I want to thank Mr. Gary Champagne for his letter to the editor expressing concerns related to the proposed cement plant in Champlain Township and its associated zoning change. I know he is passionate about democracy and about his region.
It has been a privilege serving Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for the past two years as Member of Parliament. I truly appreciate citizens being passionate about issues that impact them. I welcome constructive criticism as it demonstrates an engaged citizenry as the alternative is simply not acceptable in a democracy.
This cement plant proposal has been a divisive issue for the community. Personally, I don’t support the building of a cement plant close to the Ottawa River for its potential impact on the quality of life for local residents. Further, waterfront property is a jewel that we must protect not only for the current generation but for future generations. Should the project move forward, I will be personally impacted as my family lives across the river from the proposed location.
Having said this, it is not up to me to make this decision. There is a process that will take place at the Ontario Municipal Board which is a quasi-judicial body. Evidence will be presented from both sides free of politics. If Action Champlain believes I have so much influence on the process, I look forward to receiving a letter from their lawyers asking for my opinion should they choose to present this as evidence.
I have been criticized for not speaking louder on this issue, but I refuse to be a demagogue – a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires rather than using rational arguments. I refuse to give false hope to my community knowing full well, that if I scream loud I cannot follow-up with action.
While I won’t be able to influence the decision-making for a zoning change at the Ontario Municipal Board, rest assured should the project move ahead, you have my commitment that I will not support any federal dollars to the project. I understand certain politicians may be persuaded to weigh in on issues of other jurisdictions but as it stands today, a Federal Member of Parliament weighing in on municipal issue is all bark with no bite.
I want to thank Mr. Champagne for giving me the opportunity to respond and I look forward to discussing any issues with individuals in the future.
Member of Parliament