February 28th is fifth anniversary of Caledonia

By MPP Toby Barrett

“There is nothing politically right which is morally wrong” – Daniel O’Connell 1775-1847

At the five year mark, militants continue to occupy and control the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision in Caledonia – a burnt out truck trailer and hydro barricade remain at the entrance – smoke shacks remain on government property, and power towers from Niagara have yet to be wired.

Illegally occupied on February 28, 2006, and the site of an aborted OPP raid on April 20, 2006, the DCE subdivision was purchased by the McGuinty government that summer. Then, in spite of a court ruling by Justice David Marshall, Dalton McGuinty sent taxpayer-funded lawyers to legitimize the militant occupation, arguing that the McGuinty government’s welcoming of the occupiers meant there `should be no injunction against their presence.

Fast-forward five years and not much has changed…and the fate of DCE seems no closer to resolution.

Each anniversary ramps up calls of concern and rumour to my office – concern that government may completely cave and hand over the subdivision in a legal way to militants. Some suggest that, given the fact militants remain onsite and Ontario residents are unable to set foot on land purchased with their tax dollars, a handover of sorts has already taken place!

Just a year ago the Hamilton Spectator speculated on the possible official handover of DCE to Six Nations. Opposition Leader Tim Hudak understands the impact of the stalemate on families in Caledonia and made his views clear in response, “The Ontario PC Caucus opposes this move. We believe it is the wrong thing to do.”

Five years later, questions remain: why do Ontario residents pay for land that continues to be occupied by militants? Why does the Ontario government pay the electricity bills for the house they live in, and why do home building projects across Haldimand and Brant continue to be threatened.
It’s been five years. When will militants permit Hydro One to run wires on the new 230 kV power towers coming in from Niagara? Meantime, ‘Big Becky’ forges on in Niagara, some $600 million over-budget, to supply the increased power the transformer upgrades and power towers were meant to deliver.

Kudos to Christie Blatchford for explaining to the outside world many of the troubling issues Dalton McGuinty has refused to address. At minimum government must ensure justice, the rule of law and the democratic process. All three have been compromised over the past five years in Caledonia, with obvious negative results.

The unmet responsibility of government five years after the occupation in Caledonia has raised serious questions about government’s adherence and responsibility to the rule of law. Living in a free and democratic society, we in Ontario have one law for all – no one is beneath the law, no one is above the law and no one is beyond the law.

We have government and law for a reason. The credibility of government is lost and government policy is doomed to fail when the law and democratic processes are sabotaged.

Five years of zero action from government makes me question if this is the Ontario I thought it was. That’s why I continue to stand by our repeated Opposition calls for an inquiry – and recommendations for action – into government handling of events in Caledonia.