Canada's Transport Minister meets with Windsor officials

Federal transport minister Omar Alghabra was in Windsor Wednesday meeting in-person with several community stakeholders regarding a list of border city topics.

The trip to the region was Alghabra’s first since resuming the portfolio one week ago and came just one day after news that Windsor’s airport would not be one of the eight Canadian airports to allow international travel again starting Nov. 30.

“I know people are keen on having it happen as quickly as possible,” said Alghabra. “And I’m sympathetic to that.”

The minister explained, “we’re following public health advice and we’re consulting on our measures.”

Consultations took place Wednesday morning at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce office along with Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Essex County Warden Gary McNamara.

“He certainly walked into a bit of a lions’ den on the airport topic,” Dilkens said.

He tells CTV News the airport discussion was a concern with everyone amongst those present with the minister.

“Not having the airport open for international traffic when they’ve opened 8 other airports certainly was a bit of a kick in the gut,” Dilkens said. “I said that directly to the minister today that it felt like Windsor got kicked in the gut and that we need him to go back and look at how we can get Windsor added to the list as soon as possible.”

He believes it’s good for Windsor-Essex that Alghabra came to see and hear concerns first hand as part of his first official trip since resuming his relatively new role as federal transport minister.

“I have no prospect based on what he said that this is going to go away anytime soon,” Dilkens explains. “But, I know that the government is certainly aware of the fact that this is going to be a challenge in a border city and a challenge for many Canadians.”

Officials toured Ojibway Shores Wednesday afternoon.

“Being able to have him here, show him Ojibway Shores, show him around Ojibway to talk about the airport issue the day after the airport the announcement was made, to talk about other bridge related issues is really important at this time,” Dilkens says.

Among other topics discussed were cross border PCR testing, local production of zero-emission vehicles and high frequency rail.

Alghabra says he was in London, Ont. on Tuesday to also hear similar concerns.

“We will continue to get advice from our public health agency of Canada, our experts, look at the data because we continue to collect data and when we feel it’s safe and we’re confident that the pandemic is behind us or close to it, we would consider assessing that,” he says.

“We’re still in a pandemic,” Alghabra adds. “We’ve seen how when other jurisdictions jump ahead of themselves sometimes they end up having to roll it back.”