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Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris adamantly denied Tuesday using slurs in regard to native people occupying the Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Asked if he recalled at a meeting hours before unarmed protester was fatally shot if he recalled using the words: "Get those fucking Indians out of the park, and use guns if you have to," Mr. Harris replied: "No."

He was then asked further if he recalled saying "I want the fucking Indians out of the park," the former premier again said he didn't make such a statement.

"No, I did not say that," Mr. Harris said.

Last November, former Ontario attorney-general Charles Harnick told the inquiry he was stunned by what he says he heard from the former premier on the afternoon of Sept. 6, 1995, just hours before police stormed Ipperwash Provincial Park.

"As I walked in the dining room, the premier in a loud voice said, 'I want the fucking Indians out of the park,' " Mr. Harnick testified in November.

Mr. Harnick told the inquiry that loyalty to Mr. Harris prompted his 10-year silence on the comments. He also said he was "stunned" by the remarks, which he said were "out of character" for the former premier.

Other participants at the Sept. 6 meeting have denied they heard Mr. Harris make the comments, which have long been the subject of rumour.

Testifying Tuesday, Mr. Harris insisted that he did not make the statements attributed to him.

"I absolutely did not say that or words to those effect or use that adjective at any time during this meeting," he said.

While acknowledging that the adjective in question is not "foreign" to him, he also said it isn't "the kind of language I would use at any kind of meeting like the meeting we were at, not the kind of language I think is appropriate even if I have used it from time to time."

During earlier testimony, Mr. Harris denied feeling frustrated about the situation at the park but said he felt it would be better if the matter concluded sooner rather if it was allowed to escalate. He said he expected the matter to be dealt with by way of a court injunction the following day.

Mr. George, 38, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by two bullets police during a protest at Sarnia-area park. Sergeant Ken Deane was later convicted of criminal negligence and resigned from the force.

The shooting took place after the Ontario Provincial Police moved in on the group of unarmed protesters.

The parkland, which had belonged to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, was turned into an army camp during the Second World War. It contained a burial ground that natives - Mr. George among them - considered sacred.

The occupation took place shortly after Mr. Harris's government took office.

Mr. George's family has always insisted Mr. Harris was involved in directing police to raid the park, but the former premier has always denied any involvement.

A week after Mr. George was killed, the federal government released documents supporting native claims that the park contained burial grounds.

Mr. Harris is expected to remain on the stand for four days.

Earlier in Tuesday's session, he said he wanted the native occupation at Ipperwash ended "as soon as possible," but knew full well he didn't have the authority to order police on the ground to take action.

The Ontario government at the time was "well aware that there was a separation between the political arm of government and the police," Mr. Harris said.

"There would be no involvement in any operational matters, in how the (Ontario Provincial Police) conducted their affairs," Mr. Harris said in characterizing his government's approach to the crisis, which erupted just months after he was elected.

Still, Mr. Harris said he wanted "clear" and "decisive" action taken to end the protest before it "escalated."

"We felt this occupation should end as soon as possible," he said.

With a file from Canadian Press

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