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Ontario Hansard

Oral Questions

Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Ontario Hansard
May 10, 2006

Native Land Dispute

Mr. Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): I have a question for the Premier. Your minister responsible for aboriginal affairs says that Caledonia is "the issue that this government is seized with 24 hours a day." But upon receiving questions about the expanded perimeter, the bridge blockade over Highway 54 and objects falling off the bridge, the minister responded yesterday by saying, "I'm not aware of an expansion of the area of occupation."

Premier, if your minister is indeed seized with this issue for 24 hours a day, why is he completely in the dark on the latest turn of events?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): The minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.

Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): Thank you very much for the question. I would say to the honourable member that the way the question was couched yesterday, the local member made it seem as if that day some new activity was happening. According to the OPP incident reports, no new activity had happened since the weekend. You made it sound like something was going on in the last few hours, and it hadn't. There had been no increase in any occupation or protest activity since the weekend. Everybody had been informed about that and nothing new had happened since that time.

Mr. Miller: Minister, perhaps you need to do what Mr. Barrett, the member from the area, has done, and that is to actually go to Caledonia and see first-hand what's going on, because there is indeed a lot going on.

I think when the question was put to you yesterday, you didn't respond at all to all the changes that have been going on. For example, we know from the weekend Brantford Expositor that over the weekend, protestors erected a new barricade on the north side of the Highway 6 bypass bridge over the Grand River. It seems that everyone knew about this except you.

Minister, you say that you have people on the ground in Caledonia and your people have the support of the whole Ontario government. Given these resources, why are you in the dark on the recent escalations? What steps have you taken to be better informed? And why don't you do what the local member has done, which is to go to the blockade and actually meet with the people?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: What we have done, and I'll give you the latest details from this morning, is to facilitate discussions with the confederacy and other representatives of the Six Nations.

This morning, now for the first time, we launched the long-term discussions with the federal rep and the new provincial reps; Barbara McDougall and Jane Stewart were there. Basically they sat down this morning and started to lay out what they're going to be doing over the next few days. Meanwhile, discussions are going on, as we speak now, in regard to the short-term resolution to this dispute.

I would just like to say again to the member that everyone in this government is seized with the importance of this. All the Ontario government's resources are focused on this issue, and it is job one from the McGuinty government.

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