LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Tuesday 25 October 2022 Mardi 25 octobre 2022
Report continued from volume A.
Private Members’ Public Business
Ojibway National Urban Park
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should transfer ownership of the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to Parks Canada to facilitate creation of the Ojibway National Urban Park as part of an overall strategy to protect local endangered species and natural heritage areas, aid flood mitigation efforts, create publicly accessible green space and further encourage ecotourism in Windsor-Essex.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mrs. Gretzky has moved private member’s notice of motion number 1. Pursuant to standing order 100, the member has 12 minutes for their presentation.
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: I’m honoured to rise today to speak to the first motion that was tabled this session, motion 1, which reads, “That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should transfer ownership of the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to Parks Canada to facilitate creation of the Ojibway National Urban Park as part of an overall strategy to protect local endangered species and natural heritage areas, aid flood mitigation efforts, create publicly accessible green space and further encourage ecotourism in Windsor-Essex.”
Before I really get into it, I would like to welcome my special guests to Queen’s Park today for this motion. They played such an integral part in this motion, and also in a bill that was introduced in the House of Commons. I would like to introduce and welcome Chief Mary Duckworth of Caldwell First Nation, councillors Doug Heil and Ian Duckworth of Caldwell First Nation, and my friend Larry Sault, who is with Caldwell First Nation’s intergovernmental relations. Welcome to Queen’s Park and thank you so much for being here.
Speaker, the Ojibway National Urban Park has been a project in the works for many years. Thousands of constituents across Windsor-Essex support this project. I’m proud of my local community’s involvement all the way through this project, both at the federal and the provincial level. Many meetings, phone calls, petitions, emails and social media engagements have helped shape the motion that I am speaking to today.
I want to thank the member of Parliament for Windsor West, my colleague Brian Masse, who has championed this local issue federally. Brian worked across all party lines to introduce Bill C-248 in the House of Commons. It has been supported unanimously by the federal NDP, Bloc Québécois, Greens and the Conservatives respectively, and it has now been brought forward to the environment committee. I believe they have another meeting this week, actually, of that committee.
I also want to thank, again, Chief Mary Duckworth and Larry Sault of Caldwell First Nation for their leadership and efforts to protect Indigenous lands, including the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, which resides in the Three Fires confederacy of the Ojibway, the Odawa and the Potawatomi. As Larry pointed out to me just last night, and it’s really important for everyone to recognize, my constituency, which includes all of the land that would be included in the Ojibway National Urban Park, is, as Larry stated, “smack dab in the middle of Caldwell traditional territory.”
Caldwell First Nation has been involved with the Ojibway National Urban Park initiative since 2019, and prior to that, the chief and council had met with the Windsor West federal member of Parliament and other elected officials to discuss the options for protecting the area. I want to thank Windsor city council for their unanimous support for the Ojibway National Urban Park, as well. The city of Windsor has written letters in support of Bill C-248, which includes the provincial land of the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve.
The proposed Ojibway National Urban Park would include Ojibway Park, Spring Garden Natural Area, Black Oak Heritage Park, Tallgrass Heritage Prairie Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve and Ojibway Shores, a vital 33-acre green space and the last remaining undeveloped natural shoreline in Windsor-Detroit. It is home to hundreds of endangered species that rely on migration through surrounding local parks for survival. If connected, this area of approximately 900 acres, including the Detroit River, could become one of North America’s treasures.
It serves not only as a home and larger ecosystem to many species, including those that are identified as endangered, but also provides mitigation of flooding due to climate change, as well as natural heritage areas that our community and travellers from far and wide can enjoy, appreciate and use for healthy living space and ecotourism. My colleague from Oshawa can attest to that. She’s been there.
I want to note that I have written Minister Piccini several times and have spoken to him in person, bringing this project and its importance to Windsor-Essex and Ontario as a whole to his attention.
I’d like to share a letter from Windsor city council addressing support for Bill C-248:
“Advocating to protect, conserve and enhance the Ojibway Prairie Complex along with the Ojibway Shores property aligns with the goals of the city’s environmental master plan. Furthermore, from a climate change perspective, advocating for a national urban park that includes the Ojibway Shores property aligns with the goals of the city’s climate change adaptation plan.”
A letter from Chief Duckworth reads:
“As we are all aware, more needs to be done to protect the environment, especially the rarest ecosystem in the country, such as the Ojibway tall grass prairie complex in Windsor.
“The almost 900 acres of publicly owned land is a nearly extinct habitat located in a highly developed area of southern Ontario.
“It also includes the 33 acres of Ojibway Shores, the last natural shoreline on the river between Windsor and Detroit that remains untouched.
“The entire area contains hundreds of species at risk, the rare tall grass prairie ecosystem, and provides mitigation of flooding due to climate change. Caldwell First Nation would like to ensure these lands are protected for future generations.
“Subsequently, Caldwell First Nation has been engaged in discussions with Parks Canada on establishing Ojibway National Urban Park.
“The city of Windsor has been engaged as well. The province of Ontario joining with what is the consensus of residents in the area, the unanimous support of the council of the city of Windsor, and the commitment of Caldwell First Nation to establish Ojibway National Urban Park is the necessary next step in the process.
“Accordingly, MPP Gretzky’s motion for the province of Ontario to participate in the endeavour to create Ojibway National Urban Park is an opportunity for all members of the Legislature to acknowledge their support.
“Caldwell First Nation encourages all MPPs to vote for this motion to help establish the Ojibway National Urban Park.”
It is also important to note numerous environmental advocacy groups and leaders have endorsed the Ojibway National Urban Park, such as Friends of Ojibway, Unifor Local 444 environmental committee, Wildlands League, Citizens Environment Alliance, Green Ummah, Nature Canada, Essex County Field Naturalists, Auditing Society, Friends of the Rouge, Wildlife Preservation Canada, Detroit Audubon Society and many, many constituents across Windsor-Essex and in fact all over Ontario.
I want to thank the Wildlands League—Janet and Dave—for their tremendous efforts and advocacy for environmental protection across Ontario and Canada and, more specifically, right in my own riding. The Wildlands League have attended two public town hall meetings in Windsor West and have presented on the numerous benefits of creating and preserving public green space.
A support letter from Wildlands League reads:
“Dear Ms. Gretzky,
Wildlands League strongly supports your motion for the government of Ontario to transfer ownership of Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to Parks Canada to assist in the creation of Ojibway National Urban Park.
“We understand the entire federal Conservative Party of Canada caucus voted for the bill (in the House of Commons).
“With the support from a variety of environmental groups, including Wildlands League, there is truly broad community support.
“Ojibway National Urban Park is a great example of how we can protect nature in and around cities while bolstering investment in communities.
“Windsor embodies the threats and opportunities that are being faced by many municipalities in southern Ontario.
“Its remnant tall grass prairie is the most endangered ecosystem in the country, and the region is home to more rare species than anywhere else in Ontario.
“The creation of a new national urban park will also bring federal investments to help create and manage more green space for the public and encourage tourism in Windsor—a boon to the local economy. Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve is the core of the future national urban park.”
I want to again thank Janet and Dave of Wildlands League for their support and leadership in helping establish the Ojibway National Urban Park.
Speaker, this project has a significant impact on my community in many, many ways, specifically with the new public border crossing, the Gordie Howe bridge, that is being built as we speak. The Ojibway National Urban Park will exist parallel to it, which will help boost local ecotourism from tourists all over, including those crossing between Windsor and Detroit, Michigan. The proposed Ojibway National Urban Park includes the Ojibway Park, Spring Garden natural area, Black Oak Heritage Park, the Tallgrass Prairie park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve and Ojibway Shores.
It is important to note that no other site in Ontario supports such a concentration of rare species. These green spaces are home to over 3,000—yes, 3,000—species. In just Ojibway Shores alone, 554 different species were documented on the property: 293 fauna, 261 flora. Twenty-eight federally and provincially protected species were identified. A total of 141 species of birds have been documented on the property, over half of the 250 total species recorded in the Ojibway Prairie Complex. The significant number of species in an already species-rich area indicates that Ojibway Shores is an important stopover for migratory birds, which include eight species at risk: the bald eagle, barn swallow, bobolink, Canada warbler, common nighthawk, peregrine falcon, red-headed woodpecker and wood thrush.
The creation of the Ojibway National Urban Park has many positive impacts on Windsor-Essex and our province. We have an opportunity to create a public green space that preserves thousands of species and helps aid in flood mitigation, ecotourism, environmental education and true reconciliation with First Nations peoples. We have an opportunity to have significant partnership between Parks Canada and Caldwell First Nation, as this would give Caldwell First Nation the ability to co-manage the green space. We can protect and preserve these lands forever with federal investment, important partnerships and community effort.
I must take the time to sincerely thank every constituent in Windsor-Essex and across the province who has written to my office, signed petitions, attended the public town hall meetings. We just had one a couple of months ago that was attended by about 200 people. It has truly been a community-led and -based project, and I’m honoured to be here as the member for Windsor West to debate this today.
Speaker, on a beautiful and warm late August evening, over 200 residents attended the second public town hall meeting to learn more about the project updates and hear from Chief Duckworth of Caldwell First Nation and my friends at the Wildlands League what the next steps are. I can tell you there was a lot of excitement in that room about this project moving forward. People are anxious to see it move forward. My community has fought hard for this project for many years now, and I would hope that this government would do the right thing and support my motion to formally get the final piece of this initiative moving forward. I am urging every member of this House to vote in favour of this motion. This initiative has been supported by members of the federal government and MPs from all parties, as well as the city of Windsor and council. It’s supported by the broader Windsor-Essex community. Lastly, Speaker, I’m calling on every member of this House to vote in favour of my motion as it has also been supported by Chief Duckworth and Caldwell First Nation. If we really want to put action behind reconciliation, then these are exactly the types of motions that we need to be supporting.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Mr. Andrew Dowie: Very early in my professional career, I joined harbour master Peter Berry and my friends at the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup for what was a literal cleanup. Televisions, tires, the remnants of a bathroom and plenty of possible Beer Store returns were among the supposed bounty that we found at Ojibway Shores that day. The natural environment was damaged significantly by ATVs and other vehicles. I still have the photos from that day. I remain proud to have put the waders on and used some elbow grease to help restore and protect these precious lands in a small way.
Ojibway Shores is important to secure. It’s one of the last parcels of land that completes the environmental corridor from the Detroit River to the Grand Marais drain and Highway 401. The Ojibway complex as a whole is an island of tranquility, measuring more than 1,000 acres. The city of Windsor, the town of LaSalle and the government of Ontario have already laid the groundwork for protecting these lands. Now it’s time to take it to the next level by completing the corridor and seeing the Ojibway National Urban Park come to fruition.
Ojibway Prairie Provincial Park is the largest of the government of Ontario’s land holdings in the Ojibway Complex. The provincial land has the strictest legislated protections among all the lands. The park doesn’t have staff or facilities, but it is 64 hectares in size and is the largest protected remnant of native tall grass prairie in Ontario. Oak savannah vegetation communities are also present, as well as the numerous rare plant communities and significant species that it hosts. The province also has acquired more than 33 hectares of adjacent undeveloped natural land for eventual regulation as an addition to the provincial park.
The most striking aspect of Ojibway Prairie is the tremendous diversity of its vegetation and animal life. Wetlands, forest, savannah and prairie provide habitat for over 4,000 species. The prairie landscape, characterized by lack of trees, includes grasses and flowers that grow very tall and lush, hence the name tall grass prairie.
For many years, Ojibway Prairie was the only regulated provincial park in Windsor and Essex county, and has since been joined by Cedar Creek. That regulation means something, that the environment here is something special, that doesn’t get duplicated elsewhere. Speaker, Ojibway Prairie evidently means a lot to our community, and I’m grateful that the province of Ontario has been protecting it since 1977, and it is firmly regulated under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.
Now, today’s motion calls on our Legislature to transfer the ownership of the Ojibway Prairie provincial nature reserve to Parks Canada to facilitate the creation of Ojibway National Urban Park.
National urban parks include a mix of different types of land. This could include existing, expanded and new protected areas, as well as other types of land that will be managed to conserve nature and provide places for people to connect with the rich natural and cultural heritage of the city.
As a national urban park within the city, site management would focus on nature conservation and protection, reconciliation with Indigenous partners, promotion of universal access to green spaces for all, and the removal of possible barriers related to transportation and infrastructure.
Speaker, at the foundation of the national urban park projects is partnership amongst many parties, and it is an approach that considers the interests and needs of all stakeholders. The government of Canada has acknowledged the importance of and is committed to engaging and collaborating with local stakeholders and community partners on the project each and every step of the way, especially Indigenous partners including the Caldwell First Nation, the Walpole First Nation and the Huron-Wendat First Nation. And contribution agreements have been reached with two of these three communities, with the remaining one in progress.
Parks Canada has been working diligently to ensure that the national urban parks provide space for Indigenous stewardship, promote Indigenous voices and stories, and offer opportunities for connections to lands and waters based on Indigenous knowledge and values. The government of Ontario shares this priority. That’s why we remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a viable land management model for the Ojibway National Urban Park, established through respectful consultation and due diligence on all counts.
There’s undoubtedly broad consensus in the public to see the park materialize. That is not in question. The question that the motion poses is whether it is preferable to set a transfer of ownership from the provincial to the federal governments as a compulsory step to see the park take shape before the formal consultations with stakeholders can take place. It is premature to determine this today without giving in-depth considerations for the impact on the many stakeholders involved in the process.
The acquisition, management and sale of provincial real estate and land is governed by Ontario’s Realty Directive, issued under the Management Board of Cabinet Act. The requirements in the directive apply to ministries and provincial agencies that control realty, to government users of realty and ministries that bring forward opportunities for the use of realty to support provincial interests with respect to social, environmental and economic purposes.
For a variety of reasons, park ownership models can’t always be the tidiest. Take, for example, the former Holiday Beach Provincial Park, now known as Holiday Beach Conservation Area. The lands are still owned by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, but the park was deregulated and is now operated by the Essex Region Conservation Authority.
In the city of Windsor, parks have been established on lands owned by others for a variety of reasons. At 3110 Sandwich St., a former gas station owned by Suncor has now been used as a city park for 11 years instead of remaining as a vacant lot. And just recently, the city of Windsor came to agreement with the Canadian Pacific Railway whereby the railway cut above the international train tunnel leading to the United States will be developed as a municipal park, whereas the underground rights remain under the ownership of CP.
So with respect to the Ojibway Prairie site specifically, we as legislators are not armed with the information nor the background to decide as to whether a transfer of ownership is the best land management policy for the park. There are a vast number of agreements in place here in this debate: with Hydro One for electrical distribution, with Windsor Salt for the several square kilometres of salt mines underneath of the land, and with any number of the linear infrastructure installations and pipelines that cross the area.
Bill C-248 in the Parliament of Canada, which remains in committee, itemizes the national park boundaries, as many other national park acts do, but it doesn’t call for a specific land ownership concept. It notes the park boundaries that are proposed, and it has been demonstrated throughout Windsor and Essex counties that there are many ways to work together to bring parks to life, and, at least in some cases, the easiest path to the park’s establishment has been demonstrated to be leaving the existing ownership in place.
An incredible recent step has been the agreement between Parks Canada and the Caldwell First Nation for co-management of the park. This operating model is already in place with Ontario Parks at many locations: Beausoleil First Nation at Springwater Provincial Park; Moose Cree First Nation at Tidewater Provincial Park; Lac La Croix First Nation at Quetico Provincial Park’s Lac La Croix and Beaverhouse park entry stations, which I’m very familiar with; and Curve Lake First Nation for the Petroglyphs Provincial Park visitors’ centre.
Indigenous engagement in Ontario parks is extensive, with several parks being operated alongside a First Nation partner. They operate the park and are responsible for business operations.
The work to build the Ojibway National Urban Park is in progress. Parks Canada has requested representation from our government to participate in a partner committee to complete a pre-feasibility assessment and to discuss a range of models for the proposed national urban park, including shared governance arrangements. The Parks Canada direction is very much an acceptable and respected one and is not in need of being restricted to delivering a specific land management strategy. The national urban park model is different than existing national parks in that it is proposed to be a way to bring multiple landowners in an urban setting together under a single management plan.
The proposal for Ojibway National Urban Park is supported by federal government funding of $131 million over five years for a proof-of-concept and to start the process. The city of Windsor is already well engaged in this process. In January 2022, Parks Canada requested representation from our government to participate in a partner committee that would complete a pre-feasibility assessment and would discuss a range of models for the proposed national urban park, including shared governance arrangements. The purpose of the partner committee is to develop the governance for the pre-feasibility space of the proposed national urban park in Windsor, to inform and guide the pre-feasibility assessment process and site studies, and have decision-making authority with regard to activities undertaken as part of the pre-feasibility assessment. A draft governance model has been developed by Parks Canada.
The partner committee will be comprised of jurisdictions, landowners and Indigenous partners, including Parks Canada; the city of Windsor; the government of Ontario through the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks; the Caldwell First Nation; Walpole Island First Nation; the Huron-Wendat First Nation; and Hydro One.
Speaker, to demonstrate that the House shares the aims and goals of motion 1, I put forward motion 15, which takes much of the text of motion 1, a clear statement of support for the Ojibway National Urban Park, that I know we can all get behind to show our consensus for development of the park.
Motion 15 asks, “That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should consider integrating the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve with adjacent lands under the management of Parks Canada to facilitate the creation of Ojibway National Urban Park as part of an overall strategy to protect local endangered species and natural heritage areas, aid flood mitigation efforts, create publicly accessible green space and further encourage ecotourism in Windsor-Essex.”
I truly look forward to our further work developing the Ojibway National Urban Park together with my colleague from Windsor West.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Mr. Wayne Gates: It is my pleasure to rise today and discuss this important motion in front of us creating the Ojibway National Urban Park. First, I’d like to thank the member from Windsor West for putting this legislation forward. It’s a clear example of what an MPP should be doing to represent their community, to bring forward the voices of their constituents, right into this House. It’s a perfect example of a member going into their community, listening, gathering support, working with their federal counterparts and bringing forward legislation that should be supported by everyone in this House.
I’d also like to take a moment and thank Brian Masse, the MP for Windsor West, and his staff for all the hard work they put into the federal legislation that helped guide this process. Their Bill C-248 was passed in the House of Commons on June 8 this year and was an important part of the process in making Ojibway National Urban Park a reality. Thank you for all the hard work that was put into the legislation. It’s always great to see multiple levels of government working together to serve the best interests of their community.
Speaker, I’d like to really start with what is so fundamentally important about this motion: the protection of significant environmentally sensitive lands. The climate crisis we face in Ontario, in Canada, right across the world, only adds to the urgency of projects like this in front of us today. The project is going to take several important pieces of land, including Ojibway Park, Spring Garden natural park, Black Oak Heritage Park, Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve and Ojibway Shores, all in 900 acres of national park. While I know the member from Windsor West has highlighted how many of these areas are significant, the transfer of Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to Parks Canada will allow this important ecosystem and green space to be protected. It will include protecting local endangered species, aid flood mitigation efforts as climate change increases flooding events, create public accessible green space that will encourage ecotourism and preserve natural heritage sites. The benefits of this park creation are well-founded and hard not to support.
I think we should really focus on the ecotourism benefit that could be created with the passing of this motion. In my riding of Niagara Falls, I have the honour of living among one of the prominent ecotourism destinations in Ontario: Niagara Parks. The stretch of land along the Niagara River boasts ecological stewardship with incredible hiking and biking opportunities but ultimately historic preservation of both Fort George and Fort Erie. So I’ve seen first-hand how preservation of natural areas can really boost the tourism industry. This will likely be the case with the creation of a national park.
I’d like to wrap up by briefly discussing how important cross-party co-operation is on motions and bills like this. I really hope we can see the PC members and the independent members come forward and support this motion. I know the member has worked incredibly hard in speaking with stakeholders, with local First Nations groups and with our federal counterparts to bring this bill together and put it before the House. I truly hope all members here, especially the government members, see the value of this work and understand that this isn’t a time to play politics. Rather, it’s a time to work across party aisles and get something done for the people of Windsor and the people of the province of Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Ms. Mary-Margaret McMahon: The beautiful nature Ontario has to offer is one of my favourite things about our province. While I have not had the opportunity yet to explore the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, it sounds like a breathtaking landscape, and I will be putting that on my to-do list soon. I support the MPP for Windsor West’s proposal to transfer ownership of the park to Parks Canada and believe it would be best for the environment and those who make use of our green space.
I’m especially interested in how this switch would aid flood mitigation efforts. As we see and experience more natural disasters as a result of the climate emergency we are in, we should be doing everything we can to adapt our environment to mitigate risk of damages from these events and build resilient neighbourhoods and areas.
I also hope that through this transfer of power there will be continued extensive consultation with Indigenous communities—thank you for coming today—to ensure that this land is being used respectfully.
Madam Speaker, Parks Canada has the appropriate resources to successfully roll out the proposed strategy and create necessary changes to make this park the best it can be. We should always evaluate what the best management strategy is between all levels of government and who has the tools to make an area its best.
I’m glad to hear that the process of transferring ownership is already under way and hope that the passing of this motion will push it forward. The member has my support on the motion to improve the environment of Windsor-Essex.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Ms. Sandy Shaw: I want to start by thanking the member for Windsor West for bringing this bill forward today. I have to say it’s exactly what we need in these times. I have to say that we need this kind of collaborative and forward thinking. We are so privileged to have you present this bill, the first bill in the House. You’ve shown what it’s like to do the work and to bring a bill forward that’s not only important for this generation but for future generations, so I want to thank you for your work on this file. It really is remarkable.
We are seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Environmentalists always say that we need to think globally and act locally, and I don’t need to tell you here that the global picture is bleak. We have record temperatures costing people their lives, including right here in British Columbia—16 people lost their lives. We have a UN biodiversity report that tells us over one million species are now threatened with extinction, more than at any other time before in history.
So, why is acting local so critical? It means we need hope; we need to see that we can do this. So many people are overwhelmed and have anxiety about the environmental future, and this kind of bill is exactly what we need to see, and that’s what our work should be in this Legislature.
I would like to say that I am honoured to be in the House with Chief Duckworth and members of Caldwell First Nation. I want to welcome you here and thank you so much for coming here. We are so honoured to have you here. I just want to talk very quickly about some powerhouse Indigenous women water keepers that have shown us the way. We need to listen to them, and this bill represents that.
I’m going to talk about Josephine Mandamin, who is an Anishinaabe grandmother from Wiikwemikoong on Manitoulin Island. In 2003, she took it upon herself to walk around the Great Lakes to bring awareness to the ongoing pollution and environmental degradation, a problem that we continue to see and communities across Ontario are seeing.
Josephine walked for 15 years, and each time she inspired more people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike, to join her in her walk for awareness. Even at the end of Josephine’s life, while she was sick, she continued to walk and pray and inspire. Her final walk was a nearly 8,000-kilometre journey. Josephine passed away in 2019, and when she did, there were thousands of water walkers who vowed to keep her important work going.
It’s been mentioned, and I would like to say again, that this area represents some of the last remaining undeveloped natural shoreline of Windsor-Detroit, and it’s home to many endangered species, so we know exactly why this is so important, and we respect and honour her work and all the water watchers and water keepers in Ontario.
You know, we talk about reconciliation. I have to say I was quite disappointed to hear the MPP for Windsor–Tecumseh say that this is premature. He talked a lot about bureaucratic things that may not mean anything to anyone, talked a lot about real estate, talked about realty, talked about co-management agreements. I am shocked that in fact there needs to be a co-management agreement, when this in fact—it is my understanding—is traditional Indigenous land, so it’s really quite disappointing, and especially when we’ve just had the tribute to Premier Bill Davis, who talked about cross-party collaboration, that non-partisan things like climate change are what we should move on. So we talk about reconciliation. We need to act on it. We don’t need to dither.
Finally, I just want to say that there’s nothing in this motion that would stop the government from passing it now—nothing except political will. It’s a bill that represents exactly what we said about Bill Davis and the kind of work that he did. I am honoured and proud to speak in favour of this, and I want to thank you once again, MPP for Windsor West, for bringing forward such wonderful, wonderful work.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
Mr. Michael Mantha: I’m going to start off where the member from Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas just ended off: going to the tributes we just made this afternoon. We had beautiful tributes that were made on behalf of a lot of individuals, but the last one we did was on former Premier Bill Davis. Some of the speeches that were made were to “work against, work with, work, build bridges, put the olive branch out there, work with individuals.”
I want to thank the member from Windsor West; she’s done her homework. She’s reached out to community. She’s done her legwork. She’s reached out to organizations. She’s worked with the communities affected by this. She’s worked to advance those needs on behalf of those communities.
This is an opportunity where Bill Davis would say, “This is a nation-building opportunity.” Why would you wait for motion 15 when you have motion 1 right here, ready to grasp? Take it. Use it. Bring it to committee. Change the word that you need changed. It can happen. That’s what it means, collaborating—working with your parties.
Listen, I’ve always stood in this place and said, “I’ll give credit where credit is due.” I want to bring you back to Algoma–Manitoulin. There is a park there called the Mississagi park where the communities of Mississauga First Nation, Serpent River First Nation and the city of Elliot Lake are working collaboratively together to bring this park under their guidance, under their governance, so that they can properly operate it and give economic opportunity to the communities.
I’ll give credit where credit is due: The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks came to the community. That’s not what’s impressive. Listen, it was important enough for him to come directly to the park, where we stood on some of the trails, we stood on the beach, and we talked about the importance and the history that was there. We went into the cabins that were once operated by a junior ranger program, a program that I actually was part of in my very early age, as young as 16, 17 years old. It was important. It was a half-hour meeting. That’s not what was impressive. You know what was impressive? I always give credit where credit is due. The minister drove in from Sudbury—two and a half hours to come and meet with the people who were there and two and a half hours back. He drove five hours out of his way in order to have a 30-minute meeting.
That is what needs to happen here. You don’t need to wait for something—“It’s my idea,” “It’s a little bit better,” “The words are a little bit better,” “It seems right,” “This is what’s going to happen.” We can do it. It’s called working together. It’s called working against party policy—partisanship. Oh, my goodness, I’m having a hard time with those words today. These are things that can happen and should be encouraged, and when people are looking at us from the public, “Why are they fighting over this? Why isn’t this already happening?” Why are you having to wait? There’s no reason. There’s no rhyme or reason for this to happen. You want it to happen; the process is there; we’re well on our way.
The member has done her job. She has done the work for you. Take it, embrace it, build it forward. Use it as a backbencher, work with your leader, tell them to follow the path that was there before by a previous great Premier who served this province before. You do your job now and let’s move this motion forward.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Further debate?
The member has two minutes to respond.
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Thank you, Speaker. I appreciate being given the opportunity to speak to this. I would be remiss if—I know I thanked my colleague, my federal riding mate, Brian Masse, but, really, his team needs to be thanked as well. There has been a lot of hours and a lot of mileage that they have put into this as far as the town halls and drafting legislation and contacting people and staying in contact with the groups that have reached out to support this, so they really do deserve to share that credit with Brian. I’m talking to you, Mo Peer, because I know you’re watching.
I’m really disappointed to hear what the member from Winsor–Tecumseh had to say. He talked as though there has been no consultation, that there needs to be consultation, that there hasn’t been consultation, that somehow supporting this and doing something else is going to facilitate consultation. I gave you a laundry list, and that was just the beginning of the consultation that has taken place. The city of Windsor has already signed off in support, Caldwell First Nation has signed off, the Wildlands League. There was a laundry list, a long list, of community members. I’m happy to share some petitions with you if you’d like to read them into the House.
At the end of the day, Speaker, my motion does not say you must transfer the land; it says you should. It doesn’t dictate the terms of the transfer of land; it just facilitates that starting to happen. It doesn’t dictate a timeline for that transfer to happen; it just starts the wheels in motion. We have not seen the movement from the provincial government that needed to happen; thus, I brought forward the motion.
Most of all, because my colleague from Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas touched on this and it was the first thing out of my mouth when I heard the member for Windsor–Tecumseh—I don’t mean to attack, but it’s very sensitive for me. When he talked about working out co-management, this is Caldwell First Nation’s land. It’s not up for debate—it’s not up for debate. It should be an automatic. The terms should not be dictated by the government.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
Mrs. Gretzky has moved private member’s notice of motion number 1. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion, please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion, please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until the next instance of deferred votes.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): All matters relating to private members’ public business having been completed, this House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow, October 26, 2022.
The House adjourned at 1835.