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The Heritage Front Affair
Report to the Solicitor General of Canada
Security Intelligence Review Committee
December 9, 1994

7.1 The First Meeting

The fears of the Reform Party's Executive about infiltration came to pass in Ontario during 1991. One of the Toronto area constituency associations, Beaches-Woodbine, became the focus of the Heritage Front's activities. Hugh Pendergast was the President of the association and he went on to be a candidate in that riding. Pendergast initially organized the association and he was later assisted by several people associated with the extreme right.[5] Prominent among them were: Alan Overfield,[6] who owned and operated a bailiff company; Nicola Polinuk, Don Andrews' common-law wife; and James Dawson, a Heritage Front member. The majority of the riding association members were not extremists.

Pendergast would later tell the Reform Party's Special Committee which investigated the infiltration attempt that he initially saw nothing odd in the behaviour of some of the new members in his riding association. But he said that later on, some of these people started getting "pushy" and tried to take over the association.[7]

After the April convention in Saskatoon, the Reform Party planned to have Preston Manning tour Ontario in June 1991. Reg Gosse, Chairman of the Ontario Expansion, asked Andrew Flint to set up the large Reform Party meetings in Ontario (the province was divided into four sectors for organizational purposes).[8] Flint was asked to organize major rallies in the Toronto area and he chose the International Centre in Mississauga, near Toronto's Pearson International Airport for the first one.[9]

In 1991, Preston Manning had no RCMP protection and no personal bodyguards to accompany him. The Reform Party leader depended on local organizers for such arrangements when suddenly Toronto area interest in the Party exploded and thousands attended the meetings. The decisions about security were therefore local, and no one at the national office was monitoring this aspect of Ontario operations.[10]

In early 1991, the Reform Party in Ontario was concerned about groups which might disrupt or even possibly try to take over or at least discredit their fledgling riding associations. One umbrella group which had already tried to do so was CARP - the Coalition Against the Reform Party. The group was described in various news accounts as being a rather mixed bag of representatives from both the far left and single-issue groups. [11] CARP disrupted a meeting in the Trinity Spadina riding.

On May 27, 1991, Andrew Flint was at a Beaches-Woodbine information meeting for the Reform Party in a Church on Woodbine Avenue. There he met Al Overfield. To highlight the good things that he could do for Reform, according to Bristow, Alan Overfield thought that he should display his security people. Overfield asked his employees to attend and asked Wolfgang Walter Droege to have several members of the Heritage Front appear at the small Beaches-Woodbine riding association meeting.[12] Overfield was inside the meeting where he met Flint, while his team, which included Droege, Mitrevski, Bristow, Dawson and a couple of others, waited outside, ostensibly doing security for the meeting. At least one of the Heritage Front people standing outside had no idea why they were there.[13]

Hugh Pendergast remarked to Andrew Flint that he was somewhat intimidated by the size of Overfield's security staff who were lingering outside this meeting.[14]

Alan Overfield has described himself as associated with the Nationalist Party of Canada (NPC) in the past. Through his early association with Don Andrews and the NPC, Overfield came to know and eventually employ Wolfgang Droege as a part-time bailiff. As a result of this relationship and his position within the Reform Party, Overfield obtained Droege's assistance and through him, the Heritage Front members, for Reform Party security duties.

Flint was organizing meetings in the Toronto area and Overfield offered to do security for Reform, free of charge.[15] Overfield would later tell the Committee that the security group was the idea of the Reform Party's Executive Council.[16] Flint had confidence in Overfield's company because as bailiffs, they had to be licensed by the government. Reg Gosse, Chairman of the Ontario Expansion of the Reform Party at the time, stated that he asked Overfield if all of his personnel on the security team were bailiffs. He said that Overfield replied, "yes" [17] Overfield, furthermore, was acting as a Director for the Beaches-Woodbine riding association and neither Flint nor Gosse had any reason to doubt him.

The Reform Party's Ontario organization was described as having no money at this time and offers of free services from small businesses were welcome. When Flint said that bailiffs could provide security, Ron Wood, Manning's Press Secretary said "OK if this does not cost any money."[18] Andrew Flint accepted Overfield's offer to provide security at the upcoming meetings.[19]

John Thompson, a Reform member and advisor, said that the Party should expect a lot of the CARP people, possibly hundreds, to show up at the planned major rally in Mississauga.[20] Consequently, the organizers wanted adequate crowd control, and the Reform leader Preston Manning had to be protected.

Wolfgang Droege said that he learned about the security group from Al Overfield. He said that it was Overfield who suggested that they could influence the Reform Party. Overfield would later say that it was Grant Bristow's idea (section 7.3 in this chapter reviews the plots). Droege thinks that he got Grant Bristow involved. He thought it was also possible, however, that Overfield approached Bristow.[21]

On June 10, 1991, Toronto Region informed CSIS HQ that Droege, Bristow, Lincoln and Dawson "were employed as security people for a recent Reform Party constituency meeting held in Toronto." The report noted that the placement was organized by Al Overfield who was a Reform Party member and local organizer. CSIS learned that the same individuals were again contracted by Overfield to provide personal security for Reform Party leader Preston Manning at a major rally to be held in Toronto on June 12, 1991.

Al Overfield said that his group performed security duties twice at a high school in Scarborough, after the Church on Woodbine meeting. Droege was present but Bristow was not.[22] Overfield later said that Bristow had done security for "two or three" or "a couple of riding associations" at a Don Mills school and at Scarborough Collegiate Institute in April 1991.[23]

Grant Bristow was at only one Reform meeting prior to the big Mississauga rally.[24] Overfield claimed that Bristow attended the Scarborough meetings at least twice, and one in Markham (May 1991), probably with Peter Mitrevski and Droege.[25]

Based on the information we collected, we believe that Grant Bristow attended only one meeting prior to June 12, 1991 - the Beaches-Woodbine information meeting.



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