[I like the typo near the end of the piece citing Fleming’s assertion that “Hotheads need apply”–and if it isn’t a typo it’s even sweeter]
Protestors descend upon Cayuga
Posted By BOB LIDDYCOAT , CHRONICLE MANAGING EDITOR
June 24, 2009
The formation of a militia in Caledonia is being met with opposition from points across Southern Ontario.
Last week Caledonia resident Doug Fleming announced he would be forming a citizens’ militia to address problems he perceives as being ignored by the Ontario Provincial Police. In a published release Fleming said, “Due to the ongoing reality that the OPP refuses to enforce the Criminal Code with regards to people’s property rights I am forming the Caledonia Militia to ensure that the criminal code is upheld in Haldimand County.”
The action stems from his contention there is a two-tiered justice system in Caledonia which favours Six Nations residents and penalizes property owners in Caledonia by arresting non-native trespassers while ignoring occupations by Six Nations members.
At press time a meeting was taking place in the Cayuga Lions Hall for anyone interested in joining Fleming’s private group of law enforcers.
Scheduled to coincide with the meeting a protest rally was taking place outside the building by non-natives who oppose the idea of a militia.
Busloads of protesters arrived from Toronto, Kitchener, Guelph and other areas around 6 p. m. Monday evening. The protest was organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903, First Nations Solidarity Working Group.
Spokesperson Tom Keefer told The Chronicle he believes the idea of a militia is really being coordinated by activist Gary McHale who has often been at the centre of controversy between Caledonia and Six Nations residents.
“I believe McHale is the driving force behind the militia. He will be speaking at the meeting and is their self-appointed legal expert,” said Keefer.
He also doubts McHale’s motives saying, “I believe McHale is financially benefiting from this situation and is fanning the flames. If he lets things quiet down then he and his group will be out of business,” he said.
Keefer said his protest group is composed entirely of non-natives. He claims their efforts are completely peaceful.
“We are not strangers to the issue. We have been there practically on a weekly basis over the past three years. We have been working in the area with pot luck dinners, and community meetings but we’ve never seen fit to add fuel to the fire. We feel McHale is dangerous and disruptive but we’ve never interrupted his activities before. Flag raising is one thing but the formation of a militia is entirely different,” he said. “A call to militia is a dangerous escalation. This time they’ve gone too far,” he contends.
“How will a milita help anything?” asked Keefer. “Do they expect the Six Nations to just roll over?”
Fleming’s call for members stated, “Hotheads need apply. We’re opposing terrorism, not engaging in it. We will follow established procedures on the use of reasonable force to remove illegal trespassers. Trespassers will be arrested and turned over to the OPP for the prosecution of their offences.”
OPP Inspector David McLean told the Chronicle, “We certainly do respect that everyone has the right to a peaceful protest. We hope if both groups do show up, they respect each other, do their thing and pack up without incident. If that happens it will be a success.”
McLean added, “We will be there monitoring the situation. Both have indicated they want it to be peaceful so we hope that it is and they don’t disrupt the neighbourhood more than they already have.”