Hi Toby here,
Today in the Legislature I had the opportunity to press the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for direct answers as to government’s stance on Haudenosaunee Development Institute demands for development fees.
Please find attached a news release and the hansard of my question and the Minister’s answers.
For immediate release: March 18, 2008
Barrett demands action on HDI extortion
Builders “on their own” to deal with development fee demands Queen’s Park— The Ontario Government continues to speak out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to development fee demands from the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.
That according to Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, who pressed Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant for straight answers in the Legislature today on where government stands regarding extortion tactics of the HDI.
“Your government has stated, ‘the Haudenosaunee Development Institute’ has no authority to stop development or charge development fees," asserted Barrett. “and yet we see headlines, ‘Six Nations can make developers pay, Ontario says’ and reports, ‘10 developers have each paid a $7,000 application fee to the Haudenosaunee Development Institute’.
“Builders want to know minister, where do you stand on HDI development fees. Will your government stand behind the builders??”
Instead of answering the question, Minister Bryant chose instead to first praise his caucus colleague, MPP Dave Levac, for hosting a community forum and then accuse MPP Barrett of being divisive for questioning government’s approach.
Barrett went back at the Minister to highlight the fact that government has met with HDI and administrator Aaron Detlor, and quoting the Tekka newspaper report saying Bryant considers – “working together with an institute to help consult on issues….a positive step...”. The Haldimand Norfolk MPP then painted a clear picture of the situation builders find themselves in when dealing with HDI demands.
“Minister – 6 o’clock this morning HDI protestors stopped a $10.5 million hotel project in Brantford - demanding builders pay up-front development fees – the eighth day that construction has been halted,” Barrett reported. “Minister, your government tells developers not to pay the fees and then tells them they’re on their own - Minister, when will you actually take action to stop this extortion?”
Again, the Minister refused to give a direct answer to the question.
For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at: (519) 428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629
Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs: Builders in Brantford would like to know where you stand with respect to extortion, the development fees that are being charged by the Haudenosaunee Development Institute of Six Nations. Your government has stated that the Haudenosaunee Development Institute has no authority to stop development or charge development fees and, yet, we see headlines, “‘Six Nations can make developers pay,’ Ontario says” and reports, “ ... 10 developers have each paid a $7,000 application fee to the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.”
Builders wish to know, Minister, where you stand with respect to these HDI development fees and will your government stand behind the builders?
Hon. Michael Bryant: I want to give great credit to MPP David Levac who brought together members of the community for the county, as well as the builders, as well as the band council and Haudenosaunee Six Nations in the same room to talk to each other, to try and create the sense of community that, for so many years in fact, had been the pride of that community; that is, First Nations, Haudenosaunee Six Nations living and working side by side.
This was an approach that tried to come up with solutions, not the divisive approach the member seems to be advocating where you have to choose one side or another. I congratulate Dave Levac for doing that for his local community. I certainly will stand beside him and all the—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.
Supplementary. Mr. Toby Barrett: Your government has also met with HDI and administrator, Aaron Detler. The Tekka newspaper says you consider “working together with an institute to help consult on issues ... a positive step.”
At 6 o’clock this morning, HDI protestors stopped a $10.5-million hotel project in Brantford, demanding builders pay upfront development fees. This is the eighth day that construction’s been halted. This hotel could employ 50 people, let alone today’s construction jobs.
Your government tells developers not to pay the fees and then tells them they’re on their own. Minister, when will you actually take some action to end this extortion?
Hon. Michael Bryant: I’d like to know what exactly the member is advocating. What is action? Is that telling the police what to do? This government is not going to do that. Is this action about directing police operations? No, that is not what we do.
The Ipperwash commission recommended that in fact operational decisions are made by police, and the government has a role to play not in terms of informing police but, as we disclosed, providing the funding necessary.
If what the member is asking is, are we going to work with Haudenosaunee Six Nations, the developers and the municipalities to come to a solution, that answer’s yes.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Hi Toby here,