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Friday, February 22, 2008

Where Is The Justice?

Kingston, Ontario

February 15, 2008


Kingston Regional Police took Bob Lovelace away from the courthouse in handcuffs this morning to serve a six month sentence on a contempt of court charge handed down by Justice Douglas Cunningham. Lovelace, age fifty-nine, is an ex-chief and spokesperson for the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN). He is also father to seven children and an instructor at Queen’s University and Sir Sandford Fleming Community College. Justice Cunningham imposed a fine of $25,000 on Lovelace and $10,000 on his community.

Lovelace said “I am in a dilemma. I want to obey Canadian law but Algonquin law instructs me that I must preserve Creation. I must follow Algonquin law.” Judge Cunningham in his sentencing said, “There can only be one law – the law of Canada as expressed in this court.”

Co-chief Paula Sherman and Honorary Chief Harold Perry agreed to abide by the terms of an injunction which forbids them from blocking Frontenac Ventures Ltd from drilling test holes on the site or encouraging others to do so. In this way they avoided Bob Lovelace’s fate. “I want to be with Bob” said Harold “but my community does not want me to do this”. Perry is age seventy-eight and has heart problems while Paula Sherman is a single parent.

Earlier in the hearing Chief Doreen Davis and Earl Badour of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation agreed to abide by the terms of the injunction of September 27, 2007. They must reappear in court on March 18, 2008.

Chris Reid, lawyer for AAFN, noted that there were other options available to the involved parties which would have prevented this outcome. The Province of Ontario could have removed the claimed land from the lands available to be staked and explored. Further, he observed “The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that all provinces have a duty to consult with First Nations who have even a weak claim on land before they permit any development. Ontario has not consulted with any Algonquin band about this claim”.

Christian Peacemaker Teams laments the unjust actions of Justice Cunningham and the government of Ontario. We fear that the actions of the court and the government are leading this province down the road of confrontation that will inevitably lead to more suffering, injustice and bloodshed for Aboriginal Peoples. We beg Premier McGuinty to intervene and change course, to choose instead to work towards a just relationship with Aboriginal Peoples.

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Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada
Équipes Chrétiennes d'Action pour la Paix Canada
25 Cecil St Unit 307
Toronto ON M5T 1N1
Tel: 416-423-5525; Fax: 416-423-7140
canada@cpt.org
www.cpt.org

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