photo courtesy cbc
by Chris Pickup
The OPP is again sitting on its collective tush even though Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt and Premier Doug Ford have publicly called for them to enforce the latest court orders and clear the McKenzie Meadows building site, along with the roadways.
“I’m just losing my patience,” Ford said last week. “I can’t direct the police, and I won’t direct the police. But enough is enough. People have to obey the rules.”
Hewitt announced Friday, “I have been in several conversations with the following people: Deputy Commissioner John Cain and Detachment Commander Phil Carter of the OPP: representatives of both Ballantry and Losani Homes: Chief Mark Hill of the band council, and many other members of Six Nations.
“I have asked the Premier for a conference call with his Ministers and Chief Hill to discuss some possible solutions and am waiting for a response.
OPP cleared the site August 5 but then left allowing the self-called land defenders to re-occupy the site along with more supporters. They are now busy reinforcing the site with concrete, pylons, piping and other materials.
And the tents are going up and native flags are flying.
Meanwhile other supporters burned tires and blockaded highway 6 and Argyle Street, forcing traffic to detour past the site.
By not taking control of the site from the get-go, the OPP has lost control over the situation which is escalating by the day.
It’s also lost any credibility it had. If we defunded the police and had them stand down, we probably wouldn’t even notice.
It’s all deja vu for Caledonia residents who had to watch the Douglas Creek Estates fiasco 14 years ago where police protected native protesters occupying the site and blockading roads and rail lines, while facing down white residents protesting the occupation.
Native groups from all across the country poured into the area then to support the occupiers and the site was lawless.
At that time natives demanded “passports” from white residents trying to access their homes behind the barricades, while police did nothing except arrest and jail a resident who had objected vociferously to his treatment.
One resident remembers that well, and notes, “Some families are stuck behind the Indian blockage again.
“The situation is escalating and the OPP are watching as the occupied sites and barricades are reinforced. This literally makes me sick to my stomach.”
“The same happened last time. OPP stood around and allowed a buildup of radicals,” another resident agreed.
“They are doing their very best to provide protection for all of the criminal activity that is taking place,” she says.
She said she asked seven cops on Argyle at Canadian Tire what they were doing there. They said they were stationed there. “I said but the party is over on the McKenzie. They had a big cookout and party last night.
“The OPP in my opinion are accountable to no one, not even governments. I remember when at one court case the OPP refused to obey the Judge’s order, saying they needed more paper work.
“Imagine how many are standing around doing nothing and collecting their pay – starting at $70 hour and up from there.”
Meanwhile yesterday a group of about 20 to 30 cars came from London in a rolling blockade to join the radicals on McKenzie Meadows. The OPP followed the entire group from London.
Why? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to prevent them from entering Caledonia and escalating the situation on McKenzie?
Six Nations elected Chief Mark Hill, whose council had endorsed the building of the residential homes on the McKenzie Meadows site, has assuredly had some blowback from reserve residents as he back-pedalled Monday evening.
“My goal is to keep an open line of communication and continuous dialogue with everyone involved,” he said on video.
“We agree that this needs to be a time of unity for our community of Six Nations in order for us to move forward.”
Activist Skyler Williams said his group believes there should be no development on contested lands until the various leadership groups within Six Nations can work out their differences and “come to the table with one voice and one answer.”
The problem is, everybody and his dog on the reserve seems to have a different view of who should speak for Six Nations, which is governed by the elected council, a council of hereditary chiefs and a whole chorus of independent activist voices from the sidelines.
Dig in for the long term.