Ipperwash lawsuit against former Ontario premier dropped

Family of protester killed at Ipperwash provincial park in 1995 drops lawsuit against ex-premier Harris

Former Ontario premier Mike Harris expressed annoyance Thursday that it took so long for the family of a man killed by police to drop a lawsuit against him.

Relatives of Dudley George who was shot dead during a protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 reached a settlement with Ontario's police force.

The agreement, worked out only days before a trial was to begin, included a $100,000 payment to George's family, according to lawyers. Relatives said they're looking forward to a public inquiry into the case, which Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty promised to order if he became premier.

In the dropped suit, the family had claimed that the province pressured police into using "severe action" against several dozen native people who refused to end an occupation of old burial grounds.

In a statement, Harris said it's unfortunate so much time and precious resources were wasted on the case.

"While I am pleased that this long and expensive proceeding is now over, I regret that those behind this action waited until election day in Ontario to acknowledge ... that the allegations against me were totally unfounded," the former premier said.

"It is to be regretted that so much of the scarce judicial resources of this province were expended in pursuing groundless allegations against me and other former ministers of the Crown."

Harris's lawyer, Terrence O'Sullivan, said the deal did not involve his client admitting any liability or making any payment.

George was shot by police on Sept. 6, 1995, during a protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

A former Ontario Provincial Police sergeant, Kenneth Deane, was later convicted of criminal negligence causing George's death.

In addition to Harris, the lawsuit named Public Safety Minister Bob Runciman, who was solicitor general at the time, former attorney general Charles Harnick and former natural resources minister Chris Hodgson.