APTN National News
TYENDINAGA, Ont.–Few people know the former head of the OPP and the Conservative Party’s newest candidate Julian Fantino like Mohawk activist Shawn Brant.
Fantino announced Tuesday that he would be running in an upcoming by-election for the Toronto-area riding of Vaughan.
“If the good society of Canada decides to put Fantino in, those are consequences that they will have to bear,” said Brant. “We should only hope that this government doesn’t place him in charge of Aboriginal affairs… I don’t think his running for office will serve the people of Canada or their values and principles.”
Brant and Fantino squared off several times over the past decade.
Their first interaction came shortly after attacks of Sept. 11 when Brant was an activist with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty in Toronto and Fantino was police chief of Toronto.
Brant was asked to respond to a letter from Fantino who had requested that poverty activists end their campaign against Ontario’s Mike Harris’ government in light of the terror attacks in New York City and Washington DC.
“I said the circumstances of First Nations people were not affected by what happened on Sept. 11 and that plans would be continuing as they were,” said Brant. “I penned that letter in 2001 and that was the start of Fantino’s campaign against not only us, but First Nations people as well.”
Their most intense confrontation, however, came on June 29, 2007, the first National Day of Action.
Brant and several Mohawks had blockaded Canada’s busiest thoroughfare, Hwy. 401, along with a secondary highway and a main railway.
Fantino’s OPP were preparing to raid the Mohawk positions if the blockades didn’t come down.
Transcripts of Fantino and Brant’s telephone conversation during the early morning hours of June 29 have since been made public. They offered a rare, unvarnished glimpse of the former OPP commissioner in action.
“(Fantino) doesn’t have any regard or consideration for Aboriginal people,” said Brant. “I think that became clearly apparent and evident in the nature of the conversation I had with him.”
During the conversation, Fantino threatened to “destroy Brant” and warned him that “your world’s going to come crashing down.”
Brant said Fantino was threatening him with death. A threat also issued to Brant’s brother.
“He said to a family member, my brother, that the next time he would see me would be in a morgue,” said Brant. “That’s who he is and I don’t think that he will serve the vast majority of the Canadian public well.”
The Vaughan riding was vacated when former Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua gave up his seat to run for mayor of Vaughan.