Friday, October 26, 2007

Prodding two tiered justice in Caledonia.

The Sachem
On Saturday, October 21, Caledonia resident, Doug Fleming decided he had a point to make about what he feels is a two-tiered justice system in Caledonia.

Fleming parked his ‘mobile cigarette store’ in Caledonia and sold contraband cigarettes in clear view of Ontario Provincial Police officers, without being fined, charged or arrested. This, he says, was exactly his point.

Fleming says he is frustrated about the ‘smoke shops’ along Highway #6, south of Caledonia near the intersection at 5th Line Road. He claims the smoke shops are operating illegally as they are operating without having been issued any business operating licenses or building permits. He also contends that the shops are selling contraband cigarettes and that the shops advertise smokes for sale with signs posted along Highway #6, which is also against the law.

Fleming says that because he feels the Ontario Provincial Police have failed Caledonia and surrounding communities, by failing to treat everyone under the law equally since the stand-off at the former Douglas Creek Estates development site, he worries that smoke shops will eventually be all along Highway #6, and that the police will not do anything about it. He believes nothing is being done because the shops are owned by members of Six Nations.
Fleming purchased a mixed selection of contraband cigarettes from the two smoke shops at the intersection of Highway #6 and 5th Line. He parked his truck in the parking lot along Argyle Street in Caledonia where the Ontario Provincial Police have an office located. He placed signs on the grass advertising his business and sold cigarettes out of the back of his pick-up truck.

Several Ontario Provincial Police cruisers were on site and officers watched Fleming, and the small group of supporters with him, as Fleming sold the contraband cigarettes to patrons passing by.

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. John Barron said that the OPP were not going to be arresting Fleming for the sale of cigarettes in that particular parking lot. “Our position is to keep the peace and ensure there is an orderly flow of traffic”, said Sgt. Barron.

Sgt. Barron also explained that the sale of contraband cigarettes would be a matter for the RCMP to enforce under the Canada Customs Excise Act and that the act of operating a business without a business operating permit would be a by-law infraction enforceable by Haldimand County By-Law Officers, not the Ontario Provincial Police. He further noted that the parking lot is private property owned by a property management corporation, and unless the owners objected to Fleming’s presence, there was no trespassing violation.

Sgt. Barron made it clear there was no intention by the Ontario Provincial Police to arrest or charge Doug Fleming for selling contraband cigarettes out of the back of his pick-up truck.

Haldimand County Councillor and Caledonia resident, Craig Grice, arrived in the afternoon to speak with Fleming.
Grice says Haldimand County has made it known to the Six Nations Band Council that the county has concerns with the smoke shops operating along Highway #6 without proper building or business operating permits, but that no official notice of infraction has been submitted to Band Council as of yet.

He also clarified that the Ministry of Transportation is responsible for all advertising along the highway, and that the sale of contraband cigarettes is in fact a federal matter for the RCMP, both of which he says have been voiced by the County as concerns to each respective government body.

Grice says that the two-tiered justice system in Caledonia “needs to be known about, but not prodded”.

When asked if he felt whether Fleming’s mobile smoke store was prodding the situation he responded, “The point needs to be proven and taken”.

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