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Peterson's reputation on line over talks

Marissa Nelson
Hamilton Spectator
May 2, 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.]

Former premier David Peterson, who friends characterize as a straight-shooting negotiator, spent the day behind closed doors trying to navigate the logjam that surrounds the Caledonia standoff.

Mayor Marie Trainer said Peterson arrived at their council meeting around 3:30 p.m., four hours late because he was tied up in other talks. He spent an hour with local politicians, but Trainer wouldn't divulge the details.

"He is trying to get a process in place to try to appease both sides and get us moving forward," she said. "The news is encouraging...I'm counting on him to get things moving."

McMaster University political science professor Henry Jacek said the province is only stepping in to fill a void created by the silence from Ottawa.

"The federal government isn't doing its job at all," he said, noting Tory MP Diane Finley has been silent on the issue. "They've really been irresponsible. They need to be engaged and solve it...and they're simply doing nothing."

Jacek said the appointment was a smart move for Premier Dalton McGuinty, but it's a risky assignment for Peterson who stands to lose his reputation if he doesn't broker a deal.

Hazel Hill, a spokesperson for the native protesters, says she was indifferent to Peterson's appointment.

"I guess it's a way of trying to show they're serious about the talks because of the respect he comes with in your Canadian system," she said.

Hill said while she doesn't know Peterson's background, leaders in her culture don't carry the same cache because everyone is seen as equal. She just wants to see the federal government get serious about talks.

Deb Matthews, Liberal MPP for London-North-Centre, said her brother-in-law (Peterson) has a long-standing interest in First Nations issues.

"He's respected and respectful. He's a real statesman."

She said he was brave for taking on the assignment, but added she's confident he'll be successful.

Peterson was a key figure in Belinda Stronach's defection to the federal Liberals, a negotiation Matthews mused was considerably easier than what he faces now.

"He really understands people, what motivates people, what's important to makes him a good dealmaker."

Peterson helped broker a recently announced agreement in principle between the province and First Nations about the division of gaming revenue. He also finished his tenure in March as the chief federal negotiator for the devolution of the Northwest Territories, a process that will see the federal responsibility for natural resources handed over to the territory.

Eric Cunningham, a Liberal MPP from 1975 to 1984, said his friend of 30 years is well qualified for his latest posting.

As a university student, Cunningham points out, Peterson went to the far north to work on literacy issues.

"I hope he's able to resolve it and in a timely way," he said.

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