Message from MPP Toby Barrett

Posted: May 19, 2007 in Caledonia, DCE, Headlines, Land claims, Natives, OPP, Terrorism

May 18, 2007

Hi Toby here,

Given recent developments, I would like to reiterate my position and PC Leader John Tory’s position with regard to rule of law. My column attached has run in area newspapers.

A democratic society means one law for all

My vision for Ontario has always been that if you work hard, and if you play by the rules, you will be rewarded with success.  Simply put, there should be equal opportunity for all in Ontario. 

However, disrespect for the law is a cancer that cannot be allowed to spread. 

One of the most fundamental principles of free and democratic society is the principle of having one law for everybody.  No one should be beneath the law; no one should be above the law; and no one should be beyond the law.

First, it is unacceptable for anybody to be below the law.  We must protect the disenfranchised and vulnerable portions of our population, with the goal of ensuring they are protected under the same law as everyone else, and that they have equitable access to justice and police protection.

Secondly, nobody is above the law.  No matter the grievance or dispute, all of our laws apply to all of us, equally, and at all times.

The miscarriage of justice that has gone on at Caledonia for 15 months has torn apart the community, placed police officers in an untenable situation, and left people on all sides fearful.  But this issue is more than about Caledonia.  A month ago, we saw yet another protest at Deseronto shut down the mail rail line between Toronto and Montreal.

The fact is, First Nations people in Ontario have longstanding concerns, and all levels of government must do a better job of listening and responding to them in a timely manner.  Government must be a better friend to Aboriginal people in this province.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the rule of law must prevail, especially when people have claims and especially when they are frustrated.  Regardless of the situation – be it political unrest, a labour dispute, or any other issue – nobody is above the law.

A Premier must be prepared to pursue new measures to ensure all parties comply with the rule of law.  Standing by and allowing land occupations and railway blockades that defy court injunctions cannot be an option.

Political direction to the police is unacceptable in a democracy.  In the absence of violence, we must always look first to non-confrontation.  There are plenty of tools government can use to uphold the law, including the courts.  As well, government can and must pursue civil remedies against those who lead protests that cross that line between free speech and disregard for public safety and the rule of law. 

Thirdly, nobody is beyond the law.  The growth of organized crime, white collar crime, and gang culture in Ontario is unacceptable.  These operations cost the public millions of dollars in the form of policing costs – not to mention human costs – as well as damaged and stolen property, violence, and intimidation.  The signal should not be sent to organized criminals, gangsters, and white collar criminals that some people are beyond the law, and government is ready to turn a blind eye.

Nobody is below the law.  Nobody is above the law.  And nobody is beyond the law.  Nobody can be forgotten, and nobody gets to opt-out.  By insisting on one law for all, we can create a fairer, safer, and more equitable society for all of us.

It comes down to leadership.

Thank you Mr Barrett for including me as a recipient. Your efforts in this struggle mean a great deal to us all.

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