Toronto
2 min

The meeting

Finally, homos talk turkey with the chief

A CHAT.... with Julian Fantino. Credit: David Wall

Gay activists gave police chief Julian Fantino a gay primer during last month’s long-sought after meeting.



“He said he wanted our trust,” says Nick Mulé, of the Coalition For Gay And Lesbian Rights In Ontario.



“We said our trust will be increased if there is some assurance that [his] actions will be in accordance with the lessons… we’re a vulnerable community, we continue to be targeted.”



During the hour-long Jun 14 gathering at police headquarters, the five-homo delegation tackled general issues related to Project Guardian, the London-based investigation into kiddie porn, and later labeled a look into child exploitation, that targeted gay men paying for sex from teen hustlers.



They asked Fantino to look at the damage caused to the men’s lives and urged that mistakes not be repeated.



They noted that the investigation focussed solely on men and what police called “male children” – where were the heterosexuals during Project Guardian?



They asked that police:

• Be careful around language – like using “children” for those in their teens (above the age of consent) and “sexual abuse” when discussing prostitution. “Stereotypes die hard when you throw out these kinds of concepts,” said Mulé, with the general populace falling back into the vision of monster paedophiles raping babies. “We ended up being very harmed by that.”



• Not capitalize on splitting the gay community. “In minority communities, there will be people who support him. But it’s important that he listen to everyone, not just those agreeing with him. You’re here in a huge gay community, very diverse, we don’t all think alike. He needs to hear all voices. We don’t appreciate being split as a community.”



Fantino, according to Mulé, responded that he would not apologize for Project Guardian (though no apology was requested).



“He tended to speak in general terms… [said he] will defend investigation through and through, that we should agree to disagree.”



(Everything attributed to Fantino comes through Mulé – questions to the chief’s office about the meeting were referred to a spokesperson, who did not the return the call. Xtra has filed an access to information request with police for the meeting minutes.)



But Fantino also blamed the mainstream media for fanning the stereotypes and hysteria. He then admitted that Project Guardian was not perfect, but much of it went very, very right.



And he said that the issue should be put to rest – because it’s many years old now. “It was behind him.”



“CLGRO isn’t out to battle, battle, battle,” says Mulé. “We want to see a better relationship. We’re hoping something will develop; he seemed to be calmed by that point.”



CLGRO has been waiting for a meeting with Fantino since 1995, when they first requested time to discuss Project Guardian.



One-third of the meeting between gay activists and Fantino was spent in recrimination – because the homos had sent out a press release about the meeting.



“They were defensive, they felt they were set up,” says Mulé of the four people on the police side. “It got a bit worked up. There was a bit of an unfortunate misunderstanding…”



“We are accountable,” says Mulé. “We need to report back to the community, and use the media to get word back.”



Five people met with the chief – Mulé, Clarence Crossman, Richard Hudler, Christine Donald and non-CLGRO member James Dubro. Fantino knew the names beforehand – and still agreed to meet with Hudler, who fought the chief on Project Guardian while Hudler lived in London and has been the brunt of unflattering comments from Fantino.