photo credit Two Row Times

By Chris Pickup

Citing chaos, mayhem and anarchy as the inevitable result of open and flagrant disregard for the rule of law, the Honourable Justice R.J. Harper extended two court injunctions Tuesday on behalf of Haldimand County and Foxgate in the McKenzie Meadows native occupation.

The injunctions proscribe anyone from occupying the McKenzie Meadows construction site or blockading any roads in Haldimand county.

The Justice also named Skyler Williams, the main spokesperson of the demonstrators, as a defendant in the proceedings, which could leave him liable for costs..

“Central to our values is the rule of law. It applies to everyone, without exception,” Harper asserted in his written decision.

Haldimand is faced with protestors who have placed Caledonia and surrounding areas within Haldimand at risk. The community cannot be assured that by-laws and Provincial legislation that directs an orderly process for developments will apply equally to everyone, the Justice wrote.
 
“The civil and potentially criminal disobedience that is replete in evidence before me places that whole community in peril. Black burning tire smoke billowing into the air is as much a toxic health risk as it is a toxic emotional and psychological risk to the Haldimand community.  

“Residents and businesses in the Haldimand community are seriously and negatively impacted. People cannot have the regular use and enjoyment of their homes with roads and highways blocked. Their health and safety is in jeopardy when lawless activity is allowed to prevail.

People who have businesses in the community are impacted with individuals finding it extremely inconvenient to travel given the blockades and other disruptions.

“Putting it bluntly, very few people want to go into a community and do business when they have reason to believe that not only would it be inconvenient to do so, but also their own health and safety would be at risk.”

The Justice also noted the extremely long timeline between the beginning of the Foxgate development process and the occupation.

“The persons who call themselves the “land defenders” have done nothing since, at least, 2015 when Foxgate became the titled owner to the Lands. Nor is there any evidence that they expressed opposition to the proposed plans submitted between 2003 and 2015.”

“From the time Foxgate submitted their plans for development of these Lands, the “land defenders” did not express any opposition to the Planning Act processes even when this process was fully open with the proper notices to all interested persons.

“They did not appeal when the necessary approvals were given. They did not engage with the SNEC when that representative body entered into the “Definitive Agreement”, nor did they attempt to become involved in the archeological investigation.

“It was only after this residential development was well underway with approximately 176 homes sold with expectations of closing for those 176 families for November 2020 and very large sums of money had been committed and spent by Foxgate and its agents and contractors did the “land defenders” initiate their resort to self-help and associated violence.”

Justice Harper also noted the protesters have taken to the media and the media only, where various spokespersons allegedly spoke on behalf of “land defenders” to assert their “aboriginal rights”.

“The assertion in the media reports by the alleged spokespersons is that this is an issue between sovereign nations. They assert, in the media only, that this land was never ceded by the Haudenosaunee. They assert this as a land claim. It is not a land claim.”

“If any representative group within the Aboriginal community wants to assert a constitutional right, they must assert it in a manner that is within an accepted process. Resort can be made to the Courts, the Land Claims Tribunal, or direct negotiations with the appropriate level of Government.

“However, they cannot sit by and refuse to engage in bona fide consultations and legally accepted processes. They cannot resort to civil and potentially criminal behavior in order to achieve their goals.”

“No First Nations group or individual has made a land claim within these proceedings. First Nations groups and individuals cannot simply sit on the sidelines after a lengthy legal process has been initiated to advance a subdivision plan, then obstruct the process by asserting various claims in the media and not the courtroom.”

There is no award of damages that could adequately compensate either Haldimand or Foxgate, Harper wrote in his ruling.

Foxgate’s timely development of their Lands has been stopped by the actions of the “land defenders”/protestors. They have ignored this court process and ignored the orders of this court. The homes that are sold by the agents and contractors of Foxgate will be delayed and many bona fide purchasers and their families’ lives will be severely impacted.

“The reputation of the developers and the development’s future success has been put in jeopardy. Prospective buyers will be extremely wary of purchasing homes and moving to a community where apparent lawlessness would put their families at risk.”