An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada)


Brian Masse  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Second reading (Senate), as of Oct. 31, 2023

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This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canada National Parks Act to establish Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


April 26, 2023 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada)
June 8, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada)

Budget Implementation Act, 2023, No. 1Government Orders

April 27th, 2023 / 11:55 a.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and the Green Party for supporting Bill C-248 since the very beginning and the Ojibway national urban park. They were instrumental in getting that done.

She is quite correct that it is not a double standard, by any means, to do this. It is a challenge. I have seen a game going on for a lot of years where if a member votes against the budget, they vote against everything in the budget. That is not true. There are many things, even with this budget, that the Conservatives would do, the Liberals would do and others would do back and forth. I think that argument is rather tired. It has been used against me repeatedly, but I have been able to get back here. Some have even said that I voted against the bridge, which I have been working on for a long period of time.

I think people are smart enough to know this, so it is not a double standard by any means. I am glad they are supporting it and they can differentiate between the two.

Budget Implementation Act, 2023, No. 1Government Orders

April 27th, 2023 / 11:45 a.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise on Bill C-47.

First, I want to thank members here in the chamber and those who are not for supporting Bill C-248, my private member's bill on the Ojibway national urban park, which passed almost unanimously. I thank members for that.

It is good to talk about how this place can work. I have worked, at the industry committee, on a couple of Conservative bills, one from the member of Essex, and I am glad that this Parliament is continuing, because that work will continue. However, if we do not support the budget bill, it is very clear what happens. As I hear from many members from all political sides, what they say in the chamber and sometimes in public is not the same thing as we hear in private. They are glad we are not going to an election for a lot of reasons, and they will talk about that quite openly because the consequence would be losing all private members' legislation.

I have worked with a couple of Conservative members, in particular, on their private member's bill, which are quite good. They are excellent, and a good step forward in making a difference for Canadians. One is on affordability and one is on interoperability with regard to sharing information on farming and other things. Lastly, there is one related to tax incentives, which is important for a number of reasons.

I think it is important to note, as I start to think about why I am supporting this bill, that there are some things I do not like in a bill and there are things I do like in a bill. That has been the same for me in this place for over 20 years for any government that has come forward. It does not matter which one it has been, whether it was Jean Chrétien's when I first got here or, most recently, that of the member for Papineau, the current Prime Minister. There are certain things I do like and certain things I do not like in a bill. However, overall, I am pretty proud of the NDP being able to use this opportunity to get things passed that were defeated in the previous Parliament, whether it is dental care or more housing initiatives.

They are not all of the things we wanted and asked for, and we wanted other things to go with them, but we are 25 members moving this country forward. Also, imagine going through another election during a pandemic with no results and it costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The Speaker would have to go through another election for the Speaker position, and we would have all the rigamarole to get the House back in operating form, for probably a regular scenario like we have here.

I have seen in this chamber other political parties get a lot less or not do anything. I remember that during the Harper minority years, the Liberals supported Harper over 100 times without an amendment. Over 100 times they supported the government de facto, letting it operate as a majority government without any challenges. During that time, Harper brought in the HST, a new tax on consumers, and even taxed hospital parking lots, which are no longer taxed. I could go on with a bunch of things that happened with no resistance whatsoever from the Liberals at that time. We sat next to each other in the old chamber, and I remember asking why they were not doing anything about it. They said they did not want to be bothered right now. We bother because we have to fight for things.

When I got here, there were only 14 New Democrats, and we played our role, as anybody in opposition, in trying to hold the government to account for a lot of reasons, such as making change and so forth. Then, when Jack Layton joined us, there was a real change in where we were. With where we stand today, we want to make propositions as well as be in opposition. That is what Jack instilled in many of the members here today.

With the culture we now work in on a regular basis, we look at this as an opportunity to get what Tommy Douglas wanted. Tommy Douglas wanted eye care, dental care and pharmacare as part of the full package, and that is part of what drove us as New Democrats. It was the understanding that our freedom, our sense of well-being and our health are so critically important, not only to us and our families but also to the economy and society, that they should be the number one things protected. That is one of the reasons Tommy Douglas was voted the number one Canadian, with the population supporting him as Canada's favourite Canadian.

We are now realizing a part of that dream that never came to fruition. It is important to recognize that each province does have some elements of dental care and some elements that are stronger than others. However, this is not across the whole country from coast to coast to coast.

In the area I represent, I have a lot of child poverty and a lot of single mothers. A lot of people, including my own hygienist, do not have dental coverage. These things are wrong because they affect human health, everything from one's heart to wellness to how one feels as a person. This is all preventable.

This is money that goes back in the economy. Yes, it does cost the government money and there is a cost and expenditure there, but it is not a tax cut, which is something the Conservatives and the Liberals have done in the past. In fact, Stéphane Dion was arguing with I think Michael Ignatieff at the time about tax cuts not going deep enough and fast enough.

When there are a lot of U.S. corporations and taxes on worldwide profits, some of our industries send money back to Washington. Instead of doing that, I would rather invest in dental care, as an example, because it saves jobs and lowers the cost of jobs in Canada for foreign investment and other investment.

Earlier in the debate today, we talked about the Volkswagen plant that is coming in. I have been after a national auto policy and I do not want to see one-offs. I would rather see a strategic investment, especially when it comes to batteries and the platinum age of auto, which we are in right now. In the calculations to do the deal here is the cost of labour. When we look at the productivity of Unifor and other labour organizations in the auto sector, yes, their wages and benefits are a little higher, but they also produce significantly more and better than their counterparts.

On top of that, when there are programs with subsidies going to the worker instead of the corporation, we control those subsidies and those subsidies are not going off to other countries. They are staying here and are investing in people. Those people with those subsidies are better off regarding production and making sure we can be economically viable.

There is also the social justice argument, which should be a no-brainer. How anybody in this chamber can accept dental benefits for their own children but deny others the same thing is beyond me. I do not understand how they can come to this place and check that at door every single time. We know we get a privilege benefit from the taxpayers, but we tell them they cannot have that. By the way, we still have not fixed eye care. We do not have that either. That is wrong. We should lead by example, and leading by example means providing things that would be fair and balanced.

Coming from the border town of Windsor, Ontario, in Essex County, where we have to compete against American jobs every single day, I know from talking to executives that they want health care in this country because they know it means a lower production cost for their workers in the United States, Mexico and other places. It means less turnover and less loss of skills and abilities. Especially with an unemployment rate now of 4% to 5% and having a problem attracting workers, this is key. That is what dental care adds to the equation. It will also bring better stability at the bargaining table.

The government needs to get on this and help negotiate a settlement agreement for its workers, because we are not going to see any value in keeping the public service out right now. It is not going to pay off whatsoever, and the government needs to change that.

The point is that, yes, there is a surface cost to paying for Canadians to get dental care for themselves and their families, but it is an investment back in them, our communities and our economy versus a net loss. That is one of the reasons I will support this budget. It is going to complete at least one chapter of Tommy Douglas's dream.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

April 26th, 2023 / 3:40 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C‑248 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from April 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada), be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

April 21st, 2023 / 1:50 p.m.
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Scarborough—Rouge Park Ontario


Gary Anandasangaree LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely delighted to speak today in support of Bill C-248, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, Ojibway national urban park of Canada. I would like to thank the member for Windsor West for his hard work in bringing us here. I also want to acknowledge the work of the member for Windsor—Tecumseh for his advocacy.

I was able to visit this park when I was in Windsor about two months ago, and I was quite impressed with the enormous efforts that have been undertaken by the community, including the Friends of Ojibway Prairie.

I suspect that most of what I will say will be more of a reflection on the Rouge National Urban Park, which I am very proud to represent. This is how I want to frame it. On any given week, we have opposition day motions, and we have question period for around five hours. There is an enormous amount of back-and-forth among all the parties, and sometimes it is questionable as to what we are doing here and what this place really means.

After the seven and a half years I have been here, if I were to leave this place tomorrow or if I were to leave this place five years from now, the single most important thing that I would take away with me is the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

I suspect the member for Windsor West is probably on a very similar journey to the one I am on. The reason is that this was a monumental achievement for us locally, for those of us who represented the Rouge park or, in this case, the Ojibway national park. It is monumental because, when we look back 30, 40 or 50 years from now, we will see that we were creating an enormous gem protecting our wildlife, protecting our natural habitat and ensuring there is ecological integrity in the hearts of some of the most densely populated places in all of Canada and North America.

As I look at the Rouge National Urban Park taking shape today, I often think of how we got there. I want to pay respect to a number of people who have been instrumental. I want to start off with Lois James, who, as members may know, was known as the mother of the Rouge. She unfortunately passed away several years ago.

We have tried to mark her success in so many ways, but the absolute legacy that she left is the park itself. Starting with her, and continuing with generations of activists who were inspired by her, we have managed to bring something very special to the greater Toronto area. We now have 79.1 square kilometres of protected space, with some of the most incredible wildlife protected, including the Carolinian forest. We have hundreds of endangered species, ecological areas and farms, which really do speak to the vibrancy of the park.

We had to do a balancing act to ensure that an established urban area could support a national park. Starting with Lois James, we went through the seventies and eighties, as the city of Toronto was sprawling. Scarborough was at that time a city of its own. It was sprawling, and there were enormous pressures for development because of shortages in housing.

We had activists. We had common citizens, including people who were principals, gardeners, students and people such as my friends Glenda Bearmaker, Jim Robb, Kevin O'Connor and others, who basically said that enough was enough. They saw that we had the historical Rouge River going through one of the most beautiful parts of the city, and if we were going to put development right in the centre of it, we would lose it and the ecological benefits that stemmed from it. People stood in front of bulldozers. There are stories of citizens who stood in front of bulldozers and said that enough was enough. They did not want to have development at the cost of the environment and the land.

I think the enormous sacrifices of the individuals there led us to the park today. I always say, with the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, that in many ways we are here as the last leg of this long marathon, but what we did was inconsequential compared to the work of the community itself, the fights the member for Nunavut was talking about and the enormous strides our community made.

Then, I look at all the people since then, the kids, the schools and the community. There will not be a week that goes by from now until the fall when we are not doing a tree planting. I, for example, am doing a “walk in the park”, as I call it, in the Rouge National Urban Park next Sunday, and there will be tree planting and a community cleanup tomorrow for Earth Day. There are tree-planting opportunities across the Rouge park that are done by organizations such as the Friends of the Rouge Watershed and Forests Ontario to ensure that the park is vibrant.

The unique nature of the Rouge park also means that we have active working farms with people who are recognized as heritage farmers. Farmers have farmed the area for a couple of hundred years. They have a form of tenure that allows them to continue until their demise, and we have new vibrant businesses that are taking shape, including what I am told is a microbrewery that is coming to the park.

Of course, this is all situated on the traditional lands of many indigenous nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit. There are also the Huron-Wendat, who have a long history, including areas of the park where their history dates back over 10,000 years. The park itself is managed with enormous guidance from the indigenous circle that is part of the operations of the park, and there are regular and ongoing consultations that really allow the park to be sensitive.

There is one thing I have believed a park should do, and I am going to put it out there, because it is something that is quite important. I have had many conversations on this, and I hope at some point it will happen. The Rouge National Urban Park is the single largest display of the federal government within the greater Toronto area, and as such, I believe there is a need for more reflection on reconciliation at the park. For example, there is a need for a truth and reconciliation trail that would enable those who are visiting the park to be able to recognize the long and painful history of indigenous people in Canada, but particularly in the region.

Also, I think there is a greater need to ensure that we use the park to bring people back to nature and bring people back to what is, I think, most important, and probably the most important threat this country and this world are facing today.

I want to also acknowledge the work of Parks Canada's Andrew Campbell, who is the lead for Ontario, as well as Omar McDadl, who is the superintendent of the park. In the minister's office we have Joshua Swift, Kate and Jamie MacDonald, who have been incredible. There is also Janet Sumner of Wildlands as well as both former minister McKenna and the current Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

In closing, I think what the member for Windsor West is doing in collaboration with this community and many of the community members who are part of the Friends of the Ojibway Prairie is creating a legacy. It is not his legacy, but a legacy for all Canadians for future generations, where we can look back and say this is what we did in eight, 10 or 12 years of being here; we are protecting the land and making sure there is green space, and we are building a better Canada for all of us.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

April 21st, 2023 / 1:40 p.m.
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Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, I would like to remind all members, specifically the members for Windsor—Tecumseh and Essex, not to use words like “our indigenous peoples” or “our first nations”. This is just to remind MPs that we do not belong to other people. We are not owned, so I ask members to please stop using those words together.

I am very pleased to represent Nunavut in supporting Bill C-248, as tabled by my colleague, the member for Windsor West. This bill would establish the Ojibway national urban park, which is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of first nations, which includes the Ojibway, the Odawa and the Potawatomi.

Before I speak to my support of this bill, I send my congratulations to the amazing, courageous Nunavummiut who have just completed the Nunavut Quest in Arctic Bay in my riding. The Nunavut Quest is a great test of strength, perseverance and determination. It is a race of dog teams between communities.

Owning a dog team takes a lot of commitment and helps to protect Inuit culture. Dog teams were integral to the survival of Inuit in the harshest of conditions. Despite the governments efforts to eradicate Inuit culture and language, including the slaughter of dogs from the 1950s to the 1970s, Inuit remain steadfast in keeping Inuit culture alive.

This year, the competition was a journey that took nine dog team mushers and their support teams from Igloolik to Arctic Bay. I congratulate the organizers and the racers. The racers were: David Oyukuluk, Jovan Simic, Terry Uyarak, Donavan Qaunaq, Jonah Qaunaq, Joshua Haulli, Lee Inuarak, Michael Inuarak, Jeremy Koonoo, Apak Taqtu, Owen Willie and Christopher Piugattuk. Upigivatsi. I honour them.

To get back to this private member's bill from the member from Windsor West, I understand that it has taken several years and a lot of hard work to ensure that this region, which has a unique ecosystem, gains its status as a national urban park. This is a particularly important issue because this region is home to hundreds of endangered species that migrate there for their survival. Establishing the Ojibway national urban park will also protect the last remaining undeveloped natural shoreline in Windsor and Detroit.

I thank Chief Mary Duckworth of Caldwell first nation, who said, “Establishing Ojibway National Urban Park, not only preserves the last remaining shoreline and protects remnants of a rare ecosystem but underscores also how important it is to have a natural presence that has been unchanged by humans within a city. This is what makes it even more unique”.

A great aspect of this bill is the fact that it garnered support by so many, including Caldwell first nation, the City of Windsor, Friends of Ojibway Prairie, Friends of the Rouge, Wildlands League, the National Audubon society, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and Unifor.

In his remarks introducing the bill, the member for Windsor West quoted Michelle Prior, president of the National Parks Association of Queensland, Australia, and it is worth repeating an excerpt. She said:

National parks are a national achievement and a cornerstone of a modern, enlightened society. Not only are Australia’s parks famous worldwide and form part of our national identity, they provide an abundance of benefits. Reclaimed from the past as a legacy for the future, they are a fundamental aspect of life today.

A final bit of background on the importance of passing Bill C-248 is from a publication. In 2017, the Essex County Field Naturalists' Club and the Essex Region Conservation Authority published the Ojibway Shores Natural Heritage Inventory/Evaluation. I encourage everyone to read this comprehensive report. I learned so much and can absolutely imagine the beauty that exists in that region.

The report states that volunteers collected the data and experts verified it. I highlight this because it highlights the grassroots approach this initiative has taken and how important it is that Canada listens to the voices of the people. My colleague has done his part and we must take their leadership and ensure that the Ojibway national urban park becomes a reality. Not only has this been a grassroots initiative, but I am proud to highlight that my colleague, the member for Windsor West, has taken a non-partisan approach. He has worked with all parties, even the Liberals who have needed to be pushed to appreciate the great value that Bill C-248 has for all of Canada.

Why is this so important? I looked up the National Parks Act to see what would happen. Adding the Ojibway national urban park to the National Parks Act would provide two main outcomes: number one, that Canadians will have education, benefit and enjoyment of the park and, number two, that the park shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave it unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

My colleague, the member for Windsor West, has undertaken a major task, which normally could have been completed by the federal government. He has basically handed it a gift. When national parks are to be added, there must be a lot of work that is completed. What was the work required, before tabling an amendment? One was to provide a report on a proposed park, check; two was that the report include information on consultations, check; and three was agreements reached with respect to establishment, check. Finally, Bill C-248 at this stage now has been reviewed at committee, namely, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

I do hope the Liberal government joins in this collective call for the establishment of the Ojibway national urban park. The park needs the federal government to ensure the ecological integrity by its mandate established under the Canada National Parks Act. The Ojibway national urban park needs the government, according to the act, to help in its “Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes”.

Finally, I personally thank the member for Windsor West for asking me to speak on this important bill, Bill C-248. I thank the Three Fires Confederacy of first nations, which includes the Ojibway, the Odawa and the Potawatomi for sharing in their traditional territory and working toward the protection of this important area of Canada. I hope one day to visit the Ojibway national urban park.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

April 21st, 2023 / 1:30 p.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to participate virtually in the House this afternoon.

The first thing I would like to do, with your indulgence, is to wish my lovely wife Allison happy birthday. She is incredibly sweet and young. I love her dearly and I want to celebrate that.

Second, I want to congratulate the member for Windsor West for getting the bill this far. The member and I have worked tirelessly on this together. It is a fantastic example of collaboration and how working across the aisles we can certainly get things done for our regions. I know how influential he was with respect to my private member's bill, Bill C-241, and it has been an honour to work with him on his private member's bill, Bill C-248, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, the Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada specifically.

This has been a fantastic example of collaboration from all levels of government, which is enormous. I know our constituents continually ask us to not always fight in the House and to try to get along and find common ground. It puts a big smile on my face on a Friday to know that really good, unique things can get done when we work together.

As an example, our provincial government has come to the table. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has been amazing in making sure that this comes to fruition, along with MPP Andrew Dowie, from Windsor—Tecumseh, who has also been very influential in the conversation and bringing those folks together. I really want to celebrate and thank them.

I have had many conversations with Mayor Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, who is very much in support of this private member's bill, along with the mayor and councillors of LaSalle. It is a win-win for our community, so I thank them.

I want to thank our first nations: Chief Duckworth of the Caldwell First Nation, in collaboration with the Walpole Island First Nation.

Then of course there were amazing community consultations and a ton of outreach. People have literally been so vital in this conversation and I just want to thank them so much for that.

I will be very prudent and say that I am happy the Liberals changed their mind, because twice they voted against this. I am not sure what changed, but I am certainly happy they recognize that this is going to lead to huge opportunities for tourism, our economy and the health and mental health of people in our regions of Essex, Windsor—Tecumseh, Windsor West and Chatham-Kent—Leamington.

I have done my due diligence. I have spent countless hours in discussions with mayors, in community consultations, and with stakeholders. There were two things that were always top of mind. One is to make darn sure that our corridors and arteries, Matchette Road and Malden Road, remain open so that the folks who need to get back and forth to Windsor to work in our automotive sector and our new battery plant that is coming up do not encounter a big blockade that does not allow them to get back and forth to work early. They are putting in countless hours at these businesses and we should not have the major arteries, which are the major roads, blocked so they cannot get back and forth from their place of residence.

Equally, I have spoken many times on the importance of getting Canadians active. We have been basically stuck in our home for three and a half years due to COVID. It is time to get active, to get out on the trails, either a biking or hiking trail, or spend time with family and mother nature. This park has white-tailed deer, raccoons and the endangered eastern fox snake, which I really hope does not cross the path in front of me when I go out to this new park. We have the Gordie Howe International Bridge set to open up in 2025, which perhaps can connect with this urban national park. There is going to be a walking path on the bridge.

The tourism opportunities here for our region are absolutely vital. It is huge for the area, let alone the economy and what it is going to bring to our small businesses, hotels and restaurants, all those who are offering their services.

This is a really good, very well-thought-out private member's bill. Again, I am very happy to be supporting this.

Let me also say that this does not affect private lands. It will have zero effect on those lands that are surrounding it today. This bill uses existing federal-provincial lands that already exist. All it is doing is taking the existing green space and bringing it all together, which is enormous. It is protecting the environment.

Essex, Windsor West and Windsor—Tecumseh is a very small area. We are surrounded by three bodies of water, Lake Erie, the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. Property is at a premium, to say the least. When we can give opportunities for folks to get outdoors, to get active, to spend time with their families away from our televisions, then I think we need to enhance that. We need to celebrate it. We have to do everything possible to ensure that we are doing our due diligence on that.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. What a fitting day to be talking about a private member's bill that is actually protecting some 800 acres in Essex that would go a long way to ensuring that our feathered and furry friends are protected.

I understand this bill is to be voted on next Wednesday, and I really hope that it gets passed. Equally, I am hoping that we can somehow, in some way get it to the Senate as quickly as possible, to get their support. Would it not be remarkable if we could get it through the Senate and allow these folks to start taking advantage, again, of this urban national park?

The greedy side of me says, along with Bill C-248, I also hope the Senate talks about Bill C-241, which is my private member's bill. Maybe they could push that through at the same time.

Conservatives will be voting in favour of Bill C-248. Again, I want to celebrate and congratulate the member for Windsor West. It has been an honour to work alongside him. This is only positive for our region, specifically for Essex, Windsor West, Windsor—Tecumseh and Chatham-Kent—Leamington. It would enhance the lives and mental health of people going forward.

The House resumed from February 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada), be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2023 / 7:50 p.m.
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Irek Kusmierczyk Liberal Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent point of order and well taken.

The Parks Canada process is the best path forward for one major reason. It prioritizes, from the very start, community consultation with our community and also with indigenous communities like Caldwell and Walpole Island, which have historic ties to Ojibway.

Consultation with first nations from the start on the design of the Ojibway national urban park is especially important, not only because Canada has a constitutional duty to consult with indigenous communities on the creation of national parks, but because Ojibway provides a genuine opportunity to strengthen our relationship with indigenous peoples and advance reconciliation.

Imagine an innovative made-in-Windsor model where indigenous communities and environmental groups co-design an Ojibway national urban park and share stewardship of an Ojibway national urban park. Imagine a process that allows other community groups to have a real voice in the design of an Ojibway national urban park. In the spirit of Black History Month, we want to hear from the Amherstburg Freedom Museum or the Essex County Black Historical Research Society, to connect Ojibway to the story of the Underground Railroad.

Again, I want to recognize my colleague, the MP for Windsor West, for being a passionate champion of Ojibway all these years. His contribution to this work cannot be overstated.

However, Bill C-248 bypasses community consultation, falls short of our duty to consult with first nations and creates a duplicate process that could jeopardize the progress and partnerships already developed by Parks Canada.

Here are some of the most significant concerns I have with Bill C-248

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2023 / 7:40 p.m.
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Windsor—Tecumseh Ontario


Irek Kusmierczyk LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-248, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act. I want to begin by acknowledging that the land I represent is the ancestral and unceded territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of first nations, the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi.

I share my colleague's enthusiasm for the creation of an Ojibway national urban park, and I recognize his long-standing advocacy. Both of us recognize that Ojibway is a precious gem, unlike any other. Compared to, say, Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto, Ojibway is a postage stamp of land, but in its 300 hectares, Ojibway contains rare Carolinian forest and tall-grass prairie, and it has the most biodiversity in all of Canada, including hundreds of plants, reptiles, insects and wildlife.

When I first got elected in 2019, my first meeting with the Prime Minister's Office on Parliament Hill was about the creation of an Ojibway national urban park. Not quite two years later, I joined the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development at Ojibway, in addition to dozens and dozens of local community partners, to announce our government's commitment to create seven new national urban parks, among them Ojibway. It was a historic day. Parks Canada was put in charge of creating an Ojibway national urban park, which makes sense, since Parks Canada has over 100 years of experience building national parks. We trust the experts. Since that day, Parks Canada has been busy putting in the work to make Ojibway national urban park a reality.

I will walk members through the Parks Canada process, which I support, and the real measurable progress we have already made to building an Ojibway national urban park.

Last year, we established a local partnership committee to oversee the process of creating an Ojibway national urban park. Parks Canada provided the City of Windsor with $600,000 to begin consultations and the groundwork to carry out a joint work plan with Parks Canada. Windsor's city council voted unanimously in favour of this process. We brokered an agreement between the Windsor Port Authority, Transport Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada to transfer Ojibway Shores to Parks Canada for inclusion into an Ojibway national urban park.

I am proud to say that we will have some even better news to share with our community in short order on the transfer of Ojibway Shores. Ojibway Shores is the last piece of natural habitat on the shores of the Detroit River. It is priceless. It is beyond value, and our community fought tooth and nail to keep it safe from bulldozers. Now, through the Parks Canada process that is under way, we will protect Ojibway Shores forever.

In December, Parks Canada began a series of open houses and pop-up workshops to engage residents of our community, listen to our community members and get local feedback on the design of an Ojibway national urban park. What I mean by that is the design of not just the footprint of Ojibway national urban park, but the design of how Ojibway national urban park would be managed.

Most important, we are in the process as we speak of working toward a collaboration agreement with our indigenous partners, Caldwell first nation and Walpole Island first nation. Two weeks ago, I had a chance to meet with Chief Mary Duckworth and members of Caldwell first nation to talk about the Parks Canada process of building an Ojibway national urban park. What I heard is support for a Parks Canada process that envisions Caldwell first nation being not only co-designers of an Ojibway national urban park, but also co-managers and co-stewards. In that way, the Parks Canada process is not just about creating an Ojibway national urban park, it is also about taking concrete steps on the path to reconciliation with our indigenous partners.

The work of building an Ojibway national urban park is already being done. Ojibway national urban park is already being constructed, much like we see the construction of the Gordie Howe international bridge, right next door, moving forward. The Parks Canada process is the best path forward for one major reason, and that is that it prioritizes, from the very start, community consultation with our community and with indigenous communities such as Caldwell—

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2023 / 7:30 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent for his speech because at the very end he mentioned Alexander Graham Bell and Baddeck. That is the historic site from which the plane took off in February 1909. I just have to say it was my grandmother's cousin who was piloting that plane. His name was J.A.D. McCurdy. I wanted to get that in there, as I am proud of that heritage, and I am glad the member brought it up here in the House.

I am also proud to rise to speak to Bill C-248 here this evening. It is a bill that would create Ojibway national urban park near Windsor, Ontario, and it was put forward by the wonderful member for Windsor West, who has been working so hard and passionately on this for a decade now. I did speak to this bill when it was at second reading some time ago, but I would like to go over that ground again and really dive into why the bill is so important and why Ojibway national urban park is such an important initiative that we need to get done.

This proposal would combine lands that are owned by all levels of government, the federal government, the provincial government and the City of Windsor, and combine them into a really priceless package that would protect an endangered ecosystem that is unique in Canada. That is why this should be a national park. It is a small area. It is only 900 acres, or something like that, but it is so important from the national perspective and from the environmental perspective, that it would really be a fabulous addition to our national park system.

I would also like to thank the member for Windsor West, as I mentioned before, for inviting me down to Windsor a few years ago to visit this area. I had never been to Windsor. It was great to tour around the city and see the urban sprawl of Detroit right there across the river. It is such a vibrant place.

I toured the Ojibway Shores area, where the member told me all these stories, and each story was about the battles he had been through to protect this important area from various plans for development. He brought the community together, and he brought Caldwell first nation, other community groups, naturalist groups, biologists and even developers together to say it would be such a wonderful addition to not just the local area, but also to Canada.

We were there on a beautiful day in September. We hiked along some of the trails through beautiful grasslands. The big bluestem grass was full of the late summer flowers, such as asters and other beautiful flowers. There were birds, of course. That is my thing. I am always looking for rare birds, and there are a lot of birds there. We walked through the groves of oaks. This is kind of a savannah habitat. We saw a lot of people enjoying these trails. It was clear that this was a popular place for the locals to come on the weekends, get out of the urban habitats and enjoy nature.

I think that has even amplified since the pandemic. We have seen a huge increase. I have not been back to Ojibway Shores, but around my home, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of people getting out on trails and enjoying nature, just because people have discovered that. They had nowhere else to go during the pandemic, and suddenly they have discovered that here in Canada we all live in beautiful places. Ojibway Shores is one of those places, and this area would protect three really important ecosystems: the tallgrass prairie; the oak savannah, as I mentioned; and the Carolinian forest.

In my previous life, as some members know, I was a biologist, and a lot of the work I did in that career was centred around endangered ecosystems and species at risk.

There are four ecosystems in this country that are consistently listed as the most endangered. There are the Garry oak savannahs of southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. We have the desert grasslands in the South Okanagan area of British Columbia, which is where I come from, my home habitat. There is the Carolinian forest of southern Ontario, which is a deciduous forest. They are found throughout the eastern United States and squeak into Canada in southern Ontario. There is the tall grass prairie in southern Manitoba and parts of southern Ontario as well. The Ojibway national urban park would protect two of these important ecosystems, the tall grass prairie and the Carolinian forest.

We do not often think of Ontario as a prairie province, but it once had extensive tall grass prairies. Those have been largely wiped out over the last two centuries through agriculture and urban development. Only about 1% of these habitats still exist. In Ontario, there are only three areas larger than a few acres that represent this habitat. One of those is Ojibway Shores.

Endangered ecosystems, almost by definition, are home to a lot of species at risk. That is what makes them species at risk: Their ecosystems are endangered. There are almost 200 rare and endangered species in Ojibway Shores. There is no other area in Ontario that would come close to that length of a list for endangered and rare species, and only one or two areas in Canada would come close. One, as I mentioned before, is my home habitat in the desert grasslands of the Okanagan.

There are endangered plant communities. There are endangered insect communities. We do not know a lot about some of these things. I would just say in passing that one thing the government could do is spend a bit of money doing an inventory and a survey of some of our endangered species. We might find them in a lot more places or we might find that they are truly endangered. It would be a good investment.

In a previous speech, I mentioned the beautiful damselfly, the giant spreadwing, which is found in Canada only in Ojibway Shores. That is the only place it is known. There are also endangered reptiles, like the Massasauga rattlesnake. In my hometown, we have rattlesnakes that are threatened as well. Here, the Massasauga rattlesnake is found in a small population that is 300 kilometres away from the next population. It is isolated and endangered. There is the bobwhite quail, a really iconic species of small game bird that is found in Canada only in extreme southwestern Ontario. It used to be in Ojibway Shores. Now it is found only in Walpole Island, which is nearby. If we protect these areas, then we can talk about bringing some of these species back, but we need to protect them first.

This is not an area like Banff, Jasper, Kluane or Ivvavik, which are big, wild parks. This is an urban national park that is special. It is built in a mosaic of properties that are close to Windsor. It would be an integral part of that urban population. We have to make sure those properties connect habitats correctly so these species can thrive even in the small areas. We have a similar proposal in the South Okanagan to create a national park in a similar area, a mosaic of different lands.

Once again, I want to thank the member for Windsor West for his work on this. I congratulate him for all his effort and I hope everyone here joins us in voting for this very important bill.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2023 / 6:50 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here on Bill C-248. I thank all the members in the House for getting it here. In particular, I thank the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, the Green Party and also two Liberal members who supported it.

We have tried to work with the government on this, and I will get into that later. Unfortunately, to date, it has not joined us, but we shall see. I have tried to use this place as constructively as possible, especially given the fact that Canadians have shown they want us to work together. Unfortunately, the government has not done so at this time.

I will reference a quote on the Parks Canada website, which I think dismantles some of the government's objections to this private member's bill. It is key to our democracy. When one thinks about the work that goes into private member's business, it does not matter where one is from and what the legislation is about. It is our right to be heard, and it is our right to change our Canada outside of the partisan envelope.

I got lucky in being picked to be put up high on the Order Paper for this bill. I could not think of something stronger to put forward. I have been trying to push for a new border crossing in Windsor. My first public meeting as a city councillor was for a new public border in 1998 at Marlborough Public School. The proposed legislation that I have today is for a property next to it that goes along that entire border process that would create a national urban park for all of Canada. It would protect 200 of Canada's 500 endangered species. It is supported universally by groups.

I will read from a Facebook post by the government's own Department of Environment. On June 23, 2022, the Parliament of Canada posted the following on its Facebook page:

Did you know that national parks are created through Acts of Parliament?

On this day in 1887, Parliament passed the Rocky Mountain Parks Act, which established what is now Banff as the first national park in Canada.

Today, there are 48 national parks. They are found in every Canadian province and territory.

The Parliament of Canada acknowledged in its post, on the anniversary of this law for Banff, that national parks are created by acts of Parliament. It is very helpful today, because now the government insists it wants to go through some process that is still being drafted to deal with this issue. However, what we have done is a responsible, accountable, transparent and inclusive process for this legislation. This legislation is going to amend the Canada National Parks Act.

That is how every single national park has been created. This is how we could go about fixing a situation in Windsor. It is an opportunity to provide some restoration with regard to reconciliation. One of the most important partners that we have in this process is Caldwell First Nation.

I will help citizens picture this area. Where I am from, in southern Ontario, the Detroit River runs right through our city, but there is also a connection of the lake system for the Great Lakes.

What has happened is that, unfortunately, we have done what a lot of places have done. We chopped, milled and cut down all the trees. We moved in with agriculture and manufacturing. It has left very little green space. However, because of our location and our temperate environment, we have Carolinian forests that provide a refuge for species at risk. That includes trees and fauna, amphibians, the Massasauga rattler and others that are endangered. Similar to many other places in the country, we are fighting to get these green spaces back.

There is a unique element of this process that needs to be put to the test. This is all public land. There is no private land. The government will say now, out of desperation, that some of it is private property, but it has not provided any geographical evidence about those locations. We would want to get those things out anyway.

It is important to note that we are unifying public lands through this process. There is no position whatsoever that we want, other than to be able to work with the City of Windsor, which supports this bill, and to be able to work with Caldwell First Nation, which supports this bill. The Province of Ontario just passed a motion in the legislature about this bill. On top of that, we have several environmental groups that have all shown support for this bill. It is truly grassroots. It comes from the fact that we have these endangered species that need a better level of protection than they get through the hodgepodge system we have now.

One thing we did fight for along this area of the Detroit River, as it extends into other parts of the city along that front, is the shoreline that the Windsor Port Authority still has not transferred over. I want to remind all members of Parliament that port authorities are the creations of Parliament under the Marine Transportation Security Act and are no different from Canada Post or anything else. They operate through regulation, but it is the people's land.

It was that area that some developers tried to bulldoze and clear-cut. Fortunately, I was working with one of the developers in the area who tried to get involved in the project. I called the person up and said, “Do you realize what is happening? Do you realize what you are going to be part of?” That person took out their position in support of the project at their own cost, and the property has now been saved for the future. It is supposed to be transferred, but we are still waiting for that to happen.

There is no time to wait when we think about the property I am talking about. When the Gordie Howe bridge, which is next to it, is built, 40,000 vehicles per day could potentially traverse it, with up to 10,000 transport trucks per day, and we do not have environmental assessments on how that is going to take place. The Gordie Howe bridge is a large piece of infrastructure that crosses two and a half kilometres of the Detroit River and onto the territory of the Caldwell First Nation. Chief Duckworth, who has been to Ottawa with me several times, has appeared at press conferences and is basically a mentor in many respects.

Caldwell First Nation is part of the restitution with this country. When it fought with the British, it was promised the Point Pelee area. After that, its members were burned out of their properties, went through a long process and finally have a good settlement now. They are setting up a proper reserve and are doing very well with other types of initiatives. They are the land stewards of this area. This is one of the good-news stories.

Members of the Caldwell First Nation have stood shoulder to shoulder with us during this process. In fact, they were the first group I brought down here when I was trying to save Ojibway Shores to see if they had interest in the property. At that time, they did not because they wanted to go toward Leamington, which is next to Point Pelee, and they have that land now. The beautiful part of this story is that despite being forced out in the past, they are now co-managers of Point Pelee National Park. They will also be co-managers of the park that we are proposing here. This story highlights what we should be doing right.

Chief Duckworth, who has been very good on this, said this at committee: “We know that we need a legislative framework in order to make this national park happen, and I am here to support the hard work that's been done and the hard work going forward.” Members of the Caldwell First Nation sent several letters, which have gone to all members in this chamber. Again, they have showed a path forward.

Across the Detroit River, the Wyandot community is also supporting this bill, and I will get into this a bit because it is international. The Wyandot community, another aboriginal organization, has sent in a letter of support for this.

I want to point out that a private member's bill can be done in a non-partisan way. The member for Essex has been terrific on this and has been supportive in the past. We have seen members come and go, and one of the previous members, Jeff Watson, whom I used to work with and who was from the Conservative Party, supported this. Even though we may not have always seen things the same, we knew how to work on local interests.

The current member for Essex said this:

This is a very unique opportunity for the folks of Essex. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We are somewhat landlocked in Windsor-Essex, in that we're surrounded by three bodies of water. I've spoken extensively with Mayor Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor; Mayor Bondy, the mayor of LaSalle; and Mr. Watson, the previous member of Parliament. We've done our due diligence. Everybody says this is a fantastic thing to do.

The member has also brought up an issue that I think gets under-reported, which is about mental health and getting out to other spaces. I want to thank the member for Essex for that, because sometimes we lose some of the other lenses we view things through. That is why it has been important for me to have this type of support.

I also want to thank the Bloc Québécois for making sure that this is understood as a very unique project that really defines our area. What many people do not know is that Sandwich Town, which is right next to this area, is the oldest European settlement west of Montreal with a francophone culture that is still part of its rich vibrancy. In fact, the Detroit River, with its first nations and the French settlements, had a seigneurial system where farming came up. We have a number of French names throughout the city system, which run north to south, and after the British came, British names ran east to west. We have this combination, but the francophone culture is very strong. In fact, a new hub centre is a couple of blocks from my house, so the language is going strong with some of our new Canadians who are by this area.

This is a social justice issue in many respects, because if we amend the National Parks Act as we want to, it will give it the same stature as Point Pelee and other parks, and it deserves it because of the hundreds of endangered species. On top of that, the area it is next to, as I referenced, Sandwich Towne, has been one of the poorest places in Canada in many respects with child poverty and single mothers. We have dealt with a series of different poverty issues over the years because the international border and Matty Moroun, a private American billionaire who passed away and whose son owns the property now, caused a lot of interesting and very difficult problems over a number of years, including buying and boarding up homes. Why this is important is that we need to do this right.

When we fought to get the Gordie Howe bridge, there were those who said we should twin the Ambassador Bridge. Even the Prime Minister gave them an order in council to do that a few years ago and let a billionaire family have its way with Canada. We said “no” to that. OMERS, one of the largest pension funds, wanted to run a truck route through my riding. We said “no” to that.

What did we do? We fought for the right thing, which is a brand new public crossing. It was a compromise we got, which is now the Gordie Howe bridge, that will provide economic security for all of us, as well as environmental advantages. The same battle is happening right here.

We said we were open to amendments. I worked with the minister after the Liberals voted against it. We had meetings and several different things. They went to committee with those amendments, and one of their own Liberal members ruled the minister's amendments out of order. I was asked by the Liberals in the morning what happened. I said that, first, their parliamentary secretary and others were not there and, second, I did not know, and that they have to figure out what is going on in their own party. In 20 years, I have never seen a minister's own amendments ruled out by a member of the minister's own party. That was something I cannot explain.

We want Liberals to be there. That is why I agreed with the amendments and we worked with them. I want to put that in the past because this is so important for our future. Time is of the essence. What clearly came out of the committee hearings with the different departments is that they admitted that eventually they might have to adopt my process because theirs is still in draft and they do not know what they are doing.

We are not going on about the other urban parks out there. They are being proposed as a rubber-stamp way of going about the different areas. What we are saying is that, as they are figuring that out, we have a unique thing in the Windsor-Detroit region on the environment and the land that we are looking to consolidate that is crystal clear and can move forward. We have limited time because of the Gordie Howe bridge coming in and there have been no environmental assessments for this.

The importance of this is clear and evident. I have a letter from John Hartig, one of the primary environmental people in the Michigan area. He wrote, “Benefits of a National Urban Park in Windsor”. Another title was, “Detroit's Benefits of a National Urban Park in Windsor”. It talks about the park. It talks about how it will celebrate history, enhance cross-border trail tourism, become a destination of choice, reap economic benefits, strengthen transboundary conservation benefits and help change the perception of our area.

There are many benefits to this park system. I want to revisit the fact that the way to legally create national urban parks right now in Canada is through changing the Parliament of Canada Act. Why the Liberals would want us to have something less than that, I do not know, but these endangered species and the people need this type of protection, and we are following that due process.

As I have noted, the City of Windsor supports this, the mayor and city council. Councillor Fred Francis appeared at committee and talked about it, as did the Wildlands League. Thank goodness for its work, which is CPAWS. It has done amazing work. Unifor was at the environment committee so we had the unions involved, as well as Wildlife Preservation Canada; Citizens Environment Alliance; Essex County Field Naturalists' Club; Green Unmah, a youth activist group; Friends of Ojibway Prairie; and Save Ojibway. Local residents have put in thousands of petitions.

The area that we propose is part of the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of first nations. That includes the Ojibway, Odawa and Potawatomi. They did everything right for our community in what they were asked for back in the War of 1812. Now they are part of this partnership and the full consultation and respect for consultation is in the Canada National Parks Act. That is why Bill C-248 goes forward with solidarity, because it is the right thing, for the right place, for the right people.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 17th, 2022 / 10:05 a.m.
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Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in relation to Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

November 15th, 2022 / 4:55 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Okay, can we proceed to a vote on the bill? I don't think we've done that. We've voted on the title.

Shall the bill carry?

(Bill C-248 agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5)

Shall the chair report the bill to the House?