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Conservatives Against Fantino

Michael DenTandt’s column widely distributed through SunMedia empire:

Will Fantino be too much for Harper? [PDF
by Michael Den Tandt
Oct 22/10

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invited the Big Dog into his tent. It’s a bold move, one virtually guaranteed to win him a new seat in the House. But will it come back to bite him?

We’re speaking, of course, of Julian Fantino — former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, former Ontario commissioner of emergency management, former Toronto chief of police, former police chief for Ontario’s York Region, and former London, Ont., police chief.


Then there’s the bigger problem, inextricably linked with Fantino’s charisma. That would be his unshakeable certainty that his side is always the morally correct one, and that anyone who faults him is therefore dead wrong and worthy of attack, by definition.

For years, as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty appointed him to successively more important jobs, Fantino made a habit of telling his civilian boss what laws to write.

In 2008, Fantino proposed that anyone who puts their car in a ditch in winter should be fined. In 2009, he suggested that any criticism of police use of Tasers was illegitimate because the critics “have never walked a beat and could not even pass basic police training.” Hmm.

Fantino waged a bitter public fight with Caledonia, Ont., residents’ activist Gary McHale. In the now-famous e-mail sent to Haldimand County Council in April of 2007, this appointed civil servant berated elected politicians, “for appearing to support McHale,” and threatened to withdraw OPP services.

Fantino was later charged with “trying to influence municipal officials by means of threats.” Earlier this year, an Ontario Crown prosecutor withdrew the charge on grounds there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

So here’s the question for the prime minister and the slouch-shouldered, gentle gnomes in the PMO — worthy political warriors no doubt but not alpha dogs, necessarily.

Can you handle Julian Fantino? And what will you do when he snaps at you? Just curious.