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Legislature to look at handling of standoff

Keith Leslie
Canadian Press
Published: Sunday, June 04, 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.]

TORONTO -- The Liberal government's handling of the months-long aboriginal occupation of a housing development in Caledonia, Ont., should be investigated by a commission with powers under the Public Inquiries Act, says Opposition Leader John Tory.

The Ontario legislature will debate an Opposition motion Monday calling for an inquiry into the standoff between aboriginal protesters, police and local residents.

"When you have a situation where you have land occupied, roads blocked for weeks on end, there's a need for a commission to take a look at better ways to do things, and ways we can make sure the rule of law is upheld," Tory said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"It's high time we had a look at that."

Tory said the commission would be asked to find ways of preventing similar chaotic and "ugly confrontations" when dealing with future land claim disputes in the province.

"(Premier Dalton) McGuinty waited 42 days to even acknowledge it was an issue," he said. "And then you have weeks and weeks after that with near riots and highway blockages, surely it does us good to have a look at this."

Tory said the federal and Ontario governments should share responsibility for the poor progress made in aboriginal land claims, but insisted the root of the problem was what he called McGuinty's "complete lack of leadership" in Caledonia.

He said the commission could be a one-person inquiry, a retired judge asked to make recommendations on ways to improve public dispute resolutions before there's another similar clash with aboriginals.

"The advantage to a public inquiry is that it can call witnesses and hear evidence in a structured way," he said. "There are lots of land claims out there...and surely we must be able to find a better way to resolve them than this."

The emotional and at times violent occupation of the construction site began in February, when members of the Six Nations seized control of a half-finished housing development just south of Hamilton, halting all construction work.

Aboriginal protesters have dismantled a highway blockade that had infuriated Caledonia's non-aboriginal residents, but a highway bypass and a railway line remain barricaded as the occupation of the housing development continues.

Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall issued an injunction in March ordering the aboriginals off the land, and last week called the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of the Attorney General to court to find out why the order wasn't being enforced.

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