McHale big winner at Caledonia debate

According to the various print media present at last night’s debate at the Legion in Caledonia Diane Finley was the clear loser while Gary was, by far, the crowd favorite. Dr. Eric barely got an honourable mention for his performance. This follows on the heels of last Saturday’s (Oct 04/08) Cable 14 debate for which the Hamilton Spectator pronounced Gary the winner, Dr. Eric the loser and Finley, a chicken.

Earlier in the day, Finley skipped out on a lunchtime debate at the Simcoe Rotary Club for a photo op in Caledonia with Canada’s Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty (3 missed debates in a row, if you’re counting), but she did decide to face voters in Caledonia last night.

Here’s how the media called it:

Canadian Press/CTV News:

The loudest cheers and applause were reserved for maverick Gary McHale, who is running as an independent and appears to enjoy solid support among some Caledonians fed up with the ongoing occupation.

“Nobody has been prepared to step forward and help you out but me,” said McHale, who has led protests against the occupation.

Echoing a sentiment commonly heard in Caledonia, McHale accused Finley of going missing in action.

“This election is about leadership, not the kind of leadership that shows up every four years and asks for your vote,” McHale said.

“I can guarantee you in six months you won’t see any of them.”

McHale, who has pressed for provincial police to end the occupation, was loudly applauded when he told the audience their Charter rights were being “systematically violated” by a federal government that had failed to defend their interests.

Finley, who is in a tough battle for re-election in the southern Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, was greeted by tepid applause interspersed with boos by the standing-room only crowd of about 200 people, who packed a local Legion hall to listen to their six candidates.

Canadian Press/CTV News, Oct 06/08: Rough ride for Finley during debate in Caledonia 

[NOTE: Gary has never pressed police to end the occupation of DCE since the province bought the land and a court ruled the McGuinty Liberal government could allow the occupiers to stay if it wished to do so. Thanks to McGuinty, the DCE occupation itself is NOT currently illegal despite the numerous criminal acts committed by those who occupy or have occupied it.]

Hamilton Spectator

It was clear from the outset the crowd was with independent candidate Gary McHale, who has decried the 2 1/2-year native occupation of a housing project and the way the OPP has treated natives and non-natives.

The crowd cheered when he was introduced and applauded his comments, while Finley faced boos when she was introduced and grumblings over some of her comments.

McHale suggested the issue be handed over to the courts. He also suggested a lien be placed on money Ottawa gives to Six Nations. “That would change this overnight,” he said.

Hamilton Spectator, Oct 07/08: Finley under attack over Caledonia

Simcoe Reformer

Local MP Diane Finley faced searing criticism from both fellow federal candidates and disgruntled residents at the Caledonia debate last night.

Hundreds of angered Caledonians showed up to the all-candidates’ debate at the Royal Canadian Legion. Or at least they tried to. Some debate goers were left to strain their ears in either one of several hallways or backrooms after the second-floor hall was filled way beyond capacity.

For two hours, Caledonians had a chance to hear local candidates promise, accuse and even fumble through a heated discussion of the ongoing Six Nations land claim. Residents posed a variety of questions — from how to overhaul the local economy in light of the conflict to how to ensure negotiations continue — to guarantee the issue remained on the front burner.

But Independent Gary McHale wasn’t a politician that needed to be reminded of the land claim.

“We have land claim issues every single week (in this country),” McHale said, adding that Six Nations residents are earning millions in delaying the process. “Why would anyone want to settle making that (kind of) money?”

“Look at Diane Finley,” McHale commanded the audience. “You’re not going to see her here for another four years! Have a good look at her.”

Simcoe Reformer, Oct 07/08: Finley under fire at Caledonia debate 

Hoskins reduced to silly, desperate attacks on McHale

The best defence the Liberal candidate Dr. Eric Hoskins could do was take a silly shot at Gary by implying he’d abandoned the people of Caledonia while he, Dr. Eric, had been there all along for them.

The man who, at the Cable 14 debate admitted he’d never read MPP Toby Barrett’s ‘Haldimand Proclamation for Peace, Order and Good Government‘ showed either how desperate he is or again, just how little he knows about Caledonia and Gary’s work supporting its people: 

“I’ve been on the ground,” Hoskins said. “I know that you haven’t been in Caledonia in the last eight months, Gary.”

Simcoe Reformer, Oct 07/08: Finley under fire at Caledonia debate

The crowd wasn’t buying it, but Gary explained the facts of life to Dr. Eric anyway: the OPP lapdog working for his Liberal buddy McGuinty was so desperate to silence him that they trumped up a charge to try to keep him out of Caledonia.

Since responses were limited to 2 minutes Gary didn’t have time to talk about the hundreds of hours he has spent during the last 10 months doing things like writing a groundbreaking report (Legalized MYTHS of Illegal Occupations); assisting with a CANACE presentation to Brantford Council, filing private prosecutions against native protesters to help get a Cayuga home builder back in business, and much, much more. If it weren’t for Gary and his CANACE team the builder would have lost everything. Now, people are moving into those homes.

Dr. Eric was nominated by the Liberal Party in April 2007 and, since then I/we haven’t seen or heard of him until the election was announced. We didn’t see him speaking out against the Ipperwash Inquiry coverup after Gary went to Queen’s Park on March 14/07 to release the Ipperwash Papers project. We didn’t see him at a single protest in Caledonia or Queen’s Park speaking out for residents. We didn’t see him at the smokeshack protest supporting Doug Fleming’s quest to rid Caledonia of those who sell contaminated cigarettes to the town’s children. We’ve never heard of him condemning race-based policing in public. Hoskins never shared a jail cell with Gary after being arrested for attempting to raise a Canadian flag.

Gary did mention some of the things he has done to help victims of race-based policing: Human Rights complaints, lawsuits, private prosecutions, OCCPS complaints, media attention, his website – Not only have we never heard of Dr. Eric helping Caledonians in any of these practical ways, but he actually criticized Gary for using the media to draw attention to the town’s agony:

“Finley has played hide and go seek, while McHale believes media and protests are a solution,” he explained. “A protest vote will guarantee four more years of Diane Finley.”

If Dr. Eric doesn’t understand that the media are one of the most important weapons against injustice and political ineptitude, then he needs to throw in the towel right now. The use of media as a tool of change is not the only thing he doesn’t grasp. As Gary said last night, neither Hoskins or Finley understand that the Caledonia issue isn’t about land claims, it’s about the lawlessness that has victimized innocent people for more than two years. If Hoskins can’t even admit or understand that race-based policing exists, how could he possibly work to stop it? 

Dr. Eric is a good man, a decent man, an exceptional man even, a great humanitarian who has won many prestigious awards for his good works, but it is clear his understanding of the Caledonia issue is shallow – at best – compared to the unbelievable depth of experience and knowledge possessed by Gary McHale who has paid a heavy price to acquire it. 

We would humbly suggest to Dr. Eric that if he actually wants to begin to understand Caledonia, perhaps he should visit the About Gary page and start reading some of the material at the other end of the links, such as the CANACE reports and the Ipperwash Papers project – for starters. At the top of that page is a painting by a Caledonia artist that pays tribute to some of the key people involved in fighting for justice in her town. Dr. Eric’s portrait is not among them.


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