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Judge pulls PM into Caledonia

James Rusk, with reports from Bill Curry and Karen Howlett
Globe & Mail
Posted on 02/06/06

[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.]

CAYUGA, ONT. -- While Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to stay out of the three-month aboriginal land dispute at Caledonia, the Ontario Superior Court judge who has issued injunctions ordering an end to the protest wants Ottawa in.

Mr. Justice T. David Marshall yesterday adjourned an unusual legal hearing to give Ottawa two weeks to decide whether it will appear in his court on June 16.

Last week, Mr. Harper said the Caledonia land claim falls under provincial jurisdiction and the protests are "ultimately a provincial law-enforcement issue." The Prime Minister said Ottawa's proper role is to consult with the province, as it has done.

Last night, Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice said in a statement that, while the federal government was not in court and had not received a specific request from the court, "we will co-operate fully with the courts."

David Ramsay, the Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said in an interview last night that he is pleased Judge Marshall has asked the federal government to send a representative to court when the hearing resumes on June 16.

"It's a recognition by the judge that the federal government needs to be there," Mr. Ramsay said. "That voice was missing today."

Even though no one who had been party to his earlier injunctions had asked him for it, Judge Marshall called the hearing. It was a judicial move that lawyers said is extremely rare.

Clearly upset the protests that began at the end of February are still going on despite three injunctions from him, Judge Marshall said at the outset of the hearing that "my great concern is that, in this community, the rule of law has been suspended in our country."

But by the end of a day of legal arguments, he accepted the advice of the majority of the lawyers who appeared before him that patience was needed, and that it would not be helpful to order the Ontario Provincial Police to remove the protesters from a disputed development site and nearby barricades.

Owen Young, who represented the province, told the court that while progress to resolve the issues has been slow, "there has been a significant effort to make sure Caledonia is not Oka or Ipperwash."

He told the court that, given the history of aboriginal relations in Canada, "we should not be surprised by upheaval," and that, rather than defying the rule of law, the attempts by the province to negotiate a settlement are "an expression of the maintenance of the rule of law."

Darrell Doxtdator, the agent for the elected council of the Six Nations reserve, said he wanted to congratulate the OPP for demonstrating at Caledonia that it had learned lessons from Ipperwash, where a police sniper shot and killed aboriginal activist Dudley George at a 1995 protest.

But C. E. McCarthy, who represented the Haldimand Law Society, said many locals "complain that we are negotiating with people who are breaking the law," and suggested that the use of force to end the protest may have to be considered.

He said what is happening reminds him of the events in the 1930s when Neville Chamberlain tried appeasement with Germany, and that if the OPP had done its job and ejected the protesters when they first occupied the site, owners Henco Industries Ltd. would not have had to seek a court injunction.

But OPP lawyer Denise Dwyer said Mr. McCarthy's remarks were "unfortunate and inappropriate" from the police perspective.

"They were words that incite confrontation on the ground. They are fighting words," she told the court. "The protest is a symptom of the underlying problem, and that is what the province is trying to deal with through negotiations."

While the judge accepted that patience is needed, he also said that if either of the two parties who originally sought injunctions were to seek a ruling that the OPP enforce his earlier orders, "the court will do that if necessary."

Michael Bruder, lawyer for Henco, said that the adjournment gives the province a chance to make his clients an offer in the next two weeks for a property that they say would have generated $45-million in lot sales.

If no offer is made, the company will have to consider applying to Judge Marshall for an order that the injunction be enforced, he said.

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