Guest post by Croghan27
The bands involved, Shabot Obaadjiwan and Ardoch Algonquin First Nations had taken considerable trouble in trying to achieve a political/negotiated settlement appealing repeatedly to the Premier and ‘Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Michael Bryant for some negotiations about this incursion into their territory. They were not deemed worthy of a response by either of the honourable gentlemen.
Said their lawyer, Chris Reid:
….. Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Bryant never responded to the Ardoch Algonquin proposals.
“They instructed their lawyers to sit in court this week and say nothing while the lawyers for the mining company asked for six-month jail terms and punitive fines. The fact that Mr. Lovelace is in jail today is one hundred per cent the fault of Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Bryant.
Has nothing been leaned from the(I suspect that the OPP’s reluctance to get involved in another shit storm such as ensued from that had more to do with people not getting hurt than any actions by McGuinty & Co.)
When established authorities, political and corporate, begin to use the courts and criminal system as a method to impose their will rather than those pesky and messy negotiations – it serves no one well: not (in this case) the band members, not the government leaders and certainly not the people of Canada.
Robert Lovelace in the Citizen this AM (Feb. 24).
NAPANEE – Robert Lovelace holds a dignified presence even when he is dressed in an orange, correctional service centre jumpsuit.
He stands up straight, offers a smile and a nod from behind the glass of the visitor’s booth, and politely waits for a Citizen reporter to introduce himself before he begins to speak.
The retired Ardoch Algonquin First Nation chief has been in the custody of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services since Feb. 15.
Mr. (Chief) Lovelace is locked up for being on the losing end of a conflict between the people and the power of the corporate serving state. A state that does not even recognize his defence against those of a corporation.
They undertook a defence based on the premise that the Ontario Mining Act was unconstitutional, but it was thrown out in court. And because they were found in contempt by the judge, Mr. Lovelace has little recourse he can pursue in the courts.
“Because I was found in contempt, our counterclaim and our defence was thrown out of court,” he said.
“Judge Cunningham won’t even hear them.”
Just to show you how the legal system is not all heartless and unmindful of people’s needs – Chief Lovelace’s co-defendant is not locked up, but only fined a mere $15,000:
On Feb. 15, Mr. Lovelace, along with his Ardoch Algonquin co-chief, Paula Sherman, were each found guilty of being in contempt of court.
Ms. Sherman, who is a single mother of three, was fined $15,000, but was not required to serve time in jail, after agreeing to obey the wishes of the court.
Oh, the humanity. 🙄
So far he has had only two visitors in his detention – As of Thursday afternoon, he has had two visitors since he began living there: A colleague from Queen’s University, where he teaches aboriginal studies, and a visit from a Citizen reporter.
One wonders if there is anyway one can sent a letter of support to this admirable man? He is an instructor at Queen’s University and Sir Sandford Fleming College who has had friends take over his teaching duties because (obviously) he won’t be finishing his teaching duties this semester.
But there have been other forms of support: Amnesty International and members of the Green party have spoken out about his jailing, and a protest is scheduled to be held outside the Quinte Detention Centre today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mr. Chief Lovelace, rightly so, sees himself as a political prisoner:
The way Mr. Lovelace sees it, his conviction is the result of “the court being used as a political tool by the corporation,” and “archaic” legislation — the Ontario Mining Act — which leaves him fighting for the underdog, or the people living in the Sharbot Lake area.
“It’s an act that basically gives advantages to a privileged class of people,” Mr. Lovelace said.
The story ends with an example of some petty machinations on the part of the prison service: Hours after Mr. Lovelace spoke to the Citizen on Thursday, he was moved to the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay – oh those silly, silly Amnesty International and Greens protesting at the wrong site. 😯
What impresses me about this man is that he could have avoided being locked up – all he had to do is deny his life, thoughts and beliefs before he encountered this federal ‘attitude adjustment’.
There is a way out: The judge told him that if he agrees to recant his opposition to the drilling by Frontenac Ventures , and if he counsels his people not to form any protests at the site, he “can walk free.”
“I’m not about to do that,” Mr. Lovelace said.
Thank you, Chief. you are John Donne’s bell that tolls for me.