Eleven senior members of our faith community sent a personal memo to you, Premier, requesting that you hold a public inquiry. What do you plan to say to those senior members of our faith community?
Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I plan to refer that and the letter to the Attorney General.
Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): As I have said before, the incident at Ipperwash was a tragedy but the government has been clear and consistent that it will only consider other options after matters currently before the courts have been completed. We have indicated that that is the position of the government. We've made that very clear. There are court cases going on, both of a criminal and a civil nature, and we will consider other options once those legal matters have been completed.
Mr Phillips: Premier, I'll go back to you because it was our faith community that raised a very serious matter with you, and you personally. This is International Human Rights Day. They directed the question to you, Premier. They want a commitment. You don't have to begin the inquiry until all legal impediments are out of the road, but they want a commitment from you.
I talk often with first nations and they tell me: "Mike Harris will never call an inquiry. He's afraid of it. He will delay and delay and delay and delay." They say, "Gerry, you'll get nowhere because Mike Harris will refuse to call an inquiry." You won't even commit to call an inquiry.
I say to you again, Premier, that senior members of our faith community have called on you - you personally, you directly - to commit to holding a public inquiry. You can do it when all the legal impediments are out of the road. But I say again to you, Premier, the faith community of Ontario and all of Ontario are looking for you personally to stand today and answer: Will you commit to a full public inquiry into the shooting death of Dudley George as soon as all legal impediments are out of the road?
Hon Mr Harnick: Certainly I will say again that the government has been clear and consistent. It will only consider other options after the issues that are before the court are dealt with, and then that consideration will take place.
Mr Phillips: Premier, I'll go back to you. You have an obligation to Ontario, you have an obligation to our faith community, you have an obligation to first nations to say that they're wrong, that you're not going to stonewall this, you're not going to delay and delay and delay and hope it will go away. I give our faith community a lot of credit. As usual, when a voice is being silenced, our faith community has the courage to stand up and speak for that voice that you're trying to silence. Nothing could be more fundamental than this issue: the treatment of our first nations, the shooting death for the first time in this century of a member of our first nations.
We have heard from you several stories. You said they were armed; they were unarmed. You said there was no evidence of a burial ground; we found there was evidence of a burial ground. You said there was no direction given to the police; we found that you instructed the police to remove the occupants. There were 52 charges laid, and 43 of them you dropped, Premier.
The question is this: Will you today commit to our first nations to hold a full public inquiry -
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.
Hon Mr Harnick: The member outlines a set of facts that he really has no basis to outline, because they are just not accurate. The government has been clear and consistent.
Mr Phillips: Prove me wrong. I'll go anywhere you want. Prove me wrong.
The Speaker: Member for Scarborough-Agincourt, come to order.
Hon Mr Harnick: The minutes that the member has reflect exactly what has happened. First of all, he knows that the government would not negotiate on substantive issues while the occupation continued. Second of all, it indicates that no direction was given to the OPP regarding negotiations.
Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It says to get them out of the park ASAP.
The Speaker: Member for Algoma, come to order, please.
The Speaker: Member for Scarborough-Agincourt, come to order, please.
Hon Mr Harnick: Finally, the evidence is very clear that the only step that the government took was to seek a civil injunction. That is the only step that the government took.
Hon Mr Harnick: I will reiterate: Insofar as the OPP is concerned, they received no direction. This was confirmed by the commissioner, and the only step the government took was to seek a civil injunction.