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Legislative Assembly of Ontario
June 13, 2006
Mr. Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): Sadly, today marks day 106 of the ongoing crisis in Caledonia. What a sad, disheartening lesson it has become for what happens when a leadership vacuum is created: Chaos ensues. What a sad, disheartening lesson it has been for what happens when the rule of law is effectively suspended: Thuggery and hooliganism fill that void. It appears that Premier Dalton McGuinty believes that when a storm is brewing in Ontario, he can duck behind his desk and hope it all blows on by.
What is most disturbing is the conclusion that people in Caledonia, Binbrook, Hamilton and Niagara have been forced to make -- if not explicitly, then implicitly: The Dalton McGuinty government has sent a signal to the Ontario Provincial Police not to enforce the law when it comes to the crisis in Caledonia. The only conclusion that local residents can reach --
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Stop the clock. Order. Minister of Health. The member for Niagara Centre.
Member for Erie-Lincoln.
Mr. Hudak: That is the only conclusion local residents can --
Mr. Dave Levac (Brant): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The standing orders book, in section 4 of the rules of debate, says that a member shall be brought to order when he makes allegations against another member. There is an allegation that the Premier made direction to the OPP, and that's not acceptable.
The Speaker: Order.
Member for Erie-Lincoln.
Mr. Hudak: We have a Solicitor General who effectively has condoned a no-go zone for the Ontario Provincial Police in this province. We have a Solicitor General who refused to express concern about the OPP being ordered not to wear protective gear. We have a Premier who said that this has largely been without incident. They're turning the OPP --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. John Tory (Leader of the Opposition): I have a question for the Premier, and it concerns Caledonia. Premier, during the 105 days of the standoff in Caledonia, could you tell us how often or with what frequency you, your ministers and members of your staff have been briefed by senior officials of the Ontario Provincial Police?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): I want to take this opportunity to update the House with respect to some of the statements I made yesterday and the ensuing developments.
First of all, I want to acknowledge the work of the Six Nations leadership to remove barricades. I'm pleased to report that the Highway 6 bypass barricade is down. The MTO is assessing the road together with the OPP, and I understand that it will be open as soon as possible. I also understand that the railway blockade is in the process of being removed.
I think we've taken some major steps forward. It will go a long way to allow the communities to get their social and economic life back to normal. Given this progress, I see no reason right now why talks will not continue this Thursday as scheduled.
Mr. Tory: That was absolutely unresponsive to the question I asked, and I would note, since the Premier decided to give us an update, that it took them one year to do anything about this and it took 105 days for him to come out of his office and finally speak up on this matter at all.
Yesterday, the Premier assured this House that no one in his government had given any instruction to anyone in the OPP at Caledonia. I want to just make absolutely sure about this and make sure that you are too, and I'm assuming that, in answering yesterday and today, you will have made all reasonable inquiries in that regard. Will you assure the House that no one in the government -- no elected official, no minister, no elected member of Parliament, no staff member in your office, no public servant -- has at any time advised the OPP as to what they should do or what they should not do at Caledonia with respect to their handling of any aspect of that matter? Can you confirm that?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: To confirm, we believe on this side of the House that the police are independent, and we have and will continue to respect that.
Let me say as well that we have also been advised that the Six Nations police and the OPP are co-operating in the investigation of Friday's incidents. Beyond that, given that that co-operation exists, given that these barricades are coming down, given that talks will in fact be proceeding should nothing untoward happen between now and Thursday, what we're now saying beyond that as well is that we're going to proceed as quickly as we can to deal with the issue of fair compensation for the developers. We think that this is a matter over which they had no influence. We'll work as hard as we can to resolve the issue of compensation for the developers, and we'll do that as quickly as we can.
Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): I have a question for the Premier. Yesterday, and I'm quoting from Hansard with respect to the Caledonia situation, you said, "We are no longer prepared to continue negotiations until two important conditions are met: First ... the barricades" -- plural -- "must come down, and they must stay down; and secondly, we are asking the leadership to co-operate ... with the OPP so that they might apprehend the individuals involved."
Premier, we know that all the barricades are not down. Two, apparently, have been removed. We know that we're not getting co-operation from the leadership of the occupiers, and I would indicate that you stood in this House yesterday and laid down two very clear conditions. Today, you're backing away from them. What kind of signal does that send if you're prepared to throw them out the window the very next day?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): I think it's really important that we bring the appropriate tone and demeanour and sense of civility in dealing with this issue.
First of all, I should let the honourable member opposite know that my office was informed today by the OPP that they are in fact receiving co-operation from the First Nation police service with respect to the apprehension of the individuals involved. I'm not going to second-guess that. I think that satisfies clearly from my perspective the condition that I imposed yesterday.
Secondly, the barricades are, if not down, certainly coming down. Again, the Highway 6 bypass, I've just been advised, is now open to traffic. I understand that the railway blockade is in the process of being removed. I think there has been a demonstration of good faith on the part of the First Nation leadership. I think it's time for us to get back to the table and finish this job.
Mr. Runciman: The Premier didn't qualify his conditions yesterday. Today, he's qualifying his conditions.
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Order. The member for Leeds-Grenville.
Mr. Runciman: Premier, a press release from the Six Nations Confederacy, supported by Chief Allen MacNaughton today in a radio broadcast, indicates they are now hiding the people named in the OPP's seven arrest warrants. The release also indicates that these charges, through treaty rights, do not fall under crown jurisdiction. In other words, the OPP has no authority to arrest. They're kicking sand in your face. Premier, can you indicate how your government plans to react to this in-your-face effort to obstruct justice and how it will impact future negotiations?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: Again, I think it's really important, as we engage in these kinds of difficult, potentially explosive situations, that we bring a certain element of calm as we deal with these things. The members opposite seem to be very unhappy with the recent turn of events. Barricades are coming down. We received word from the OPP that they are receiving co-operation from the First Nations police, but the member opposite is obviously not satisfied with that. I don't know what he's looking for, but what we are looking for is to continue the successful conclusion of these negotiations so that everybody connected with this can get on with their lives in as peaceful a manner as possible.
Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): To the Premier: Barricades have been up at the occupied site since February 28, and as of noon today those barricades are still up. Yesterday, you set two clear conditions for renewed talks: Deliver the suspects and take down the barricades. Premier, when will the barricades at Douglas Creek Estates be coming down?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): To the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): I know that the member knows that what we have been talking about all along was to get the transportation barricades down, because that will bring the community back to normal. In our long-term table, the first item up is to talk about Douglas Creek. That is obviously their first order of business. That is scheduled for Thursday. Those discussions are going to proceed and Douglas Creek will be the first item of issue there.
Mr. Barrett: The news release refers to "all barricades." Minister, nothing has changed in that subdivision next to the occupied site. Nothing has changed since February 28. People are stressed out. Fires, floodlights, noisy ATVs -- people fear for their safety. They're concerned about the fights and the bloodshed they witness right in their neighbourhood. I get e-mails. "We no longer feel safe to sit in our backyard. Our children's lives are at risk." Another one: "Masked men wearing camouflage."
Minister, the barricades are still up at the occupied site. Your condition for renewed talks has not been met. Again, when will the barricades at Douglas Creek Estates be coming down? Or do we see a flip-flop here where talks will commence anyway on Thursday even though the barricades remain up?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: It was very clear yesterday. The agreement we've been trying to reach with Six Nations community officials has been that we need to return the community to normalcy. That means to have all the transportation corridors freely moving. That means the two highways -- 6a and 6 -- and we have that. We have the train officials now on the track making the final inspection for that, so the trains can start to move. We are discussing also the access to the hydro lines. So this is what we're concentrating on right now. We look forward to a resumption of talks on Thursday so that we can address the issue of Douglas Creek Estates.
Mr. Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): I would say that the member from Simcoe North is an ardent supporter of the police in this province. It is always his first priority, and on many occasions he's always thinking about what he can do to improve the safety of police and to further support police. I know he'll be speaking next. He has the leadoff on this bill. I know he has concerns with the situation in Caledonia that we're hearing a lot about here in the Legislature these days and the position that the Ontario Provincial Police have been in since this standoff has been going on now, some 105 days, since February 28, when it started. We'll be hearing more from the member from Simcoe North in the next hour.
Mr. Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): We talk about public safety. In this House today we passed Bill 56, the emergency management act, and we had almost all support of the House for that bill. But there's so much we can do in this House around community safety to help protect, in a lot of cases, the people who protect us. I've got to tell you, though, that this scenario that we're seeing in Caledonia is getting to be a little bit of a nightmare. We're talking about people coming into contact with police officers. Some of the things that have happened -- Caledonia may or may not be an example of why legislation like this Bill 28 may need to be passed.
I'd like to put on the record an e-mail that I received today. I'm not going to read where it's from, because I wouldn't want to see anything happen to this person. This is the type of thing that people are telling us, the politicians at Queen's Park, about what's happening out at Caledonia. I think a number of members of this Legislative Assembly may have got this. It goes right back to protecting police officers, good Samaritans, you name it. This comes from someone who I would say isn't a very violent type of person, but they're just outlining what has happened. After, I want to tie this into how Bill 28 may in fact help even police officers at Caledonia.
"I'm writing to you about a town that Mr. McGuinty continues to urge to remain calm while he does nothing. For the past 104 days the town of Caledonia has been subjected to the following:
" -- tire fires set;
" -- a van set on fire and pushed off an overpass;
" -- barns burned to the ground;
" -- bridge set on fire;
" -- CN train tracks damaged;
" -- nine employees of a Hamilton railway company have been laid off as they are unable to use the train tracks;
" -- highways illegally blocked;
" -- rocks thrown off overpasses at vehicles;
" -- militants walking around with weapons (crowbars, two-by-fours with nails in the them, and axes);
" -- roads dug up and destroyed;
" -- hydro transformers blown by trucks set on fire -- throwing Caledonia and neighbouring communities into two days of blackout;
" -- a security guard for Hydro One forced from his vehicle, chased by men with bats, his car set on fire;
" -- two OPP officers held hostage and subsequently `charged' with trespassing;
" -- neighbourhoods terrorized by all-night drumming, music blaring, floodlights aimed at their houses, natives taking pictures of them, their family, and property;
" -- natives taking pictures of cars and licence plates at Caledonia businesses;
" -- schoolchildren terrorized as native militants hang their warrior flags on the fences, yelling and screaming;
" -- schoolchildren terrorized as native militants hop a schoolyard fence during recess;
" -- schoolchildren terrorized as they are ushered inside to eat their lunches under their desks;
" -- life-threatening accidents on the `alternate routes' which are little more than country lanes;
" -- farmers' fields (their livelihood) ruined by ATVs;
" -- symbol of the Six Nations carved into farmers' fields;
" -- cars and people are subjected to illegal search and seizure of property;
" -- an army reservist was held hostage, handcuffed, received death threats and was forced to apologize to the natives in front of the media;
" -- a reporter from the Kitchener Record was held by the throat as natives searched his car for his camera -- the pictures were then deleted -- all in front of the OPP;
" -- two elderly people had their car surrounded in the Canadian Tire parking lot by the natives. The natives had proceeded to jump on the car -- OPP within 10 feet;
" -- two reporters taping this incident were attacked by natives. Their video camera and tape were stolen from them, one cameraman required staples to close the wound in his head -- again OPP stood by and did nothing;
" -- US border patrol officers and OPP officers pulled from their vehicle; the stolen vehicle was then used to ensure another OPP officer in a blatant attempt to murder him;
" -- people receiving death threats if they speak out against these home-grown terrorists.
"These are what I remember from the past 104 days, the days which Mr. McGuinty claimed were without incident. What will happen in the future? Nightly, people hear construction going at the Douglas Creek Estates and yet see nothing in the daytime. What are the natives building? Warriors are coming up from the States. What kind of weapons are they bringing with them? So far the only politician who has really spoken up is Toby Barrett. I ask that you all speak as well, as this situation could very easily be happening in your town or city next."
It's sincerely signed by a lady -- I wouldn't want to put her name on the record in the House.
What I'm saying is that this is an example, a case, at Caledonia where there have been a number of OPP officers injured. There's an opportunity here, or there could be, when people come into contact with other people -- whether it's been cuts or scrapes -- where blood could be exchanged just because of a natural, unexpected incident that could happen or fighting that could occur. This is a case where probably there's been no example like that used. But what I'm trying to say is that we have this incident brewing over here in Caledonia.
This is the type of incident that could force a reason for Bill 28 to come into effect. The chances may be remote or they may be very high, but I think it's an example. What we're seeing at Caledonia is not something that we see in Ontario on a day-to-day basis. This is a very unexpected incident that we hope would seldom occur, and we hope when we do get Caledonia resolved, that we won't see any more of these incidents in the future.
What I was trying to point out was that you're getting tempers flaring, you're getting massive numbers of OPP officers and you're getting massive numbers of people on each side of this incident complaining about the blockades. Both sides think they're right on the issue. Of course, incidents break out and bloodshed takes place, whether it's a small amount or whether it's very serious concerns or crimes. There would be a perfect example.