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Legislative Assembly of Ontario
April 19, 2006
Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): My question is to the Premier. It's now been 51 days of turmoil and uncertainty for people living in Six Nations and Haldimand county because of the Caledonia native land dispute. Your minister of aboriginal affairs seems to be all over the place on this one. First he said it was a federal concern, and then last week in this House he said: "The province has been taking a lead role in this." This is from your minister.
Premier, wouldn't you agree that your minister's confusion and indecision about Caledonia further exemplifies the vacuum of leadership in the McGuinty government?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): No, I don't agree. I think the minister is doing exactly what he needs to do. I understand that there is, in some quarters, some impatience and some frustration, but we are dealing with this in a peaceful manner. There has been no incident; there has been no injury, or worse. The member opposite seems to take issue with this particular approach. Well, we have a different perspective on this. The minister is doing exactly what he's supposed to do. He's working with our federal cousins; he is working with the community; he's working with the First Nations community involved. We are determined to resolve this, but we will do this in a way that results in no incident and in no compromise to public safety.
Mr. Barrett: Premier, we all agree that we are searching for a peaceful resolution, but I get the impression that your government is being held hostage. This is a sign of weakness and vulnerability. Your minister responsible for aboriginal affairs told the House --
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Order.
Mr. Barrett: Premier, I'll quote from your minister of aboriginal affairs in the House last week: " ... the Ontario government has been on top of the situation." But today's Brantford Expositor begs to differ. The headline reads, "Bid to Settle Six Nations Occupation Non-Starter."
Premier, what did your minister bid? What did he offer? In an article titled "Crossed Wires Muddle Effort to End Land Standoff," the Hamilton Spectator claims that you may hand over land in Brant county, land in South Cayuga and land in Townsend. Have you asked the people in Burtch, in Brant county, have you asked the people in South Cayuga or in Townsend if they have any thoughts on this? We're talking about well over --
The Speaker: The question has been asked. Premier?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: I want to make sure that the leader of the Conservative Party is well aware of the question put and the comments just made by one of his backbenchers, because people are going to want to know where he stands on this issue. The member opposite has just accused us of demonstrating weakness because we are taking the necessary time to resolve this issue in a peaceful manner. Well, that's the approach, and we're not going to apologize for that. If the Conservative Party has a different position, if they would rush in, then the leader of the Conservative Party should say so. I'm sure the media will be interested in determining exactly what his position is on this issue.
I say it again: We will proceed in a responsible fashion. We will be mindful of the public safety issues and we'll be mindful of the fact that no harm ever comes from sitting down and talking and working together with a determination to resolve it peacefully.