Councillor critical of Doering's approach

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

November 11, 2009

Local Coun. LorneĀ  Boyko believes that putting deadlines on offers to resolve native land claims could help speed up the process.

During a rather heated discussion with Federal Land Claims Negotiator, Ron Doering at Monday's Council in Committee meeting in Cayuga, Boyko insinuated that negotiations with Six Nations have accomplished nothing to this point.

According to Doering, offers made to resolve various land claims are still on the table. Putting a deadline on them could end up putting the sides back at square one.

"It's a very bad idea, because it would achieve nothing," he told Boyko.

"Oh, you mean just what you've achieved to this point?" Boyko retorted.

A $26 million offer to resolve the Welland Canal claim was countered with a $1 billion request by Six Nations, he pointed out.

"We're no better off now that you're not using that sort of an approach (with deadlines), and you know what, the problem is that should have been done right in the beginning. Someone had to take control, someone had to take charge."

Doering said that negotiations aren't about who's in charge, but opening dialogue which has been one achievement to this point, despite the fact that the Haudenosaunee and government negotiators haven't met in over a month, and no further talks are planned at the current time.

"We were starting at an impasse that had lasted for many years. Many of these claims have been around over 100 years," Doering said.

"If you've got a better idea, let me know."

Boyko maintains that someone has to take the lead and asked Doering whose job it was to organize future meetings.

"Obviously it's not working, so why do we continue to do the same things that are not working for three years plus, no light at the end of the tunnel it would appear, and we're going to continue to hammer away at the same thing over and over and over again?" he asked.

"At what point in time do you go back to your bosses and say you know what, we have to roll out plan B, or we have to come up with a plan B?"

Doering said that his initial mandate was to open the lines of communication, so that barricades in Caledonia would come down.

"Since then we've had a lot of difficulties no doubt, and no doubt now we're thinking about the approaches," he said.

"When you're over 2000% apart, the prospects of progress are pretty bleak."

Mayor Marie Trainer then asked: "Why not just eliminate Reserves and have the aboriginals and First Nations people become a part of the community?"

Doering said that was a comprehensive issue involving constitutional rights of aboriginals that was outside of his mandate. Considering financial compensation for Caledonia residents living near Douglas Creek Estates is also outside his mandate, he told The Regional News.

Next Monday, Trainer will be meeting with Federal Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl.