Six Nations Solidarity
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Jessica Leeder - Staff Reporter
Jul. 6, 2006. 05:38 AM
[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.]
CAYUGA, ONT.—The province's purchase of a parcel of land occupied by native protestors won't help Caledonia residents who are being "held hostage" by the dispute, a court heard yesterday.
Lawyer Ed McCarthy, speaking on behalf of the Haldimand Law Association, urged Superior Court Justice David Marshall to take "serious steps" to end a five-month-long sit-in at a development on the outskirts of Caledonia. The occupation is related to an ongoing native land claim dispute. Protestors' activities have had "serious effects" on non-native residents in the neighbouring area, McCarthy said.
"They're being held hostage in the interest of the (land claim) negotiations," McCarthy said in court. The hearing was part of a series of special sessions Marshall began calling in June as part of an effort to speed up progress on the land claim issue and find out why protestors are still occupying the land, which he ordered cleared in March.
Although some arrests were made, protestors didn't vacate the land. Marshall then found the protestors in contempt of court, but has held off on ordering penalties to avoid hurting progress in negotiations.
Yesterday, Marshall heard that the title of the disputed property — previously held by a private Caledonia developer named Henco Industries Ltd. — has been transferred to the province in exchange for an initial payment of $12.3 million.
An additional payment, based on fair market value, will be negotiated over the course of the next 45 days, to be followed by binding arbitration if necessary, said Michael Bruder, a lawyer for the developers.
Bruder also said the final price his clients receive will be "substantially less" than the profits they would have reaped if the subdivision they had planned had gone ahead. Earlier, Bruder estimated potential profits at $45 million.
McCarthy, whose colleagues represent some Caledonians affected by the protest, said the provincial buyout "doesn't change one thing for people in the area. It's very scary for the people who live there."
Still hanging in the balance are two injunctions Marshall signed off on in the spring after the developers asked for his help in clearing protestors from the site. Marshall withheld judgment on the orders, which are now likely to dissolve with the transfer of ownership.
However, Marshall made clear that his contempt finding — the result of protestors ignoring his injunctions — still stands, and he intends to enforce it.
"The contempt has been public, it has been outrageous and it has been continuous," he told lawyers for the Ontario Provincial Police, Haldimand County, the attorneys general for Canada and Ontario, among others.
"The court is not hurt by it, it's destroyed by it. Contempt of court orders in a democracy will always be extremely serious. Democracy can't function without the rule of law," he said.
He ordered the parties back to court on July 24, when he will begin hearing submissions on the lawyers' recommendations for how he should deal with the contempt issue. Meanwhile, negotiations with Six Nations members, and the provincial and federal governments are scheduled to resume today.
Charlotte Bell, a lawyer for the federal attorney general, told Marshall negotiations are going well.