By Derek Nelson, Inside Queen’s Park, as published in Law Times
June 18, 2007
The gaping hole at the policy heart of the Ipperwash inquiry is commissioner Sidney Linden’s refusal to explain how an ordinary Ontarian protects his or her private land against aboriginal seizure.
The province failed to do it for Henco Industries at Caledonia. And for a proposed seniors’ complex in Hagersville. Or a quarry in Deseronto.
Just 12 per cent of Ontario’s land is privately owned, yet an increasing number of aboriginal protests are aimed at seizing such land. Much of the Haldimand Tract, of which the Caledonia and Hagersville lands are part, is privately owned.
The Ontario Provincial Police, the provincial government, and Linden’s report make quite clear that force is not an option in aboriginal land claim disputes.
It is all about “peacekeeping,” about consultation, negotiation, understanding, restraint, respect, and son on. The police are “neutral.”
As Linden said, the “avoidance of violence” is the aim.
Premier Dalton McGuinty, quoted by Linden, put it another way: “We are determined to resolve this in a way that results … in no incident and no compromise in public safety.”
Decoded, what he is really saying is that the government will do anything necessary to avoid a repeat of Ipperwash; that is, the killing of an aboriginal who is breaking the law in pursuit of, to use Linden’s phrase, “aboriginal and treaty rights.”
In the process, the theft of private land, major economic dislocation, and even violence committed by radical aboriginals will be ignored or tolerated. “No incident” acquired strange meanings.