Greenpeace: OPP chief shows lack of priorities, understanding - "We will not be silenced by intimidation"



    TORONTO, Aug. 31 /CNW Telbec/ - Greenpeace accused Ontario Provincial
Police (OPP) Commissioner Julian Fantino of having misplaced priorities and a
poor understanding of peaceful protest in civil society. The comments respond
to Fantino's attack on Greenpeace today in a Toronto newspaper following the
organization's peaceful action at the Nanticoke coal power plant.
    Speaking to the Toronto Sun, Fantino called Greenpeace's peaceful
blocking of a 30,000 tonne coal shipment "dangerous and despicable," calling
it "nothing but anarchy." In the article Fantino vows to investigate
Greenpeace thoroughly, and laments that the OPP, after studying ways to seize
the ship, found that marine law stood in the way.
    "Greenpeace embraces the proud tradition of non-violent, civil
disobedience. Police action to subvert peaceful protest should be a concern to
all Canadians who treasure civil rights," said Bruce Cox, executive director
of Greenpeace Canada. "Commissioner Fantino should think long and hard before
he embarks on a political witch hunt against a non-profit environmental
organization."
    Clayton Ruby, Member of the Order of Canada and prominent Civil Rights
Lawyer, said "The Ontario Provincial Police should not be in the business of
trying to shut down non governmental organizations. There are police states
where that is the rule of government, but this is not one of them."
    Commissioner Fantino's comments confirm Greenpeace's concerns that police
forces have been wasting valuable resources investigating non-violent civil
society. Since arriving in Canada almost two weeks ago, Greenpeace has been
subjected to an extensive search of their vessel, ongoing police surveillance
and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) interviewing volunteer and
staff.
    "We will not be silenced by intimidation," affirmed Cox. "We call on all
political parties and their leaders to condemn this blatant attempt to shut
down public debate about important election issues."
    Cox says the McGuinty government promised Ontarians a debate on Ontario's
energy future and failed to deliver: "They quietly cancelled an environmental
assessment on the energy plan and we now learn from the chief of the
provincial police force that they were studying ways to stop Greenpeace from
promoting energy issues. This doesn't sound like open, democratic debate,"
said Cox.
    Greenpeace has requested an urgent meeting with Commissioner Fantino. The
Arctic Sunrise arrives at Toronto's Harbourfront early this afternoon.




For further information:

For further information: Jane Story, Greenpeace communications officer,
(416) 930-9055; Bruce Cox, Greenpeace executive director, (416) 419-7341

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