Archive for June 21, 2007

June 21, 2007

Imagine if the head of the Ontario Provincial Police announced on the eve of a probe touching on a major Canadian figure that the figure is an honourable man who has been given a bum rap.


It just happened. OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino went publicly to bat this week for former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, a key figure in lawyer David Brown’s report on a pension-fund scandal inside the national police force. Yet the OPP is soon to begin a review of how that scandal was investigated by the Ottawa Police Service.

Mr. Fantino did not merely make an off-the-cuff comment about his old professional friend. He was effusive about him. He said he was surprised that Mr. Zaccardelli has been “so vilified” over the pension fund. “I would like to think there is goodness and commitment and dedication and honourable duty in every person. To the extent I have known commissioner Zaccardelli, that’s how I’ve known him,” he told reporters. “We are all part of humanity. We have to come to grips with the fact humans are humans.”

Kindness or exoneration, the outburst is premature. The effect is to make the OPP look as if it has reached conclusions before it begins its review, though whether those who actually conduct the review will be influenced is impossible to know. Auditor-General Sheila Fraser has already said the Ottawa police investigation lacked the appearance of independence, because the lead investigator reported directly to an assistant RCMP commissioner. The highest standards of independence and propriety are needed for the investigation of a major Canadian institution and its leadership. Mr. Fantino’s comments suggest an old boys’ network is in charge.

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Brantford Expositor

Canada’s native leaders are walking a fine line as they plan for a national day of protest on June 29. They hope to be dramatic enough to draw attention to poverty on reserves, stalled land claims and other issues, yet most insist they aren’t thinking blockades or confrontation. “We don’t want to cause a major disruption in the lives of Canadians, but at the same time, we also want to make sure they understand that this is a crisis,” Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in an interview this week from Ottawa.Shawn Brant, a Mohawk protester from the Bay of Quinte First Nation who led a 30-hour rail blockade in April near Deseronto, Ont., said a group is planning an action within a “framework of economic disruption,” but were co-ordinating with other communities as to which infrastructure would be targeted.“We have our plans made, and it’s really just contingent on circumstances that come up within the course of the next seven or eight days …,” Brant said.“We’re not going to close a highway that’s already closed or a train line that’s already closed. If that’s done, then we’re going to adjust ourselves accordingly. We want to be the most effective that we can be,” Brant said. (Edit: How very peaceful)

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The latest trail through the land dispute involving the Ardoch Algonquins has more potholes than a downtown street. No matter which way you turn, peril awaits.This week Bob Lovelace, speaking for the Algonquins, said the natives will fight the plans of a mining company, Frontenac Ventures, to look for uranium on land near Pine Lake. Citing the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Algonquins claim the land as their own and say they have the right to throw people off it if they don’t want them there.

To support their cause, the natives are playing the environmental card, suggesting radiation will poison the area’s watershed if uranium in the bedrock is disturbed. Their outrage, however, rings hollow. These are the same Algonquins who ignored demands for an environmental assessment before they began to build a community centre on Crown land at Pine Lake. The natives no longer have credibility as environmental stewards.

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CORNER BROOK, N.L. (CP) – Native leaders and some premiers have gathered in western Newfoundland for the first national aboriginal women’s summit in the hope of devising a long-term strategy to end a cruel cycle of poverty and violence.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said Wednesday she hopes to strike a 10-year plan that would outline ways of reducing the number of aboriginal women who are sexually assaulted, go missing or are murdered.

Jacobs and other native leaders accused the federal government of ignoring their issues when it delivered its budget in March. But in a video presentation at the summit’s evening reception, federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice touted Ottawa’s funding commitments to aboriginal women and children in its 2006 budget.

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OTTAWA (CP) – Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has accused Liberals of stalling native access to human rights legislation, even as First Nations say he’s imposing changes without their input or support.Once again Wednesday in the House of Commons, Prentice cited his efforts to protect the rights of native women in particular.

“He’s turning things around, making it look like we’re agreeing with him,” says Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “And right now we don’t.”

Prentice should show his commitment to human rights with enough cash to clean up decrepit housing and polluted water on reserves, Neville says. She and other critics say federal spending increases to about $10 billion this year for native programs have not kept pace with inflation, let alone population growth.

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For the third time, Haldimand County council delayed a decision on how, if at all, municipal policing will be reviewed.Earlier in the year, Coun. Craig Grice, who represents Caledonia, launched a process to investigate options to replace the county’s Ontario Provincial Police contract which will expire on Sept. 30, 2008. He, Coun. Buck Sloat and Mayor Marie Trainer incorporated a review into policing options in their campaigns.

At Monday’s meeting, council took Coun. Tony Dalimonte’s advice and deferred a decision to examine contracting with another police service or establishing a county police department. He advised his colleagues to reflect on the staff report for a few days and come back on June 25 with written comments. An objective review is essential to prevent an appeal of the decision to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, he said.“If you want to go ahead, write what you hope to achieve with this process,” he said. “You better know what you’re doing.”

All but Grice (who was threatened by Fantino) voted to continue the debate on June 25.

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Ontario Provincial Police are communicating with police services across Canada about the June 29 First Nations Day of Action.“We have been planning for a long period of time,” said Haldimand County OPP Inspector Dave McLean.

“The OPP and all major police services are working together with First Nations communities to make sure the national day of action is a process to get their message across and at the same time maintain the peace and cause as little disruption as possible,” he said.

In Haldimand County, McLean said he will ensure the resources and people are in place to respond where necessary. He was not certain what might happen in the municipality and has heard mixed messages of support and disagreement from Six Nations community members about June 29 activities.

Initially railways were targeted but roads, bridges and hydro lines were added as possible locations. OPP cannot be everywhere, said McLean. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with First Nations communities to work toward peaceful protests, he added

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A thorough archaeological investigation did not turn up any First Nations artifacts on the 17-acre Dunnville Shopping Centres property.“This is just confirming the original report findings,” said Scott Dutchak, development vice-president of Calloway Real Estate Investment Fund.

He told The Chronicle he was confident about the findings in the first archaeological study completed on the property two years ago. Two flakes of Albany chert, which is used for arrowheads, were found. The Ministry of Culture signed off on the site, approving it for development.

“We’ve been talking to Six Nations quite extensively about our development and we felt it was appropriate to do (a study) again,” said Dutchak.

In the background behind Dutchak, two smaller flags on a stick and several smaller flags were stuck in a mound of topsoil near the corner of Taylor Road and North Shore Drive. Dutchak said he did not know who put the flags up but did not have a problem with them. He had not heard that any Six Nations flags had been erected on the site.

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Haldimand County council is insisting the Ontario government develop a process for consultation with Six Nations.“We have some serious issues here and we’ve been hanging in the wind,” said Coun. Lorne Boyko. He authored the unanimously endorsed message asking the provincial government to set the rules of engagement including what parties are to be consulted and in what form.

“Things are definitely getting worse not better,” he said of development issues in the county.

Coun. Buck Sloat expressed concern about the length of consultation and urged council to set a timeframe. “We’re in limbo here,” he said. “We’re being used as guinea pigs on our official plan.”

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Haldimand News – A unique process already underway on Six Nations land claims and rights will continue outside pending federal legislation intended to expedite resolutions for First Nations across Canada.“It’s not going to apply,” said federal negotiator Ron Doering after a recent meeting where Canada’s (appeasement) offer of $125 million to Six Nations was discussed. “We have our own separate mandate outside the claims policy.”

At the recent lands meeting, Doering reminded Six Nations representatives that the $125 million to release the four claims came with conditions including leaving Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia and agreeing, through community consensus, to a final deal on the four issues.Doering said Six Nations provided a formal response asking the federal government how it arrived at the $125 million amount. Later this month, federal representatives will give a presentation on Canada’s position on the Moulton and Burtch tracts. These are not large dollar claims, he said.

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Lorraine Bergstrand’s top-four issues are Six Nations, tobacco growers, Ontario Power Generation and farming.As the acclaimed provincial Liberal candidate for Haldimand-Norfolk riding, she says she will sit down with members of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet to be briefed on all issues.

Bergstrand is in the midst of reading the Ipperwash Inquiry report. She advised everyone in the county to read it because it throws a lot of understanding on how the Caledonia site was handled by the provincial government and the Ontario Provincial Police.

As the Haldimand-Norfolk MPP, Bergstrand said she would apply pressure using her people skills to expedite resolution in a way everyone can live with.

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Haldimand News – Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer and Caledonia Coun. Craig Grice delivered a starkly worded staff report on land claim issue impacts to Ottawa last week.“Fiscal and social fallout from the situation is catastrophic,” began page two. “All attempts are being made to keep the situation peaceful yet this peace is at serious risk (of) jeopardizing the health and safety of residents (both native and non-native) and the OPP.”

County officials are looking at a short term plan to locate new industrial and commercial development outside the Haldimand Tract, where projects may be less vulnerable to occupation threats. Longer term opportunities within the tract will be identified “once the land claims issue has stabilized to the point where occupation threats are unlikely”, continued the author.

McGuinty has yet to meet with Haldimand County council members and, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has yet to visit Caledonia.

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Haldimand News – Developers will be invited to meet with provincial and federal representatives to discuss the threat of Six Nations occupations and demonstrations.

“The situation in Hagersville highlighted the challenges we face here dealing with our neighbours,” said Coun. Tony Dalimonte who proposed the meeting.There’s always a fear that another could pop up tomorrow, said Coun. Craig Grice

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The Canadian Press – Posted Hamilton Spectator
TORONTO (Jun 21, 2007)Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin, right, says the Liberal government is circumventing his office and squandering tax dollars by hiring outsiders to investigate public complaints because it wants to maintain control over the investigations.

He said the government is “queasy” about referring public complaints to his office — even when the province finds itself in a conflict of interest as it does with a current set of complaints against Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino.

Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter, left, has hired an outside lawyer to investigate whether Fantino breached the province’s Police Services Act when he wrote an e-mail to politicians in Caledonia, suggesting they were encouraging divisive rallies against the policing of the ongoing aboriginal occupation there.

In the e-mail — copied to senior bureaucrats and staff in Kwinter’s office — Fantino suggested he would back any lawsuit brought against the town and would not recommend that OPP renew their contract to police the town if any of his officers were injured.

The e-mail was interpreted as a “threat” by Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer

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