The Hamilton Spectator
Apr 21, 2008
Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he can’t say whether Hamilton police would remove native protesters from disputed private property, even if land owners requested the intervention.
“We need to be informed by our police and our staff as to what our jurisdiction is and what our rights are in terms of what we could or could not do,” Eisenberger said.
“And I don’t want to speculate on a hypothetical here.”
The comments come in the wake of a two-day work stoppage at the new Ancaster Fairgrounds last week.
Last Monday, Six Nations protesters delivered a letter from the Haudenosaunee Development Institute claiming the land was under dispute.
The HDI asked the Ancaster Agricultural Society, which owns the land, for a $500 application fee and what Councillor Lloyd Ferguson called “some sort of donation,” in order to proceed with development.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has previously said not to pay the group, while others have compared the demand for fees to extortion.
The group has repeatedly said it does not direct protesters. It has met with the Ancaster Agricultural Society and the project is moving forward.
Eisenberger said the issue is not a municipal one because the city has no jurisdiction when it comes to federal treaties. He said the city is remaining neutral at this point and if protests escalate, the municipality will be looking to higher levels of government for help.
“If additional steps are taken by the … Haudenosaunee then clearly it becomes an issue that the federal and provincial governments have to step into,” Eisenberger said.
The HDI group gained notoriety last year for asserting jurisdiction over the Haldimand Tract, 10 kilometres on either side of the Grand River.
That was under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.
In Ancaster, the HDI is asserting authority under the Nanfan Treaty of 1701, which covers native rights in southern Ontario and parts of the northern United States.
The expanded territory under the Nanfan Treaty, and a recent declaration of jurisdiction over North America by the HDI, raises the possibility of more action in Hamilton.
Aaron Detlor, secretary of the HDI, said the organization is already working with private power projects that fall under Nanfan.
“Certainly, the geographical proximity to the Grand River would have an influence on the level to which we became involved. But I don’t think that anything is off the table at this point,” he said.
The HDI process starts with an application fee, generally $3,000 to $7,000. That is followed by annual development fees, paid as part of a land use agreement with the Haudenosaunee. Some developers along the Haldimand Tract, including in Caledonia and Brantford, have experienced work stoppages as a result of protesters.
Several have been asked to pay fees to the HDI, but only one company located in the top portion of the tract, Windrush Energy, has confirmed paying.
In an e-mail, a government spokesperson said the government will continue the approach presented in the Ipperwash Report, which is peaceful negotiation.