Comment - Getting comfortable with the Men's Fire

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

March 25, 2009

According to the community group HALT, Haldimand County's mayor and ward two councillor, it's possible to draw a line between contentious issues such as a dump and development. This is true. But there's no two ways around the fact the same group 'helping on one front is the same group that's terrorized us on so many others.

The Haudenosaunee Men's Fire, "with all due respect," has taken responsibility for road blockades, condoned tire fires and has stopped construction at local development sites - most recently one in Hagersville.

Haldimand has lost millions of dollars due to such actions, not to mention the hardships suffered by families and children who have endured violent protests outside their front doors. Such memories need not be rehashed again for many of our readers.

Yet here we are in 2009, some of us quite willing to join forces with such a group in order to stop the Edwards Landfill.

Whether or not we agree with the dump is irrelevant in this decision.

Some of us non-natives may not agree with a subdivision in Caledonia either. Many didn't agree with a Walmart coming to Dunnville. Does that mean we should collaborate with any group that can help advance our cause?

Should we sit down with biker gangs to gain support if we don't want a drag strip in our backyard? If we don't want a giant fish statue in our town, do we call on the mafia?

The dump has a valid certificate of approval from the province. Developers have provincial permits before they start to build. That doesn't stop anyone from objecting and fighting for what they believe is right, but people are responsible for choosing their methods wisely.

They should be bound not only by a legal obligation, but amoral obligation to act in the best interests of their county neighbours. By emboldening the legitimacy of groups that continue to serve as a detriment to the community on so many other fronts, they are gaining leverage at the expense of fellow tax payers, and ultimately themselves.

How naive it is to believe that the Men's Fire takes a true interest in the environment.

The City of Brantford has spent millions of dollars seeking an injunction that would bar native protesters from development sites, including John and Jane Doe. Yet some of Haldimand's politicians, who have decried such "illegal protests" in the past, are quite comfortable with the involvement of these protesters to assist with other issues, when it's convenient.

Drawing a line between issues is one thing. Sitting on the fence when it comes to the action people take only causes splinters and fuels the fire.