Council to contemplate single-mindedness

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

July 1, 2009

Haldimand County Council will attempt to determine clear positions pertaining to local disputes when it reconvenes.

Councillors discussed an apparent need for a corporate stance on local issues at a final meeting last week before adjourning for the summer break.

Coun. Craig Grice wanted to know the mayor's position pertaining to several contentious matters that have arisen, lately, including the formation of a Caledonia militia which was later dubbed a peacekeeping group.

He contends that the mayor speaks on behalf of council when the media calls./

"Is she for it or is she against it?" he wonders. "Everything right now is pointing that she's for it."

The majority of councillors weren't prepared to formally deal with such issues before seeking advice from a lawyer and county staff. However, the powwow will be back on the agenda in August.

Grice believes council needs to take a position on all "antics" that are occurring.

"I want people not to dance around the issue," he told The Regional News.

"I'm talking about what happens from the native side, what happens from our side."

The formation of a militia conjured up violent images from 2006 on CN news last week, according to Grice.

He said that people are only hurting themselves by putting the town in a negative light, but realizes that flag raising events and community backlash are products of the frustration that relates to smoke shacks, barricades and Douglas Creek Estates.

"If authorities such as the federal and provincial governments and the OPP didn't see this militia popping up then they're all blind, because obviously there's frustration and stress," he said.

"It's a vicious."

Mayor Marie Trainer concurs with that notion,, but she sees the peacekeeping group as a last resort for people dealing with issues such as native smoke shacks on private property.

"Who put the smoke shack there? Was it not put there to create an irritant? To taunt? So when you do get a response, isn't that what you wanted?"

If police do not act to remove trespassers, the peacekeepers will be called to remove them and hand them over to police, she understands.

"What happens then,, that's another story. Then I think they would remove the smoke shack... I'm hoping it wouldn't have to get that far."

Councillor Leroy Bartlett doesn't think the so-called peacekeepers are good for Caledonia, but doesn't blame organizers.

"I'm not blaming those people because this is out of frustration," he said. "They've had three years in Caledonia with the federal and provincial governments and the OPP doing little or nothing for them...

"I don't know if I'd be of the same mind. I get to come out here to ward one where we've been basically unaffected from all this problem. Hagersville's had it, Cayuga's had it, Dunnville's had it, Caledonia has had 90 per cent of it. But I'm sitting in a place that's relatively unaffected."

Bartlett believes that the mayor's public opinions represent council's viewpoints.

"Each individual councillor can give their own opinion," he argues, "but when the mayor speaks, when she gives an opinion, that's the county position, so she doesn't have the same freedom as councillors do."

Trainer said she tries to convey the consensus of her constituents.

"Often I feelĀ  that I may not be speaking for council, but I'm speaking what I interpret as the people's position," she said.

"This council hasn't set themselves apart from me like the last council did. They said I definitely wasn't speaking for the last council. That's why they put in Tom Patterson who was supposed to be the spokesperson."