Class action lawsuit launched by Caledonia residents, businesses

Class action lawsuit launched by Caledonia residents, businesses
Argyle Street South blockade. —Haldimand Press photo by Jillian Zynomirski.

By Haldimand Press Staff

CALEDONIA—Arrell Law LLP has commenced a class action lawsuit in relation to the Caledonia blockades. The self-titled land defenders at the McKenzie Meadows housing development are nearing 20 weeks on site, and the current blockades have now been up for six weeks.

Arrell Law posted that the lawsuit is “on behalf of business owners and property owners who have suffered financial losses as a result of the various blockades that have been erected in relation to the McKenzie Meadows occupation in Caledonia, Ontario. The action claims damages against the Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique, Ontario Provincial Police Chief Superintendent John Cain, Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Philip Carter, and Her Majesty the Queen in the Right of Ontario. The Caledonia Class Action 2020 seeks to compensate those residents and businesses affected by the 2020 land occupation.”

Peter Murray, Lead Counsel in the lawsuit, stated, “It is unconscionable for the government and its agents to allow local businesses and property owners to bear the costs of their inaction. Caledonia’s local economy cannot be written off as collateral damage in this situation.”

Arrell Law responded to questions on their Facebook post, stating that demonstrators have not been named a party in the lawsuit. When asked about those who put down payments on the planned Foxgate Development homes, Arrell Law stated, “We would certainly be interested to hear from those parties; however it is our understanding that the deposits paid on those homes are held in trust by the vendor/developer.”

A previous class action lawsuit against the Ontario government in relation to the handling of the 2006 Douglas Creek Estates resulted in $20 million being awarded to class members affected by land closures.

Arrell Law has set up caledoniaclassaction2020.com to provide further information online. They invite any “business owner or property owner who has been affected by the blockades … to utilize the ‘sign up to join’ section to become a registered class member.”

Injunctions being appealed

1492 Land Back Lane surpasses 135 days

“Days to weeks and now weeks to months. As winter settles in, so do we. Despite the number of days, we are just as determined as ever to keep moving forward. Keep on building and growing,” posted self-titled land defender Skyler Williams on Facebook November 25 – or day 130 on site.

Williams has retained lawyers Barry Yellin and Wade Poziomka of Ross & McBride LLP to file an appeal in the Ontario Superior Court against the injunctions that have permanently criminalized visiting the McKenzie Meadows site without Foxgate’s approval and creating blockades in Haldimand County.

“We chose to engage in a process, a process that is not our own, to try and move it forward,” said Williams during a media update recently. “For us the issue of the land here is still before the courts and certainly needs to come to a nation-to-nation discussion.”

“The filing by Ross & McBride LLP focuses on the failure of the court to distinguish between contempt and abuse of process, a procedural issue,” said a 1492 Land Back Lane media release. “The issue is that Williams’ pleadings and evidence were thrown out by Justice Harper in error – contrary to the law, procedural fairness, and the rules of civil procedure. If successful in the appeal, the matter would be returned to superior court before a different judge, and all of Williams’ pleadings would be reinstated in his defence.”

Judge RJ Harper had ruled he would only hear from Williams if he and all others vacated the McKenzie Meadows site, stating that otherwise he was “in contempt” of the court and therefore could not participate. When court resumed and the demonstrators remained on site, Harper struck the approximately 600 pages of documentation submitted by Williams from the record.

The Land Back Lane group is continuing to prepare for winter and the cold weather. The group has built at least one shelter and had at least one tiny home installed; they continue gathering supplies such as firewood, generators, and food.

Additionally, the site has received additional outhouses, with Chandra-Li Paul posting photos of their construction and stating, “Very thankful to the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) affiliates and allies who volunteered their time, tools, skills, and donated food, clothing, and supplies.”

“So much has been stolen. This is the line too far. Our community will not be hemmed in. We will not stand by and continue to watch as our lands are stolen or let our nations be divided,” concluded Williams. “Federal and provincial governments still, after all this, continue to drag their feet. Leaving this in the hands of the OPP is absolutely unacceptable. We have been ready to start this dialogue. There is no reason this didn’t start months ago.”

The Land Back Lane Legal Fund had raised about $363,000 as of press time.

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