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Premier on Caledonia: 'We bring a different approach' to standoffs

Karen Howlett
Globe & Mail
Posted on 07/06/06

[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.]

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty dredged up the Ipperwash tragedy of a decade ago in dismissing an opposition motion seeking a public inquiry into his government's handling of the long-simmering land dispute in Caledonia.

In Question Period yesterday, Mr. McGuinty said the Progressive Conservatives would prefer to see his Liberal government direct the police in a standoff between native and non-native protesters on the disputed tract of land in Southwestern Ontario.

"We bring a different approach," Mr. McGuinty said. "It's based on our recent understanding of some painful lessons in the history of this province."

Conservative MPP Bob Runciman described the allegation as "totally offensive" and shot back during Question Period that the government was "missing in action" on the Caledonia protest.

In an interview, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory accused the Premier of prejudging the outcome of an inquiry into the events at Ipperwash Provincial Park 11 years ago, when a police sniper killed aboriginal protester Dudley George. The inquiry is examining what role the governing Tories at the time played in the OPP decision to march on the unarmed native protesters occupying the campground.

"I think that is prejudging the [Ipperwash] report, and I think it's disrespectful of the role of the commissioner he appointed to look into it and beneath his office," Mr. Tory said.

The heated exchange between the Liberals and Tories began yesterday morning when Mr. McGuinty accused the opposition of "mischief-making" for seeking a public inquiry into the Caledonia land dispute. He also told reporters the Tories have not "drawn the lesson they should have drawn" from the Ipperwash events.

The governing Liberals were left with egg on their faces this week when they failed to defeat the Tories' motion calling for an inquiry into Caledonia, even though they have a majority.

The motion was endorsed in the legislature on Monday afternoon in a voice vote, in which MPPs call out "yay" or "nay."

Liberal Party Whip Dave Levac told reporters yesterday that not enough Liberals stood up quickly enough to force a recorded vote. The customary five-minute bell for a recorded vote would have given more Liberals time to rush to the legislature to defeat the motion.

Only six or seven Liberals were in the legislature at the time, and twice as many Tories.

"Members of your government somehow couldn't decide if they were in favour or if they were opposed," said New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton, who also pushed the Premier to call an inquiry.

Mr. McGuinty dismissed Mr. Hampton's comments as a "diatribe."

Mr. Tory said he wants an inquiry to examine how the government allowed the Caledonia situation to escalate into a full-blown standoff. The issue became a priority for the McGuinty government in April after the Ontario Provincial Police raided a construction site in Caledonia, south of Hamilton, that native protesters had occupied since Feb. 28.

The Six Nations community has made it clear that the primary party they want to deal with is the federal government.

Mr. McGuinty said he discussed the protest with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during an hour-long meeting last Saturday in Ottawa.

He said they talked about the need for patience and perseverance in the Caledonia matter. "We are of one mind in that regard," he said.

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