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Ontario Hansard

Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Ontario Hansard
June 15, 2006

Oral Questions - Native Land Dispute

Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): My question is for the acting Premier. Can you explain to this House, to the people of Caledonia and to front-line OPP officers just why your government is going back to the negotiating table with individuals who are refusing to turn over someone charged with the attempted murder of an OPP constable? Why would you do that?

Hon. Gerry Phillips (Minister of Government Services): I refer that question to the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.

Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): I think the member opposite needs to get his facts straight. He's listening to comments from spokespeople in newspapers. He's listening to innuendo. The facts are that there is a protocol between the Six Nations police and the OPP. The Six Nations police are a police force under the authority of the elected band and council of Six Nations, which is the largest First Nation in Canada, about 22,000 people. It has a professional police force, and it is doing its job and is co-operating with the OPP in pursuit of these offenders.

Mr. Runciman: The facts are that Ontario is now operating under the Neville McGuinty rule of law, where persons breaking the law are laying down the terms for thinking about complying with it while they hide those who have broken it with impunity. Minister, how can you expect to achieve a fair resolution to this standoff when you are displaying such incredible weakness?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I don't think it was weakness when the Premier of Ontario basically called off these negotiations a few days ago because he did not see the progress we were expecting. Since that time, when the Premier asked for those barricades to be down, those barricades have come down. Life is as normal as it can be at the moment in Caledonia. We have land that is still occupied, but we are working on that. As we speak, in fact, the long-term table, with Jane Stewart representing Ontario, is in discussions now. I would hope that the member opposite would be wishing, as I wish, Godspeed to those people so they can progress and solve this peacefully.

Mr. Runciman: We've been hearing the same line from that minister for two months now. This past Monday, after 105 days, the longest native land occupation in Canadian history, Mr. McGuinty did his Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation and laid down two clear and explicit conditions for re-entering negotiations with the occupiers. The very next day, he waved the white flag and headed back to the negotiating table.

From the beginning, the Caledonia lawlessness has been a textbook demonstration of political chaos, confusion and cowardice. Minister, do the right thing and walk away from the negotiating table until those charged with violent lawbreaking are turned over to the police. Will you do that?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: What the Premier asked for and what the Premier received was the co-operation of the Six Nations police force, and that is happening. That professional police force, which polices 22,000 Canadian citizens south of Caledonia on that reserve, is acting as the professional police force that it is. It is doing its job, and it's working in conjunction with the OPP.

Oral Questions - Ontario Provincial Police

Mr. Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): A question for the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services: Over the last 108 days of the crisis in Caledonia, we have seen some 15 Ontario Provincial Police officers injured. We have seen hundreds of others confronted by thugs, threats and extraordinary violence along the protest lines. I ask the minister, how does a front-line Ontario Provincial Police officer feel when he hears that a fugitive, wanted for the attempted murder of an Ontario Provincial Police officer, remains at large and that Premier McGuinty returned to the bargaining table with the exact same people -- a fugitive, Minister, wanted for the attempted murder of an Ontario Provincial Police officer. Please tell me, Minister, that you stood up in cabinet and that you will stand up in the House and tell Premier McGuinty he is just plain wrong.


Hon. Monte Kwinter (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services): Let's talk about who is just plain wrong. What you have just said is that someone should go in, circumvent the police process and grab somebody. This is the rule of law. Right now, we have a situation where warrants have been issued. There is a recognized professional police service in Six Nations, and they have agreed to co-operate with the OPP. The police are doing their thing without political interference. What you're doing is trying to inject political interference, and that's totally unacceptable.

Mr. Hudak: Minister, with all due respect, you are a senior cabinet minister around that table. You are a veteran here in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Your word carries great weight in the assembly and at the cabinet table. But what have we seen of this minister? We have seen the minister effectively condone a no-go zone for the Ontario Provincial Police. We have seen police officers dragged out of their car, their windows smashed, arrested by protestors, and you don't say a word. Minister, when are you going to stand up for our hard-working Ontario Provincial Police officers, say that you're behind them, and tell Premier McGuinty that his weak leadership and going back to the table while these fugitives are still at large is just plain wrong?

Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Let me tell you the situation we have. The only ability the opposition has to raise questions is what they read in the media. I don't know what they're doing with their research money, but obviously the only thing that ever triggers anything, whether it be John Tory or whether it be the former Solicitor General or whether it be you, is what you read in the paper. I have to say, with all due respect, that a lot of the things that are in the paper do not reflect what is happening on the ground.

We have a situation right now where the provincial police -- I have a lot of confidence in them, and they are doing a wonderful job in that area -- are working in co-operation. The spokesperson for the chief for the First Nations police service has said that they are co-operating with the OPP, and they're letting the process work. You're trying to circumvent that process, and that is not acceptable.

Mr. Hudak: What I want to read in the paper is a minister who is going to stand up and support the Ontario Provincial Police in the province of Ontario. All we're seeing from this minister, a veteran and respected cabinet minister, is lying down while Dalton McGuinty goes back to the negotiating table while somebody wanted for the attempted murder of an Ontario Provincial Police officer runs at large, without co-operation.

I cannot imagine what we've seen, where police officers are not permitted to wear protective gear when confronting protestors. I cannot believe that we have not seen the minister stand up and say that is just plain wrong. Minister, I can't believe you're not calling Dalton McGuinty on the carpet for his gutless leadership on this file. Are you going to stand up for the police and tell the Premier he is wrong, or are you going to step aside and let somebody else do the job you should be doing?

Hon. Mr. Kwinter: If the opposition would only stand up and say, "Here's what you should do: Go in and interfere with the police. Do all of these things" -- if you feel that I have the authority or the desire to tell the OPP how they should dress their officers, how they should deploy their officers, that is in fact political interference. The former Solicitor General is on the record as saying, as the previous minister, "I would never interfere with the police." That is what we are doing right now. The police have the ability to deal with the situation as they find it. I certainly challenge you to have one single senior police officer --

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you.

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