City action against protesters on hold
Posted By JOHN PAUL ZRONIK, EXPOSITOR STAFF
Posted 3 days ago
The city's legal action against eight Six Nations protesters was adjourned Friday until a judge responsible for hearing the case is chosen.
Due to the complexity of the city's action, Ontario Superior Court Justice G. E. Taylor earlier this week ruled that a single judge should hear all arguments pertaining to the case.
On Friday, Justice Harrison Arrell adjourned the matter until the judge is chosen. The next court date dealing with the matter has yet to be set.
Since the city was granted a temporary injunction against Six Nations protests at city development sites in early June, three judges have heard arguments in the legal action.
The city is in court attempting to have the eight protesters found in contempt for breaching the temporary injunction.
Court documents filed by the city state that the eight protesters breached the injunction during incidents between July 7 and 14 in the city's northwest business park. Protesters shut down work on two construction projects, a new Hampton Inn hotel and a warehouse and office being built by Kingspan Insulation.
The city's notice of motion asks the court to jail or fine those found to have violated the injunction and award the city punitive damages.
Only one person named in the city's legal action, Clyde Powless, appeared in court Friday. The seven others named -- Butch Thomas, Steve (Boots) Powless, Kevin (Whodat) Isaacs, Dick Hill, Dwayne Maracle, John Garlow and Runs Through the Fire -- did not attend.
Powless, who has played an active role in Six Nations protests in Brantford and Caledonia, told Arrell he came to court out of respect for a treaty made between Six Nations and the Crown. "I still respect that treaty," Powless said. "I honour it. That's why I am here today."
Powless told court he had not been properly served legal documents requesting his presence in court. He was handed a copy of the city's notice of motion against the protesters in court on Friday, but said he did not accept it as being properly served.
During proceedings, Powless called the city's legal action against Six Nations protesters "racist."
"I have been criminalized, my people have been criminalized," he said. "We have rights under the constitution. We have treaty rights."
City lawyer Neil Smitheman during court proceedings in August argued that arrest warrants should be issued for the protesters to ensure their appearance in court. Smitheman noted problems with serving court documents to those named in the city's legal action and said city police advised that serving documents to protesters living on the Six Nations reserve would be "dangerous."
Judges have twice rejected Smitheman's request for warrants, suggesting other methods of serving the court documents should be attempted.
During court proceedings on Aug. 22, Arrell ordered that the city should take out advertisements in The Expositor and Six Nations papers the Tekawennake and Turtle Island News advising the eight protesters of the court action.
On Friday, court heard that advertisements had run in The Expositor and Tekawennake, but that Turtle Island News refused to run the advertisement.
The temporary injunction against Six Nations protests at city development sites granted in June will remain in effect until the parties return to court for a hearing on a permanent injunction, which is expected to happen later this year.