Despite a judge’s criticism for the decision not to try to break up Saturday’s illegal aboriginal rail line blockade east of Belleville, Ont., provincial police say they will always use “proper police discretion.”
“We’ve learned from our mistakes from the past, particularly the Ipperwash situation that happened back in ’95,” said Sgt. Pierre Chamberland, referring to the police shooting of native protester Dudley George at a provincial park.
Chamberland avoided direct comment on Saturday’s events, but says guidelines coming out of the shooting mean cops will be shy to move in on protests if that could spark violence.
“Our role is to keep the peace,” he said.
Despite an injunction against 15 Idle No More protesters who blocked a rail line and allegedly tampered with a crossing signal, police waited for the protesters to disperse on their own while Via Rail passengers and CN freight trains were delayed.
The Ontario Superior Court judge who issued the injunction, David Brown, says police “passivity” undermines the rule of law.
However, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty seemed to endorse the cops’ approach.
“These kinds of issues have been resolved peacefully and I think that’s a very important thing to keep in mind,” McGuinty said Tuesday in Ottawa.
Chamberland says often police will make arrests after a protest ends, but added he didn’t know if that would happen in Saturday’s case.
“Even if I did I wouldn’t be able to tell you anyway because we don’t generally discuss active investigations,” he said.