On August 6th the town circulated an “information sheet” to selected residents of TSBP.
Information sheet not authorized
Council policy A.3.2 requires that any correspondence from the town be authorized by council. That means formal authorization, by resolution. There was no such resolution, and thus there was no proper authorization.
The “information sheet” was sent out by administrator Farrow-lawrence. Who actually wrote the information sheet and gave the direction to send it out is not clear, but it is clear that the mayor played a leading role.
Improper Strategic distribution
The information sheet was mailed only to permanent residents of the TSBP. Almost all of the residents most affected by the land claim, that is Sauble Beach residents, were deliberately excluded.
The exclusion of most Sauble Residents I believe was a strategic manoeuvre made to limit opposition to the mayor’s draft “agreement” with SOFN.
Misinformation in the “information” sheet
There is barely a hint of truth in the “information sheet”. The sheet is mostly misinformation.
1) The town’s (mis)information sheet of August 6 said:
“The Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation commenced litigation in 1995 naming the Township of Amabel (predecessor to the Town of South of Bruce Peninsula) as a defendant regarding their claim that not all of the land intended to be reserved for them was in fact reserved in the 1854 Treaty; i.e.that only 8 miles of land along Sauble Beach as received rather than the approximate 9.5 miles that was stated in the Treaty.”
This is a complete misrepresentation. The SOFN claim never said anything like that. The claim was never for 8 or 9.5 miles of “land along Sauble Beach”. Such a claim would be ridiculous because there aren’t 8 or 9.5 miles of “land along Sauble Beach” to claim. The absolute most is from the mouth of the Sauble River to the south end of Frenchman’s Bay, which is only 6 miles.
Contrary to the propaganda sheet, the SOFN claimed that the treaty had promised them “about 9 ½ miles of frontage along Lake Huron…”, not 9.5 miles along Sauble Beach.
And even that SOFN claim is false. The treaty does not mention frontage, coastline, shoreline, waterfront, or anything similar. The treaty does not mention anything about any amount of frontage along Lake Huron. The about nine and half miles in the treaty is a distance from one point to another. The traverse of that distance between the two points goes over land and then over water and then touches land again. It is not measured along any “frontage” or “shoreline” or “coastline” or “land along Sauble Beach”.
The town’s “9 ½ miles of land along sauble beach” is an absurd misrepresentation.
2) The town’s (mis)information sheet of August 6 said:
“Rankin’s survey notes clearly state that this survey marker at Lot 31 “is the northern boundary of the Reserve”.”
This is false. It is presented in quotation marks as if Rankin’s filed notes are quoted. Rankin’s field notes do not say the quoted text. Rankin’s field notes actually say:
“10 c 66 l S. of post of Ind. Reser ”
Rankin did not mention “northern”, and Rankin did not mention “boundary”.
The town’s version is a revision of Rankin’s notes.
It is clear from the context of Rankin’s maps and other notes that Rankin’s note above means:
“10 chains 66 links South of the post marking the northward extension of the eastern boundary of the Indian Reservation”
Rankin’s survey notes are nowhere near saying that the survey marker at Lot 31 “is the northern boundary of the Reserve”.
Rankin’s maps, field notes and journal put the northern boundary of the reserve at or about main street.
The town statement is false propaganda. The town statement is an outright lie.
3) The town’s (mis)information sheet of August 6 said:
“The Cost and Implications of Litigation
* The Costs:
If the Town proceeds to trial, the costs could range from $5 to $7 million or more (initial lower-court decision, likely subsequent appeaqls to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, costs of experts, potential court costs, etc.). At the $7 million cost, properties in the Town of South Bruce peninsula.
Example of increased cost for a $200,000 residential property:
Regular taxes: $2,243 plus $995 for legal costs= $3,208”
This is the most flagrant false propaganda fear mongering I have ever seen from any town hall.
If the Sauble land claim does go to trial, it will be a simple trial compared to other land claim lawsuits because it will be focused mostly or solely on where the northern boundary is, and also because the evidence is pretty clear and limited.
The federal government has in the past ruled against the SOFN on exactly the same claim (albeit not a lawsuit). The Ontario government in their defence pleadings has demonstrated that the treaty puts the northern boundary at main street and that Rankin’s survey puts the northern boundary at main street.
The evidence against the SOFN claim is in my view compelling. And certainly most or maybe even all of the residents (including several lawyers and planners) who have looked beyond the propaganda to the real evidence also have found that the SOFN case is nowhere near as strong as the TSPB suggests, and in fact find the evidence compellingly in favour of the town. I firmly believe that the town would easily win. There are no guarantees in our capricious court system, but in my view the chance of winning is about as close to 100 per cent as you can get.
Take away the unsupportable assumption that the Town will lose, and the range of cost impacts looks quite different.
At one end of the range, if the Town wins and can convince a judge that there was never any reasonable cause of action (that is no reasonable grounds for the claim), then we keep the beach and would in my view likely get all our costs paid. That would include our legal costs right back to 1995. Which could be three hundred thousand dollars or more. So if we win and the lawsuit is declared unreasonable, we will get the beach and hundreds of thousands of dollars. That means we get the beach and a huge one year tax break. Or a cash bonus to every taxpayer.
If we lose the lawsuit we would lose the beach and would have to pay costs, but nowhere near the 7 million dollar scare tactic. I initially guessed $1,000,000 very maximum. Since then I have been convinced by lawyers who are residents that the cost if we were to lose would be two to three hundred thousand.
The town’s five to seven million is fear-mongering false propaganda.
4) The town’s (mis)information sheet of August 6 said:
“Should the Town proceed to litigation and incur such costs, missed capital project opportunities for residents could include: expansion of Town services in Wiarton to create an industrial area in the southend; road maintenance/reconstruction and other capital replacement projects identified in the Asset Management Plan.
This is just more fear mongering, using trick accounting. If we lost (which we should not), and costs were paid by a one time tax increase, there would be no impact on other revenue, and so absolutely no impact on capital projects.
Saying we would have to pay an extra $900 tax and miss capital projects double counts and grossly exaggerates the effects of a loss. It is trick accounting. It is false propaganda.
False propaganda not in information sheet
While it is not in the information sheet, what TSBP lawyer Greg Stewart said to the press (August 6 “the Dock”) after one of the public meetings is also false propaganda, and is relevant. The press article says:
“Stewart says historical evidence, presented by Gary Penner, from the Department of Justice, leaves no doubt in his mind that survey drawings by Charles Rankin in 1854, clearly indicate the boundary line of the First Nation Reserve with a marker.
In the press audio recording, Mr. Stewart says:
Ultimately when the reserve was carved out, they cut it short by somewhere between a mile and a mile and a half, and that’s the significance of what Mr. Penner showed you this morning where he showed you where that original post was. That’s where it was intended to be.
What Mr. Stewart conveniently failed to disclose is that the survey drawing shown by the federal lawyer Gary Penner shows just the opposite to what Mr. Stewart claimed that it showed.
What Mr. Stewart did not disclose is that the drawing used by Mr. Penner actually shows the northern terminus of the reserve at main street, not at sixth or seventh.
What Mr. Stewart also neglected to mention is that the map that Mr. Penner showed was a rough draft.
What Mr. Stewart also neglected to mention was that Rankin’s official map shows the northern terminus at main street and has absolutely no indication of any marker, boundary or reserved land anywhere near sixth street.
Gary Penner in the August 6 morning meeting twice declared that the draft map that he showed was Rankin’s final map. The press reported the declaration as:
“Penner showed what he said was the original and final map by Rankin. It features a point Rankin placed on it to delineate the northerly boundary of the reserve.”
That was untrue. The map used by Mr. Penner was not Rankin’s final map. And while Mr. Stewart had a duty to point out Mr. Penner’s error, Mr. Stewart failed to do so, sitting silent instead.
Adminstrator Farrow’s earlier comment to the Wiarton Echo was also false. A July 3 article says:
“Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence, administrator for South Bruce Peninsula said, “ …. We do know that the First Nations did not receive all the land as part of the Treaty.” ”
I read that to mean that the First Nation did not receive all the land promised by the treaty. As I read Ms. Farrow-Lawrence’s statement, it is false. Neither she nor anyone else “knows” that to be true. Ms. Farrow Lawrence’s statement is just more false propaganda.
Regarding the July 7 Friends of Sauble Beach/ Amabel Residential property Owners meeting, the same Wiarton Echo article reported:
“South Bruce Peninsula Mayor John Close said there has been no formal invitation to individual councillors, or to the group ..”
That was a lie. All council members were invited. Four attended.
The Wiarton Echo article continued:
“ …. And [Close] calls the Friends of Sauble Beach presentation a form of political prosecution, not a delegation. He says the information brought forward from the friends of Sauble Beach is simply misinformation.”
I presented at that meeting. I presented facts. Facts are not “simply misinformation”. The mayor’s remarks to the press are outrageous. They are also false propaganda.
The 1854 treaty, the 1855 and 1856 maps (official and unofficial), the 1855 Rankin field notes, and many other documents put the northern terminus of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation reserve at Main Street Sauble Beach, exactly where it has been for the last 160 years.
(You can view all of Rankin’s maps, field notes, and journals on my website
The SOFN claim for the beach to sixth or seventh is in my view groundless.
The Town’s information sheet and statements to the press are false or greatly exaggerated propaganda.
Please write to council
The propaganda is all false. Someone has used tax dollars to try to misinform the residents. Please write to council and say you are not buying the false propaganda, and that you are not amused by this improper use of tax dollars. Please demand that they retract the false propaganda, and apologize for the damage they have done.
Please demand that they remove all submission deadlines, and take the time to get the facts before the residents. Please suggest that they not try to make a hasty decision.
Be sure to follow the submission instructions carefully, as they will look for any excuse to discard dissenting views.
Here are the instructions from the Town’s information sheet:
Any written comments should be forwarded to the Town no later than 4:30 pm on August 21st (must be: signed, include property address and apt. # if applicable):
- Email: email@example.com
- Mail: Town of South Bruce Peninsula; P.O. Box 315; Wiarton, ON N0H 2T0
- Drop off at: The Town Hall (315 George St., Wiarton)
Don’t drink the cool-aid.