Saturday, June 17, 2006

Liberals buy off developer over disputed lands.

Canada: I have been following this on and off, this seems to be the worst possible solution that can only lead to more problems.

Liberals buy some peace, for now With yesterday's land-purchase deal, the governing Liberals hope that they have put the Caledonia problem behind them. For months — ever since the native occupation of a development site beside the Six Nations reserve near Brantford began on Feb. 28 — key figures in the provincial government, including Premier Dalton McGuinty and several of his cabinet ministers, have been preoccupied with the problem. "It's been a huge distraction," acknowledged one government source yesterday of the Caledonia standoff, which has seen barricades over public roads and native protestors battling both non-native members of the community and the police. Politically, it has also been a problem, as the opposition Conservatives have relentlessly pounded the Liberals in the Legislature for "cowardice" and "confusion" in dealing with the problem. Not wanting to attract attention to their own track record in dealing with native protests (Ipperwash), the Conservatives have been less than clear on what they would do differently. But they have effectively conveyed a message to voters that the Liberal government has a double standard, is willing to tolerate lawlessness, and does not care about people in small towns like Caledonia. ....Lastly, and most significantly, there is the problem of a precedent being set in Caledonia with the government's agreement to purchase occupied private land. As Conservative Leader John Tory asked rhetorically in a press release yesterday: "What message does this send to the people of Ontario with regards to other existing land claims under negotiation in the province? As a result of Dalton McGuinty's actions today, are we going to see other incidents similar to Caledonia pop up all over the province?" It is a good question, but Ramsay yesterday dismissed suggestions that Caledonia may be precedent setting. "This is a very special circumstance because of the nature of the land grant to the Six Nations from the Crown (in the 18th century)," he said. Ramsay had better hope he is right, because there are 65 other outstanding First Nations land claims across the province, including an Algonquin claim for the whole of the city of Ottawa.

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