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Ontario to compensate Caledonia homeowners hurt by native standoff

Keith Leslie
Canadian Press
Published: Tuesday, June 20, 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 -- Homeowners in Caledonia, Ont., who feel they have suffered because of an ongoing aboriginal land occupation will be compensated by the province, David Ramsay, the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, said Tuesday.

Ramsay said the Liberal government is offering to help homeowners in the town south of Hamilton as well as local businesses. The province has already agreed to buy out the developer whose housing project is at the centre of the Six Nations land claims dispute.

"We know that they have been incredibly hurt by this dispute, and we want to help them directly," Ramsay said before a Liberal caucus meeting.

"We're trying to make sure that everybody that's been affected by this is helped."

Ramsay said the government offered what he called "some great packages" to businesses in Caledonia, and now wanted to hear from homeowners about their needs.

He wouldn't rule out the possibility that the government could buy even more homes in Caledonia, or even compensate people for psychological trauma they feel they've suffered as a result of the ongoing standoff.

"Well, right now we want to listen to them and find out what the ideas are, so we're not going to say, 'This is what we're going to do,'" Ramsay said.

"We want to talk to them (and) engage them."

He refused to disclose how much the province paid to buy out Henco Industries, the developer whose land has been occupied by Six Nations protesters since late February.

"We paid fair market value for the land as is...and in this case the seller has asked us to keep that confidential," Ramsay said.

"The figure is reflective of their development costs to bring that land to where it is today, and so they see that as a competitive disadvantage if that price is released."

Conservative critic John Yakabuski said taxpayers have a right to know how much the Liberal government is spending to calm non-natives in Caledonia, and is worried the settlement of the land claim will also be hidden from the public.

"The government has a responsibility to be open and transparent about the process and also about any kind of settlements that they're engaging in," said Yakabuski.

"They are completely secretive in how they're dealing with taxpayers' money, and you can't take the attitude that you're going to try and pour as much cash as it takes to settle the situation, and then not let the people know how much you had to pour."

Premier Dalton McGuinty told the legislature Tuesday that he believes the people of Caledonia have "more pressing issues" on their minds then how much the government paid to buy the development.

"I think they can take some heart and comfort from the knowledge that we are making some real, measurable progress in getting barricades down and providing more financial assistance to the community," he said.

Opposition Leader John Tory disagreed.

"I think the people of Ontario deserve to know how much this part of the Caledonia episode will cost them," he said.

"It is not your money. It is the public's money that we're dealing with here. You have no right whatsoever to keep this information from Ontarians."

Tory said given what's happened in Caledonia, he supports the idea of helping local residents, but added any negotiations should be open and public.

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