Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
Credits: BOB TYMCZYSZYN/ST. CATHARINES STANDARD/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - A provincial judge has slammed the "passivity" of Ontario Provincial Police who allowed aboriginal protesters to illegally block a rail line over the weekend, but Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has little to say on the matter.
"In our democracy we do not direct the police," McGuinty said Tuesday in Ottawa. "That would be inappropriate."
Ontario Superior Court Judge David Brown issued an injunction Saturday against 15 Idle No More protesters that blocked a rail line east of Belleville, Ont., and allegedly tampered with a crossing signal.
Instead of enforcing the order, officers waited for the protesters to disperse on their own - delaying CN freight trains and Via Rail passengers.
That doesn't pass Brown's sniff test.
"That kind of passivity by the police leads me to doubt that a future exists in this province for the use of court injunctions in cases of public demonstrations," Brown wrote in his explanation for the injunction.
McGuinty said it's best to leave operational decisions to the police.
"These kinds of issues have been resolved peacefully and I think that's a very important thing to keep in mind," he said.
The provincial police force avoided direct comment on Saturday's events, but says guidelines coming out of Ipperwash, where native protester Dudley George was shot to death by police at a provincial park in 1995, mean cops are shy to move in on protests if that could spark violence.
"Our role is to keep the peace," said Sgt. Pierre Chamberland, spokesman for the OPP.