Ontario: Justice Shackled


On February 15, Judge Douglas Cunningham sentenced Algonquin leader Bob Lovelace (59) to six months in jail and a $25,000 fine for his role in protecting traditional lands from uranium exploration and mining by Frontenac Ventures Corporation.

Lovelace, a former chief, father of seven, and instructor at Queen’s University, left the Kingston, ON courthouse in handcuffs saying, “I want to obey Canadian law but Algonquin law instructs that I must preserve Creation.  I must follow Algonquin law.”

Members of the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations established a blockade at the Robertsville mine entrance in June 2007 to keep Frontenac from drilling on their territory.  CPTers accompanied them from September 3 until October 12 when the communities entered a mediation process with the government and corporation and suspended the blockade.  When negotiations broke down in early February, First Nations members, joined by CPT, re-established their presence at the mine entrance in violation of a court injunction barring them from interfering with Frontenac’s mining activities.

Incensed by Judge Cunningham’s harsh, punitive sentence, lawyer Chris Reid 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.”

CPTers and interns serving in Eastern Ontario February 2008 were: Nermin Bahcetepe (Toronto, ON - intern), Christine Downing (Breton, AB - intern), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Rebecca Johnson (Toronto, ON), Joel Klassen (Toronto, ON), Murray Lumley (Toronto, ON), David Milne (Belleville, ON), Allan Slater (Lakeside, ON), William Payne (Toronto, ON).  Delegation members were: January 26 - February 3: Jim Hett (Waterloo, ON), John Jones (Verdun, QC), Craig Kite (Waldorf, MD), Ehab Lotayef (Montreal, QC), Devora Neumark (Montreal, QC), Lee Ann Rice (London, ON), Char Smith (Gibson City, IL), Dwyer Sullivan (Kitchener, ON), and Mari Tae (Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC).  February 24-March 1: Randy Bond (Beulah, MI), Paula Marie Deubel (Sterling Heights, MI), Kelley Haldeman (Bellbrook, OH), and Margaret Sumadh (Toronto, ON).