BRANT/BRANTFORD/HALDIMAND — It looks like nothing is going to change for the next four years, politically anyway. All three of Six Nations’ neighbouring communities will continue with incumbent mayors following Monday’s municipal elections, none of which have declared any intent to change their policies regarding Six Nations land.
All three mayors intend to continuing development on contested Six Nations land without meaningful consultation or compensation.
In Brantford, Chris Friel returns to the chair with 8743 for 32% of the votes cast after fending off several opponents for the city’s top job. The closest challenger was former Ward #1 Councillor Jan Vanderstelt who garnered 4519 votes, followed by former Ward #4 Councillor Dave Wrobel with 4042 votes. Both have lost their seat on council by running for the mayor’s office, making room for a few newcomers on council. Mark Littell, who also served as a Councillor in years past, earned 2018 votes while newcomer Mary Ellen Kaye attracted 1113 votes. John Turmel took 113 votes.
Meanwhile, Haldimand County re-elected Ken Hewitt for another term. Judging by statements made by Hewitt in his campaign, no meaningful shift in policy is likely on that front either, although Hewitt has expressed what he sees as hope for some form of breakthrough on the DCE issue.
“The last four months, we’ve made some headway,” Hewitt told The Grand River Sachem before Election Day. “I’ve spent some time meeting with the different leaders on Six Nations. I met with the Ministers a couple of times. We’ve had some joint meetings, which we’ve never had before.”
He promised to continue to have meetings with the province and Six Nations Elected Council and encourage the Confederacy Council to discuss the future use of the land.
“I think that the next steps for us is to really get in the trenches with the public,” Hewitt said. “This includes both Six Nations and Haldimand residents. The use of the land should be beneficial for everyone because the one thing that’s not going to change is that we’re neighbours.”
It has been Six Nations’ stance, from both the Elected Council and the Confederacy Chiefs Council, that any discussions about the future use of that land will be between Six Nations and the Province only, not recognizing Haldimand as having any legal stake in the matter.
Ron Eddy held onto the Mayor’s Chair in the County of Brant with no real challenge coming from candidates Roy Haggart and Shawn Pratt. Eddy drew 5357 votes while Haggart came in second with 2506 votes and Pratt with 1571 votes.
Brant has been the more conciliatory of the three to date and has formed partnerships with Six Nations Elected Council.
With these same players in place, chances of any shift in policy regarding Six Nations issues are not likely, for the immediate future anyhow.