Christie Blatchford reports, in the National Post, that, finally, “More than 10 years after the oft-violent native occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates housing site began in Caledonia, Ont., a judge has given teeth to the claim that the Ontario Provincial Police engaged in “two-tiered” law enforcement that favoured occupiers over non-native residents … [and] … “The OPP acted in accordance with a framework to put the demands of the occupiers ahead of the rights of other Canadian citizens,” Ontario Superior Court Judge Kim Carpenter-Gunn said in part last month.“
Ms Batchford explains that “The case was a civil lawsuit against the OPP and six of its members filed by Randy Fleming, a 55-year-old retired steelworker and long-time resident of the picturesque small town south of Hamilton … [specifically that] … On May 24, 2009, Fleming had attempted to walk peacefully, carrying a Canadian flag, up the main Caledonia street to a so-called “flag rally,” the first time since the occupation had begun that the police were going to allow the maple leaf to be raised anywhere near Douglas Creek Estates — often referred to as DCE — lest the mere sight of it inflame the occupiers … But as he approached the entrance to DCE, three OPP vans drove past him, turned around and then drove toward him, forcing him to clamber into a ditch and then up to the higher ground of the occupied site, whereupon he was forcibly taken to the ground by a half-dozen officers, his left elbow and nerves permanently injured, and then arrested.“
“From the moment the occupation began on Feb. 28, 2006,” Christie Blatchford says, and I agree. “when a handful of protesters from the nearby Six Nations reserve walked onto DCE, the OPP policed as they had never policed before: Occupiers broke the law, sometimes violently right under police noses, with arrests, when they were made, not made contemporaneously but weeks or months later … [and] … Often, even in the face of egregious law-breaking, the OPP simply did nothing … But non-native citizens who objected — or God forbid, took to the streets to protest the uneven treatment and their abandonment by the state — were treated by the OPP as instigators, and arrested, as Fleming was, for daring to assert their rights to freedom of speech and expression … [and] … Roads were blocked, bridges and cars burned, [by the ‘occupiers’] the residents who lived on roads around DCE at one point actually issued “passports” by masked occupiers and forced to show them to enter their property. A Hydro One transformer station was vandalized and set on fire, knocking out power to almost 8,000 people in the area … And when the OPP belatedly deigned to enforce a court order to remove the occupiers, they were driven off the site by a mob of natives, many armed with bats, axes, shoves and the like, with their tails between their legs … It was an astonishing decimation of the rule of law that went on for years, with the OPP and Ontario government both denying the truth of what citizens saw daily with their own eyes … [and] … Even Fleming’s arrest was a joke, with the OPP saying they’d arrested him to prevent a breach of the peace or because he’d breached the peace, but actually charging him with obstructing a police officer … Fleming appeared in court 12 times to defend himself against the charge (those legal fees of almost $13,000 were part of the damages the judge awarded) only to see the Crown withdraw the charges 19 months later.“
“Astonishing display” is the right phrase to describe spineless political leadership displayed by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and equally cowardly obedience of manifestly wrong political direction by OPP Commissioner and later Conservative Minister Julien Fantino. But, as we would learn, both men were capable of ever worse … each disgraced the offices he held, then and later. Now I am sure that Premier McGuinty will say that by his prudent actions ~ not provoking the First Nations “warriors” in any way ~ he denied them their primary aim: government actions that could be used to excuse further escalation. That, provoking the “forces of order” into taking actions that will, eventually, be seen to be too harsh, is part of the basic handbook of insurgents everywhere and the lessons of the Oka crisis must have been fresh in Premier McGuinty’s mind. But eschewing provocation cannot, as Madame Justice Carpenter-Gunn said, lead to trampling on the rights of others. His intent as good, the execution by him, his team, Commissioned Fantino and his officers was deeply flawed … unCanadian.
We must be thankful for judges like Kim Carpenter-Gunn who, even after many years, sift through the evidence, deduce the facts, tell us the truth and provide redress to the victims of high handed state malfeasance.
I will not be surprised if the Ontario Liberals appeal this decisions … Liberals have trouble admitting they are wrong.