Couple launches $10M-suit over Caledonia dispute

Updated Fri. Sep. 21 2007 4:45 PM ET News Staff

A Caledonia couple is launching a $10-million lawsuit against the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario government.

Dana Chatwell and David Brown held a news conference in Hamilton on Friday morning.

The couple alleges the province is responsible for the disturbances that have been created at the Douglas Creek Estates site, which it purchased, and that the province interfered with the OPP carrying out its duties to enforce the law.

The couple also alleges the OPP is guilty of breach of duty for making a policy decision not to enforce the laws of Canada, Ontario and Haldimand County.

During a news conference held by the plaintiffs on Friday, two surveillance videos were shown to the media, allegedly filmed on the couple's property.

One, filmed from the couple's deck, purportedly showed native protesters near the property, and the other was allegedly filmed inside their kitchen.

While the family agreed to have a video surveillance system installed outside the house, there are allegations that the OPP placed cameras inside the home without the family's knowledge.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The suit also names OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, former OPP commissioner Gwen Boniface and OPP Inpector Brian Haggith.

The simmering Caledonia dispute centres around a housing development that protesters claim is on native land.

The dispute first flared up in February 2006.

In recent developments, the Ontario government temporarily suspended negotiations with Six Nations representatives after a homebuilder was found unconscious and badly beaten on Sept. 13.

Ontario's Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs said the violence was unacceptable and pulled out of ongoing talks, though they have now resumed.

Representatives of the native community publicly apologized for the attack. It was believed to have been carried out by a group of young aboriginal protesters.