December 23, 2008
Second lawsuit launched
A second multi-million dollar lawsuit in as many weeks has been launched against the Mohawk band council here, The Intelligencer has learned.
Late last week, those connected to recent protests at a proposed new police station on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory commenced a $3.3- million civil action, levelling sweeping accusations of nepotism, abuse of power and various other conspiracies against the band council and senior levels of government.
Primarily, the legal action accuses the band council of not adequately consulting the Mohawk community when it comes to the implementation of a new police station to house the seven-officer force on the territory.
Further, the statement of claim demands an immediate "injunction, restraining" the defendants from doing anything with the police station or its site until further community consultation can be arranged.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, nor has a statement of defence been filed.
The move marks a new phase of protest for those in this community who are opposed to the installation of a modular structure to house the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Police Service. The building, which was due to arrive Oct. 29 at a location on York Road, was stopped by protesters who refused to allow the structure to be installed.
In the days following, Tyendinaga police arrested a number of Tyendinaga Territory residents on charges of mischief and breaching court-imposed conditions.
The most well-known protester of the group, Shawn Michael Brant, has yet to be taken into custody by police on the reserve -- despite an arrest warrant being issued more than a month ago for his alleged role in the incident.
Brant's mother Deanna Brant and close family friend Winston Brant -- a former band councillor himself -- are listed as plaintiffs in this most recent civil case. Others listed include native protester Nicole Storms and two elderly territory residents, Catherine and Austin Fuller, both of whom are in their mid-80s.
"The plaintiffs, who represent approximately 90 per cent of the members of the Mohawk community of Tyendenaga (sic), are opposed to the establishment of the police building and services at the proposed location ... and are demanding that meaningful, substantive and comprehensive consultations take place," the lawsuit states.
The claim alleges the final decision to move ahead with the police building was made in a "special secret meeting" by the elected band council and that the Canadian government "conspired" with council to "hold the secret meeting and to demand, as a condition of funding, that the new police building be delivered to the site ... no later than March 31, 2008."
Further, the future location of the police station -- which is next to an elementary school -- has caused grief for the community, the suit alleges.
"There is a very high risk of harm and possible fatal injury to children attending the school because of the close proximity of the station to it. It is common knowledge that the location of the police station and related buildings will impose, among other things, serious safety issues for the community and their children."
The main benefactor of the project, the suit proposes, is someone related to Mohawk police chief Ron Maracle, therefore, "the actions of the chief of police by charging community members engaged in lawful protest and demanding consultation is nepotistic and in direct conflict of interest with his duties as a peace officer and officer of the court."
The claim also called the criminal charges against the protesters "malicious, frivolous and vexatious."
Last week, a similarly-worded, $74-million lawsuit was launched against the band council, a local businessman and a number of other government ministries in relation to a quarry and asphalt plant operating on the reserve.
Calls to the lawyer who filed both actions in Belleville court, Ottawa based solicitor Stephen Reynolds, were not returned Monday.
For his part, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief R. Donald Maracle said the lawsuit was discussed earlier this week by band council, which moved to hire legal counsel to defend the action.
"So right now, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the situation," he said.
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