MPP to present petition for public police inquiry

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

Nov. 25, 2009

Halidmand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett plans to introduce a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario today that is signed by approximately 6000 people calling for a public inquiry into the actions of the OPP in Caledonia.

The petition was initiated by Caledonia resident Ken Hewitt earlier this year.

"People made the effort to sign and I think they deserve the opportunity to be presented," said Hewitt.

"I also think that, in light of what's going on currently Senior officers are coming out publicly now stating that the Ipperwash report is flawed and the way they handled things in Caledonia was flawed, so that to me would certainly support the idea of an inquiry."

Barrett said his job is to serve his constituents.

He supports the second clause of the petition, not the first one which requests that the Premier of Ontario immediately suspend OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino without pay and impose his immediate resignation upon confirmation of facts.

However, the petition is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Barrett noted.

"I'm here to serve my constituents. I've presented petitions with probably five signatures."

It's unlikely that petition will have much sway with the McGuinty government.

A formal motion put forth by former PC Party leader John Tory in 2007 called for a public inquiry into Caledonia. Barrett also created a private member's bill asking for a public inquiry to address policing, home ownership and intimidation issues in the town. Both requests were denied.

"There's developing interest again in the media in the Dave Brown court case, not that this is related to that, but it's another good reason to do this now," Barrett said.

During Question Period last week, the local MPP questioned the McGuinty government about the role in providing native protesters with free utilities on the Douglas Creek Estates site.

"Three-and-a-half years ago you purchased the property from the home builder. For three-and-a-half years, someone has been providing water and electricity to this occupied house.... Since 2006, Dalton Creek Estates and the remaining houses have been occupied and barricaded under the flag of the Mohawk Warriors. This is an organization described by the OPP as "...a lawless group, usually armed, with a reputation akin to the Hell's Angels."

Indian Affairs Minister Brad DuGuid confirmed that the Ontario Realty Corp. is responsible for managing and maintaining the lands in question, including the payment of utility bills on behalf of the owner, which is the government of Ontario.

"But I've got to say that it has been a long time since I've seen something as disgraceful in this placed as a member of the party opposite - and it shouldn't surprise me, but it does - comparing aboriginals to Hells Angels."

In other news, Haldimand firefighters were called to Argyle Street and Sixth Line last Friday afternoon.

"I heard burning debris, but apparently part of the debris was tires," according to Fire Chief, Rob Grimwood. "But it was just in the ditch."