Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Amanda Simard questioned Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks David Piccini in the legislature about proposed Colacem cement plant near L’Orignal, on Thursday, April 14.

Simard contended that the environmental compliance approval issued by the minister was based on “erroneous data” provided by the proponent of the project. In a letter to the minister, she had requested the ministry review the approval and revoke the approval.  

“Will the government do what is necessary and reconsider the decision, yes or no?” Simard asked . 

“I would be happy to sit down and have a meeting with the member about that specific issue,” responded Piccini. 

The minister said decisions are made based on expert advice from scientific staff within the ministry.  

Simard responded by saying Piccini had earlier written back to her and refused to reconsider the approval. 

“I want to stress the community is fiercely opposed to this project and has been for years, spending time, energy, and money fighting this project,” Simard said. 

The MPP noted Premier Doug Ford consented to the cancellation of a quarry project in Campbellville, west of Toronto because it was unpopular with area residents. She questioned why the cement plant near L’Orignal is not being cancelled for the same reason. 

“Will the government do the right thing and stop this project, yes or no?” Simard pressed. 

“I wrote back to her refusing to overturn a decision,” Piccini replied. 

“I didn’t refuse an opportunity to sit down and meet with her,” added the minister.

Introduces private bill to improve constitutional education

Also in the Ontario legislature, Simard has introduced and tabled a Private Member’s Bill which aims to improve education on the constitution, personal rights, and the differing responsibilities of levels of government. 

Misinformation and confusion about civil rights have become a common issue in society during recent months and years, the MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Provincial Parliament says. The bill would amend the Education Act and require a course of study in civic education be taught in Grades 9, 10, 11 or 12. The class would specifically include how to identify disinformation and misinformation, and include an overview of Canada’s constitution, including the separation of powers and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

“We want to help people be more aware of what is the proper Charter and separation of powers,” Simard said. 

The bill is up for debate in the legislature two weeks after it was introduced. Simard said it received applause from all parties when it was announced. 

“Everyone agrees that disinformation and misinformation is a problem,” the MPP remarked.

Simard, who sits with the Liberal caucus, said her bill is not intended to be partisan. 

“I just want to do things that are right for people,” she said. 

The MPP added that feedback from the public has also been positive.