John Baglow

The Pantsafire Chronicles: Julian Fantino

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No biggie, this time: just a splendid example of Conservative prevarication, by Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino. Perhaps we might call this one the “bucket apology-refusal.

Here’s the background:

[Justice Sidney] Linden called for [an] apology from Fantino [then head of the Ontario Provincial Police] in his report at the end of a 22-month inquiry into a bloody clash between OPP officers and First Nations activists in September 1995, in the midst of a protest over burial grounds.

…The [Linden] inquiry heard that Cecil Bernard George suffered 28 blunt-force trauma wounds that night during a confrontation with OPP riot squad officers, and that an ambulance attendant was not able to detect a heartbeat before reviving him.

No charges were laid against OPP officers for the beating, after police said they could not determine exactly who kicked, punched and clubbed him. [emphasis sourly added]

That was in 2007. Now, how did this get revived last month? Because Larry Hay, former chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police force in Eastern Ontario, is arguing discrimination by Fantino, who fired him earlier that year for complaining about police racism. And somehow the side-issue of a missing apology came up.

Fantino made his comments about Cecil Bernard George’s alleged death earlier this month at the Ontario Human Rights tribunal hearing into his firing of Larry Hay, former chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police force in Eastern Ontario.

Hay was fired after he told a Loyalist College newspaper reporter that there was “deep-seated” racism within the OPP, RCMP and Sûreté du Québec.

Ironically, six weeks after Hay’s comments were published in 2007, Linden issued his report on the Ipperwash Inquiry, in which he stated: “Cultural insensitivity and racism was not restricted to a few ‘bad apples’ within the OPP but was more widespread. An organizational problem requires an organizational solution.”

The Hay complaint will play out as it will, and no doubt the three police forces are still studying Linden’s report with care, but in the meantime, the matter of the apology has its own fascination. Here it is, in short form:

Justice Sidney Linden (in 2007): OK, Fantino, apologize to Cecil Bernard George now. Your officers nearly beat him to death, and he was unarmed.

Fantino: Righto. I’ll do it personally, too, instead of sending a letter.

[Time passes: the matter comes up in an unrelated hearing this year, and Fantino is asked about it.]

Fantino: Apologize? I wasn’t able to. I would have if I could have, but the poor fellow died.

Cecil Bernard George: I did not!

Fantino spox (to George): He did apologize, and you wouldn’t accept it.

Cecil Bernard George: Huh? I didn’t get any apology, but I’d certainly welcome one.

Fantino spox: He can’t apologize. He’s no longer heading up the Ontario Provincial police.

Adorable. And more proof that in the demi-monde that is the Conservative cabinet, Fantino has taken his rightful place.

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This page contains a single entry by John Baglow published on June 1, 2012 12:07 PM.

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