I received a copy of the following article from Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett. It dovetails perfectly with CANACE’s planned flag-raising event at 1:30 pm this next Sunday, May 24/09:
May 19, 2009
Hi, Toby here,
Please find attached a newspaper column titled, “Is there a double standard for highway blockades?”, that I have forwarded to our area newspapers.
Is there a double standard for highway blockades?
“You can’t block highways – You endanger others and you endanger yourselves.”
Who said that? – Why it was Premier Dalton McGuinty identifying last week’s Tamil highway blockade as, “unlawful activity.”
Federal Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff reiterated that he didn’t condone any illegal occupation of a public roadway, calling it, “unacceptable”.
And while I support these assertions, I question this newfound respect for law and order from the Premier. For three years this Ontario government has remained silent on illegal highway blockades in Caledonia – one lasting a month.
Last week in Toronto, I had numerous opportunities to witness the Tamil protests. Once again I was struck by the similarities in the protest approach – and yet clear differences in Government response.
Tamil flags – reminiscent of the Warrior flags at DCE – were in abundance. Premier McGuinty has warned protestors against flying the Tamil flags – I don’t recall any similar warnings to Warriors in Caledonia. The contrast becomes stark when you consider Haldimand residents have been prevented from displaying Canadian flags on Argyle Street South.
Last week, interim P.C. Leader Bob Runciman had an opportunity in the Legislature to address this double standard.
Earlier, Runciman had indicated to reporters, “I think Caledonia is a much more egregious example of laws being broken and people looking the other way….Their hands-off approach is really an attempt to placate the people occupying illegally, interfering and extending their tentacles in terms of imposing their will on developers and a whole range of individuals who have been affected by activities in that region. I think that he couldn’t go too far down that road or obviously the next question is, ‘If it doesn’t apply here, what about Caledonia?’ I think the positions they’ve taken have been irresponsible with upholding the rule of law in Caledonia, and I think that has compromised going forward in other situations like the one here in Toronto.”
Go back three years – few can forget the pictures in 2006 when witnesses in Caledonia watched a van being thrown off an overpass – no charges, no government action. As well a bridge was destroyed, tires burned and a transformer station torched. Hundreds watched a back hoe to dig a trench across Argyle Street, and, of course, Government has no comment as protestors drag hydro towers to block traffic access. It’s been three years -why is the hydro tower barricade still, “at the ready” by Caledonia’s main street?
“The Progressive Conservative caucus, unlike the McGuinty Liberal government, is strongly supportive of equal application of the rule of law,” Runciman stressed. “The law cannot treat one Ontarian differently than another based on the group to which they belong. Regrettably, we’ve seen that democratic and historic principle eroded in Caledonia under the government’s current approach, and undoubtedly, in our view, the government’s indifference to lawlessness in their continuing efforts to appease lawbreakers in that region encouraged the actions that occurred this past Sunday.”
It all leads one to wonder what has changed the Premier’s tune? Could it be Mr. McGuinty cynically feels there’s more to gain, politically, in downtown Toronto.
My questions over three years have been met with non-answers and derision from the Premier and Cabinet ministers and Liberal colleagues. No matter the reason, I look forward to seeking further answers and ensuring even-handed government direction regarding implementation of the law with respect to “unlawful” protest action in Ontario.
I have sent my thanks to Mr. Barrett for a terrific article. I hope to see him – and you – out next Sunday when we again attempt to peacefully and legally raise a Canadian flag across from the Douglas Creek Estates. The OPP have already threatened to arrest Merlyn Kinrade should he do so.
VoiceofCanada, May 20/09: White people can apply Dr. King’s lessons, too
If you want to understand why you should stand with us, please take a few minutes to read the following:
VoiceofCanada, Sept 16/08: Human Rights complaint forces Fantino to tell truth (Part 1)
VoiceofCanada, Sept 16/08: Human Rights complaint forces Fantino to tell truth (Part 2)
VoiceofCanada feature: Lessons from Dr. King
VoiceofCanada feature: The Barrett Proclamation