The Chronicle Editorial
July 1, 2009
So how much obligation does a newspaper have to provide coverage to someone who admittedly engages in acts simply to garner attention?
This is the question facing Haldimand newspapers in the wake of last week's dog and pony show in Cayuga.
In the days leading up to last Tuesday evening, Doug Fleming was asking people to come to a meeting where he would form a militia aimed at removing trespassers from properties in Caledonia. Specifically he wanted to target Six Nations residents who have been embroiled in land occupations in the area.
And then hours before the meeting Gary McHale distributed a press release saying, "At no time was Doug Fleming's new group going to be called 'Caledonia Militia'. It should be apparent to everyone that the word 'militia' was used to get media attention. It is unfortunate in Canada that media will not cover a story unless you use such a word..."
In no uncertain terms he was saying the whole thing was a publicity stunt.
McHale signed the release as media relations for the 'Caledonia Peacekeepers' , the new name of the Caledonia Militia.
In light of the confession McHale and the group have lost even more credibility. All along they have claimed they are only trying restore balance to a situation in which they perceive two-tier justice.
Yes, newspapers will pay attention when someone comes along and uses a phrase like militia. One of its definitions is "military force."
In Canada the use of a private army is going to get you some attention. It sure doesn't mean you're going to get respect.
Surely recruitment conducted for a responsible group of citizens who want, and need to band together for the common good wouldn't need a publicity stunt to succeed.
So it appears the goal wasn't to actually form a peacekeeping gang but rather simply to provide an opportunity to step once again into the spotlight.
We also have to wonder if the roughly 125 protestors outside the meeting compared with the 30 or so inside gave McHale and Fleming a hint that maybe they're not quite as popular as they think they are.
We have a democratic system in place designed to represent us and to solve problems such as the myriad of land claims across the country. Indigenous peoples will be the first to tell you our system isn't perfect but they wouldn't be the only ones. Average Canadians are also frustrated at the lack of progress in this arena.
But McHale ran in the last federal election. It appeared at the time he understood that in a democracy you can be elected to carry out the wishes of your constituents. But apparently, if you're Gary McHale, losing just means you take matters into your own hands, democratic process be
And no matter how you slice it, that makes him a vigilante -"One who advocates taking the law enforcement into one's own hands."
And yes in Canada that means getting media attention but in this case McHale is under a spotlight revealing -through his own admission -less than admirable motives.
There is no doubt that OPP have handled Six Nations residents differently than other citizens. They have little choice given directives from the Province in the wake of the Ipperwash inquiry.
But there is one question that has never been answered and until McHale or his disciples address it they will continue to be viewed as publicity seeking agitators by most citizens.
And the question is simple: Just how have your actions helped government negotiators reach a peaceful solution to land claims in Caledonia?
Article ID# 1636746
Wednesday, July 1, 2009