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Caledonia meeting over suit

Class action focuses on four incidents

Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
Caledonia (Jul 14, 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.]

About 150 people attended a meeting to discuss joining a class-action lawsuit over the disruption of their town during the most intense period of the native standoff.

The lawsuit, filed in Cayuga court last month, seeks damages from the County of Haldimand, OPP Commissioner Gwen Boniface and Haldimand OPP detachment commander Brian Haggith for not stopping natives from blocking Argyle Street and the Highway 6 Bypass between April 20 and May 24.

The blockades, including one on a rail line, occurred after the OPP executed a botched raid on a housing site, which natives claim is Six Nations' land and have been occupying since Feb. 28.

It was standing room only in the Caledonia Lions Hall last night as local lawyer John Findlay, who filed the suit, explained the workings of a class-action lawsuit.

The province has also been notified it will be named and Findlay told the crowd that will occur Aug. 12 after expiration of a 60-day notification period.

The province has announced compensation for businesses and residents put out of pocket by the native blockades and has spent more than $12 million to buy the disputed site from developers Henco.

Findlay said the suit will focus on four incidents that affected residents and businesses -- the closure of Argyle Street, the closure of the Highway 6 Bypass, failure to enforce court injunctions and interruption of hydro power in Caledonia when a transformer was damaged after a violent confrontation between natives and townspeople on Victoria Day.

The lawsuit alleges the county, OPP officials and the province broke laws by allowing those things to happen.

"A class action lawsuit is a good way to get their attention," Findlay said. "Secondly, this type of conduct will change and this action will not be repeated again."

The Dairy Queen and the pub St. George Arms, both on Argyle Street, have agreed to stand as the "representative plaintiffs" for businesses that suffered losses from those incidents. The lawsuit needs homeowners to sign on for their part of it.

A class action lawsuit has to be certified by the courts as a case where many citizens suffered damage. Findlay warned the gathering that it could be a long process.

He also warned that residents could be on the hook for legal costs if the suit is unsuccessful, but said that could be covered by a special fund made up of contributions from all participants.

Jim Smith was one person interested in signing on.

The steelworker had taken part in a few boisterous rallies near the Argyle Street barricade in May.

"Talking to you, I'm going to put $100 in," Smith told Findlay after his presentation.

"We're eager."

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