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The Clean Water Act

Publicly stealing private property and arresting freedom in Cornwall

By Randy Hillier

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On Tuesday, May 16, 2006 OLA president Randy Hillier was arrested and detained for trespassing in Cornwall. In the weeks leading up to a planned demonstration over Bill 43 "The Clean Water Act", the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) negotiated with the Cornwall Police (Jason Mines) who agreed to the terms and conditions for a peaceful demonstration to be set and held on the property at Nav Canada.

At approximately 7:00 a.m., 4 members of the landowners arrived to begin setting up the demonstration site, however when Randy Hillier attempted to walk up the public roadway to Nav Canada, he was placed under arrest, handcuffed and placed in a police cruiser. The Cornwall police charged Hillier with trespass and detained him for over four hours.

At no time did the arresting police officers notify or read Hillier his "rights" or allow him to contact legal counsel. Hillier's legal counsel Judith Wilcox (613-525-8865) was informed by Sergeant O'Reilly that Hillier would be detained until such time that the demonstration was over. Wilcox then had Hillier's case placed on the docket for a bail hearing scheduled for 11:00 am.

Sergeant O'Reilly entered Hillier's cell at approximately 10:30 a.m. and requested that Hillier agree to an undertaking not to trespass on Nav Canada property for the balance of the day. Hillier refused the request and stated he would stay in jail instead of compromising his freedom. Sergeant O'Reilly after much discussion with Hillier agreed to release Hillier without conditions at approximately 11:00 am.

It is evident and clear that the charge of trespass was a thinly disguised pretext for the real objective: the detention of Hillier until the Minister of Environment (Laurel Broten) had left the conference and with the expectation the demonstration would falter. However the depth of the Landowners leadership is far greater than one individual and the landowners did deliver their message:  that we will not allow public bureaucrats and academics to hide behind closed doors and negotiate ways and means to steal the private property of landowners at the International Conference "on Source Water protection."

Hillier will defend himself against the trespass charge. In addition, Hillier is proceeding with a civil action against the Cornwall Police Department for damages resulting from wrongful arrest and detention, and will seek further damages through the courts for the violations of his charter rights to legal counsel and notification of his rights.

The OLA has a long track record of peaceful non-violent demonstrations and has respectfully worked closely with many police departments. However, the Cornwall police have shown they cannot be trusted; they reneged on their deal regarding the demonstration and have shown disrespect for individual charter rights and freedoms. This cavalier and dishonest attitude shown by the Cornwall police may impact the relationships the OLA has developed with other police departments.

Randy Hillier, President, Ontario Landowners Association