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OPP chief breaks silence

'Right decisions' made on Caledonia

Natives not treated differently, she says

Richard Brennan and Jessica Leeder - Staff Reporters
Toronto Star
Jul. 11, 2006. 05:32 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.]

The Ontario Provincial Police's embattled commissioner insists she has made all the right decisions in her handling of the native standoff in Caledonia.

In her first interview since native protestors took over a disputed land site five months ago, Commissioner Gwen Boniface said she is proud of her force, and defended it against accusations police have treated natives differently throughout the sometimes violent dispute.

"I'm not in to make popular decisions. I'm here to make the right decisions," she said. "I think the right decisions have been made and they've been carried out by competent men and women in the OPP."

Boniface conceded the native occupation is a sensitive issue and had to be dealt with in a delicate way, but denied that protestors who have been allowed to occupy a private land development for months, block the highway, and dig up sections of the road — so far without penalty — were exempt from the law.

Ken Hewitt, a spokesman for the Caledonia Citizens Alliance, said it is "ludicrous" to suggest the Six Nations protestors weren't treated differently. "To stand by and watch roads dug up, blocked illegally, people assaulted and nothing be done about it. ... This kind of lawlessness would never be tolerated anywhere else in the province."

Boniface said her force tried to deal with the situation "in a way that's reflective of 2006."

"You do not want serious injury or death in any circumstances, and you work hard for the public's safety, particularly officer safety to ensure that." The fact that no one has been killed in the dispute has been a recurring theme in the OPP's and province's explanations for their handling of the situation. Boniface, in her eighth year as OPP commissioner, is fighting battles on two fronts: from rank and file officers and Caledonia citizens for the way she's directed her troops. Residents are circulating an Internet petition with thousands of signatures calling for her resignation.

Superior Court Justice David Marshall has insisted for more than a month that the rule of law has been suspended in Caledonia and irreparably damaged. In April, he issued several arrest warrants for protestors occupying the disputed Douglas Creek Development and ordered it cleared. While OPP made some initial arrests, protestors flooded the land and have remained.

Boniface said the force is investigating several incidents in which police failed to uphold the law, including one on June 8, when police stood back and watched while a TV cameraman was assaulted and his camera stolen. The commissioner insisted she gave no special directions to officers for dealing with native protestors. She also said she received "absolutely" no direction from the provincial Liberal government, which was quick to call a public inquiry into the 1995 shooting of native protestor Dudley George at a dispute in Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Several OPP officers who wish not to be identified said they believe their hands were tied by the outcome of Ipperwash, and blamed Boniface for bringing "shame" to the police force.

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