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Monday, December 20, 2010

Julian and the Victims

Mr Fantino goes to Ottawa:

"I think we tend to minimize the impact of crime," said Fantino, who enters politics after 40 years as a police officer.

"I have never had any tolerance whatsoever for crime, to begin with. And also, I have never been able to overlook the victimization that's involved. We can talk about statistics, we can banter around, we can say it's up, it's down, it's sideways, but I've had to deal with real victims. I've had to deal with the real gnawing consequences: the trauma, the tragedy of crimes -- especially violent crime, at its very core."

Fantino said it's this direct experience on the front lines that gives him special insight into the criminal justice issues that are hotly debated in the House.

I don't know how Julian Fantino sleeps at night. To utter those words, while having been OPP Commissioner during the worst of the Caledonia Crisis, requires a cognitive disconnect that beggars imagination. It's the sort of double think we expect from politicians, but a police officer? The former head of the second largest force in Canada?

Regular readers will know that I have a very low opinion of elected officials. Most would - metaphorically - throw their own mothers under the bus for a few dozen votes. The typical celebrity would do much the same for face time on national television. There is something about fame and media attention that attracts the worst elements of human nature. 

Despite my civil libertarian polemics, I have enough regard for Canadian police officers to believe that, in truly dangerous situations, most would risk their lives to protect the public. Issuing speeding tickets to meet a quota, or roughing up a violent thug, are small beer compared with the serious crimes that threaten peaceful life in Canada: murder, rape, arson, theft, arson, assault and riot. We employ the police, mainly, to protect peaceful and civilized human beings from the violent in our midst. When an officer fails in that task, he does more than fail to do his job, he violates a sacred trust. 

With that in mind, I'd like to highlight this bit from the ex-Commissioner's panegyric to his own career:

We can talk about statistics, we can banter around, we can say it's up, it's down, it's sideways, but I've had to deal with real victims. I've had to deal with the real gnawing consequences: the trauma, the tragedy of crimes -- especially violent crime, at its very core."

As has been established, Mr Fantino has a flare for the histrionic. He seriously compared his by-election campaign in Vaughan to facing violent criminals. Typically politicians develop this easy abuse of the English language after some years of active campaigning. Then again, it's arguable that Julian Fantino - who has not served as a beat cop in over twenty years - has been a politician in uniform for some time now. Perhaps words have lost their meeting to the former head of the OPP.

Speaking of victims, here is one victim that Julian Fantino did not have the courage to meet, Pam ‘Dancer’ Dudych. Pam is a teenager living in Caledonia whose life became a living hell after the occupation of the Douglas Creek Estate. She described her daily existence in a school project thusly:

You can’t call the police because they can’t help you. You’re locked in your own home. A few days later, when it calms down, you have to go to school. But you can’t get to school by bus anymore so you have to drive a 30 min. ride to school when it only took 2 minutes unless you wen’t through the blockade. But you could only do this if you had a pass, but even when we got one, it was whether they felt like letting you go through or not. If they did let you go, it was like you’re in prison, gates everywhere, men with masks over their faces only to see their eyes. Men holding bats some even with guns, it was a living hell. I had to live through that. You don’t know what life is like until you have lived through it.

“I’m a competitive dancer, and love to dance outside on the side lawn, but I wasn’t able to unless I could take the pressure of getting stares or firecrackers thrown at me. Now I take medication and go to counselling because of all of this. A 14 year old should not be doing that! 

in 2009 Haldiman Mayor Marie Trainer - one of the few public officials to conduct themselves honourably during the Crisis - asked then Commissioner Fantino to meet with Pam and her family, as well as Dave and Dana Brown (who later won a settlement against the Ontario government). Fantino said he was too busy.

Fantino, however, had plenty of time to meet with Clyde Powless, the aboriginal activist charged with attacking Gary McHale during an initially peaceful protest. Fantino even wrote an e-mail, used as a character reference at Powless' assault trial, praising the activist for helping to lower tensions during Douglas Creek Estate stand off. The e-mail laid much of the blame for McHale's assault on McHale himself. 

"Much of the conflict, confrontation and provocation has occurred during the times that Mr Gary McHale and his followers have converged on on Caledonia that invariably resulted in heightened tensions and conflict that required an extraordinary deployment of police resources in our efforts to preserve the peace."

(Pg 210, Helpless by Christie Blatchford)

Blaming the victim is not the sort of thing that someone concerned with victims' rights - to say nothing of a police officer in the line of duty - should be doing. As Commissioner, Julian Fantino showed concerned only for some victims, those to whom the display of justice and compassion was politically expedient. In making excuses for Powless' criminal actions, Fantino sounded like a bleeding heart judge, pleading that the poor thug was a victim of circumstances. Talk about hug-thug politics. 

When faced with real victims of real crime, Julian Fantino turned his back. He talks the talk, but when bad PR loomed, he failed to walk the walk. 

Now ensconced as MP for Vaughan, Fantino has become Stephen Harper's prized candidate. Mr Law and Order for a Law and Order Party. In a different age, it would be almost certain that the Liberal Opposition would hound Fantino for Caledonia. But today, or in the immediate future, they will not. Politically correct to the bone, the Grits will never raise the issue of how anarchy took hold in rural Ontario, just outside of one Canada's largest cities. None dare risk the charge of racism.

Shame on the media for their cowardice. Shame on the Opposition for their dereliction of duty. Shame on Julian Fantino. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Posted by Richard Anderson on December 20, 2010 | Permalink


Unfortunately, I believe that Mr Fantino is now what passes for a stero-typical conservative politician.

Posted by: Farmer Joe | 2010-12-20 9:08:57 AM

Fantino sure is perfect politician , he will talk the big talk but when people fight back he goes into hiding.

Posted by: don b | 2010-12-20 10:29:00 AM

He sounds like the typical politician these days who see no problem in saying and promising anything to win votes while counting on the voters' amnesia. Unfortunately most voters do have extremely short memories.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-12-20 11:49:18 AM

Thank you so much for publishing this despicable story about Fantino's outrageous bias against non-native victims.

Despite her trauma and fear from living on a street without policing Pam Dudych, at the age of 14, had more courage than most of the people in Caledonia, and she showed it by speaking out for the other children on the 6th Line.

Unfortunately, she was not only abandoned and ignored by Fantino and his OPP Native Security Forces, the media ignored her, too. I hope readers will take the time to read her story to learn the extent of just how badly she and her family were betrayed.

Every true conservative (of which I am one) should hang their heads in shame that the PM and the Conservative Party of Canada welcomed this callous law and order/victims rights poseur into its midst.

Mark Vandermaas, Founder
Caledonia Victims Project
[email protected]

Posted by: Mark Vandermaas | 2010-12-20 3:17:43 PM

We seem to have entered an era where duty is secondary to saving one's ass. We will watch a victim drown if a government regulation says we can't go to the rescue,or watch political correctness trump upholding the law.

McGuinty and Fantino congratulate themselves that Caledonia produced no "Dudley George", instead it produced a whole raft of victims of crime and a police force that failed to do it's sworn duty.

Fantino is today's typical politician, with the only principle being,"look out for number one".

Posted by: dmorris | 2010-12-21 11:24:38 AM

white people cut lawns, and sweep up
you'll be sorry you let them go

Posted by: 419 | 2010-12-24 12:57:22 PM

As a longstanding conservative and Harper supporter I had to to phone my MP and national conservative headquarters and withdraw my donor support expressly because of Fantino.where do we go now?

Posted by: Clinton | 2011-01-05 3:25:54 PM

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