Toronto Star gets critical facts wrong on Fantino Caledonia charge

100108-CH News Fantino charged“No wonder Governments are not afraid of the public – when the media cannot hold the Crown accountable then the public will never understand the issues.” Gary McHale, Oct 06/10

According to the Toronto Star…

In an article about Julian Fantino running as a candidate for the Conservatives in the next federal election:

A local activist, Gary McHale, filed private charges against Fantino, alleging he had attempted to influence municipal politicians, but it took a court in Cayuga a mere 20 minutes to dismiss the allegations.

McHale had alleged that an email Fantino sent to the Haldimand County mayor in 2007 constituted a threat. The court disagreed.

The Star is either badly misinformed or is deliberately fudging their facts because the charge against Fantino was not dismissed by the Court, and the Court never ‘disagreed’ with the premise that the email was a threat, quite the opposite, in fact. Even worse, the factual mistakes in the story and breezy dismissal of the controversy conceal the enormous conflicts of interest of the case which reached into the Premier’s office to McGuinty himself. 

Toronto Star vs. truth re Fantino charge

The court, in fact, agreed with McHale that Fantino’s email was a threat. On Dec 31/09 Superior Court judge David Crane overruled a justice of the peace who refused to issue process, and ordered the charge to proceed. The charge itself was never heard at trial let alone dismissed by the Court because the Attorney General dropped the charge before it got to trial after McGuinty made public statements on the subject.  

The actual court documents, McHale/AG correspondence, and Fantino’s original email which started it all can be found here:

Additional References

Star’s story conceals enormous conflicts of interest in Attorney General’s conduct

There were a number of people calling for the province to appoint an independent Crown because of the extraordinary conflict of interest created by the Crown when it inappropriately argued before the original justice of the peace that the charge against Fantino should not be laid in the first place.

That conflict of interest reached the Premier’s office when – according to the Toronto Star – Dalton McGuinty publicly downplayed the criminal charge against Fantino: 

Dalton McguintyDalton McGuinty…

McGuinty downplayed the allegations, saying he didn’t think Fantino should take a leave from his duties while the case progresses. “My understanding is that it’s a private information being put forward by a private citizen, it’s going to work its way through the courts and I’ll try to allow that to take its normal course,” McGuinty said.

The National Post’s court reporter, however, had quoted a law professor who advocated for an independent prosecutor while noting that the charge brought by McHale, once certified by the Court, carried the same weight as one brought by the police:

Osgoode Hall Law Professor…

Despite the unusual route, the legal weight of the charge is no different than if filed by police, explained James Stribopoulos, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto. “Now that process has issued, Mr. Fantino is indeed facing a criminal charge,” he said. […] While the ministry has “absolute discretion” as to how to proceed with the case, it should retain a lawyer from outside the province to prosecute, Mr. Stribopoulos said. Otherwise, if the provincial Crown decides to drop the charge, “it would be feeding the very unfortunate impression that Mr. Fantino received special dispensation,” said the criminal law professor.

NDP leader Andrea HorwathNew Democratic Party…

The New Democrats say McGuinty’s loyalty to Fantino is misplaced and the commissioner should be told to step down until the charge is dealth with in court.”

PC leader Tim Hudak Erie-LincolnProgressive Conservative Party of Ontario…

“Bring in an outside prosecutor so people know there’s objectivity”, said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak (The Canadian Press – 02.04.10)

“Otherwise, quite frankly, we’re going to wonder why he’s had Crown attorneys arguing both sides of this case,” Hudak said. “We need objectivity.” (The Toronto Sun, 02.04.10)

“Eyebrows are being raised as a result of the Crown’s handling of this matter. The law must be applied equally to all and it must be applied in a fair and transparent manner,” said Ted Chudleigh, Tory justice critic.( National Post – 02.04.10)

“What we have called for as a PC caucus is for a prosecutor from outside the province to take a look at the evidence and that way people in Caledonia and across our province know that it was done with objectivity. Here’s the problem…I mean first you have Dalton McGuinty’s Crown Attorneys arguing that the case shouldn’t proceed, then other Crown Attorneys were put in charge of prosecuting the case. Now we hear they’re dropping the charges. We need to see not only that justice is done, but all appearances of justice being done.”

Comment

Are the Conservatives finally listening?

After hearing rumours that the Conservatives were trying to convince Fantino to run federally I made efforts to advise them about the facts surrounding Fantino’s conduct – in public here on CVP and in private to party officials, strongly suggesting they not endorse Fantino until they’ve had a chance to read Christie Blatchford’s book which arrives Oct 26th: 

It was interesting, therefore, to note the Star reported that the PM’s office is downplaying Fantino’s candidacy:

A senior government source said “he’s going for it, no doubt” — even as the Prime Minister’s office tried to douse expectations that the former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner was making the leap to federal politics.

Perhaps someone is starting to listen.

Rewriting history to the detriment of voters and readers

Shoddy journalism has always been Caledonia’s biggest problem. Instead of reminding the public and Harper’s advisors of Fantino’s heavy-handed attempt to silence elected officials, and the Liberal government’s blatantly biased role in making sure the charge against him would never be heard in court, the Star has effectively rewritten history and done a disservice to its readers and to voters. This is a very serious issue, and Fantino’s history in Caledonia does not bode well for someone being touted for a cabinet post (Minister of Justice?) in a federal government that has already ignored its victims for four years.

The Star’s carelessness with vital facts about Fantino’s record underscores the important of Blatchford’s book – HELPLESS: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, And How the Law Failed All of Us. The title says it all, and Fantino became the overseer of that nightmare when he took over as Commissioner from Gwen Boniface in October 2006. 

For his part, McHale said this evening, “No wonder Governments are not afraid of the public – when the media cannot hold the Crown accountable then the public will never understand the issues.” He has sent the Star reporter a message via the Star’s ‘Report an Error’ feature.

Comments: can be left here.

References

Updates

  • Last update this story: 1515 Oct 07/10
  • Star changes the title of story from ‘Veteran cop Julian Fantino picks a political firing line‘ to ‘Julian Fantino to run for Tories in Vaughan‘ but does NOT correct factual errors (as of 1515 Oct 07/10) in story. Both Gary McHale and I have made submissions via the article’s ‘report an error’ feature.
  • The Lasso of Truth, Oct 07/10: I’d rather vote for Jack Layton

    “If this story is even a little bit true, the Conservative Party of Canada deserves to be blasted to political oblivion for at least a generation. […] If Julian “Caledonia” Fantino is the Conservative’s idea of “most eligible bachelor”, they have no business wrapping themselves in the fake mantle of “law and order” they have been assuming of late. The bigger question I have, is why Fantino wouldn’t run to be MP of Haldimand County? Hmmm?”

Mark Vandermaas, Founder
Caledonia Victims Project
info@caledoniavictimsproject.ca 

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About Mark Vandermaas

I am founder of Israel Truth Week, and I'm the 'Liberate Israel Training Guy.' I train pro-Israel advocates in how to use Israel's land title deed-the Mandate For Palestine-as a powerful moral narrative to counter the false 'occupation' vilification. Also, founder of VoiceofCanada.ca and the Caledonia Victims Project.
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