Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Ontario Taxpayers Held Hostage by Six Nations Over Hydro Transmission Lines

During the violent, anarchic, "reclamation" of the land where Douglas Creek Estates was situated, Hydro One's local assets were affected, and furthermore the Province of Ontario's power transmission capability was adversely impacted.  First, as part of the initial phase of occupation beginning 28 February 2006, a Hydro One tower at the southern end of Caledonia was demolished.  Perhaps the tower was cut from the top of what is left of the base of the tower seen below, situated north of where Argyll Street in Caledonia merges with the Highway 6 Caledonia bypass - just west of another smoke shack (now a heap of rubble, replaced by a trailer) on what appears to be Hydro One property.  Picture taken April 2014.

The tower was used as a convenient barricade to completely block Argyll Street (old Highway 6, the Plank Road), as shown in the picture below.  This was to be one of many unpunished acts of defiance against the laws of the land, and against the people of Ontario (most particularly citizens of Haldimand and Norfolk Counties) during and subsequent to the 2006 incident.

Later, the remnants of this "symbol of resistance" was turned to block the entrance to the Douglas Creek Estates, and was severed in two to allow restricted and controlled passage of vehicles to the site - then and now occupied by Six Nations members.  What you will see today, at the southern entrance to the town of Caledonia, is shown in the picture below.  Here can be seen two parts of the mangled Hydro tower, the one on the left adorned with a Confederacy flag under which can be seen the "gate house", and the one on the right festooned with a Mohawk Warriors flag.  Residents have been forced to live with this eye sore for 8 years.  While enduring a situation of this nature probably seems ludicrous to many, in this neck of the woods it is a "Native issue", the attitude is, "hands off, and maybe it will magically disappear".
Returning to the matter in relation to Hydro One and taxpayer dollars, I well recall seeing a security vehicle, with two security personnel in it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and installed at the small Hydro One substation at the south end of the Douglas Creek Estates on Argyll Street.  This was subsequent to a pickup truck backing into the substation and setting a number of arson fires there - blowing out a transformer, with the result that the power went out to much of Caledonia.  There was fear of further terrorist attacks on the power supply to residents, so to their credit Hydro One felt it necessary to provide round the clock security.  This substation as it looks today is seen below.

Immediately across the road is an illegal contraband cigarette hut and an unregulated hamburger stand, both installed by Six Nations members, on Hydro One land.  So from 2006 until (I believe) 2012, this service was added to the tally of expenses directly attributable to the "reclamation" of land that had been ceded 17 October 1845 by 66 Six Nations Chiefs in Council, and to which Six Nations has and had since that date no claim of any valid description.  Needless to say, this is something of an inconvenient truth since elements at Six Nations continue to maintain, without evidence, that the land is theirs.

What is not well known, and I must plead ignorance on this subject until it came to my attention recently, is that Hydro towers still figure prominently in the ongoing (yes, it has never stopped) protest over various "rights" that Six Nations claim (the validity of these rights is apparently irrelevant to Six Nations).  During the 2006 protest, the Mohawk Warriors, whose "headquarters" is at the Akwesasne Reserve near Cornwall, stopped Hydro One workers from climbing up the tower line extending from Niagara Falls.  To this day workers have been unable to do their job and string transmission wires, leaving the towers as another forlorn reminder of how a radical few can hold all of the citizens of Ontario hostage.  As time marches on it becomes more evident that no one will act to bring justice to the area which has already seen a litany of outrageous illegal acts, where the Ontario Provincial Police have been powerless to do their duties to "serve and protect" - other than to serve and protect the "protesters".
So a stalemate has been reached, millions of taxpayer dollars have been lost, and life goes on with most largely oblivious to but yet another example of how the radical few dictate terms to the impotent Government of Ontario.
So what is the status of this situation today?  We can pick up the thread in 2011 where miles of giant metal towers marching from Niagara Falls now stand as sentinels near Caledonia, bare without the high tension wires that should be connecting them - with downstream dead wires going nowhere.  A 76 kilometre stretch of line in the grid needed to ensure adequate MW capacity levels between Niagara Falls and New York and Ontario is now entirely in limbo.  The towers are all in place, all that is needed is to link them to the grid via finishing the act of stringing the wires by Hydro One workers - as they should look below. 
Our Hydro bills are already astronomical, and if predictions of doubling or tripling the rates due to the Liberal Government's "Green Energy" policy prove correct, this problem in "Indian Country" is going to amplify the problem. Ironically this Liberal Government initiative that has a "nice ring to it", may create many times the problems that would occur if the clean energy from falling water flowing through tunnels at Niagara Falls were to be transported to where it is needed. As Conservative MPP for Haldimand - Norfolk, Toby Barrett, said, "The native people that I have talked to, Mohawks, have come out to a number of the wind tower meetings in opposition very forceful and with strong opposition to what's going on in Haldimand County as far as wind towers." See here for the article in which this statement appears. The irony is that the issue is over land and which, as seen in my most recent posting, does not belong to Six Nations - despite what the "warriors" may say or believe. It should be noted that there are environmentalists at Six Nations who would put their relationship with the land and its resources, including human and animal, above the grab for easy money. Few are naive enough to think that "green energy" comes free of environmental impact - the millions of birds, dead and mutilated by the unfeeling arms of these monster turbines cannot be denied, and is "collateral damage" for "going green".
How important is this transport system from Niagara Falls which comes to a dead halt in Caledonia?  The following is a statement from Hydro One was issued just before the Caledonia "reclamation" brought everything in the area to a halt:  "This project will increase the power transfer capability between Niagara Falls and the rest of Ontario by about 800 megawatts," a Hydro One manager said. "That's about the equivalent of a new generating unit at Darlington."  Once again it is the Conservatives, MPP Toby Barrett, who are keeping light shining on the problem, as seen in the article here.  That is a huge amount of power that is going nowhere - and for five years "we" have tolerated this absurdity!
To be fair, and to ensure that all Six Nations are not tarred with the same brush, it is "only" a group of "militants", or "warriors" who are creating the problem.  Alas, I have not heard a word from anyone on the Elected or Hereditary Council condemning the actions of these "warriors".
The "problem", which has existed since 2006, was unknown to Liberal Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGinty, five years later as seen here. As can be seen in this article, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has been keeping this matter before the public eye, but the Liberal Government has, as with Caledonia 2006, done everything in its power to do nothing, and if that doesn't work, just quietly pay "compensation" to those citizens who are most vocal, trying, it would appear, to keep the whole "Indian problem" swept under the carpet.  Mr. Hudak made a very poignant comment here that, "Some leadership should be shown on this file after six years of paralysis and a total abdication of rule of law. Those towers, those lines should be carrying electricity, not flying Mohawk warrior flags."
In 2012 Gary McHale, the irrepressible vocal activist for the local community of Haldimand drew up papers to bring Hydro One to Court to answer charges that they have neglected to allow anyone (he had offered) to clean up Hydro One's crumpled tower.  It is now used as a barricade, but now serves as a set of ornate metal gate posts to enter Douglas Creek Estates, opening on the scenic gatehouse (wood chip pressboard shack) leading down to the manor house seen in the distance (the one building of a half dozen that Six Nations members and their supporters did not wantonly destroy), serviced with utilities paid for at taxpayer expense.  Yes, ironic, no one cut off the juice!  See the newspaper article here for more information about Mr. McHale's initiative.  The present author is unaware of the status of this challenge by Mr. McHale (seen in the picture below).
Gary McHale of Binbrook, centre, president and CEO of Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE), wants Hydro One to remove parts of an old transmission tower in Caledonia that native protesters have used in the past to block traffic. The tower at issue is seen here in the background blocking Argyle Street South in Caledonia. (DAVE THOMAS QMI Agency)
The Provincial opposition party has continued to keep the heat on in relation to this subject.  Now that Mr. McGinty has resigned in disgrace as Premier of the Province of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne has replaced him until such time as an election is called.  In exploring some of the recent Provincial Government discussion about matters before the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, I came across the information seen here, and dating to 28 August 2012.  Here Mr. Barrett discusses the issues at Six Nations and sees a pattern going back 200 years.  Specifically, he provided a history of the Six Nations and brought things to modern times saying,
"As we all know, things morphed into an awful lot of other issues: policing issues, justice issues, issues of democracy itself, governmental issues, how we deal with this, and, of course, road closures and the mayhem and what we see down there. The burned-out tractor-trailer still sits at the entrance of that subdivision that has been occupied for the last six and a half years. I know the Premier made it very clear a few months ago that he considers it an alleged occupation. The barricades are still up, in spite of the fact that Mr. Peterson struck an agreement—I assume it was a verbal agreement—that the barricades come down in return for transfer of land, transfer of the Burtch property in Brant county."
He also said,
"These issues are passed on to the next guy. I see that in my readings of history—the thought processes that I went through and I saw other people going through. Just with Caledonia alone, I could see the same kinds of deliberations being made 200 years ago—we were a colony at that time—by civil authorities. In many cases, I could see the strategy of delay, the strategy of secrecy and, quite simply, Chair, oftentimes to leave it for the next guy or the next gal." 
Indeed, and so what are the chances that anything is going to happen any time soon - as close to zero as one can fathom.
So the hydro tower at the entrance way to the former Douglas Creek Estates property has not been removed by Six Nations despite an explicit promise that they would.  Turning over the former Burtch Correctional property would be tantamount to giving in to blackmailers, or to those who are, as the expression goes, "Indian givers" where the properties both at the DCE and the Burtch Tract were ceded in 1845 and 1848 respectively, and 170 years later we are submitting to those who will not acknowledge well documented history.  Why would the barricades (hydro tower) come down, why would the "warriors" allow Hydro One to install the wire to complete the line from Niagara Falls and reduce the burden on taxpayers, why indeed.  There is no incentive.  By playing "the game" to ensure that any legitimate action taken by the Government or police would simply play into the perception that Six Nations are victims, and are still victims - no action is needed.  The facts speak clearly and loudly, but if no one is willing to listen to the truth, we are in sad sad shape.  But I digress.

What I do not see in 2014 is any encampment around the hydro towers.  Hence why are Hydro One crews not entering the premises (which is not Reserve land!), which is in fact the Hydro right of way, in order to do their job - stringing wires on the transmission towers.  If they feel threatened in any way, they can call the Ontario Provincial Police and request an escort.  It is quite nippy out now, and the "warriors" may be disinclined to leap into action in any numbers when the weather is cold.  As a preemptive measure, Hydro One should seek a Court Injunction from the Ontario Superior Court in Cayuga.  If the "warriors" are arrested, charged, and heavily fined for engaging in illegal actions, the "protest" may evaporate quickly.  If not this would be an ideal time to then take the Land Claim matter in general to Court.  Justice Harrison Arrell of the Brantford Ontario Superior Court has already given a preliminary ruling that Six Nations have a "very weak" / "exceedingly weak" case in relation to land claims in the Haldimand Tract.  So this would be the time to clear the books on this lingering festering sore spot that will never go away - unless firm action is taken.
Some further visuals include the forlorn line of towers on the east side of Highway 6, without cables, photographed from Argyll Street in Caledonia, stretching east toward Niagara Falls.  Picture taken April 2014.

The tower below is on the west side of Highway 6, taken 19 April 2014.


So, bottom line, the 116 million dollar project has failed to proceed, and no one is being held accountable. Millions of dollars lost, and the eventually tally will have to be placed in the lap of Six Nations whose members, on behalf of the Community, initiated this situation. It is Ontario taxpayer's money they are playing with, not Monopoly money, so someone needs to pay up.  If not now, later, when for example negotiations proceed over irregularities in the monies deposited in the Six Nations Trust fund.  Here the costs to the taxpayers of Ontario in general, as well as to individuals and corporations, arising from the 2006 Caledonia "reclamation" will need to be deducted from any monies potentially owed.


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