Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Caledonia - Where Political Correctness Trumped the Law

February 8, 2010.

Nothing symbolizes the pathetic gutlessness of Dalton McGuinty’s government, or that of the provincial police force that is nominally sworn to protect the province’s residents, than the saga now playing out in a Hamilton court room. (National Post, Nov.  28, 2009) 

Where to begin this story of incompetence and treachery in high places? 

The circumstances leading to the Hamilton court scene began in February 2006 when members of the Six Nations Mohawk Reserve (aka the Warrior Society)  occupied” and halted the Douglas Creek Estate housing development in Caledonia, Ontario. They claimed ownership and started to blockade roads. In one instance they dropped hundreds of tires across the highway, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire. That’s how a four-year campaign of lawless harassment started. 

Instead of removing the bullying trespassers and charging them with a criminal offence, the government bought them off with a $12-million payment to the developer. In other words, they ceded the property to the lawbreakers. But that did not stop the latter from continuing to interfere with the surrounding neighbours. Those unfortunate enough to live close to the contested property received the brunt of this thuggish behaviour. 

David Brown and his wife Dana Chatwell have endured four years of harassment and humiliation that has turned their lives upside down. Mr. Brown stated in court testimony that he was required to carry a native-issued “passport” and needed approval to enter his own house.  

Once he arrived after “curfew” and was denied entry, and then jailed by the police when he caused trouble by ignoring the natives. The family was subjected to loud, obscene insults. This happened once while the family was standing on their deck with a few guests, as well as uniformed police officers. However, the officers did nothing. 

Dana Chatwell testified that her family felt under threat and were frightened by all the harassment. On Labour Day weekend 2008, she was told that the protesters would put up another roadblock. She and her son decided to leave, but they were stopped at a barricade by a “big native guy” with a 2x4 who told her when she asked to go through, “No way, I own Caledonia.”  Nearby police officers did nothing. 

Frustrated by the police’s refusal to protect them against the ongoing lawless behaviour, Brown and Chatwell lodged a $7-milliom lawsuit against the Ontario government and the OPP.  The Ontario Superior  Court hearing began in late November, 2009. 

OPP Inspector Brian Haggith testified in court that the native protesters “set up a checkpoint… Almost like they were entering another country.”  He also said that when the protesters set fire to a wooden bridge, the fire department responded but then withdrew because of death threats and the failure of the Ontario Provincial Police to protect them.  In addition, an electrical substation was destroyed, causing more than $1-million in damage. The Inspector asked for a change in OPP’s hands-off policy, but that request was denied. 

 A Dangerous Double Standard.

But why would the OPP instruct the officers on the scene to turn a blind eye to obviously lawless conduct of the natives?  The answer to that question was provided by the Crown lawyer David Felicient who told the court that the couple’s complaint “must be understood against the backdrop of the unique character of aboriginal occupation and protests.” Therefore the OPP were handcuffed by the “policy implications” of   negotiation and reconciliation with natives, he explained. 

In other words, the law of the land does not apply equally to every citizen. Some are able to get away with outrageous behaviour that would land the rest of us in jail.  This blatant double standard is the outcome of an incomprehensible policy governing Aboriginal peoples driven by  white guilt and native victimhood. 

Obviously, the authorities did not want to have their dereliction of duty exposed in open court for all to see. So they decided to cut their losses and negotiated a settlement accepted by the plaintiffs, who were only too happy to leave all of this behind. 

In his cross examination, Mr. Felicient tried to undermine Dana Chatwell’s claim that the state of siege her family lived under led to marital, financial and emotional stresses. He did so by calling attention to the fact that she had been diagnosed  with a stress disorder  before the protests started, that she had gone on a number of vacations trips, that she had received $40,000 inheritance money, that she had abused alcohol, had not been faithful in her marriage, and  that their marriage was deeply troubled. 

This line of questioning takes your breath away, because it displays an utter disregard for the privacy and dignity of a person. She is punished twice. Once, she is abandoned by those whose sworn responsibility it is to protect her. Then again, adding insult to injury, when she seeks a measure of restitution, she is publicly humiliated by the same authority that abandoned her. 

Chalk up another victory for political correctness.  The travesty of justice that occurred in Caledonia makes it crystal clear that Canada’s Aboriginal policies need a thoroughgoing overhaul. That day cannot come too soon.

April 2010

My article of February 14, "Helpless and Betrayed in Caledonia" described how the naives had blocked public roads, destroyed public and private property, assaulted and beaten some, intimidated many who were not able to carry on with their day-today lives in a peaceful way . The police were instructed to ignore most of these criminal activities, which added greatly to the distress of the local population.

H.A.

Law enforcement does not equal repression

A letter to the Editor (Mar. 28, 2011) criticizes my article about the conflict initiated by natives in Caledonia (Feb. 14, 2011). Its author, Garth Cubitt, writes that this conflict “requires reconciliation: law enforcement will lead to repression, not to resolution.” I agree that reconciliation is needed, but the perpetrators who resorted to criminal acts were motivated by revenge and anger, which makes reconciliation impossible.

To believe that law enforcement — remember this is no banana republic — is a form of repression would give free rein to mob rule. In this instance, the lawbreakers engaged in repressing innocent people who were at the receiving end of the violence, destruction and intimidation of the mob. How can such be justified in any way?

The letter’s main point seems to be that the perpetrators were reacting to real or alleged historical wrongs that entitled them to behave as they did. But how can it ever be right that aggrieved people have the right to strike out against others who then become the victims of lawless behaviour? The old adage that two wrongs do not make a right is still true.

There is a lot of blame to go around here. Not in the least to the political and law enforcement authorities who gave the orders that tied the hands of the police. They were forced, against everything they knew about their role as protectors of the innocent, to look the other way when they knew they should have interfered and charged the lawbreakers. The result was another attack on the already fragile veneer of civility and respect for lawful authority.

Excusing natives for their thuggish behaviour is not doing them any favours either. It’s not only the victims who are hurt, but also those who are encouraged in their violent behavior, because they endanger their very personhood, their very souls, by treating others out of revenge and hatred.

We live in a time when the very fabric of a free and civil society is under tremendous strain, and one major reason for this is that the difference between good and evil is becoming blurred. Then anger and hatred are given free rein and one evil begets another; there is no end to this vicious circle. But the Bible teaches us a different way: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.