Liberal MP Public Safety Critic Mark Holland Critiques Seaway International Bridge Crisis and New Minister Vic Toews – by Markus Noé – Cornwall Ontario, January 29, 2010

Liberal Critic, Critiques Bridge Issue 

Since late last spring Cornwall residence and businesses have been victimized by the ongoing border dispute. This issue was ignited when the Government of Canada decided to arm all of its border guards. The Cornwall Port of Entry is the only border crossing in this country that resides on a native reserve and this is where the problem lies. The natives of Akwesasne argue that it is their right to chose if they want armed border guards on their reservation, and they have made it clear that they don’t want armed guards.

The natives also express a fear for their safety as there is a belief that the border guards are racially profiling them. The former Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan decision on this issue was to leave the negotiations up to the CBSA.  

There has been no action by the federal government on this issue now since late summer. Then last week a glimmer of hope was presented to Cornwallites as Van loan was shuffled from his position as Public Safety Minister and is now the Minister of International Trade. Like the rest of the media outlets in this community the Cornwall Free News attempted to talk to the new Public Safe Minister Vic Toews. Unfortunately he was unavailable for comment, the reason being that he is still too new to this portfolio to make an informed statement.  

The Cornwall Free News decided to talk to Member of Parliament Mark Holland who is the Liberal Public Safety Critic. It is his job to shadow the Minister of Public Safety and to comment when he believes a mistake as been made. When asked his thoughts on how the Liberals would handle this issue Holland said, “we have been trying to get a third party mediator in to resolve this issue. This situation is something that should have never occurred and could have easily been avoided.” 

Holland’s frustration with the governments inactivity this issue is evident when he said, “the government has sat on the sidelines and fanned the flames.” Local businesses especially in the downtown area have noticed a significant drop in revenue since the border dispute began. Holland believes that the Conservatives have turned their back on this riding when he said, “they essentially abandoned Cornwall and left the city in a tough economic situation in an already tough economic time.” 

For more information on what Mark Holland thinks about this situation he can be contacted at, hollam0@parl.gc.ca. To get in contact with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and see if there has been any new developments he can be reached at V@parl.gc.ca 

What do you think Canada?  Post your comments below.

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20 Responses to "Liberal MP Public Safety Critic Mark Holland Critiques Seaway International Bridge Crisis and New Minister Vic Toews – by Markus Noé – Cornwall Ontario, January 29, 2010"

  1. grimalot   January 29, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    You know, I am under the belief that the government is trying to fan the flames. Its the only logical reason I can see for this inaction on the bridge issue.

    Tick off the natives, get them to uprise, then point the fingers and try to garner votes from the people that are mad at the whole situation stemming from the island. Some will tell me this is a conspiracy theory and it may be. But I am not surprised if this is whats happening. While all on the dime of the taxpayers/businesses/citizens of this riding.

    How much longer will we have to all suffer over an issue that should have been resolved faster than the speed we got aid to Haiti? I mean come on, this is IN our country and we still cannot get it resolved.. Sad indeed.

  2. Ontarian   January 29, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    The Conservatives haven’t abandoned Cornwall, nor have they left the city in a tough economic situation, after all, Guy Lauzon is still here!

  3. Cornwall Harry   January 29, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    If they can spend over $88 Million on a casino renovation, let them pay for their own bridge!

  4. Sigfus Arnfinnsson   January 29, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    I am not pleased with federal politicians leaving these problems with the bureaucracy of the Canada Border Services Agency. Treaties were agreed to in earlier years when Canada needed such for peace and order, nation to nation. That the natives people have become diminished in size relative to the larger nation of Canada does not diminish the worth of these treaties, nor of the responsibility of both sides to abide by those treaties. Good government, on both sides, would recognize the value of these treaties and work towards maintaining them. Leaving the dimunitive nation to deal with bureaucrats, no matter how well intentioned, is not a proper recognition nor diplomatic manner expected of Canada in such dealings. I would like that Canada should conduct itself in a more appropiate manner.
    Some of the people of Akwesasne have conducted themselves in such a manner as to attract attention. I submit that those particular persons have an unusual and practiced talent for attracting attention. As much as attention is required to various problems, a few are excessive, and such talents are not conducive to the leadership of either Akwesasne nor of Canada to meet as cordial equals.
    It would be time for setting to one side the problems and looking for solutions.

  5. Destructo   January 30, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Just another example of how parliamentary democracy fails its’ citizens. Our local politicians are useless to us, they only serve their party. Guy Lauzon is a puppet on the end of Stephen Harpers’ strings. The Natives have been screwed long enough, from the original treaties which are now largely ignored, to the residential schools, to the sub-standard living conditions they are often forced to endure, not only here but across the country. This once quite populous and proud nation has been reduced to pocket sized communities scattered across their former land, begging the government for scraps.

    We are the oppressers.

  6. PJR   January 30, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    Isn’t it clear that Lauzon is AWOL on this? Guy’s talents stretch only as far as passports, photo ops and hand clapping…a stand-up comic without knowing it.

  7. Eric   January 30, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    The Conservatives were elected with a platform to arm the Border staff, this is not new. How about one law for all Canadians that is enforced.

  8. NSSherlock   January 31, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    One factual error in this article is the statement that Cornwall is the only reserve to house a border station. Walpole Island reserve in ONT also houses a border station for the Algonac Ferry. (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/contact/listing/offices/office1002-e.html) Some of the officers there are armed, and it doesn’t seem to have caused any problems. As for the continued brou-ha-ha over this situation, I still do not understand. Akwesasne is a sovereign nation – they didn’t want CBSA in the first place – they definitely didn’t want them armed – they say they have the sovereign right to dictate affairs in their nation – the CBSA is now gone – Canada is a soverign nation – it chooses where it sets up it’s border stations – it chooses what equipment it’s officers carry – it chose to arm them – it chose to relocate it’s Government office. Two nations exercising their rights – end of story. If you point the finger at Canada for exercising it’s sovereign right to dictate how it operates, where, and by what means, then you must similarly point that same finger at the First Nations.

  9. Ontarian   January 31, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    NSSherlock, you have said it for all to understand. If they don’t get it now, they never will!

  10. bobgeneric   February 1, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    NSSherlock I am sure the CBSA office is at the Sombra ferry dock and I am pretty sure this is not on the reserve. The reserve is not actually an island, no international bridge runs across it and the reserve is parked firmly on the Canadian side and does not have the Can/US border running through the middle of it.
    ~
    So explain to me why it is that Akwesasne residents should have to report to the CBSA in Cornwall when returning to the Island from the US side of the border?
    Who are the Natives that are pointing these fingers you speak of and exactly at do you think they are pointing at?

  11. Gerry Healing   February 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Mark Holland is making a bit of play for free press. He was advised early on in this dispute about sensitive papers (hit lists and sources of intelligence), uniforms, hard drives, video… and much more left behind in CBSA’s rush to leave. He did pretty much nothing …and up to now nobody else has talked about the materials that fell into unauthorized hands.

    CBSA may have been a good idea but it is peopled by old school bureaucrats that are more interested in, reclassifications, pay increases, sick leave and vacation than being professional peace officers. It’s a mind numbing repetitive job, by the book, in a little shack …not even remotely equivalent to real policing.

    Sure they know a lot of rules and regulations, but they don’t even respect the constitution …so (in spite of the many officers that are sincere and loyal public servants) my respect for the agency as a whole is non-existent. And were it possible I would say that I hold the president of CBSA and his seatwarming cabinet bosses in even lower regard.

  12. admin   February 1, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    This whole thing about CBSA being the entity at the table has never washed. I have yet to see any negotiation via CBSA regarding border station locations with either the US or any other Country or province.

  13. bobgeneric   February 3, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    Gerry, I don’t think old school bureaucrats are the problem. I think that it is actually the younger newer generations of officers that have grown up in a world where our Law enforcement has become more tactical and combative in nature and where all civillians are suspects, the us and them attitude. Somewhere we have let our Law enforcement agents forget who they work for, we have given them a pass to trample on our civil rights.

  14. admin   February 3, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Too many reruns of TJ Hooker and COPS bob……

  15. bobgeneric   February 4, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Admin are you being demeaning and flippant or funny? Right me off as a paranoid cynic, who watches too many cop shows if you wish, but the reality is warrants served in the middle of the night by tactical squads is now the norm not exception. We have effectively militarized our Police, turning them into soldiers not keepers of the peace.
    Go to Google and search “militarization of police” and research it yourself…..there is probably a story to report if that’s what you are into.
    ~
    To expand on the trampling of rights; to deny this is dangerous, as we are all watch dogs of the Government, that is our job. Do you think it is right that a person be tasered because they were frustrated and raised their voice to a police officer? What about cameras? A cop’s worst friend. How many times have Police tried to bully people into putting their cameras away or turning them off and succeeded? Just one example of a thousand.
    As a news paper admin I though you would be paying more attention.

  16. admin   February 4, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Bob when you get as much news filtering through your desk as we’re getting it boggles the mind. What boggles me even more is the public’s reaction to news and issues of importance. For example; last night there was a town hall meeting about some very important issues that face all of us that live in Ontario and locally.

    IE; Health cuts to hospitals. This is a life and death issue. Sadly these issues only seem to enter the mainstream when one of our loved ones dies or has something bad happen to them because of budget cuts to our ohip system.

    So yes, us crusty old admins and editors can get jaded or lost; and yes, you’re quite correct that our world is shifting from the cult of self to being turned into widgets that when they don’t fit smoothly in place are tossed into the bin; usually quite forcefully.

    The good news is that it’s not as bad here as in the US….yet. The bad news is that this current government has a group in it that willingly is racing to a more police run type state.

    The hope is that more people in Canada and right here in Cornwall start caring more about the big issues instead of what’s going on in American Idol.

  17. grimalot   February 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Hey bob, welcome 🙂 Glad to see you here.

  18. bobgeneric   February 4, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    “The good news is that it’s not as bad here as in the US….yet. The bad news is that this current government has a group in it that willingly is racing to a more police run type state.”

    You may think this but as someone that has worked parallell to armed security and tacktical squads where having a sniper riffles and qualified snipers on the team is normal every business and this was not in the US. This creeps in slowly without notice and should be cause for concern.
    ~
    I do agree with you about uninvolvement of citizens and your example of health cuts to hospitals but we weren’t discussing health care issues were we?

  19. bobgeneric   February 4, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    grimalot thanks for the welcome. I noticed you don’t comment at the freeloader much anymore. Too bad although we disagreed on issues and have differing opinions I always considered you one of the sane ones!
    Any time two people agree on everything one of them is nolonger nessesary

  20. grimalot   February 5, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    I have said it many times bobgeneric, we may not all agree, but we all need to make our voices heard. Otherwise there is apathy being brewed, which is what I am against. No matter what ones opinion is, other people are being made aware. Keeping in mind of course that whatever someone posts is open to other opinion and response.

    Yeah, I don’t post much on the SF anymore, I don’t appreciate a paper that keeps on cutting off commentary and such on issues that matter to the people. This is why I like the CornwallFreeNews, it will not let itself be silenced or controlled by outside sources.. ahem..

    Again, glad to see you here bobgeneric, and looking forward to further debates with you in the future. 😉

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