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Finley: Send cops to clear out natives

MP wants Caledonia returned to 'normalcy'

Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Jun 9, 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.]

Federal cabinet minister and local MP Diane Finley is urging Queen's Park to send police into a housing site occupied by native protesters to clear them out in an effort to return the town to "normalcy."

The human resources minister's comment is contained in a letter sent yesterday to a constituent about the three-month occupation of Douglas Creek Estates as talks resumed between federal, provincial and Six Nations officials on the land claim surrounding the Argyle Street site.

It also comes as a group of residents, upset with Finley's handling of the dispute, mounted a lawn sign campaign to embarrass her into more visible action.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Tory MP's comment is in a letter to Tom Bernard, a member of the Caledonia Citizens Alliance which helped organize the campaign featuring lawn signs that ask: "Has anyone seen Diane Finley? Leadership?"

The minister says talks between Ottawa, Queen's Park and Six Nations are important in the long-term resolution of land claims, but she continues to push for the "short-term resolution" for the protest site.

"I continue to strongly urge the provincial government, which is responsible for all matters relating to policing, to clear the protest site so that our community can return to normalcy," Finley said.

The OPP raided Douglas Creek Estates April 20 and arrested 16 protesters. A few hundred natives and their supporters rushed to the site and police left after only four hours. The raid led to native barricades being erected on two roads and a rail line -- the Argyle Street barricade was removed May 23 -- and fisticuffs between townspeople and their native neighbours.

Finley was unavailable for comment, but her spokesperson Colleen Cameron said the letter was just a regular update on Ottawa's actions surrounding the dispute.

"I'm not sure she's intending to elaborate on those letters, which are intended to go to constituents," Cameron said.

Bernard said he was amazed at the comment.

"That was incredible when I saw that. That is totally out of line...That's not the solution. It's past that now."

Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer didn't know if another OPP raid was "feasible" given the results of the first one. She said, however, she understands where Finley is coming from.

"Somehow we have to get back to the rule of law in Haldimand County, but I'm not too sure what the best way to do that is," said the mayor. "It's so upsetting to everyone. It just seems a disrespect for the laws and Canada."

Finley has been accused of being invisible in dealing with the standoff. She has countered that she talks every day with federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice and has been to Caledonia to talk to people affected or involved in trying to end the crisis.

Bernard, who has met with provincial negotiator David Peterson, said he has never met Finley or received a phone call.

He doesn't doubt she is working behind the scenes, but said, "The people of Caledonia don't see that, we don't feel it, we don't experience it. We don't see her doing anything...Leadership in a vacuum of communication is not leadership."

In her letter, Finley said the best thing she can do is make, "my voice heard by the parties who are working to resolve it."

She said she has been to the protest site several times. "It was not to have my photo taken and/or attempt to persuade people that I am frustrated by what's going on...I, too, wish I could march in there and remove the barricades myself. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way."

Bernard said organizers have printed 250 signs and are selling them at $7 apiece. He hopes the move will push Finley to become more visible and, "refocus the federal government's efforts on getting this thing resolved."

Bernard said organizers have had a great response and may expand the sign tactic to others, such as Premier Dalton McGuinty.

In other news, Haldimand lifted a state of emergency for Caledonia yesterday. It had been in place since Victoria Day after a blackout caused by a vandalism attack on two transformers.

Hydro One has told the county everything is back to normal.

Trainer said Ontario has given Haldimand an additional $160,000, on top of $50,000, to market Caledonia and help its business community.

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