For immediate release:
Apr 25, 2008

NATIVE LAND DISPUTES

Ms. Laurie Scott: My question is to the Deputy Premier about the native protests that are now paralyzing developments in the city of Brantford.

I'll quote the mayor of Brantford, from an April 15 article in the Brantford Expositor: " Almost every day a business or the city receives demands and then threats if they fail to comply with those demands.... People are being hurt by this. They're losing jobs and could see their taxes go up."

Deputy Premier, you sat back and did nothing for the people of Caledonia until it was too late to save the businesses and homes. Brantford has begun to hit its stride after some downturns, and now that is being halted as would-be investors are being intimidated and turning away.

What is this government going to do to assist with the specific costs to the municipalities associated with this situation, such as policing?

Hon. George Smitherman: To the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Hon. Michael Bryant: I appreciate the member's question. It's interesting, though, that the member didn't ask that question yesterday. I'm wondering if in fact the member was uncomfortable with expressing concerns about the activity of First Nations people while chiefs were sitting in the audience. It's odd that the member didn't ask that question yesterday. You ask it today, and here is my answer.

We are in ongoing conversations with municipal councils and mayors. With respect to the particular municipal council that the member is making reference to, I can say that the MPP for Brant-

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I just would ask the Minister of Finance to withdraw the comment, please.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I withdraw.

Hon. Michael Bryant: We are in ongoing conversations with the mayor and council, as we continue to discuss ways in which we can assist that municipality.

Ms. Laurie Scott: I find that some of the minister' s response was quite inappropriate.

Anyway, back to Brantford, which is the main part of the question here.

Brantford's local government home and business owners are watching their potential prosperity disappear because this government refuses to deal with the native protests that are hurting the social fabric and confidence in that city and frightening away new investors.

Branford city council passed a resolution on Monday night to the Premier demanding "financial compensation for lost businesses, lost tax revenue and extra policing costs." This is all caused by the escalating protests at development sites in Brantford.

The Premier set the precedent in Caledonia, agreeing to millions in compensation to residents and businesses. Will this government agree to a similar compensation package for the residents and businesses of Brantford?

Hon. Michael Bryant: Working with First Nations leaders with respect to particular claims and with respect to changing the claims process is part of the broad set of issues that the member is raising with this question. That is something that is happening right now, and in my conversations with the federal minister of Indian affairs, we have agreed that we are having our ministries work together to try and improve the claims process.

Often, and certainly in the case of Haudenosaunee Six Nations, we are talking about disagreements and claims more than a century old and that primarily involve a disagreement or a claim, or a discussion in negotiation between the federal government on the one hand and First Nations on the on the other hand.

Be that as it may, that certainly does not stop the MPP for Brant, Mr. Levac, from doing the good work that he does to try and bring the community together, to try and work out solutions and assist the municipal council.