April 8, 2009
By Bill Jackson - The Regional
It will be interesting to see if a court injunction restricting protesters from interfering with a townhouse development in Hagersville has much clout. It should; however Men's Fire protesters have promised to continue with tactics to thwart development.
In Haldimand, it's the third court ordered injunction to be granted against native protesters since the Douglas Creek Estates protest began in Caledonia.
It seemed that provincial police weren't prepared for the backlash on April 20, 2006 when they swarmed the development site in an attempt to enforce the injunction and were instead pushed back by native thugs who overpowered them by force and number.
Since that time the province purchased the DCE site and allowed natives to remain on site, free of any injunction proceedings and any police intervention for that matter.
Police removed a group of protesters from the Sitrling Woods subdivision in Caledonia back in 2007, although that was after a builder was nearly bludgeoned to death.
But after Mike Corrado received a temporary injunction against Ruby and Floyd Montour and members of the Haudenosaunee last year, he was able to proceed with a townhouse development in Cayuga because the protesters stayed away.
Another developer in Hagersville who owns a piece of land down the street from John Voortman's site had construction stopped two years ago and still hasn't resumed work on the former Northview School site. But he hasn't used the courts to fight his battle.
In retrospect, court injunctions seem like the only way to cause positive actions that benefit landowners and the economy.
Until now, injunction action has at best stopped protesters from holding up development and at worst has forced the hand of police to try and enforce the law and caused the provincial government to purchase land in order to appease natives.
Aside from DCE, protesters haven't persisted at other development sites and don't seem determined to disobey court orders.
Injunctions barring protesters from development sites probably work because they speak to the individuals who disobey them and ultimately their freedoms - that we all enjoy as Canadians - that can be taken away through further disobedience.
Ultimately, the worth of court injunctions comes down to enforcement - something that can only be accomplished by plaintiffs and police - our law enforcement - who are better prepared for another Douglas Creek Estates confrontation, if necessary.
Justice J. Henderson emphasized the rule of law in his ruling pertaining to the Voortman injunction last Friday:
"All people in Canada are governed by the rule of law as confirmed in the preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is, all people in Canada are required to obey the law. As a corollary, all people in Canada are entitled to know that every other person in Canada will be required to obey the law. If any person in Canada does not obey the law, the courts will enforce the law. In that was the public has some assurance that they can live in peace without fear of those who might choose to disobey the law."
Injunction action taken by Brantford in its city-wide approach to bar native protesters from development sites is still in the courts and it's a wonder why Haldimand wouldn't take the similar action to help itself. After all, the cost of court action must pale in comparison to what's already been lost here.