Tory raps native protesters

The Conservative leader says he'd use the civil courts to make land occupiers pay for policing.

Sat, September 15, 2007

By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, SUN MEDIA - posted London Free Press

TORONTO -- John Tory says he'll use the civil courts to make protesters, such as those who have occupied land at Caledonia, pay for policing.

Ontario's Conservative leader made the pledge as natives continued their protest at a Caledonia housing development yesterday under the eye of police, after a dustup a day earlier that left a home builder hospitalized.

"I would use the courts any way that we could to make sure that if people are doing things that are in violation of the law and can have civil actions brought against them in that regard, that we would do that," Tory said on the Ontario election campaign trail in Toronto.

"That is a proper use of the courts and a proper role for leadership by the government of Ontario," he said.

Tory deplored the violence that erupted Thursday night in Caledonia, when the home builder was beaten over the head with a piece of wood.

Sam Gualtieri, 52, of Caledonia, was found unconscious after he entered a partially-built home he was building for his daughter and clashed with native youths.

Gualtieri's brother, Joe, told a Hamilton TV station Sam suffered a broken nose, a bruised skull and fluid is leaking into his spinal column.

"(Aboriginals) cannot take the rule of law in their own hands and assume that we will just roll over," said Gualtieri.

"Somebody has to take responsibility for this. The government has to take responsibility for this, the police have to take responsibility for this and the native people themselves have to take responsibility for this."

The site, briefly occupied two weeks ago, is just kilometres away from the Douglas Creek housing development that's been the site of a contentious Six Nations native occupation since early 2006.

A PC government would pull together the warring factions in Caledonia. "What you do have to do is make sure . . . people understand that we are not going to have lawlessness," said Tory.

"What you do have to do is make sure . . . people understand that we are not going to have lawlessness and we are not going to have people deciding to take things into their own hands," he said.

New Democratic Leader Howard Hampton told a Hamilton TV station he would call upon former Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman, who is part aboriginal, to help negotiate an end to the standoff.

The Six Nations Confederacy held a news conference to apologize for the incident and promised to co-operate with police in their investigation.