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Legislative Assembly of Ontario
April 28, 2006
NATIVE LAND DISPUTE / REVENDICATION TERRITORIALE DES AUTOCHTONES
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): The situation at Caledonia has continued now for some 62 days. This is a situation that affects not only the local communities of Six Nations and Caledonia, but all Ontarians who seek to live in a peaceful environment. I would like to commend the aboriginal and non-aboriginal residents of the area, who have shown patience with this situation.
La situation à Caledonia dure depuis 62 jours. C'est une situation qui touche non seulement les communautés des Six Nations et de Caledonia mais aussi tous les Ontariens qui désirent vivre en paix.
Je tiens à féliciter les habitants autochtones et non autochtones de cette région, qui ont montré de la patience durant cette situation.
We know that a solution will come easier if all parties remain calm and continue to be patient. The McGuinty government has spent many weeks and long hours on this situation to achieve a peaceful resolution. Many people at both the political level and the bureaucratic level are working to resolve this matter.
I'm pleased to report that the Honourable David Peterson, the respected former Premier of Ontario, was just appointed this weekend to work with the Six Nations and Caledonia communities to find short-term solutions to the immediate problems in Caledonia. He is meeting with the parties today following informal meetings with some of the parties yesterday. Mr. Peterson will focus on urgent concerns, aiming to restore calm and return the communities to normal conditions. This work will pave the way for discussions on the longer-term underlying issues.
Canada and Ontario are committed to naming federal and provincial representatives later this week to address long-term issues, as was agreed to in the three-party agreement signed by the parties to the negotiation on April 21.
In addition to the efforts by Mr. Peterson, provincial staff will continue to work with the municipality and business leaders. The province is also discussing what other types of assistance might be needed to help the communities recover. Last Friday, Ontario made a commitment to the developer and builder for immediate funding assistance related to Douglas Creek Estates.
The McGuinty government, with the support of Canada and the communities involved, is optimistic that we can achieve a balanced solution to this situation.
I would also like to add that the public can be updated on the Caledonia situation by accessing Ontario's toll-free number at 1-866-876-7672, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Response?
Mr. Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): On the Caledonia situation, I'm pleased that former Premier David Peterson has been appointed to help find a short-term peaceful solution. I say to the government, why has it taken 62 days? The member from Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant, the local PC member, was there on day two of what started out as a small protest and has built into a large standoff. Frustration levels have grown. Why has it taken this long for the government to show some leadership on this file when the local MPP was there, and has been there many times, meeting and building trust on the situation?
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I want to respond to the minister responsible for native affairs. The McGuinty government wants to pretend that it has done something incredible at Caledonia. The record shows otherwise. What we've seen at Caledonia is a government that has not shown leadership and a government whose actions are loaded with contradictions.
The first part: The McGuinty government knew for over a year that there were long-standing, serious land claim issues that needed to be addressed with respect to the Six Nations. What did the McGuinty government do? Virtually nothing. Only after those long-standing, serious issues escalated into a protest and a blockade by Six Nations representatives did the McGuinty government appoint a mediator. But while the mediator was trying to get the First Nations to the table and trying to address some issues, the McGuinty government falls asleep at the switch and permits the Ontario Provincial Police to use force. Imagine this: On the one hand, you're trying to negotiate and discuss with the provincial government, and then the Ontario Provincial Police come in and escalate the situation.
People on all sides of this dispute have suffered as a result of the McGuinty government's lack of leadership and their contradictory approach to the issues involved.