Dec 1st, 2010 

By Jeff Parkinson 

While Julian Fantino managed a very narrow victory in the Vaughan by-election on Monday, it’s more than a bit note worthy that the supposed “star candidate” for the CPC won his home town riding by less than 1000 votes with the full weight of top party officials including the Prime Minister behind him. 

Looking back at what was an interesting campaign, Fantino and the Conservative Party of Canada pulled out every trick they had to squeak out a win that was too close to call until after midnight. 

When the rumours began flying that Fantino would be embraced by Stephen Harper, we did everything we could to be absolutely sure that the CPC were aware of Julian’s salty past before they made it official. The announcement was timed to precede the release of Christie Blatchford’s book which makes clear that Fantino not only failed as OPP commissioner, but went out of his way to abuse his power. 

A fully informed Harper nonetheless fast tracked Fantino into the party in a very undemocratic fashion shoving him down the throats of loyal Conservative voters and members of the party alike. This created an instant backlash within the party as high profile long time members began contacting members of CANACE to voice their disgust and help us craft an anti Fantino campaign. 

We then registered as a third party to the by-election as Conservatives Against Fantino which instantly caught the attention of national media. It was a thing of beauty watching previously uninterested journalists write stories carrying our material from coast to coast. We had 60000 high quality flyers printed documenting the most disturbing of Fantino’s abuses of power, and prepared to blanket Vaughan with them. 

Elections Canada helped us get even more media attention by refusing to allow us to register claiming that the use of the word conservatives would confuse voters. It was a technicality that many would have ignored, but we are sticklers for the rules, so we changed the official registered name to “Against Fantino” and took the time to black out one word in each of the 60000 flyers to comply with their ruling. 

For most people, sitting down with a sharpie and editing by hand all of those flyers would be a daunting task, but we savour every satisfying step toward exposing Harper’s new best friend to the public, and we’re not alone. With the help of a healthy stream of fed up conservative voters who won’t quietly stomach the slap in the face that is Fantino in office, we were able to mount a very efficient campaign.

Having handed out political material before, I expected to see a significant number of these flyers laying in parking lots, and blowing down the highway but that didn’t happen. The only resistance I encountered in distributing them was a woman who initially thought I was pro Fantino and didn’t want to hear it. The number of people we watched climb into their car with, and spend several minutes reading the flyer was amazing. 

The mainstream media stories that we’re used to having to fight for were so plentiful that at one point, it became an almost unmanageable task to keep track of them all. This is a problem I can safely say we wish we’d had 4 years ago, but it takes time for people to stray from conventional thinking. 

Predictions of a landslide conservative victory abounded early on, but began to dry up after we got involved. 

It wasn’t just CANACE who helped convince thousands of people to vote Liberal though. It’s important to give credit where it’s due, and the CPC and Fantino did their part to help us with a weak and dodgy campaign. Once the stories of his abuses in Caledonia began to surface, Julian became exceedingly difficult for even the media to contact. 

His fear of us and of the truth that we wield became obvious as he ceased giving interviews and hid from events that we were likely to attend. During one of our protests, the CBC was interviewing Gary McHale in front of Fantino headquarters when Julian was spotted sneaking out the back door. 

We’re not sure who exactly decided to put the duct tape on Fantino’s mouth, but we’re certainly grateful to them for aiding our cause. So fearful was the so called “star candidate” that he blew off the only public debate in the riding leaving us to spend the evening talking to hundreds of voters in attendance and share the stories of his disturbing time as OPP commissioner. 

A celebrity endorsement from the similarly blustery, loud mouthed and clearly uninformed hockey commentator Don Cherry may or may not have made a difference, but it certainly was not enough to give the CPC the landslide victory they were hoping for. 

That we came up a hair shy of bringing an immediate end to the career of Mr. Fantino simply means we have plenty of time between now and the next Federal Election (expected in 2011) to ensure that he can’t coast to another victory based on name recognition, and so much as I hoped he would lose, I’m glad we have more time to destroy the fictional legacy that he seemed set to leave.

It was a great time for all of us and I’d like to personally thank Mr. Fantino for helping us expose his failures to such a wide new audience. My only regret is that I didn’t get to meet him personally to ask a question. How does it feel to know that we’re never ever going to go away? 

The numbers may suggest a narrow victory, but personally I think we’ve proven that Fantino is still a loser.

  1. Loved your recap & assessment, Jeff! Will be getting it listed on the Conservatives Against Fantino site, and I’ll be updating my VoiceofCanada post with it shortly:

    Just for the record, Caledonia Victims Project was also involved in this. I know you were trying to include me in the CANACE umbrella since I was a proud co-founder with you, Gary, Merlyn and Mary-Lou, but I just want to be clear about the relationship in case our OPP & other ‘friends’ are reading this.

    Mark Vandermaas, Founder
    Caledonia Victims Project

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