For immediate release:
Apr 22, 2008

Bob Runciman and Randy Hillier on Land Claims

Native land disputes

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: I have a question to the Premier regarding the expansion of native protests across Ontario. Over the last number of weeks, Six Nations protestors have been blocking access to a number of construction sites in Brantford. Yesterday, the member from Haldimand-Norfolk raised the fact that Six Nations protesters are now blocking a development on the Ancaster fairgrounds. Yesterday, we learned that native protestors had set up a blockade on county road 2 in Deseronto, and have been occupying a nearby privately-owned quarry for some time.

Premier, whatever your government has been doing in Caledonia for the last two-plus years clearly isn’t working. The native protests are expanding. What do you plan to do about this escalating situation?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: Just as an update to the subject that the member raised, the blockade erected by Mohawk protestors in eastern Ontario has come down, and came down at about 10:00 a.m. today.

I note as well that the chief of the band council of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Council said yesterday that that council, and he as chief did not—I repeat, did not—sanction a blockade of the busy southern Ontario highway.

I think it’s important to note that, in fact, the blockade is down and that the chief and council exercised some leadership to indicate that this was not something sanctioned by their First Nation. Now those streets are free, and we’re pleased that it ended in a peaceful fashion.

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: We’re pleased that it’s ended, perhaps, temporarily in a peaceful situation. But the reality is that we’re not aware of any charges being laid. By failing to enforce the rule of law in Caledonia and Brantford, and refusing to shut down HDIs who are making what everyone would classify as extortion demands and what may fall under that classification in the Criminal Code of Canada, you are in fact giving tacit consent to further protests and blockades.

Developers are being told by the government not to pay the fees, but then you do nothing to stop the situation in Brantford and others areas. Minister, what are you going to tell the people of Brantford, Ancaster and Deseronto who are worried about their safety, their homes and their businesses? That they should “steel themselves,” because as your Premier said to another issue, “This too shall pass?”

L031-1420-22 follows

(Mr. Robert W. Runciman)

 ... their safety, their homes, their businesses—that they should steel themselves because, as your Premier said to another issue, this too shall pass?

1420

Hon. Michael Bryant: I was speaking to Haldimand county council today and—in attendance were a number of citizens; obviously, the full council and the mayor were there—issues around what we are doing next were discussed. The answer is, negotiations are being encouraged that would see those who are on the street and at the work sites come off the street and off the work sites—and allow for discussions by way of negotiation.

It is, based on the recommendations of the Ipperwash commission, the recommended course of action not to escalate the tension, but rather to de-escalate the tension, and most importantly, to come to a lasting solution. That lasting solution will only happen if the parties sit down and negotiate, and that’s exactly the goal that we’re pursuing.

Mr. Randy Hillier: Premier, your government is creating a culture of violence and confusion. In Napanee and Deseronto, we expect nothing less than one law for every man and injustice for no man. You choose not to protect our communities from armed thugs, nor do you defend legal title to our properties. When will you stand up and protect property, stop the violence and end your policy of different laws for different people?

Hon. Michael Bryant: This comes from a member who—

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: Shot deer out of season.

Hon. Michael Bryant: Well, shot deer out of season and blocked Highway 401.

If I’d closed my eyes, I could have heard the words of Mike Harris, when he said—

Mr. Randy Hillier: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Those comments are patently untrue. Unless that minister has evidence, I would ask him to withdraw those comments.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): It’s not a point of order, but I do remind the members to be conscious of their language. We’ve got a full gallery here again today. Anything that’s going to invoke stress within this chamber isn’t useful to any of us. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Mr. Peter Kormos: On a point of order, Speaker: ??Standing order 23(a).

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I thank the member for the reminder. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Hon. Michael Bryant: The member makes reference to violence. In fact, the most violent confrontation, the one that gave rise to a public inquiry, was the Ipperwash confrontation—and in it, the recommendation from Commissioner Linden was very clear. It is not appropriate for the government to enter the law enforcement domain of the police. Law enforcement properly falls within the responsibility of the police. To maintain police independence, the government cannot direct when and how to enforce the law. It is for the police to decide whether and when arrests will be made and the manner in which they will be executed. We will continue to follow that advice.