Ex-Ontario Premier Harris to deny Ipperwash allegations

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Thursday, March 3, 2005

Ex-Ontario premier Mike Harris has allegedly made some comments that may link him to the violence that happened in a police action in 1995 which left a native activist killed.

Kettle Point chief Tom Bressette testified on Tuesday that he was warned just 12 hours before OPP officers marched on Ipperwash Provincial Park and killed native protestor Dudley George to "get those fucking Indians out of the park even if you have to draw your guns to do it". The warning was allegedly on the telephone by Bob Watts, a former employee of the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, on Sept. 6, 1995, just hours before OPP officers marched on Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Bressette claims that Watts told him Harris, who was premier of Ontario at the time, had made the comment in "some kind of cabinet meeting". Harris has always denied that he had nothing to do with the police action at the park. Peter Downard, his lawyer, says that his client will "absolutely" deny the allegations. and that his reputation has been tarnished with "very low-grade quality information that ordinarily would never have seen the light of day in a legal proceeding."

The inquiry is finding out how George was killed during a confrontation between Ontario Provincial Police officers and three dozen people protesting that ancestral burial grounds had been desecrated in Ipperwash Provincial Park. Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane has already been convicted of criminal negligence causing George's death. The inquiry continues today.