The threat to private land posed by native land claims is the elephant in the room neither governments nor the courts want to talk about.
Supported by a bevy of lawyers and encouraged by governments too timid to stand up to them, a growing assault against privately-owned land is now well underway in this country.
The tactic is simple. First, the land claims are filed, and then followed quickly by the imposition of jurisdiction over the land claimed in advance of the issue being legally resolved. In B.C., over-lapping land claims account for something like 125 per cent of the total land mass.
The Liberal government, waving aloft various court decisions, has given native bands veto power over any development projects within their claimed territory. In other words, nothing moves in B.C. without “consultations” with native groups. Still, this has not resolved ongoing conflicts.
The problem is, no one has been able to define exactly what “consultation” really entails. As a result, the province has lost at least two mines and is in danger of losing a third, at a time when the mainstay forest industry is going through a depression.
In B.C.’s Central Interior, plans for a modern landfill were scuttled by Metro Vancouver politicians under the influence of the provincial government because they were afraid the move would give natives the foothold their lawyers want to give them the right to claim privately-held land as their own. In fact, it is already too late.
The situation in Ontario is even worse. The often violent occupation in Caledonia by Six Nations warriors has prompted the natives to claim even more territory while the McGuinty Liberal government does nothing to protect the citizens of not only the community, but all of Haldimand Region.
Meanwhile, the native strategy is to assert government-like control over a huge swath of land along the Grand River Watershed. Something called the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) is sending its representatives around demanding development fees from would-be builders.
According to reports by CBC and The Hamilton Spectator, the fees would ensure that developers would be left alone. The tactic is reminiscent of those who demand protection money from others to ensure no harm comes to them.
Some developers have reportedly been asked for $7,000 just to apply for permits. And what is Premier Dalton McGuinty’s reaction? Well, he’s telling people not to pay the fees. Of course he is offering no protection to the victims of such demands.
But here is the most telling comment of all. Toronto lawyer Aaron Detlor who, according to a Jan. 15, 2008 CBC report, heads the Six Nation’s Haudenosaunee Development Institute and was one of the architects of its creation, was quoted as saying this is just the start.
“We are going to go out, and identify specific areas where it’s clear there’s been no surrender and no payment, and go and advise people, this is not your land,” Detlor according to various reports. From this their intentions are pretty clear.
He is also quoted as saying that the “Haldimand Tract is only the beginning. Ontario, New York and parts of Ohio are all under land claims.” I would dearly love to see them trying this tactic in the U.S.
And it’s not what he is saying that should keep homeowners awake at night, it is what is not being said. Nowhere in my research on this subject did I find any reference to what the natives would not do. Will they not tax private property? Will they not deny people access to their homes through further occupations?
And who are these people is he referring who will be served notice they no longer own their land, homes or businesses? And what will be the reaction of mortgage lenders?
All reports coming out of embattled Caledonia indicate the Ontario Liberal government has ordered its provincial police force (OPP) to not enforce existing laws, criminal or civil, against natives. They have not hesitated, however, to shove local non-native residents into paddy wagons for the terrible offence of trying to fly a Canadian flag. It seems like a lopsided law enforcement system.
And there’s the sad case of builder Sam Gualtieri that is held up as an example of the lack of protection accorded victims of native violence. Mr. Gualtieri was building his daughter a home when the place was overrun by a mob of natives who beat him nearly to death. Mr. Gualtieri has brain damage, cannot work and has lost his business. What have the police done? Nothing. What has Premier McGuinty done? Nothing.
What Canadian home and business owners have to fear is that neither their provincial nor federal governments have any interest in protecting their property rights. In reality, in Canada, they do not have to. Property rights are not enshrined in Pierre Trudeau’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
To whom would you turn if some native band suddenly showed up at your door with Mr. Detlor in tow to inform you your land is their land and your house is their house? And if the Six Nation’s HDI or similar group demands payment of some kind of a homeowner what does the homeowner do? They certainly cannot turn to the police, the courts or the politicians for help. To whom do they then turn?
If Mr. Detlor, with all due respect to his legal prowess, or governments or municipalities think the population of this country will simply roll over like so many whipped dogs and say ‘yes, please, take my property,’ they are sadly mistaken, if not outright delusional.
If this assault on private property continues, and the courts back up the natives’ assertion of authority and control over non-band lands with the subsequent loss of private ownership rights, the door will have been opened to an unprecedented backlash against the native community.
It seems to me the potential for violence is growing exponentially with each passing day.
Consider that native bands, with support of the courts, can apparently lay claim to huge tracts of land in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina, Vancouver, Victoria and just about any other community in the country, and it gives you some idea of the potential for violence, civil disobedience and lawlessness.
I would suggest that most Canadians agree that First Nations people have had a raw deal in this Confederation. I would also argue most want to see things change and want to help repair the damage done to First Nations people. I would also suggest that most Canadians have been generous and have encouraged governments to deal equitably with the native people.
But the activist lawyers, judges and politicians are making a serious error in judgment if they think creating another set of victims, will bring peace and justice to the land. They will not bring peace. Instead they will unleash anger, hatred and violence.
Then who will the Aaron Detlors of the world blame?
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