Court of Appeal upholds Ontario's talks with Caledonia

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Friday, December 15, 2006

The Ontario Court of Appeal yesterday has reaffirmed Ontario's right to negotiate with Six Nations protesters on the disputed Douglas Creek Estates, a housing development, which was bought by the province, in Caledonia, Ontario.

The decision says that the attorney general and the OPP will decide if new proceedings will be launched against the protesters. The court decision also allows the protesters to continue occuping the land. It said Six Nations protesters are no longer occupying the land illegally because the Ontario government now owns the land and will let protesters continue, and that talks with both levels of government have "restored a measure of peace to the community."

"Ontario is content to permit the peaceful occupation of its property," the decision reads. "It has the right to do so. As a property owner it has the right to use its own land as it sees fit."

Caledonia Mayor Marie Trainer said the decision shows that aboriginals are above the law. Mayor Trainer also said that she hoped the court of appeal would upheld a lower court order to halt negotiations with the province and federal government until protesters cleared the disputed land.

"It shows two rules of law -- you and I couldn't stay there illegally but they [the aboriginals] apparently can. That's what's irritating for everyone," Trainer said. "It's frustrating, especially when it's illegal."

Premier Dalton McGuinty said he was glad that the court reaffirmed the province's right to continue talks with protesters. He also added that the dispute is a federal issue.

"We are now waiting for the federal government to bring a substantive proposal to the table that would involve a number of aspects related to this land claim, including the use of this specific parcel," McGuinty said.

The Caledonia land dispute has been going on since February 28 and still has not been resolved. The native protesters occupied the Douglas Creek Estates, southwest of Hamilton, saying that the property belongs to them.

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