Monday, October 6, 2008

Haldimand "Federal Election 2008 Caledonia Debate"

Rough ride for Finley during debate in Caledonia
Updated Mon. Oct. 6 2008 8:40 PM ET
The Canadian Press

CALEDONIA, Ont. -- Immigration Minister Diane Finley received a bumpy reception during an all-candidates debate Monday in this town hit hard by a festering and at times violent land-claims dispute.

Finley, who is in a tough battle for re-election in the southern Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, was greeted by tepid applause interspersed with boos by the standing-room only crowd of about 200 people, who packed a local Legion hall to listen to their six candidates.

"I'm proud to be here," the Conservative politician said in her opening comment.

"I don't know why," someone interjected, drawing the wrath of a moderator who made it clear on several occasions that heckling would not be tolerated, even threatening to have one man arrested.

While questions to the candidates included questions about energy, the environment and health care, it was clear most in the crowd had come to hear the candidates' views on the Six Nations dispute.

The dispute boiled over to an occupation of a housing development on the south end of Caledonia 21/2 years ago, at times turning violent as local citizens and occupiers clashed.

The loudest cheers and applause were reserved for maverick Gary McHale, who is running as an independent and appears to enjoy solid support among some Caledonians fed up with the ongoing occupation.

"Nobody has been prepared to step forward and help you out but me," said McHale, who has led protests against the occupation.

Echoing a sentiment commonly heard in Caledonia, McHale accused Finley of going missing in action.

"This election is about leadership, not the kind of leadership that shows up every four years and asks for your vote," McHale said.

"I can guarantee you in six months you won't see any of them."

McHale, who has pressed for provincial police to end the occupation, was loudly applauded when he told the audience their Charter rights were being "systematically violated" by a federal government that had failed to defend their interests.

Finley defended the Conservative government's approach, saying Ottawa had appointed a veteran negotiator.

As a result, the feds have made two "very significant" offers in an effort to end a land-claims dispute that dated back 150 years, Finley responded.

"Our government has been involved from the very beginning trying to resolve this situation," she said.

"(But) it won't be resolved overnight."

Also attacking Finley was Eric Hoskins, a doctor who spent years working in developing countries and who is now flying the Liberal standard.

He, too, accused her and other Conservative politicians of hiding in Ottawa.

Hoskins said a Liberal government would end the dispute by referring it to the Federal Land Claims Tribunal for a binding settlement.

The issue must take priority, he said. "None are as urgent or as pressing as the Caledonia land-claims issue," Hoskins said.

"I can feel your frustrations. They don't reflect the Canada you want. It's time for change."
Also running in the riding are New Democrat Ian Nichols, the Green party's Stephana Johnston and Steven Elgersma of the Christian Heritage Party.


  1. Did anyone hear this one. Gary McHale running as an Independent in Haldimand says that if the land claims are valid (Haldimand Tract) that all lands need to be returned to six nations. Does this mean I will loose my home as I live on the river just outside of Cayuga. I will do everything in my power to see this man not be elected. This by the way would also mean that Selkirk Provincial Park, farmlands in South Cyuga, Port Maitland, The court house in Cauga, all lands that are on hold would be given back to the six nations? Gary McHale has changed his tune, and he is hoping you will not find out. For all of you that have fallen under his spell, listen up, he only has one agenda, getting a good paying job.

  2. It seems he is pandering to people's frustration and anger. Easy to do but gets people on the ground no where in the end.

  3. Gary McHale is being used by people and he doesn't even know it. People are angry with Finley and this is their way of showing it. Once in the polls their vote will still go to Finley and Gary will just not understand this mentality. Gary is mixing up levels of government and people see right through that but they are not telling him that.

  4. Gary had my vote until he made that comment Donna about giving back the land. I will not support him as his true colours are coming to the surface.

  5. Thanks for your comments.

    As the election is coming closer some candidates are making some statements that have a few people shaking their heads.

    I am working on my last entry before the election. My thoughts, predictions and hopefully yours.

  6. I asked Gary about this and here was his reply.

    One sentence taken out of context is not how to judge 2.5 years of a repeated messages. I have been very clear on this issue and stated that the court should decide this issue not politicians. As such the Supreme Court has already ruled that land claims are to be settling the following way:

    1) If land being claimed is crown land then the Government can give the land back or buy the land.

    2) If land is in private ownership the land CANNOT be return and the Government must offer other land or offer cash.

    The Supreme Court has ruled and my point is merely to state that is the land claim is legal than settle them – give the land back if it is government land or pay them the money – stop delaying. Based on the Supreme Court ruling I have no problem with the Government given back the land if the claim is valid… of course, that can ONLY be done if the land is owned by the Crown.

    The main point is to remove the politicians and allow the court to rule on the claims.

  7. Spoken like a Politician "One sentence taken out of context". How many Politicians have done the same thing and back peddled to try and get themselves out of trouble. Gary has never been interested in the "land claims" in Caledonia. His main message has been about "Lawlessness". He should have run in the Provincial Election.

  8. McHales repeated message for 2.5 years has been the OPP lack of policing and the Native Terriorists. Not Land Claims. He is now saying this? It looks like Gary has lost some support over this, and now he wants to clarify? He doesn't even know what this means! Rock Point Provincial Park, Selkirk Provincial Park, Townsend, farmland in South Cayuga, the land that the Courthouse sits on in Cayuga and the list goes on. The Feds have also said that this Land Claims is for money not land! In fact if land was to be given back it would be done through the Province not the Feds. Sorry to say McHale wrong election.

  9. On Thursday, October 2, 2008, I went to the All Candidates Debate in Dunnville. I would like to take a minute to give my impressions of the candidates.

    The Conservative Party candidate, Diane Finley, was not in attendance. I think this sums up exactly what she stands for. The comment was made by the Christian Heritage Party candidate that he was sure she had a good reason; however, she did not deem us important enough to give that reason to.

    The Christian Heritage Party candidate, Steve Elgersma, seems to be a good man with strong convictions, but he is a little to extreme to earn my vote.

    The Green Part has a very progressive platform. Although the party leader, Ms. May, did an excellent job in the Leaders Debate, our local candidate, Stephana Johnston, was not prepared for our local debate and although sincere, I fear is not ready to represent us in Ottawa.

    The Liberal Party candidate, Dr. Eric Hoskins, is a great representative of his party and was by far the best politician at the debate. However, outside the Liberal Party Platform, he presented no ideas of his own. And like a good politician, he flip-flopped on many issues. For example, he said that he wants to see more development in Haldimand and he stands for saving farm land. Forgive me if I am being dense, but I don’t understand how you can have it both ways.

    Dr. Hoskins did make a very valid point about independent Gary McHale. If you support Mr. McHale’s efforts in Caledonia, don’t send him away to Ottawa with your vote. Keep him here, working for his cause, drawing attention to Caledonia’s concerns in a way that no politician, independent or otherwise, can.

    These conclusions leave, for me, only one option and one candidate – NDP candidate Ian Nichols. He was very well prepared for the debate. He understands his party’s platform, but is not blinded by it to the point that he forgets about his local constituents’ concerns.

    Unlike what Dr. Hoskins said in his closing statements (a very unprofessional comment, I might add), a vote for the NDP is not a vote for Finley. A vote for Ian Nichols is a vote for the people. For a Party Leader with the people at heart.

    We aren’t happy with Finley. We are not impressed with the Liberals. But we are NOT America. We are NOT a two party system. Don’t throw your vote away by voting for someone you don’t believe in to stop someone you don’t believe in from getting elected. There is an alternative, and the majority WANTS an alternative. I know who I am voting for.

  10. Thanks again everyone for your comments.

    You give people that are reading a lot to think about.

    Make your Vote Count!