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Ottawa must step in: Ramsay

Marissa Nelson
Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 3, 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.]

Ontario's Minister for Aboriginal Affairs says the province has done all it can to solve the problem in Caledonia and now it's time for Ottawa to step in.

"I think we're in a watershed where we're realizing, at the provincial level, that we've exhausted all the tools that are available to us," David Ramsay said.

"We need the tools that are available to the federal government to be brought to bear so we can get a short-term and long-term solution to this."

Ramsay's call for Ottawa to offer solutions comes the day after Superior Court Justice David Marshall summoned federal representatives to his court. Marshall has added Ottawa to the list of parties he wants to return to his court in two weeks to discuss how to resolve the crisis.

Together, they are signs of increasing pressure on Ottawa to get more involved in settling the dispute.

Ramsay said while they saw the blockades as separate from the long-term issues of land claims, they now realize the two are connected. In order to solve the short-term issues, they need the federal government involved.

"We're doing everything we can. What we can't bring to the table is a final resolution of land claims," said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ramsey, noting there needs to be "a greater commitment" to resolving them.

The province has already stopped development on Douglas Creek Estates and offered land Ontario owns in the area to the natives but has still been unable to get the problem solved.

"I don't have any other cards up my sleeve. We've exhausted them all. But the feds do have other cards."

Ramsay admitted an information picket held by Six Nations people outside Brantford's casino has made it clear how difficult finding a solution will be.

"This is a complicated issue and it involves more than Douglas Creek. We really have to sit down to get this ironed out."

How Caledonia is handled will have broad ramifications for the province and country, he added.

Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall said in a hearing earlier this week that he would contact Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice.

Prentice said in a statement he would co-operate fully with the court.

Repeated calls to the minister went unanswered yesterday but ministry officials said federal representative Barbara McDougall has now participated in three meetings.

David Peterson, who was sent in by the province to solve the short-term issues, said his role is now "receding."

"I'm winding down because I've done my duty," he said, noting the focus is shifting to the long-term discussions that involve McDougall and provincial representative Jane Stewart.

The first thing the Six Nations hereditary chiefs asked for was the ear of the federal government, Peterson noted.

"The first request they had was: get (the federal government) here. They won't talk about this, they won't engage. We were there day after day after day, pleading with the feds to show up," Peterson said. "And they came. It took about a week and a half but they came and they started."

He commended Marshall for calling on the federal government to get involved.

"The federal government has to step up here and I think (Marshall) understands that," Peterson said.

He said efforts have continued to try to get the roads open but in the meantime the former Burtch correctional facility remains in the province's hands.

While Peterson has not managed to get all of the roads open, he said the town is a lot better off now than it was two weeks ago -- a peace he described as fragile.

Six Nations spokesperson Janie Jamieson said one part of Canada's tactics is to delay talks.

"I think they've fully realized that what happens in Caledonia will be precedent setting up and down the Grand River," she said. "They've tried to stall, tried to wait it out and we're willing to wait. We're there for as long as it takes."

She said the province's attempts to focus on getting the blockades off the roads and rail lines was another way to divert attention.

"It's a negotiating tactic -- let's focus on this instead of the nitty gritty."

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