Evidence of the Ontario government's involvement in the shooting death of Dudley George continues to emerge despite denials of any connection by Premier Mike Harris. It has been over two years since Dudley George was shot and killed by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sergeant Kenneth Deane. Calls for a public inquiry into his death continue to be ignored by Queen's Park.
In early September 1995, Aazhoodenaang (Stoney Point First Nation) members moved into a part of their original reserve that contains a burial ground. This land was made into Ipperwash Provincial Park by the Ontario government in 1936. The remaining reserve land was appropriated by the federal government in 1942 in an abuse of the War Measures Act. Stoney Point members were displaced across Ontario. Some were able to purchase low-quality land at the neighbouring Kettle Points reserve. Some Stoney Point members returned to their reserve in 1992. A year earlier, an elder had been buried at Stoney Point which emphasized the importance of Stoney Point members being able to return to their reserve. Also 1992 marked the 50th anniversary of expulsion of Stoney Point members which further inspired thoughts of returning home. Since 1992, Stoney Point members have been living on their reserve.
The OPP did not take large-scale action against the Stoney Point members' return home until September 1995. The OPP called on the Canadian army for military equipment which included two Huey helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, gas masks, night vision goggles and equipment for intercepting cellular telephone calls. Two hundred and fifty OPP officers were sent to Stoney Point to confront about 35 Stoney Point members, including children.
"My brother Dudley died for the struggle for the self-determination of Stoney Point and the protection of our sacred burial grounds. And just because Sergeant Deane has [been charged with] pulling the trigger and killing Dudley...this doesn't mean it's over," said Pierre George, Dudley George's brother, at a demonstration in Toronto last May. "Mike Harris's press secretary said 'Mike Harris has been very upfront and open and honest about his own position.' Well Mike Harris, let's be honest and upfront. Give us a commitment for a date for a public inquiry," George said.
According to opposition MPP Gerry Phillips, evidence contradicts Harris's claim that he had no involvement in what happened on September 6, 1995 at Stoney Point.
On May 29, 1996 the Toronto Star reported that they had obtained evidence of a secret meeting held the day before Dudley George was killed. Participants of the meeting included: Deb Hutton, a key advisor to Mike Harris; MPP Dan Newman, assistant to Attorney General and Minister of Indian Affairs Charles Harnick; and OPP Superintendent Ron Fox. Representatives from the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat and the Ministry of Natural Resources are also reported to have been present. Notes to this meeting were leaked to the public in July 1997.
The notes state that "public safety and removing the trespassers from the park are the key objectives." The former chief of Kettle Point, Tom Bressette, said that he was informed that the order to "get those fucking Indians out of the park, even if you have to draw guns" was given at the meeting. Memos were faxed between Lambton County MPP Marcel Beaubien's office and Queen's Park regarding their intentions about the people at Stoney Point. A September 5, 1995 fax from Marcel Beaubien's office says:
"We are not dealing with your decent native citizen, we are dealing with thugs....Enough is enough. Where is the leadership from not only the provincial officials, but the federal officials....We must come to our senses and take back control before something irreparable happens."The next day Dudley George was killed.
Even Brian Adkin, president of the Ontario Police Association (OPA), would like to see an inquiry take place. "I hope that the resources that would be attached to an inquiry would be used to deal with this issue and solve the problems," he said after Deane was convicted of killing Dudley George. "There's problems with all levels of government here in looking after these situations....Our members are in the middle of it," Adkin said. The OPA is supporting Deane in an appeal of his conviction.
Harris still refuses to hold a public inquiry because, he says, there are still matters before the courts.
However, the precedent exists to hold an inquiry while court hearings proceed. Still, opposition members, Stoney Point members, Kettle Point members and human rights activists say they would settle for Harris to commit to a public inquiry after the completion of court cases.
Included in the organizations calling for a public inquiry are the Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples, the Chiefs of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Amnesty International and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. Members of Dudley George's family from Kettle Point are holding a demonstration to call for an inquiry in Toronto on Saturday, November 18 at 11:00 a.m. at Queen's Park.