Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Judge orders end to Douglas Creek standoff -- again

After a very tense night in Caledonia when rocks were thrown and a Canadian flag desecrated, a judge in Cayuga has said enough is enough and said land claim negotiations must stop until native protestors end their occupation of Douglas Creek. For its part, said the judge, the police must do its job and enforce a five month old injunction demanding they do exactly that.

One may have hoped this would have ended rather peacefully, but it looks likes this is going to be a major showdown. I'm not sure if the military camp near Hagersville still exists, although several reserve units do operate out of Hamilton and Brantford. If the Harper government decides to send in the tanks -- and I wouldn't put it past them to do so -- then it will be clear which side they support; namely, confrontation instead of negotiation. Frankly, I think both Harper and McGuinty want this to end and feel Hamilton and area can be sacrificed for other political ends -- but the strategy may backfire.

As to the point some have made that the courts have no jurisdiction, that they are only going to negotiate with the Queen -- not gonna happen. George VI (Betty Windsor's father) delegated virtually all of the Sovereign's powers regarding Canada to the Governor General in Letters Patent in 1947. Traditionally, Governors General have advocated for native causes -- which isn't a bad thing but white people are going to see Michaëlle Jean as anything but a fair arbitrator, especially given her and her husband's past far-left stances on many other issues. There may be an argument to have a "sentencing circle" or some alternate form of justice to settle this, but all sides have to work within the system.

Make no mistake: I appreciate the point the natives have been trying to make. But surely there comes a point when one has to step back and allow cooler heads to prevail. The judge may, on the one hand, have made things even worse. On the other hand, it is way past time to send this to some form of binding arbitration, one where all sides can argue their point in peace and without an ax to grind. More importantly, this can't be done one claim at a time -- all 29 outstanding claims by the Six Nations elected council must be dealt with and all at once. A comprehensive and definite approach may be -- is -- the only way to begin to heal the almost completely damaged relations between natives and white people in the area.

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