New Democrats Push for Creation of Great Lakes Minister
The three New Democrat candidates in Windsor-Essex are promoting the idea of a Minister for the Great Lakes in the next parliament.
Dr. Trevor Pitcher from the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research is Director of the Fresh Water Restoration Ecology Centre in LaSalle.
He pointed out the value of the lakes and connecting rivers for trade, commerce, sporting and fisheries.
In addition to having a cabinet minister dedicated to Great Lakes issues, the NDP is proposing a $2.5-billion fund specifically to help communities respond to climate change issues like flooding.
Windsor West incumbent Brian Masse isn't ready to say this would be an issue the NDP would push in the event of a minority government.
"You get ready, you build your case, you build the strength of your hand" says Masse. "Then depending on what's put in front of you, you then negotiate and start to work hard on it. This is one of the things we care a lot about. But I would argue just like the border crossing where we saw minority, majority parliaments over the years, it was the strength of the case that wins the day."
Essex incumbent Tracey Ramsey says the NDP has constantly been advocating on these issues.
"This has been something that's incredibly important for us to bring up to Ottawa" says Ramsey. "We've been dedicated to doing that. And when you elect an NDP MP in this region you're going to have that issue brought forward to the national stage and make sure that they understand the challenges we're facing around the Great Lakes."
Windsor Tecumseh incumbent Cheryl Hardcastle says the availability of funding for things like wetland restoration and flood prevention is key.
"There's a myriad of projects that could be done, but the fact of the matter is when you have a fund that is known by a municipality that they can actually access directly and anticipate and use that money" explains Hardcastle, "they don't have to wait until there's a crisis"
Victoria Kis is a first year student at the University of Windsor in biology and feels the Great Lakes need more attention.
Victoria Kiss, first year Biology student at the University of Windsor, October 18, 2019 (by AM800's Peter Langille)
"I'm very concerned about what's happening here in the Great Lakes" says Kis. "And kind of what's happening with my home town and municipalities around here and I believe we should put a very strong priority on our environment, on the conservation of our Great Lakes."
Masse pointed out he's been able to get microbeads banned and have the import of Asian Carp stopped.