Fire OPP commissioner over threats to Tyendinaga protester

Posted by admin on Jul 21st, 2008

Lee Greenberg, The Ottawa Citizen. Published: Monday, July 21, 2008

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino should resign after making “threatening, inflammatory” comments to a native leader during a standoff last summer, according to the provincial NDP. Peter Kormos, a Southern Ontario MPP and a frequent critic of Mr. Fantino, says the province’s top cop was contravening the spirit of the Ipperwash report when he threatened activist Shawn Brant last summer by saying he would do “everything I can within your community and everywhere else to destroy your reputation.” “He’s crossed the line once again,” Mr. Kormos said Monday in an interview. “And this time, with his bombastic Rambo rhetoric he has gone too far.” The comments come from telephone conversations between the two men in June 2007, when Mr. Brant led a blockade of Highway 401 and rail line near the Eastern Ontario town of Deseronto.

The comments were released last week during a preliminary hearing for Mr. Brant, who faces charges stemming from his alleged involvement in the aboriginal day of action protests.

Mr. Kormos says Commissioner Fantino’s behaviour flies in the face of the Ipperwash report, which issued guidelines aimed at improved relations between the province and native communities. The report followed an inquiry into the OPP’s handling of a native protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park, in which a police officer shot and killed protester Dudley George.

Instead of seeking to calm the situation, Mr. Kormos says, Commissioner Fantino acted like a bully.

“Shawn, your whole world’s going to come crashing down on this issue,” Commissioner Fantino tells Mr. Brant at one point.

Mr. Brant’s lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, has called for Commissioner Fantino to be disciplined over the comments.

Reached on vacation this weekend, Commissioner Fantino reportedly called the media firestorm ignited by his taped remarks “self-serving nonsense.”

Mr. Kormos says that response is yet another sign the OPP commissioner is unable to recognize errors.

“Commissioner Fantino should either resign or be fired,” he said in an interview. “We just can’t afford to have this continue to go on. There’s far too much at stake.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty has backed the OPP chief in the wake of the released audio recordings.

“I’m not prepared to get involved in second-guessing what Commissioner Fantino did,” he told reporters Friday at a premiers’ conference in Quebec City.

Mr. Fantino was involved in another controversy last year.

In April 2007 he sent an e-mail to the mayor and councillors in Caledonia, site of another native protest, threatening to hold them accountable for violence resulting from protests by a fringe anti-occupation group known as “Caledonia Wake Up Call.”

The move was interpreted as an unwarranted intervention in the political process.

“Fantino has a passion for the spotlight,” Mr. Kormos said, “which many times interferes with his ability to perform his policing role in the independent and dispassionate way.”

The McGuinty-led Liberals quietly handed Commissioner Fantino a one-year contract extension earlier this year.

Comments are closed.