For immediate release:
Mar 26, 2008

HDI development fees:

Eight questions later, Aboriginal Affairs Minister admits HDI extortion fees should “NOT” be paid

Still no word on government action

Queen’s Park— After eight recorded questions in the Ontario Legislature, Ontario’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister has finally answered MPP Toby Barrett’s queries as to government’s stance on Haudenosaunee Development Institute development fees.

“The only development fees that ought to be paid by anyone in this province are the development fees that one would pay to the local municipality,” Minister Bryant finally admitted before directing that homebuilders faced with fee demands to, “absolutely, obviously not pay it.”

The response was the first time the government has stated on record in the Ontario Legislature that HDI fee demands should not be paid. The precedent was set in answer to Mr. Barrett’s supplementary question this afternoon in which he asked what homebuilders are supposed to do:

“These builders don’t know how to handle HDI. It seems to them like a no-win situation. If they pay the application fee of up to $7,000, what are the subsequent development fees? Who do they rely on? Who is going to let them know whether they own their land or not? And whether they will be protested or not by perhaps yet another native group?” Barrett asked. “We know the police are not laying charges - my question to you, sir, is what is your government doing about this extortion by HDI?”

However, the Minister was mute on any action government would take to remedy the situation. Similarly the Minister refused to comment on the Criminal Code definition of “extortion” when pressed in the first question from Barrett.

“Minister, as you know, builders on the Grand River are having their projects held up by the Haudenosaunee Development Institute unless they pay money to HDI.” Barrett reported. “According to the Criminal Code of Canada, extortion is defined as one who ‘with intent to obtain anything, by threats, accusations, menaces or violence induces or attempts to induce any person, ... to do anything or cause anything to be done.’’ - Minister, do these actions by HDI not fit the legal definition of extortion as in criminal code?”

Barrett says he plans to continue pressing government for straight answers on how homebuilders should proceed when faced with HDI extortion.

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For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at: (519) 428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629

      Development fees

Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Minister, as you know, builders on the Grand River are having their projects held up by the Haudenosaunee Development Institute unless they pay money to HDI. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, extortion is defined as one who “with intent to obtain anything, by threats, accusations, menaces or violence induces or attempts to induce any person, ... to do anything or cause anything to be done.” Minister, do these actions by HDI not fit the legal definition of extortion as in the criminal code?

Hon. Michael Bryant: The good news is that it’s not MPP’ in the Legislature that interpret the criminal code; it’s police and prosecutors that interpret the criminal code. I will not do so. I am surprised that the member would continue to do so, notwithstanding the Ipperwash Commission findings.

One of the untold stories about what is happening in that part of the province, is the work that is being done by MPP Dave Levac. Not only is Mr. Levac bringing the community together through meetings that I’ve spoken of before, but he’s constantly on the telephone with municipal leaders, with business leaders in the community. He’s talking with Six Nation; he’s talking with everybody. He’s trying to come up with solutions, something that that member should be trying to do as well.

Mr. Toby Barrett: The police are not laying charges. Spring is upon us, the frost is out of the ground, and builders have their employees and bulldozers are ready to go. These builders don’t know how to handle HDI. It seems to them like a no-win situation. If they pay the application fee of up to $7,000, what are the subsequent development fees? Who do they rely on? Who is going to let them know whether they own their land or not? And whether they will be protested or not by perhaps yet another native group? We know the police are not laying charges. My question to you is what is your government doing about this extortion by HDI?

Hon. Michael Bryant: I will say this about that: The member knows, or ought to know, that in fact the only development fees that ought to be paid by anyone in this province are the development fees that one would pay to the local municipality. In fact, if there’s anybody who suggests that any other fees ought to be paid, it is our recommendation that they absolutely, obviously, not pay it.

Secondly, what are we going to do? We have to bring a solution to this 200-year-old dispute between the federal government, on the one hand, and Six Nations, on the other hand. That’s why the province is at the table doing that. That’s why I was speaking with Chief McNaughton and Chief Montour on this very subject on Monday, and I’ll be speaking with them again later this afternoon on that, as I continue to speak to the mayor of Brantford, as well. We’ll keep on trying to find solutions and we won’t give up.