just said ‘no’!”. No, indeed. Instead of speaking for the rule of law, for the people of Caledonia and for the police members under his command (as he was sworn to do) Fantino chose instead to speak for his own career and his own interests.

If you think I speak a too harshly about Fantino, please pick up Blatchford’s book and read it, then read a few of the dozens upon dozens of eye witness acounts on the web. Most of those detailed articles speak much more harshly of Fantino than do I in this short post. You cannot help but come away from your read with anything short of contempt for Fantino for having abandoned his police members and the citizens of Caledonia. He is no better than the Captain of the Costa Concordia and if Fantino were back in his native Italy and neglected his duty as he did the people of Caledonia, he would now be sitting under house arrest waiting trial.

Have a scan of the attached Image Gallery. You will get just a small glimpse of the lawlessness that enveloped Caledonia.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC

Update: January 15, 2012. Is the deadline set for the Ontario Government to make payment on the settlement of some of the law suits initiated by residents of Caledonia. One payment, one of $15,800,000 was made earlier to property owners whose land had been taken over by the Six Nations and the $20,000,000 in general damages to other businessmen and residents to be complete by January 15, 2012. These matters have not yet reached a conclusion. Link here.

Further References:

Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of fear and anarchy, and how the law failed all of us, by Christi Blatchford.

Ending Race-Based Policing: The Caledonia Act, Queen’s Park Media Studio, February 10, 2012 by Mary Lou Ambrogio, Vice President, International Free Press Society. This statement, made a few days ago, addresses some of the same issues as in this article.

Wikipedia provides an excellent summary of the vindictive, arrogent, racist and self-serving nature of Julian Fantino.

Photo (left): McHale arrested by OPP at smoke shop demonstration. Photo from Blachford book. McHale refused to take down his Canadian Flag in the ‘no-go’ zone. Reference to McHale link below. Even some OPP Officers found it more comfortable to wear masks and sunglasses to hide their identity.

Open Letter to Premier McGuinty and MP Finley, September 21, 2007 a 101 page document prepared by lawyer, Ed McCarthy, seeks to address many of he issues.

Legalized Myths of Illegal Occupantions by Gary McHale. McHale moved to Caledonia and wrote extensively about the illegal activities that were being overlooked. Under orders that flowed from Fantino, McHale was arrested for flying a Canadian Flag (the Blatchford book .. pp 158ff, provides a general account of the flag and smoke shop incidents).

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC

Followup Story: Terrorists or Warriors, What is the Difference?

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman