Gary McHale’s book “Victory in the No-Go Zone” has just been published by Freedom Press. Finally, the bits and pieces of his story, revealed in speeches and conversations, have been collected to form an impressive picture of his life and struggle. Part memoir and part political treatise, the book shows how extraordinary circumstances can transform an ordinary man.
The quiet life of a Christian family man in Richmond Hill was changed forever by the events that happened in a small Ontario town. In a very short time the nature photographer turned into a powerful activist, who combined the passion for human rights of Martin Luther King, the shrewd abilities for court advocacy of Perry Mason, the investigative intuition of Sherlock Holmes and the inspirational rebirth story featured in most self-improvement books. I know that may sound weird, but after you read the book, you’ll probably agree with me.
The book grabs your attention immediately with the twists and turns that look as if they were taken from a Tom Clancy thriller – you’ll find violence, police deception, government cover up, all of them opposed by a small group of people, who try to win the war for justice. The only issue is that this is not a novel, it is all truth.
I met Gary for the first time during a mini-occupation of Toronto’s High Park in 2011. A small group of Indians displaying the Six Nations and Mohawk “warriors” flags occupied a part of the park, claiming it was an Indian burial ground (it wasn’t). Not only didn’t the Toronto Police remove them, they even made a promotional video about the event supporting the natives’ drive to “purify” the land, which was used before by motorcyclists. They built a fence around the land. I went there and saw a group of guys doing nothing.
The situation turned ballistic when Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas announced their intention to come to Toronto to protest the racially segregated park. The lefty websites warned everybody that the Caledonia extremists were coming to Toronto to create mischief. I showed up at High Park to find a small group of people with Canadian flags. The strange thing was that they were discreetly surrounded and watched by over 20 bicycle policemen. A female CBC reporter of native background was “interviewing” them, which looked more like baiting for something bad they may say.
Then we went down to the occupied land, accompanied by the bike police. Miraculously, the place was transformed overnight – no Mohawk or Six Nations flags; no idling Indians. We only saw two excessively happy and polite guys from the parks department and another two native looking chaps with a wheelbarrow, who pretended they were working hard. The parks department men explained that they sought the help of the natives to fix the damage caused by the motorcycles. Well, everybody, who has even the faintest idea about how the city public works are operated, would know that the unionized city workers may let somebody else steal their jobs only over their dead bodies. Still, it was a charming attempt to cover up the failed occupation.
It was intriguing to see how much power that small group from Caledonia had (even though many of them needed a few breaks while climbing uphill returning to the parking). Things got worse after I covered the event on my blog. Suddenly, I was flooded with hostile comments trashing me and Gary’s group. The common denominator was that most of the commenters displayed similar insanity. An American woman, who was a published self-help and social justice author on Amazon, condemned Gary for doubting the Indians. She explained how she entered Canada from the USA and a friend ripped her off, so she didn’t have money for gas. Mysteriously, she ended up at High Park, where the Indians shared their food with her and showed her arrow tips and yellow soil, which proved that the place was an Indian burial ground.
That was my initiation into Gary McHale’s world, where, like in a computer game, one must constantly fight angry Indians, corrupt police and unpredictable lefties.
Before reaching that influence, he had to go through a difficult childhood and youth that he candidly covers in his book. With such a past, if he belonged to a particular ethic group of fellow Canadians, Gary would’ve been able to get a free pass for virtually any crime, but he wasn’t an Indian, so he had to bear the consequences.
He recalls in the book that at the age of seven, he set the family record for most chocolate bars stolen in a single trip to the store – 27. By the time he was 13, one of his brothers was stealing cars and motorcycles and two other brothers were selling drugs. He was very angry and resentful and saw his future as being a life of crime, with little hope that it could change.
After a few attempts to turn his life around, he found his salvation in the end of his high school years, when he met a girl he was willing to marry. His wife Christine was able to create the stability of home life that he needed. The marriage was also a bridge to restoring his Christian faith, which Gary took very seriously, to the point where he studied at a Baptist Seminary and received two awards: best marks in Theology and best leadership skills.
During the time when he was studying and in the process of getting a steady job, Gary could barely read and write mainly because of a serious reading and writing disability that he had to work constantly to overcome (the final push was the necessity later in his activism when he had to master the skill of being successful in court).
The event that pushed him into activism and made him move to Caledonia was when he heard that native protesters had swarmed an elderly couple at the Canadian Tire store in Caledonia, “attacked the CHCH TV camera crew covering the story and, half an hour later, surrounded and attacked an unmarked OPP van containing an OPP officer, U.S. border guard and an American BATF agent, while, the OPP stood by and watched the crimes take place, and did nothing to protect the innocent or arrest the criminals. The next day I made the decision to become involved in Caledonia.”
In the beginning of the book he shares his philosophy, which is the basis of his actions:
“While some may see this book as negative, it contains a very positive message. When the full force of the state is used to suppress the fundamental rights of a whole community, it is the individual who must stand against that injustice. Our freedoms are not “free” – those who came before us paid a price on our behalf. When governments fail us, when our institutions fail us, when the police fail us, and when the political parties are nowhere to be found, it is the individual Canadian who is the last line of defence for democracy. People like you and I must take up the cause and pay the price to ensure that we remain free. Freedom is not automatic, nor is it inherently Canadian – it is always under attack.”
He never deviated from the conviction that the individual’s role in keeping the society sane is crucial.
The problems of Caledonia started on February 28, 2006, when a small group of native protesters illegally occupied a real estate development known as Douglas Creek Estates (DCE), where 10 model homes were already completed, with 70 more on the way. The occupation, justified as a land claim (without legal merit) grew and was enhanced by the criminal group known as “Mohawk warriors.”
The Ontario Provincial Police correctly believed that the occupiers were an organized criminal gang smuggling drugs, cigarettes, guns and people. Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF), who believed the same, soon arrived on the site to collect evidence.
The OPP failed to remove the occupiers on time and their numbers increased. Their actions became bolder and bolder. They even firebombed the power station in the area causing $1.5 million in damages and disrupting the power of the town for days. They also attacked and intimidated the media covering the events, from CBC, CHCH, and Kitchener Record.
During the turmoil OPP officers simply stood and watched without any reaction. As it turned out later, that was a tactic imposed by the Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who was planning to solve the standoff in a peaceful way.
The indifference of the government forced Gary and a few others to form the group Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality to challenge the government and OPP.
To justify their inaction, the provincial government claimed that the police were involved in a “peacekeeping mission” in Caledonia. Gary correctly observes that a normal peacekeeping mission of the UN is organized maintain the law, while in the town OPP was practically encouraging native lawlessness by being “neutral.”
The presence of Gary and his friends, who were not afraid to expose McGuinty’s lies, was a big nuisance for the government. To make the occupation issue disappear, the Ontario government bought the DCE land for $23 million and let the Indian protesters stay there, while paying their heat, gas, water, etc. (translation – the taxpayers were burdened with all those expenses).
Things became so ridiculous that when in 2006 a judge ordered the protesters removed from DCE, because of the way they intimidated their neighbours, McGuinty appealed the decision, stating that the government is happy to let them stay. A few years later, after settling a class action law suit by the Caledonia residents, McGuinty had to pay $20 million for the damages caused by the Indians. In the statement about the settlement, the government finally admitted the native criminal activities.
At the bottom of the legal approach that benefited the natives was a special directive adopted in 2005, called The Network, which absolved them from crimes, while holding accountable the rest of the population for any real or imaginary transgressions. That’s why no native protesters were arrested in Caledonia, despite their crimes. No matter how the government twists that policy, there is no doubt that it is racist. Gary clearly sees the reasons for that policy:
“Why would the OPP behave in this way? The answer is simple: because they were terrified of Native protesters. The mindset of the OPP was that protesters were violent, were more than willing to injure officers and could not be trusted not to attack residents. While the Natives claimed their protests were peaceful, the whole point of their exercise was to instill fear into people’s minds, to convince the OPP, the government and the residents that they were prepared to use extreme violence. It was, quite simply, a form of terrorism: Attack bridges and power stations; hospitalize police; kidnap people; dig up roads and force Native-issued passports upon non-Natives – all in order to force their political will upon others.”
Very soon things became so bad that even the raising of the Canadian flag in Caledonia became illegal (while native, Palestinian and Venezuelan and labour union flags were everywhere). That was a policy encouraged by the new OPP commissioner Julian Fantino. He arrogantly refused to meet with the residents of Caledonia, while he didn’t hesitate to meet and communicate with the most violent native protesters.
Fantino’s attempts to suffocate the protest resulted in him threatening the council of Haldimand County and look for ways to charge Gary McHale with a crime.
That is when Gary McHale decided to apply Martin Luther King’s tactics of non-violent protest by simply raising the Canadian flag. He was actively “discouraged” from doing so by threats.
Things got really bad on December 1, 2007, when OPP allowed the natives to approach and assault Gary and his friends (the natives also assaulted police officers in the process). Instead of restraining them, Fantino and the people around him looked for ways to charge Gary with a crime (the decision to charge him was made before any investigation was started).
The purpose was to blackmail Gary and ban him from Caledonia. The chapter covering that shameful event is one of the most shocking in the book. The variety of illegal methods that the government and OPP used – both clumsy and sophisticated – resembled more the customs of a third world country than those of one of the best developed countries in the world.
Gary, who represented himself because he simply didn’t have the money to afford a lawyer, had to master his court skills on the go. He also needed to do his own investigative work to debunk the deception of the prosecution. That turned out to be an advantage – he was able to analyze the documents more carefully than a lawyer and expose the prosecution’s lies. He eventually won – the government dropped the charges.
Going through the ordeal was not in vain. Gary learned valuable lesson, which helped him understand how he can use the judicial system to advance his fight for equal rights:
“This case, and those before it, provided me with a practical and invaluable legal education about our criminal justice system that has helped us send a powerful message to the police and government that we will not roll over and play dead, that they can expect a full-out legal battle when they cook up bogus charges against us, not to mention the negative media coverage of their antics. The OPP unwittingly helped me bring even more media spotlight on Caledonia’s injustices thanks to the ongoing coverage of my case, and Fantino’s failed prosecution against me was highlighted in Blatchford’s bestselling Helpless for all to read.
At a time in our history when people are losing faith in our system because of government willingness to appease potentially violent radicals, perhaps the greatest outcome from R. v. McHale is that the OPP helped me prove that an ordinary guy without money, a lawyer or legal training, could use the system, flawed as it is, to defend himself against the full weight of the state, and hold powerful government officials accountable at the same time.”
The further attempts of OPP to keep the protesters off the “disputed” land resulted in more and more ridiculous situations. All subsequent arrests turned to be an embarrassment for OPP, because they lacked legal grounds for charging the “trespassers”.
Gary McHale sees his activism as a tool to overcome the institutionalised racism practiced by the police, which created a two-tier system, where the natives get a free pass regardless of the crimes they commit. In a chapter on the Ipperwash occupation he discusses in detail what caused that unfair treatment.
Gary McHale also includes a chapter, in which he subjects to devastating criticism the myths promoted by the government and OPP as a justification of abandoning the rule of law. Among them is the ridiculous notion that the natives can occupy “legally” other people’s property justified by “Colour of Right”; the idea of police “discretion” (when crimes are committed); the myth that businesses and landowners must consult with and accommodate the natives; the myth that Canada stole land from Six Nations (who are Americans who came to Canada in 1784); and the myth that the police is somehow independent from the government.
A test of the acceptance of Gary’s activism was the 2008 Federal Election, in which he ran as independent. Nobody of the official candidates took him seriously, but although he didn’t win the seat, it turned out that in the town of Caledonia, as he states: “1,822 people voted for me; 1,668 for the Conservative incumbent; 1,189 for the Liberals; and 567 for the NDP. In the riding as a whole, I received 10% of total votes cast, over 4,800 votes, unheard of for an independent candidate. Best of all, in Caledonia I had come first in nearly every poll and second in the others.”
In the final chapter he ponders the question whether anything has changed as a result of his work. He thinks that because of it, those problems have received national attention. It gets more and more difficult for the police to act as they did in 2006. The media are more willing to expose the problems.
Things improved from a legal point of view as well:
“Developments in the past few weeks of the summer of 2013, as I finish the final chapters of this book, have shown that our no-nonsense reputation for defending the rule of law may be acting as ‘incentive’ for police to do their jobs. When the Hamilton Police refused to remove occupiers (which included Six Nations occupation ringleaders Floyd and Ruby Montour) from Enbridge’s #9 Pipeline pumping station in Westover, the company was unnecessarily forced to obtain a court injunction, but the police still didn’t remove them.
In the early morning of June 26 I sent Chief Glenn De Caire a letter notifying him that if the occupiers weren’t gone by the following week, I would bring my people in to document the crimes and file private prosecution charges. I also told him that I might also arrest and prosecute any officer who obstructed justice by preventing us from gathering evidence. I concluded by saying, “At the bare minimum it is our goal to expose any police force that allows a two tier justice system to be institutionalized. Your department has forced a company to get an injunction solely because you decided not to enforce the law.”
The Hamilton Police moved on the occupiers later that day.”
The fight is far from over. The issue of the racist “justice” that benefits exclusively the natives still hasn’t been resolved. The political correctness and the policy of mindless multiculturalism, which create more and more “victim” groups, are still firmly entrenched in the government institutions.
However, people like Gary show that the idea of justice and equality for all is not dead in Canada. In 2006 he was alone, struggling to get his voice heard. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of people, who are not afraid to state that they think like him.
Many such pioneers, who work on changing the public opinion, never live long enough to see the results of their efforts. Gary McHale is one of the lucky ones, who can see how their ideas change the country.
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