Ontario Provincial Police: Caledonia land dispute is top priority

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The newly appointed Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino told reporters on Monday that "the Caledonia land dispute is the single biggest issue facing him" and that, " 'lawbreakers' in Caledonia will be dealt with swiftly, regardless of which side of the native occupation they are on."

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, a housing development, southwest of Hamilton, saying that the property belongs to them.

Townspeople have repeatedly called for police to remove the protesters from the land, which is now owned by the province and being held in trust until the dispute is resolved.

"I certainly don't expect that there will be lawbreaking that isn't dealt with and that will be my message to our people as well, that it's their duty and responsibility is to enforce the laws," said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, on his first official day on the job. "I assure that those who do break the law will be dealt with."

While under former commissioner Gwen Boniface, who resigned last year because of the dispute, the OPP were criticised for not enforcing the law, especially when several camera people were assaulted by native protesters.

Fantino said the on-going occupation of a property by members of the Six Nations Reserve is beyond his ability to resolve. His role in the contentious dispute will be to keep the peace in the town of Caledonia.

Officials in Ontario and the federal governments are currently negotiating with Six Nations representatives.


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