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Legislative Assembly of Ontario
May 18, 2006
Mr. Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): My question today is for the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs. As we approach the Victoria Day holiday weekend, the situation at Caledonia has dragged on for 78 days. The situation has cost the OPP millions of dollars out of their budget, and the situation is taking valuable resources from the OPP when they are required in other services, particularly on a busy holiday weekend like this.
The citizens of Caledonia are extremely frustrated, as are the First Nations. Your government sat around for almost two months before you finally brought in David Peterson to act as a mediator. Now today in Murray Campbell's column in the Globe and Mail we learn that Mr. Peterson is making virtually no progress.
Minister, can you tell this House what your alternative plan is to end the dispute, and are you or the Premier at least going to visit the citizens of Caledonia and show them that you're interested in resolving this situation?
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): I would say to the member that all the pieces really are starting to fall into place with this proposal now. We are working with the community. David Peterson is making very good progress. As the member knows, we have passage around one of the barricades, and we continue to work with the First Nation community to get some further progress on that, because obviously we want to see all the barricades removed.
We're working with the community. In fact, David Peterson had a meeting this morning with municipal and business officials in the Caledonia community that was very positive. He thanked them for the patience they are bringing to this and their understanding, and we ask for calm and quiet through the weekend. We feel that we're very close to an ultimate solution to this.
Mr. Dunlop: It's beginning to appear that as the McGuinty government sat around for two months, you simply thought the problem would go away. You don't have a plan, and it now seems that Mr. Peterson could actually be mediating until Christmas Eve.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Joseph N. Tascona): Minister of Health, I can hear you but I can't hear the questioner. I want to hear the questioner.
Mr. Dunlop: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I don't think we've seen a lot of leadership on this issue. However, Minister, we understand from a letter dated yesterday from yourself to the Six Nations Confederacy council that you are imposing an immediate moratorium, halting any development on the Douglas Creek Estates. Can you give us a few details on this moratorium? For example, are the citizens of Caledonia aware of the moratorium? Is the developer of Douglas Creek Estates aware of the moratorium? What is the length of the moratorium? And what is your plan if the Six Nations Confederacy council does not agree to the terms of the moratorium?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: The public is aware of the moratorium. The First Nations community released the letter to the public yesterday. The idea of the moratorium is to allow us some time for the long-term group, made up of the federal representative, Barbara McDougall, and the provincial representative, Jane Stewart, to work out a final disposition of the Douglas Creek Estates lands. This way, putting in a moratorium that brings calm to the situation, gives us time to deal with the long-term development issues and the long-term land claim issues in that area. It is one of many initiatives that we've started in order to expedite this process. It is, from our side, a sign of good faith to seek a peaceful resolution to this.