Continued aboriginal protests could endanger public safety: Town official

Idle No More demonstration at Blue Water Bridge, Sarnia.



OTTAWA - There's worry about what will come next after provincial police decided not to move in on Idle No More protesters illegally blocking and allegedly tampering with a rail line last weekend east of Belleville, Ont.

"With these ongoing events, it becomes more and more (possible) that something could go wrong and that we'd be in an unsafe position," said Steve Mercer, Tyendinaga Township's chief administrative officer. "That's basically the concern I'm getting from certain councillors, yes."

A provincial judge has already slammed police for not enforcing an injunction against Saturday's protest on the CN line that goes right through Tyendinaga Township.

Police have defended the decision to wait for protesters to leave on their own on Saturday, which eventually happened, saying their goal is to "keep the peace."

Still, there are concerns that future protests could leave damage to train tracks that could go undetected until a train carrying hazardous goods derails.

"If anything were to go wrong, it hits us first," said Mercer.

While last weekend's protest didn't damage any roads, Mercer says similar acts in the past have left damage and debris that the township has had to deal with at a cost to taxpayers.

He says the township hasn't decided yet whether to raise the issue with provincial police.

Soon-to-retire Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has already said he will not criticize the cops.

Ontario Liberal leadership contender Kathleen Wynne agrees.
"I always agree with the premier," said Wynne. "It is not our role to direct the police."

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