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Tory MP Julian Fantino cleans up his campaign office in Vaughan, Ont., on Dec. 3, 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Tory MP Julian Fantino cleans up his campaign office in Vaughan, Ont., on Dec. 3, 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Fantino lashes out at 'desperate' Liberals Add to ...

For 30 days Julian Fantino held his tongue, campaigning as the Conservative candidate in the suburban Toronto riding of Vaughan, surviving on pizza and trying to ignore the Liberal attacks.

He had vowed to take the high road during his campaign - and he did.

"It was difficult, if you will, to maintain that focus because it did get quite personal, quite nasty and ugly," he said during an interview this week.

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But the campaign is over. The former Toronto police chief and former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner won Monday's by-election, beating the Liberals out of one of their safest seats in Ontario, one they had held for 22 years.

At 68 years of age, Mr. Fantino now finds himself a rookie MP and will be sitting in the Commons across from the likes of Justin Trudeau, Michael Ignatieff and the rest of the Liberal crew who, he says, made his life miserable.

He asserts the Liberals were "desperate" but that he would rather have "faced dangerous people with loaded guns than some of the nonsense" during the campaign.

Welcome to the world of politics.

Known for his frankness, the father of two and grandfather of four "beautiful little grandchildren" is excited about coming to Ottawa.

Not only is he keen on issues of law and order - he has been in discussions with Stephen Harper about crime issues since Mr. Harper was in opposition - but also those around jobs and the plight of seniors.

Touted as a shoo-in for a cabinet post - no one can imagine the former police chief as a backbencher - he plays that down: "He'll [Prime Minister Stephen Harper]have a great foot soldier and a great team player," he says.

First, however, there are some things he needs to get off his chest.

The peek-a-boo campaign

Repeatedly accused by the Liberals of running a "peek-a-boo" campaign - ducking an all-candidates debate and avoiding issues, including how he handled native protests in Caledonia and policing costs at the G8 Summit when he was OPP commissioner - Mr. Fantino says, "I never ran from anything in my life."

"That peek-a-boo thing, that was such a ludicrous thing," he says, noting that he was out every night knocking on doors, giving media interviews and talking to constituents.

He missed an all-candidates debate because of a memorial mass for his late father-in-law.

" I think they [the Liberals]intended to hurt my campaign. The things they said ... a lot of them were absolute lies. They keep repeating [them] I call it the Hitler Theory. You tell a lie often enough you hope that some people will believe it.

"I've been as many as 21 days in the witness box in court, being cross-examined by the best lawyers in town. There is no peek-a-boo. ... It was a character assassination."

On Justin Trudeau and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Last Friday, Montreal Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, whose father brought in the Charter, attacked Mr. Fantino on a Liberal promo video for his statements disparaging the Charter.

The statements came from Mr. Fantino's memoirs, Duty: The Life of a Cop. Mr. Fantino argued in the book that "common criminals" and "Hells Angels" had benefited from loopholes in the Charter.

Mr. Fantino accuses Mr. Trudeau of taking the information out of context, noting that at one time in Ontario more than 40,000 criminal cases were thrown out because of the "justice delayed is justice denied" section of the Charter.

"I mean these are serious, serious issues and I found it quite distressing really that Justin Trudeau would be trotted out to misrepresent what I said and take it out of context. It was an Academy Award performance."

"You know what, here's me with 42 years of working night shifts and facing people with loaded guns and dealing with murderers and rapists ... and I get a lecture from a newbie. C'mon."

Michael Ignatieff asked him to run in the Vaughan by-election, then turned on him

"Well, that's hypocrisy at its worst. So, one minute I'm King of the Heap and showered with all kinds of accolades and ... then I'm pilloried with all kinds of nonsense."

"They just violated the sanctity of those discussions by doing what they did, and shame on them. I don't mind saying it was a very private discussion [between him and Mr. Ignatieff]... I was prepared right down to the wire to bite my tongue and not ever to get into that, but you know what, I wasn't also going to be their victim and the victim of their hypocrisy.

"They pushed the wrong button and they haven't seen anything yet if they think that I'm just going to be warming a seat up in Ottawa and taking their nonsense."

What drives him

"I am driven by three things: I know who I am; I know what I'm here to do and I know who I'm here to serve. All this other stuff is just noise, distraction and I am not going to be distracted by what I have to do and what the people of Vaughan have entrusted me to do. They can play their silly games all they want but, you know, sticks and stones …"

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