Opposition trying to stir up Caledonia troubles: Grits
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 2, 2011 3:44PM EST
TORONTO - The often heated debate over Ontario's electricity system turned nasty Wednesday when the Liberal government accused the Opposition of trying to stir up trouble between the people of Caledonia and their neighbours in Six Nations.
The Progressive Conservatives said a $116-million expansion of hydro transmission lines near Caledonia has been stalled for years because native warriors from Six Nations won't let workers put up the wires.
The 76-kilometre hydro line was stopped in 2006 to calm tensions after aboriginal protesters occupied a housing development in Caledonia, said Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
The occupation triggered one of the longest-running standoffs in Canadian history, which marked its fifth anniversary on Monday.
"We'll continue to work with Six Nations and the surrounding communities at building stronger partnerships that can lead to peace and reconciliation in that community," Duguid told the legislature.
"The PC approach is clearly to try and stir things up in that community. It's irresponsible and indicates they've learned nothing from the shame that their party brought to the people of this province as a result of Ipperwash."
Duguid denied he was trying to stir up trouble by bringing up the OPP's fatal shooting of unarmed aboriginal protester Dudley George during an occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995.
A $20-million inquiry into the Ipperwash shooting recommended negotiation over confrontation in reaction to land claim disputes, which is the approach the Liberal government is taking, said Duguid.
"We will reach our collective objectives together, rather than having confrontation, rather than having people's lives placed at risk, rather than never reaching our objectives because we're in a constant state of disagreement," Duguid said outside the legislature.
"Lives were placed at risk in Ipperwash, and in this particular situation there was a time when this was a very, very heated dispute."
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak dismissed Duguid's claims that the Opposition was more interested in stirring up political troubles in Caledonia than in one transmission line project.
"This is just another sign the government has run out of gas and is getting increasingly desperate," said Hudak.
"Before you know it, they'll say I'm going to cancel Christmas."
Opposition energy critic John Yakabuski said the empty hydro towers were "being held hostage," and are needed to transmit power that will be generated by a new tunnel being built under Niagara Falls.
The new line is needed to improve Ontario's connections to New York state at Niagara Falls, not for the power from the 10.2-kilometre tunnel project under the city, said Duguid.
"We have the luxury of some time yet before we need it, which gives us time to make sure we do it right," he said.
"We're dealing with a very sensitive piece of property and I think we need to be very responsible as we move forward."
However, in a release issued when the lines were approved, Hydro One touted the new transmission line as necessary to connect power from Niagara Falls.
"The project will increase electrical power transfer capability between the Niagara Falls area and the rest of the province by approximately 800 MW," said Hydro One.
Both Yakabuski and Hudak were fuming after Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday that he was unaware of the five-year delay in completing the hydro transmission line.
"What's very disturbing today, too, is the premier answered this question by saying he'd never heard about this issue," said Hudak.
"I'm quite shocked the premier wouldn't know about something of this importance. Quite frankly, being premier is not a part-time job and I expect him to be on the ball and have answers."
The Liberals called a public inquiry into the Ipperwash shooting as one of their first acts after defeating the Conservatives in 2003.