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Ontario to buy disputed Caledonia property

Move puts onus on government to end stalemate

James Rusk
Globe & Mail
Posted on 05/07/06

[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.]

The Ontario government has finalized a deal to buy the land at the centre of a dispute with aboriginal protesters at Caledonia, in a move that may only intensify pressure on the province to resolve the issues underlying the four-month standoff.

The announcement of the completed deal is expected during a court hearing today in Cayuga, according to sources close to continuing attempts to resolve the dispute.

Today's hearing represents the third time in five weeks that Mr. Justice T. David Marshall of the Ontario Superior Court has called parties to the dispute into his courtroom to hear what they are doing to end it.

His two previous hearings nudged the dispute closer to resolution.

At the first hearing on June 1, which he called to determine why the Ontario Provincial Police had not enforced injunctions ending the protest, the spectre of violence between police and protesters entered the courtroom when it was suggested that force might be needed to end the protest.

The judge accepted the need for patience, and adjourned the hearing so that the federal government would have a chance to appear before him.

By the second hearing on June 16, Ottawa had been fully pulled back into the efforts to resolve the dispute, native barricades stopping movement through Caledonia had been removed, and the province announced that the night before it had reached an agreement, in principle, to buy the land.

This hearing is likely to show that Judge Marshall is running out of rope on which he can pull in his efforts to help end the continued occupation of the site on which Henco Industries planned to build the 600-house Douglas Creek Estates development.

With the province now owning the land, purchased for $12.3-million plus a settlement for the business losses incurred by Henco, the judge will be told by the lawyers for the province and other parties that the injunction, which he issued at the request of the original land owner, has effectively lapsed.

Similarly, he will be told that, despite a brief blockage by protesters, the railway running adjacent to the property has been able to get its trains down the line, and as long as that situation prevails the injunction is, in effect, in abeyance.

That leaves the judge with a contempt-of-court order against the protesters that he issued when the land was reoccupied in April, after the police removed them from the property.

But with the judge appearing reluctant to order the police to do something that would trigger some horrible chain of events, the contempt order is not likely to be enforced and the occupation is likely to continue, even though the citizens of Caledonia want it to end.

Since the province owns the land, the continued occupation is even more of a political problem for Queen's Park than it was, as it would seem to be within the province's purview to seek an injunction to end the occupation, one source said.

Another added that the occupation would end if the aboriginals decided that it would further a resolution to continue negotiations among Ottawa, Queen's Park and the aboriginal community aimed at settling the basic issues that led to the occupation.

But that, the source said, would not be an easy decision, as the continuing occupation is now, more than ever, seen as a way of pressing government.

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