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McGuinty pre-judging Ipperwash inquiry: Tory

Canadian Press
CTV Toronto
Tue. Jun. 6 2006 5:42 PM ET

[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 — Ontario's Conservative leader is accusing Premier Dalton McGuinty of pre-judging the outcome of the Ipperwash inquiry by suggesting the Conservatives have not learned the lessons of the deadly 1995 standoff.

John Tory made the accusation after McGuinty, responding to calls for an inquiry into how the Liberal government has handled the more recent clash between aboriginals and local residents in Caledonia, Ont., repeated his pledge to resolve the dispute peacefully.

The Conservatives have not learned from the clash at Ipperwash Provincial Park, where aboriginal protester Dudley George was killed during a standoff with police in 1995, or from the ongoing inquiry into the fatal shooting, McGuinty said.

"It's apparent to me that the Conservative policy has not changed, our policy is a different one,'' he said.

"They have not drawn the lessons that should be drawn from Ipperwash. We will continue to pursue this matter in a way that is thoughtful, that is responsible. We will do that demonstrating patience and perseverance.''

Tory, who was not part of the Conservative government of former premier Mike Harris, which was in power during the Ipperwash standoff, accused McGuinty of "pre-judging'' the inquiry's outcome by "hinting'' that it will find that some blame lies with the previous government over George's death.

"That is not responsible on his part. I think it's disrespectful of the judicial inquiry process and the legislature,'' Tory said.

"He should focus on what's going on today and not the past, the other inquiry will look after that.''

Among other issues, the Ipperwash inquiry is exploring the question of whether Harris or any other member of his government played a role in directing police at Ipperwash to advance on the protesters and use force to quell the uprising.

Later Tuesday, McGuinty said he was only trying to point out that the Conservatives appear to favour police involvement to resolve such disputes.

"The party opposite would prefer that we direct a police action. Let's be honest about where they're coming from in this regard: that is their preference,'' he said, citing April remarks by Conservative critic Toby Barrett, who told reporters police needed "some kind of direction'' from the government to solve the dispute.

Conservative critic Bob Runciman, who was a member of the Harris government, called the allegation that Tories favour using police to resolve native protests "offensive.''

The Caledonia clash was a sore spot for the Liberals after a non-binding Conservative motion calling for a similar inquiry into the government's handling of the standoff in Caledonia, south of Hamilton, passed unexpectedly late Monday.

Aboriginals began occupying a housing development in the community in February, arguing it sits on land stolen from them more than 200 years ago.

The Conservative motion suggests McGuinty and the Liberals failed "to show leadership'' and that allowed the Caledonia standoff to "escalate into a public safety crisis.''

McGuinty said it amounted to "mischief-making'' on the part of the Conservatives, particularly since the issue is before the courts. Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall called last week for police and government officials to appear before him regarding the dispute.

But Tory said the Liberals were being disrespectful of the debate by failing to pay attention in the legislature when it came to a vote.

"They've kind of ignored the file any time they could, and only acted on the file when they thought they had to and let a crisis build up in the meantime,'' Tory said.

Typically, the Liberals would have requested a recorded vote, giving more Liberal members time to enter the legislative chamber for a vote.

Liberal party whip Dave Levac said there was "confusion'' on his side of the legislature about when the vote was taking place.

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