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Mayor lands in hot water

Apologizes to natives

By Paul Legall and Daniel Nolan
The Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Apr 26, 2006)

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer is apologizing for comments she made about the native blockade that have landed her in hot water with native protesters and even her council.

In two separate interviews yesterday -- one with CBC-TV and the other with CBC Radio -- Trainer spoke about how the blockade of Argyle Street South and the Highway 6 bypass was affecting Caledonia workers, that it was hurting their efforts to make a living, and that they did not have "monies coming in automatically every month."

The last phrase was jumped on by many as implying native protesters are not suffering because they get monthly government cheques.

County council took the dramatic step yesterday of denouncing Trainer, offering a council apology and appointing Deputy Mayor Tom Patterson as council's official spokesperson for all matters relating to the blockade and the Douglas Creek Estates standoff.

Some protesters, offended by Trainer's remarks, confronted her at the Argyle Street blockade.

"How do my people have money coming in automatically?" Clyde Powless, spokesman for the Confederacy and the protesters, said. "I'm shocked at you and I will never want to address you again."

Trainer told The Spectator last night she did not mean to imply natives are getting government cheques and not working.

She said she was explaining "the frustration of the Caledonia people," like trades people who "don't get paid until the job is done and they submit a bill and then they get paid. There's no cheques coming in for those people."

Asked about the reaction to her comments, she said, "I'm in a glass house and every word I say is pulled apart and analyzed. All I can do is apologize. It was not meant to be racist...There was only one person who was perfect and He was crucified. I hope they realize I'm human and it was not meant that way to hurt people."

Trainer does not plan to stop speaking on the blockade, which was put in place last Thursday following a failed OPP raid, although she acknowledged her council would like her to keep quiet.

"I'm still the head of the Corporation of Haldimand County," Trainer said. "It's just that the councillors want Tom to speak for council. It's just that if I say anything else wrong, they can say, 'Well, we didn't say that, the mayor said that.'"

She didn't believe the furor over her comments damages her ability to be useful in the blockade and standoff at the Douglas Creek Estates, which is now entering its ninth week. Natives say the site was never surrendered by Six Nations, but Canada and Ontario say it was surrendered and sold in 1841 to help build the Plank Road (Highway 6). Developers Henco Industries has obtained a court injunction ordering protesters off the property.

"I think if you listened to everybody that's spoke on both sides, I think you could tear a lot of them apart," the mayor said. "I think it's just because I happen to be mayor it seems more important."

Deputy Mayor Patterson and Councillor Tony Dalimonte said council expects Trainer to stop commenting on the Caledonia standoff. If she continues, Dalimonte said that would be "disrespectful" to council.

"If she wants to go out there and continue to put her foot in her mouth, that's her problem," said Patterson. "If she's not going to follow along with council's resolution, I think it's going to look bad on her."

Meanwhile, natives behind the blockades say they do not intend to bring them down anytime soon because they believe they give them protection against another OPP raid and threats from townspeople. They also consider it a bargaining chip in negotiations to end the standoff with Ottawa and Queen's Park.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced negotiations will resume today in hope of ending the blockades and occupation of Douglas Creek Estates. The premier appealed for Caledonia residents to remain calm and patient and urged that frustration with the situation not spill over into confrontation.

About 500 locals descended on the Argyle Street blockade Monday to demand it be removed and the road reopened. The OPP employed about 100 officers to keep the unruly mob away from the protesters. Two people were arrested, but released.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Ramsay said the first goal of the resumed talks is to have the two blockades removed. But native spokesperson Janie Jamieson told reporters the protesters needed the barriers for their own protection.

With files from John Burman

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