A week ago I had no idea I would be writing about Julian Fantino today. The man is fairly well known, over the years he has held positions as head of the Toronto Police Service, and head of the Ontario Provincial Police. If you haven’t heard his name, you’ve probably spent most of the last quarter century asleep, or playing World of Warcraft.
But while doing research on an article intended to ask Rob Ford if he really did mean to respect the taxpayers (in my mind allowing your police force to beat and intimidate the citizens of your city and visitors to your city isn’t respecting the taxpayers) I kept on running into Fantino. Time after time a source I was using mentioned his name. Time after time a source had information about him, and his actions that I hadn’t seen before.
This is the fun part of research. Sometimes you are looking for one thing, and then you notice something else. It’s like hunting for your cat to take her to the veterinarians. You are looking for an entire cat, but usually what you end up finding is the tip of a tail sticking out from behind a couch, and when you reach in to grab it, you’ve usually found the wrong cat. One time what I found was my daughter’s exceptionally realistic stuffed toy cat, which was a real surprise, and cause of much good humor in our house for months afterwords.
Julian Fantino is running for public office in the riding of Vaughn as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. He’s using his background as a public figure as a keystone of his campaign. The problems arise when you look more closely at what he did in his previous positions, which is causing Conservatives like myself to question his candidacy, as documented by Metronews, by Moose and Squirrel asking Blogging Tories to remove them from it’s Blog Roll, Blazing Cat Fur saying that it wished it was a member so it could do the same, an article at Voice of Canada, a website called Conservatives Against Fantino, etc.
No politician can satisfy everyone. I consider Culture Minister James Moore to be an incompetent because he thinks he can block people from following him on Twitter, and that Bill C-32 will be effective. Other people disagree, which is their right.
Differences of opinion are normal, and desirable. They help produce a vibrant cultural and political landscape.
But then there are actions which are not desirable. And that’s where I have my problem with Julian Fantino.
Acting Staff Superintendent of Detectives Fantino – Toronto
When Fantino was working as Acting Staff Superintendent of Detectives for the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force in May of 1991, he arranged for detectives to spy on Susan Eng, the newly appointed Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, the civilian body responsible for overseeing the police force. This had been rumored for years, and was first publicly mentioned in a 2006 court filing:
The story of the surveillance operation first surfaced as part of a statement of claim in a December 2006 lawsuit filed by Const Robert Correa, a 22-year veteran of Toronto’s drug squad. While the claim includes many unsubstantiated allegations against former Toronto police chief and now OPP commissioner Julian Fantino, Correa’s central allegation is that Fantino, then superintendent in charge of Detective Services was “involved in wiretapping the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board.”
It was first reported in television in 2007 after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation obtained a seventeen page report written by former Toronto Police Detective Garry Carter, along with audio tapes recorded when the police obtained a wiretap on Toronto lawyer Peter Maloney’s phone (Maloney was a friend of Eng’s). According to the report, which I have not been able to obtain a copy of, police were supposed to only record if Maloney was talking to certain people, as per the wiretap warrant. Apparently police misled the judge by claiming Maloney was involved in the illegal drugs trade. Eng was not on the list of people the police were allowed to record. They were allowed to listen for one minute to determine the name of the person Maloney was talking to, but the CBC reports some of the tapes which included Eng were over twenty minutes long.
Apparently part of the issue is that Peter Maloney is gay, and the police in those times were less than appreciative of alternative sexuality. And of course having a Chair of the oversight board who was friend with someone who was gay, would have not sat well with many police officers. Part of the report titled The Relationship Between Susan Eng, Peter Maloney And Laura Rowe was published by The Globe and Mail, but does not appear to be available online anywhere. To further complicate issues, Laura Rowe was the first openly gay member of the Police Services Board. This probably upset Fantino, who has had a love/hate relationship with the gay community for years.
To quote the article from Xtra.ca:
Attitudes toward queers in police circles were known to have been less than positive in the early days of the gay rights movement. In the late ’60s when Hislop ran into a senior police officer at a social occasion he asked if there might be room for a regular liaison between the cops and the gay community, like today’s police liaison officer. His reply still shocked Hislop when he related the tale in 2002.
“Gays are incipient criminals,” was the officer’s reply. “Why would we want to liaise with criminals?”
That sort of an attitude was common in police circles at the time. A friend who was a cop on another force during the early 1980’s told me about finding two women necking, in an unclothed condition in a car one night, and how disgusted he was. This was around the time of the infamous Bath House Raids aka Operation Soap (who said that cops don’t have a sense of humor).
Derek Finkle has been working on the story for fifteen years, and actually had meet Garry Carter before the wiretapping of Peter Maloney’s phone started. Derek has written an excellent in depth two part article, which I highly recommend, Part One is here, and Part Two is here.
A final note – it was one week after the wiretapping warrant was issued, that Julian Fantino left the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force to become Chief of the London Ontario Police Service.
Police Chief Julian Fantino – London Ontario
Fantino was the chief of the London Police Force from 1991 to 1998, and oversaw ‘Project Guardian’, a controversial attack on a supposed child porn ring. Note that I said supposed, there is a lot of disagreement over exactly what occurred. The case does get mentioned in Fantino’s book, which unfortunately I haven’t read, and can’t get a copy of today. Project Guardian was an outgrowth of Project Scoop, which started when some pornographic video tapes depicting sex between males, some of who appeared underage were found in a local river (note that one source claims an age of eight years old for one person – I have not been able to confirm that).
Solid documentation on Project Guardian is hard to come by, at least from sources that I have solid knowledge of. The Walnet.org website has a lot of information, curiously enough mostly under the Commercial Sex Information Service heading, but also in some other places (site search for Project Guardian). Everything2.com also has coverage, which appears to mirror some of what is on Walnet.org.
Apparently some convictions were obtained. This doesn’t mean as much as most people would think. First, if you are facing ten years in prison, and can plea bargain down to a year, even if you are innocent it’s safer than a trial. If you don’t believe me, ask a criminal lawyer.
Forensic Pathologists have also been known to lie, Charles Randal Smith sent many innocent people to jail in Ontario by lying about his findings under oath. In the U.K. Dr. Williams did the same thing in the Sally Clark case, he lied under oath.
And then you get the double whammy. In the Birmingham Six case (six men accused of being I.R.A. bombers and blowing up two pubs in Birmingham U.K.) not only did the cops lie under oath, the forensics team joined them.
So that there were convictions, does not mean that there were actually crimes.
Apparently many men in the Gay Community of London regarded Project Guardian as a thinly veiled attack on their sexuality. Whether it was or not, I don’t know, but several articles were written accusing Fantino of being on an ‘Anti-Gay Witch Hunt’ by reputable newspapers (I don’t always agree with the Globe and Mail editorially, but it’s reporting is usually pretty accurate).
On March 11, 1995, The Globe and Mail had run a feature by Gerald Hannon: “The kiddie porn ring that wasn’t,” exposing a London Ontario crackdown, “Project Guardian,” as little more than a police created moral panic.
Stacks of videotapes piled up for dramatic effect in a May 1994 press conference by the city’s top cop Julian Fantino turned out to be everything from Abbot and Costello Go to Mars to Zorro the Gay Blade.
Some tapes found earlier had shown sex involving local boys; they were identified, tracked down and harassed into naming their contacts. Forty five men were arrested, hundreds of charges laid. Most related to sex with boys, all but a few in their teens, most over 13.
Since 1988 the age of consent in Canada has been 14, but with significant exceptions, among them sex gained by “consideration” (money, gifts, a roof overhead, almost anything) and depictions of sex with anyone who is or appears to be under 18.
But few of the charges here had to do with porn — or “children,” though both terms were wildly flaunted. This “kiddie porn” panic was really about teenage hustlers.
The story had first been broken by a young freelance journalist, Joseph Couture. As Gerald wrote:
- He found his way into the lives of several of the “child victims.” (Mr Couture had cruised London’s downtown Victoria Park himself when he was 13, looking for older men to have sex with, so he had some idea where to go.) He did what it seemed no one else had done thus far: He looked beyond the steady stream of police press releases. He went to the “children.”
Joseph sent his stories to Xtra , often to see them hacked by Eleanor Brown. He had better luck with Max Allen, scourge of censorship and producer of the CBC Radio series Ideas. They did a documentary, The Trials of London, aired in October 1994.
Police harassed boys interviewed on the program, dragging one out of a restaurant — as he was talking with Couture. Joseph’s house was once surrounded by police cruisers and the canine unit: they said they were looking for a stolen car.
Rick, admittedly is biased, but he’s quoting the Globe and Mail article. The Globe and Mail of the period would hardly have counted as gay friendly, or as cop phobic, so if they said something like this, well, I’d tend to believe them rather than a tired ex-police officer.
I’d like to close off with a couple of quotes from an article by James Dubro titled Julian Fantino hawks new book. Dubro is no fan of Fantino’s, and I doubt he’d vote for him.
“I am not antigay or homo-phobic,” Fantino writes in the book, adding that he “doesn’t care what someone’s sexuality is as long as they do not break the law.”
But his account of the infamous Project Guardian shows how little Fantino learned from his battles with Ontario’s queers. Guardian was the investigation into a supposed London child pornography ring while Fantino was that city’s chief of police. It saw several men convicted of sex with underage males, two men convicted of producing underage porn and dozens of men unjustly charged and vilified for having consensual sex with hustlers older than the age of consent.
Most of the alleged victims of the supposed ring were teen boys who were identified, brought in and questioned by the police themselves. Almost no one came forward on his own. Gary Gramlick and Edward Jewell were charged and convicted of child pornography in connection with homemade sex videos. But there was no kiddie porn ring in London. The closest thing to a ring was a group of hustlers and their clients.
In the chapter entitled “Hell on Earth for Me,” Fantino describes Project Guardian as the breakup of a massive “child-porn ring of paedophiles” that seduced underage London youths into sex in return for “contraband” tobacco, alcohol, drugs and money.
After setting out his version of the facts and the harm his “ring” did to many “children” Fantino writes that Project Guardian “became an uphill battle for police” as “critics came out and went for the jugular” with “a campaign based on self-serving mis-information.” He describes journalist Gerald Hannon’s 1995 Globe piece, “The Kiddie Porn Ring that Wasn’t,” as a “vile, viscous attack… I was shocked that a national newspaper such as the Globe and Mail would carry such a story.” (Hannon is also a member of the board of directors of Pink Triangle Press which publishes Xtra.)
Next Fantino savagely attacks John Greyson’s 1995 CBC documentary, After the Bath, calling it “part of a well-organized campaign that somehow got Canada’s national television broadcaster to serve as its conduit.”
He also goes after former Toronto mayor John Sewell, Toronto city councilor Howard Moscoe and former federal justice minister Alan Rock.
“Looking back I think of the entire campaign as the most vile, unfair, unethical treatment of police that I have ever seen in my entire career in law enforcement,” writes Fantino. “What it tells me is that those who influenced the expenditure of taxpayer’s money must have had a sympathetic ear for paedophiles.”
The reality is that innocent people got caught up in Fantino’s overzealous pursuit of child abusers and exploiters. But in Fantino’s simple black-and-white world there were 62 complainants and 61 “suspect offenders” including a teacher, a school principal, an Anglican priest and a real estate agent. He inexplicably concludes, “If that is not a ring I don’t know what is.”
Fantino is obsessed with paedo-philes. He repeatedly applies the word to all the defendants in the Project Guardian cases and in many other cases ranging from murder and sexual abuse to consensual sex with teen hustlers. He uses it again and again in his memoir.
“The whole thing is a sordid, sick, perverted crime,” he writes, “and it makes my blood boil.”
He refers to the strength of the “paedophile movement,” and later writes that “organized networks of paedophiles thrive in every corner of the globe” and that “they are politicians, journalists, clergy, professors, doctors, lawyers” and they “are even in law enforcement.” He writes that they “use their positions to manipulate public opinion.” These people are “brutal criminals” in Fantino’s reality.
Anyone who defends any of the alleged paedophiles or challenges any of the cases is automatically dismissed as someone who is sympathetic to paedophilia or an apologist for paedophiles. Although not mentioned by name, this would no doubt include Greyson and CBC executive producers Jerry McIntosh and Don Richardson (both of whom I have worked with closely and found to be stern editors and sticklers for accuracy), CBC Ideas producer Max Allen, late Ideas narrator Lister Sinclair, researcher and journalist Joseph Couture, Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario leaders Tom Warner and Nick Mule and Homophile Association of London Ontario stalwarts Clarence Crossman and Richard Hudler and the Globe and Mail editor who commissioned and ran Hannon’s article Sarah Murdoch.
Curiously with all of the inordinate attention to paedophilia in Fantino’s book — far more references than to organized crime or youth gang killings or any other major criminal problem — there is only one reference to paedophilia cited in the index.
As you can see, Dubro is less than impressed. It’s too bad that there isn’t more primary source material from neutral sources available. I did find a chronology of the events, which makes it clear that all three Toronto newspapers, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and The Toronto Sun were both homophobic, and confused of the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. Curiously all three papers, and the newer National Post are now gay/lesbian/transgender friendly. It’s amazing the change that can happen in as short a time as fifteen years.
Police Chief Julian Fantino – York Region
Fantino was chief of the what we less than affectionately called the ‘York Pork’ when I was in High School from 1998 to 2000. They’ve improved a lot since then. Over the last five years I’ve spoken to many officers, and they’ve been courteous and polite (I live in York Region).
Fantino appears to have done nothing noteworthy while here. This isn’t to say he didn’t do a good job, he may have, but I was unable to find any new reports from the period.
Police Chief Julian Fantino – Toronto
Fantino was Police Service Chief in Toronto from 2000 to 2005. Controversy erupted almost immediately when five male police officers raided a woman’s bath house. There is no proof that Fantino was even aware of the raid, however he did realize that it was costing him good will, in the increasingly more powerful and politically active LGBT community, and took the step of being the first police chief to appoint a liaison to the community. He also appeared in uniform, with models dressed up like members of the Village People, a gay band, something that would have been unthinkable only ten years previously.
Whether the photo-shoot showed a change of heart, or something else, isn’t known. But during Fantino’s reign many things happened (with thanks to NOW Magazine):
- Fantino in a meeting with the black community he called criticism of the force “useless rhetoric”
- He sent the wrong signals when he moved the force’s highest-ranking black officer, Keith Forde, out of public complaints, a section he was assigned to clean up, and into community policing, a low priority for the chief.
- In the uproar over the shooting of several young black men, Fantino repeatedly blamed “certain elements” in the black community, not his own force, for failing to rein in the violence.
- Fantino was a huge fan of racial profiling.
- Fantino detested the anti-Iraq-war protesters, he tried to get the police services board to require groups to seek permission from police for rallies.
- Fantino said that “a problem is now arising where portions of the public believe that Dundas Square is a public space.” Guess what Julian, it is.
- He tried to pass off weapons seized in nightclubs as having been seized at raves (Raves were the current ‘Moral Panic’)
- He used the murder of Holly Jones to bolster his calls for closed-circuit cameras on street corners and to fuel a crime-wave panic to influence budget deliberations with city council.
- For all his overtures to the gay community, his coppers were permitted to run wild at lesbian hangout the Pussy Palace with questionable liquor license charges. A court found the coppers violated privacy rights when they barged in on naked patrons.
- Fantino expressed “disappointment” when manslaughter charges were laid against four police officers in the beating death of mental health patient Otto Vass.
- A veil of secrecy shrouded the internal police discipline process under Fantino. Councillor Bas Balkissoon resigned publicly when public complaints about police conduct that he brought personally to the force were dismissed or not handled at all.
- Fantino’s attempted to slip changes through the police services board that would have seen him unilaterally decide when and under what circumstances the police watchdog special investigation unit (SIU) was called in to probe incidents involving police.
- Fantino didn’t like community policing, and axed the police liaison committees.
- Fantino axed foot patrols in troubled areas like Regent Park from 25 officers to 10 – even while residents were pleading for a more pronounced police presence.
- The chief eagerly pursued child-porn charges, but ignored a working group of women concerned about the operations of the force’s sexual assault unit, despite 57 recommendations in a city auditor’s report.
- He floated a plan for a “charitable foundation” made up of corporations to bankroll his sought-after helicopter and other pet projects, which may have made police responsible to those who made donations, rather than the taxpayers.
- The chief called for an advertiser boycott of NOW for running a photo of his Woodbridge home and asking, Should the chief of police be required to live in the city he polices?
As you can see, NOW Magazine was less than impressed. I was living in Mississauga at the time, and working near the border of the two cities. I heard a lot about this from people at work who lived in Toronto. There were places where they wouldn’t go, because in their opinion the city had become unsafe.
And then there were the corruption scandals. While he wasn’t responsible for them, he is accused it trying to hide them.
An interesting record.
When his contract renewal came up, the Board Chair was unable to vote due to a conflict of interest, and since there was a two-two tie, his contract could not be renewed, and the board started a search for a new chief. There were a wide range of his supporters putting up thinks like this poster advocating a second term for Fantino, however there was no way to break the tie.
End of Part One
My apologies. When I started this article I thought I was looking at a quick 1,000 word pieces. When I hit 4,000 words at about midnight last night, I had to stop and think. Yes, I wanted to publish the complete thing. But the election that Fantino is a candidate in is today, and due to other commitments, there is no possible way that I’m going to be able to tie up what looks to be a 10,000 word article before the polls close.
And yes, I seriously expect this to hit 10,000 words. Fantino is a complex man, with a long history of public service (or dis-service according to some quarters). I have decided that the voters of Vaughn deserve the chance to read at least the first part before the polls close, so here it is.
I emailed Rob Ford a copy of my article calling on him to rein in the rogue cops in Toronto. I don’t have Fantino’s email address, but I do have his Twitter name, and I will be tweeting him to let him know that I’ve published this, so that he can respond if he so chooses.
Monday November 29, 2010