Inquiry testimony a timeline
Last Updated May 28, 2009
May 28, 2009:
An agreement sets out the next steps for the transfer of Ipperwash Provincial Park from the Ontario government to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Reports suggest the park could be reopened to the public as early as spring 2010.
Dec. 20, 2007:
The Ontario government announces that it will turn over the park to the First Nations group, fulfilling a key recommendation of the public inquiry. Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant says the land will be co-managed by a number of groups during an interim period until the park is fully transferred.
May 31, 2007:
Justice Sidney Linden, commissioner of the inquiry, rules that the OPP, the government of then Ontario Premier Mike Harris and the federal government all bear responsibility for events that led to Dudley George's death.
Linden found Harris did not order provincial police into Ipperwash Provincial Park to remove unarmed aboriginal protesters, but he could have "urged patience, rather than speed" in resolving the dispute.
Aug. 24, 2006:
The Ipperwash inquiry ends following the closing arguments.
Julian Falconer, a lawyer for the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, accuses former Ontario premier Mike Harris of lying in the provincial legislature about a meeting with police officers that occurred hours before George was shot. He argues that Harris's statement that he wanted the protesters out of the park filtered down to police at Ipperwash.
Harris's lawyer, Peter Downard, denies the accusation and calls it an attempt at character assassination. He says political influence played no role in the Ipperwash shooting.
June 28, 2006:
The 140th and final witness in the Ipperwash Inquiry, Ron French of the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department, testifies via video link from Ottawa.
Feb. 25, 2006:
Kenneth Deane, the OPP officer who shot Dudley George at Ipperwash in 1995, dies when his car is hit by a tractor-trailer near Prescott, Ont. Deane was to have testified at the Ipperwash inquiry in March 2006. Instead, evidence from his criminal trial will be read.
Feb. 20, 2006:
Former Ontario premier Mike Harris testifies for a fourth and final day before the inquiry. Under cross-examination, he says he stands by his actions and wouldn't change anything about the way he handled the standoff that led to the death of native protester Dudley George.
Feb. 16, 2006:
Former Ontario premier Mike Harris says he was "shocked" when former attorney general Charles Harnick told the inquiry he had heard Harris say "I want the f---ing Indians out of the park." Harris says it wasn't the intention of the government to "take a hard line" in dealing with the native occupation of Ipperwash.
Feb. 15, 2006:
At the inquiry, former Ontario premier Mike Harris denies he said he wanted native protesters out of Ipperwash Provincial Park in 24 hours, saying he wanted them out as soon as possible, but gave no time frame.
Harris also says OPP Insp. John Carson was "totally incorrect" when he said the Harris government wanted to "kick ass" in dealing with the protesters.
Feb. 14, 2006:
Former Ontario premier Mike Harris tells the inquiry he wanted the 1995 native occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park ended "as soon as possible." He says he is clear on the separation between government and police, and knew he couldn't order police to take action. He also denies having used a profanity during meetings about the standoff.
Jan. 16, 2006:
Former Ontario minister of natural resources Chris Hodgson tells the inquiry he believes the standoff between police and native protesters would not have happened if the federal government had honoured a pledge to return land to natives.
Hodgson also testifies that hours before Dudley George was shot, then-premier Mike Harris had warned politicians they could not direct the police operation.
Jan. 12, 2006:
Former Ontario cabinet minister Chris Hodgson says he did not hear Mike Harris say "I want the f---ing Indians out of the park," and denies having said it himself. "I've read that quote extensively in the news media. It is embarrassing. I can assure you I did not say anything to that effect," he tells the inquiry.
Jan. 9, 2006:
Former solicitor general Bob Runciman testifies he didn't hear either former premier Mike Harris or former natural resources minister Chris Hodgson make obscene comments about the need to remove aboriginal protesters from Ipperwash Provincial Park. "I don't recall that comment," Runciman said when asked whether Harris had said: "I want the f---ing Indians out of the park," during a meeting on Sept. 6, 1995. "I can't explain that, why people have different versions of what they heard and who they heard it from," Runciman said. "We've heard that accusation made for so many years that I think that sometimes that replaces memory and becomes entrenched as fact, rather than reality."
Nov. 30, 2005:
Former deputy solicitor general Ellen Todres testifies that it was former natural resources minister Chris Hodgson who said he wanted "the f---ing Indians out of the park", not Mike Harris. "The first thing that I recall is that the minister of natural resources [Hodgson] was extremely agitated and very concerned," Todres said. "And in a moment of apparent exasperation, uttered a phrase that I would prefer not to repeat." When asked to explicitly say what she heard, Todres answered: "He [Hodgson] said, 'Get the f---ing Indians out of my park'."
Nov. 28, 2005:
Charles Harnick, attorney general of Ontario under then-premier Mike Harris, told the inquiry Harris used profane language during a meeting about the Ipperwash occupation.
"I want the f---ing Indians out of the park," Harnick quoted Harris as saying.
He said he remembered the premier making the comments as he walked into a meeting on Sept. 6, 1995. Harris's lawyer Peter Downard said that when his client testifies in January, he will deny uttering the words. Harnick replied, "I heard what I heard."
He also says he has nothing but admiration for the former premier, adding that he agonized over what he would tell the inquiry.
Nov. 21, 2005:
Deb Hutton, who had been an aide to Premier Mike Harris, testifies at the Ipperwash Inquiry. Hutton was a member of Harris's inner circle who had represented the premier at several meetings during the standoff. She says allegations that Harris favoured armed force to resolve the occupation at Ipperwash are false. She testifies that the Ontario government had two options in response to the protest: do nothing since the park was closed for the season, or seek a court injunction, which she feared would not be fast enough and in the best interests of public safety.
"In a general sense, the province had clear ownership of the park, that as a result the individuals in the park were trespassing, and that we were looking at our legal options as a government to see the occupation come to an end … sooner rather than later, or as soon as possible," said Hutton. She also expressed surprise in response to a phone conversation between two Ontario Provincial Police officers stating the government's intention to have the protesters removed by force. She says the attitude of the officers was not reflective of anything she had participated in or witnessed.
"This was the first time a group of people, regardless of who they were, where they were, were obviously attempting to make a point, get the government's attention, perhaps encourage the government to respond in a particular way," she said.
"We didn't want to send the signal that it was OK or that this was the way to get the government's attention …"
The George family's lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, says the family had been waiting for many years to hear what Hutton had to say.
May 18, 2005:
In a recording played at the Ipperwash inquiry, Ontario Provincial Police Insp. Ron Fox is heard describing the Harris government as gun-loving rednecks with little concern for aboriginals.
"We're dealing with a real redneck government," Fox is heard saying in a phone call to Insp. John Carson, after Fox met with Harris, and several cabinet ministers and deputy ministers. "They just are in love with guns. There's no question. They don't give a shit less about Indians."
Carson replies, "They just want us to kick ass."
May 9, 2005:
Jackaline Derbyshire, a nurse at the Strathroy, Ont., hospital that received George, testifies that he showed signs of life when he arrived the night he was shot.
In earlier testimony, doctors testified that George may have survived if he had received immediate attention.
March 8, 2005:
Testimony at the Ipperwash inquiry sheds some light on the origin of the message "get those f---ing Indians out of the park even if you have to draw guns to do it." Robert Watts, a former assistant deputy minister with the federal government, testifies he heard the message from Leslie Currie, an employee of the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat. Currie, in turn, heard the message from colleague Julie Jai. Jai was at a meeting with Deb Hutton, an aide to then Ontario premier Mike Harris. Hutton said the message came from Harris, Watts testifies.
Lawyers for Harris call the testimony an "absolutely false allegation."
Feb. 25, 2005:
Miles Bressette, former police chief of the Kettle and Stony Point band, testifies that native police were never consulted when the OPP came up with its plan to deal with native protesters in Ipperwash.
Feb. 8, 2005:
Farmer Hendrikus Venns testifies that he called 911 for assistance for George, but "nobody showed up." Members of George's family had pounded on his door about 15 minutes after George was shot. Venns called 911 to ask for an ambulance. Twenty-five minutes later, the ambulance hadn't arrived and the car carrying George was gone, Venns says.
Jan. 13, 2005:
James Thomas Cousins, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, testifies that he was in the car that rushed George to the hospital. George did not receive medical attention right away, though, because police arrested Cousins and two others in the car, and hospital staff were held behind a locked door, he says.
Oct. 12, 2004:
Justice Sidney Linden delays releasing an audio tape to the public, saying its release could fundamentally alter the nature of the inquiry process. Linden says it would be "premature and inconsistent ... to disclose it to the public before it has been introduced in its proper context through the hearing process." Lawyers for members of Dudley George's family have said the tape contains "explosive" evidence and explains why George was shot.
Sept. 10, 2004:
The inquiry judge and lawyers, as well as the media, tour the sandy parking lot where George was killed, the area where he lived and the cemetery when he is buried.
Aug. 31, 2004:
All 17 sets of lawyers at the Ipperwash inquiry are given copies of an audio tape. All sign confidentiality agreements with the inquiry pledging not to reveal its contents to the public.
July 13, 2004:
Testimony begins at the Ipperwash Inquiry in Forest, Ont. The first phase of the inquiry deals with the events surrounding the death of Dudley George. The first person to testify at the inquiry is Darlene Johnston, an expert in Great Lakes aboriginal history.
May 7, 2004:
Seventeen groups and individuals – including the family of Dudley George, former Ontario premier Mike Harris and several cabinet ministers, and the Ontario Provincial Police – are granted standing for part one of the Ipperwash inquiry. Another 11 groups and individuals are granted standing for part two. The head of the inquiry – Justice Sidney Linden – expresses concern the inquiry could be bogged down by the large number of parties with the right to cross-examine witnesses and make submissions.
April 20, 2004:
Nearly nine years after the death of Dudley George, the Ipperwash inquiry opens with dozens of groups and individuals seeking standing at the inquiry.
Jan. 21, 2004:
CBC TV's The Fifth Estate releases segments of police surveillance tapes made the day before the shooting death of Dudley George that reveal racist comments made by police. The lawyer for the George family says the comments reveal an attitude that made it "real easy to shoot an Indian."
Nov. 12, 2003:
The Ontario government, under recently-elected Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty announces a public inquiry into the death of Dudley George.
- Harris government, OPP errors led to Ipperwash death, inquiry finds (May 31, 2007)
- Ipperwash findings to be released May 31 (April 27, 2007)
- Ipperwash inquiry ends (Aug. 24, 2006)
- Ipperwash inquiry hears final arguments (Aug. 21, 2006)
- Testimony wraps up at Ipperwash inquiry in Ontario (June 28, 2006)
- Crash kills police officer who shot native protester at Ipperwash (Feb. 26, 2006)
- Harris says he wouldn't change Ipperwash response (Feb. 20, 2006)
- Harris denies ever using profane slur against natives (Feb. 15, 2006)
- Harris says he knew Ontario's boundaries in fatal Ipperwash clash (Feb. 13, 2006)
- Angry Harris wanted protesters out of Ipperwash: former official (Nov. 28, 2005)
- 'Redneck' government was anti-Indian, Ipperwash inquiry hears (May 19, 2005)
- Harris wanted protesters out of Ipperwash (May 17, 2005)
- 'Oddities' in Ipperwash tapes to be investigated (Feb. 6, 2004)
- Critics say new Ipperwash tape reveals racist attitudes (Jan. 21, 2004)
- Racist comments by Ontario police caught on videotape (Jan. 20, 2004)
- Ipperwash videotapes to be released (Aug. 21, 2003)
- OPP officer who shot Dudley George resigns (Sept. 23, 2003)
- Letter suggests secret agenda in Ipperwash standoff (Sept. 4, 2002)
- Ontario premier files $15 million libel suit (Feb. 20, 2002)
- OPP officer fired over Ipperwash shooting (Jan. 18, 2002)
- Ontario premier begins testifying in wrongful death suit (Nov. 21, 2001)
- Ontario citizens shouldn't pay premier's legal bills, says NDP (Mar. 27, 2001)
- Ontario ombudsman wants Ipperwash inquiry (Sept. 18, 1999)
- Lawyer claims new evidence in Ipperwash shooting (Sept. 15, 1999)
- Government offers Ipperwash settlement (June 17, 1998)
- The Ipperwash Inquiry - Final Report
- The Ipperwash Inquiry
- Amnesty International backgrounder on Dudley George
- Ipperwash Provincial Park
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