For immediate release:
May 14, 2008

Caledonia Cover-Up

Toby here,
Further to the news release I sent you yesterday based on the questions asked by my colleague Bob Runciman and I, I am forwarding to you the final Hansard transcript which speaks to the letter Chief Montour sent to Minister Bryant, as well as a last minute Liberal question about Commissioner Fantino’s response via a letter to The Dunnville Chronicle.

This morning, 'Caledonia Cover-Up' and HDI demands in Cayuga were again front and centre during Question Period.

Take care.


Mr. Robert W. Runciman: My question is to the Attorney General. Minister, you were copied with a letter dated April 29, 2008, from Chief Bill Montour of the Six Nations Council addressed to Minister Bryant. The letter reads: "First of all, I want to thank you on behalf of the Six Nations of the Grand River community for your intervention in the police action on Saturday April 26, 2008. Your intervention has been instrumental in the reopening of the Caledonia bypass."

Minister, this letter raises very serious and troubling questions about the interference of ministers in the enforcement of the law in this province. Have you commenced an investigation into this matter, and if not, why not?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: I remember that the question was asked, I believe, for the first time last week. The minister spoke directly to it and said he did no such thing. The question was repeated to my colleague, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and he said he did no such thing. Because a letter is written, it does not make it so.

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: I don't think the Attorney General, in his role and with the responsibility he has, should slough it off in terms of the concerns expressed in this letter.

Chief Montour's letter doesn't just stop there, and I'm quoting again: "During the early evening of Saturday, an OPP camera vehicle was driving past the protest site taking pictures of individuals. The people believe this action by the OPP was initiated to be able to identify certain individuals for future charges to be laid. To this end, I'm asking you to again intervene with your colleague ministers to ask the OPP to not lay charges."

Attorney General, have you investigated Chief Montour's request? Has anyone in this government intervened and asked the OPP to not lay charges? And if you haven't looked into this, why haven't you?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: I'm going to give it to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
Hon. Michael Bryant: I'm very-
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I'd ask the honourable member to withdraw the comment he just made, please.
Mr. Robert W. Runciman: I withdraw.
Hon. Michael Bryant: This is a question coming from a party that every single day in the Legislature asks the government to interfere with police operations on a regular basis and then today stands up, suddenly converted by the Ipperwash inquiry, which was on that government, and has decided that interfering with police operations is wrong.

In fact, interfering with police operations is not only unconstitutional and contrary to the Ipperwash inquiry; it's certainly contrary to the actions of every member of this government. I will say it again: The approach of this government is to leave operational matters in the hands of-< /p>

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary. The member for Haldimand-Norfolk.
Mr. Toby Barrett: This letter is evidence that as far as Chief Montour is concerned, both the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister of Community Safety intervened with the OPP regarding the Caledonia blockade. Chief Montour is pleased with their intervention in the past, and he's asking them to do it again.

Minister, you have known about this since April 29. You have a duty to the crown and to Ontarians to uphold the law. Why have you taken no steps to investigate this? Will you commit today to calling in the RCMP to investigate these very serious allegations?

Hon. Michael Bryant: The member may want to ask the Attorney General if he directs the police. I can tell you, this Attorney General does not direct the police. In fact, members of the executive council do not direct the police: not this minister, not that minister, not that minister. But that party would know about how to direct police, because they literally wrote the book on it. We had to hold a public inquiry into that party's activities. That's the party that wanted to "get the Indians out of the park."

This is the party and the government that called the Ipperwash inquiry and is implementing the Ipperwash inquiry and is following the recommendations of the Ipperwash inquiry.

Hon. Michael Bryant: No-shame on you.
Mr. Robert W. Runciman: My question is for the Premier and it has to do, again, with the letter from Chief Bill Montour of Six Nations council, which was addressed to Minister Bryant. What we've heard today is Minister Bryant effectively calling Chief Montour a liar. If you read the letter, the chief is essentially thanking the minister, on behalf of Six Nations, for his intervention in a police action. Your Attorney General has abdicated responsibility here today in terms of following up with an investigation of a very serious allegation that deals with obstruction of justice, Premier. I'm asking you if you will direct your Attorney General-clearly, he needs direction-to initiate a thorough investigation of this allegation.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
Hon. Michael Bryant: Look at that. Not only is this an instance where suddenly the official opposition is interested in interference; the official opposition is now asking the Premier to interfere with the chief legal officer's discretion.

Again and again and again, we say, on this side of the House, that interference is not something that ought to take place. It has certainly been reinforced by the Ipperwash inquiry conclusions, and it's something that we abide by on this side of the House, unlike that side of the House.

Mr. Robert W. Runciman: I guess we're getting a little tired of the rhetoric from this minister in not dealing with the issue at hand.

Chief Montour has made a very serious accusation dealing with potential obstruction of justice. Your Attorney General is abdicating his responsibilities in the House today. Your Premier won't deal with the issue.

I'm asking you a straight-out question here, and try to answer it directly for a change: Are you calling Chief Montour a liar?

Hon. Michael Bryant: I can tell you one thing: Chief Montour, if he were here right now, would say that you hold no brief for him and you have zero standing to stand up for his reputation and views. I can tell you, I have a relationship where I have discussions with Chief Montour. Tell me a single member of that caucus who has bothered to pick up the phone and try to establish a relationship with the chief of Six Nations. How many? Zero.

That is a caucus that, time after time, has tried to fan the flames. This is a government that will continue to seek not only the recommendations of the Ipperwash commission but will continue to ensure that there is zero interference with police operations. We will continue an aggressive, determined effort to try and resolve these issues in a peaceful fashion.

Mrs. Carol Mitchell: My question is for the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. The opposition has made a very serious allegation about directing the OPP. Can you please state clearly for this House whether this government ever directed the OPP? What has Commissioner Fantino said about this allegation?

Hon. Michael Bryant: In a published letter to the editor, OPP Commissioner Fantino wrote: "At no time during this event"-referring to the blocking of Highway 6-"or in relation to any police operation did anyone in government or elsewhere tell the OPP to stand down or direct the actions of the OPP.

"The decisions that resulted in the peaceful resolution of the road closure in Caledonia were based on ongoing dialogue between the OPP and Six Nations leaderships...."< /p>

Obviously, we're very supportive of the OPP actions. It is, I think, very helpful for the chief commissioner to have clarified that in a letter to the editor, which is obviously consistent with the information that I and others have provided to this House. I hope this resolves the matter.

Mrs. Carol Mitchell: There will be no supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I feel that the minister has answered my question quite clearly.