Another participant at a top-level Ontario government meeting 10 years ago remembers a Progressive Conservative politician crudely demanding the removal of aboriginal protesters from a provincial park.
This time, the remark has been attributed to Chris Hodgson, then-minister of natural resources.
Testifying yesterday at a judicial inquiry, former deputy solicitor-general Elaine Todres described Mr. Hodgson as "extremely agitated and very concerned" during a meeting in the premier's dining room and "in a moment of apparent exasperation, uttered a phrase that I would prefer not to repeat."
"I'm going to ask you to repeat it," commission counsel Donald Worme said.
Unwillingly, Ms. Todres complied. "He said, 'Get the fucking Indians out of my park.' "
She said she didn't know whether everyone heard Mr. Hodgson's comment as a noisy air conditioner made hearing difficult.
She said she did not hear any similar comment from then-premier Mike Harris.
On Monday, former attorney-general Charles Harnick said he heard Mr. Harris say "I want the fucking Indians out of the park," on Sept. 6, 1995, hours before the police shooting of unarmed protester Dudley George in Ipperwash Provincial Park.
Mr. Hodgson's lawyer, Peter Lauwers, questioned Ms. Todres's recollection, telling the inquiry that Mr. Hodgson will testify that he did not make the remark.
"Do you think it's possible, Dr. Todres, that your memory is playing tricks on you?" Mr. Lauwers asked her.
"Not on this point," she said firmly.
Outside the courtroom, Mr. Harris's lawyer, Peter Downard, said Ms. Todres's testimony supports the possibility that Mr. Harnick may have been mistaken.
Ms. Todres testified that she found Mr. Hodgson's comments "shocking and revealing" -- shocking because she would not have expected a minister of the Crown to use such language, and revealing in that the use of the word "my" suggested lack of experience as a minister.
It wasn't his park, she noted, and she felt the comment showed Mr. Hodgson, "a green minister, a novice," was frustrated by the briefings from civil servants at the meeting on legal matters and native issues.
"It was revelatory of an unseasoned person who would have liked to see a quick reaction but was presented with a complex set of factors," she said.
Ms. Todres recalled being summoned to a meeting in the premier's dining room at around 11 a.m. on Sept. 6, 1995. She doesn't remember who called her but it would have been someone from the premier's office, she said.
When she arrived, she found Mr. Harris in the chair, and learned that the subject was the occupation two days before of Ipperwash Provincial Park.
She said she spoke early in the meeting, reiterating the demarcation line between police operations and policy making because "it was a new government."
The meeting, which lasted about half an hour, was dominated by former deputy attorney-general Larry Taman, she said, and focused on the use of an injunction as a means of removing the occupiers, and what type of injunction was appropriate.
Ms. Todres said she recalled Mr. Harnick speaking briefly, supporting the "go-slow" approach that was favoured by the bureaucracy. She did not recall her boss, former solicitor-general Bob Runciman, making any contribution to the discussion. "He was a very careful minister, very mindful of his responsibilities."
After a heated discussion in which some politicians expressed frustration and a sense of urgency, Ms. Todres said, political direction was given to the deputy attorney-general "to proceed with haste" to obtain an ex parte, or emergency, injunction.
Ms. Todres, who is now a governance consultant, is the first witness to give first-hand evidence that the decision to obtain an ex parte injunction was made at the highest level.
The inquiry has heard that Ron Fox, the Ontario Provincial Police's aboriginal affairs liaison officer, came out of the dining room meeting with the impression the ex parte decision was made at the highest level, which he passed on to Julie Jai, acting director of the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat.
As a result she amended the minutes of a committee she chaired, noting the committee's recommendation for a regular "with notice" injunction had been changed by "cabinet" to an ex parte injunction.
Other witnesses, including Mr. Harnick, Mr. Taman and lawyers in their ministry, have maintained no direction was given as to the type of injunction to be sought, and that it was left to the discretion of the lawyer handling the application.