moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here on Bill . 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 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 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 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 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 goes forward with solidarity, because it is the right thing, for the right place, for the right people.
Madam Speaker, as one can tell, when we talk about how our communities benefit and thrive because of national parks, it can be a very emotional issue. Many members of Parliament take a great sense of pride in how we might achieve having more national parks.
For example, there is The Forks National Historic Site. It is not necessarily a park, but for that site, I can recall the way in which people came together from many different sectors and ultimately developed this beautiful treasure in the city of Winnipeg. Today, it attracts more tourists than any other site in Winnipeg and arguably the province of Manitoba.
There is also Riding Mountain National Park, which has had an impact not only on the people who live in and around it but also those who use it.
I would absolutely agree that these are important issues for the House of Commons. The government is definitely interested in and wants to see continuing progress with the Ojibway National Urban Park or Windsor National Urban Park.
My understanding of the legislation, and I look to the member, is that it is more about coordinates. It is about where the park is going to be. To what degree did the member actually have a formal process that incorporated a wide spectrum of opinions and did the work Parks Canada is obligated to do by law?
I am eager about national parks too. I want to see more. I would like to see a national park in the city of Winnipeg, but I do not think it is just up to me to be able to say what the boundaries are, to say what it is I want and then just go out and solicit support for it. There needs to be a process that considers a wide spectrum of things.
The Province of Ontario might look at the bill and say that it is nice legislation, but my understanding is it wants to continue with the process Parks Canada has in place. If that is true, I would suggest members should be advised before they vote on the legislation to confirm that.
I raised the question about Caldwell First Nation. I applaud the chief and council and those individuals who have provided the remarks to the member.
Mr. Brian Masse: You are trying to speak on their behalf.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, he says that he is speaking on their behalf.
Mr. Brian Masse: No, I said you are trying to speak on their behalf.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, for me, it is important to have consultation and work in progress with Parks Canada, the City of Windsor, indigenous communities and the Province of Ontario.
The member has told us about all the people who support it, but where was the process to ensure there was an actual consultation equivalent to what Parks Canada would have provided? I have not seen that. I was here during second reading also.
There might have been a lot of talk about the park. I can assure members that I have had many talks. I have talked, for example, about how I would love to see some sort of a management system for Winnipeg's waterways that would involve the different levels of government and the indigenous community.
There are four or five rivers in Manitoba: the Red River or the “Mighty Red”, the Assiniboine River, the Seine River and a couple of others. We believe there is great potential for a national park. I could list some people and organizations I have talked to that have shown substantial support, and I suspect my list is relatively small. I suspect we would find many members of the chamber on both sides of the House who have ideas on national parks and projects they would like to see.
We know for a fact that the government has been working with stakeholders, and they incorporate the ones I have mentioned. We know that back in 2021 there were formal agreements being put into place. There are ongoing consultations. There is indeed a process that ensures there has been appropriate consultation with the many groups out there that have a vested interest, whether they are the leadership of indigenous communities, the provincial or national governments, or community members who live in Windsor, the surrounding areas, or anywhere along where the park is being proposed. There are also other stakeholders, including environmentalists, who have concerns about wildlife and endangered species in general.
They all have a role to play. That is why we established the process. It is not to say that this particular member from Windsor is the one who has to acquire credit by bringing forward the legislation and saying it was their idea. No one owns the idea. This has been talked about for a great length of time. There are many individuals who have dedicated resources, whether financial or personal time and effort. It all needs to be taken into consideration.
That is not to say that this particular member is not passionate about it. I listened to him speak, not only this time but I believe also during second reading on this legislation. I will give him that. He is passionate. I will say that he has talked to a good number of people. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the standing committee. I do know that at the standing committee there was an attempt to make some changes. The member kind of mocked the government, in its moving amendments and this and that.
It is because it does not matter what side of the House one is on, we recognize true value. If there are things that could be done to further this along in the process, which could provide the assurances that Parks Canada has put into place, I suspect there would be greater support.
My concern is that it is not government versus opposition members. It is about whether or not, if members genuinely believe in issues like reconciliation, if they genuinely believe in the importance of having adequate and proper processes, then I would question why it is they might be voting in favour of this legislation.
If members vote for this, that would tell me that anyone who comes before the House and says they have consulted with 25, 30 or whatever stakeholders, and have built up some good letters of support and so forth, but they have not followed the formal process that has been established through legislation or regulation, we should trust them. Even if goes to committee, and it is not to devalue the opinions, advice and recommendations of so many who have already contributed to the debate, it is a vote of confidence in the people who work at Parks Canada, the people who are obligated to do what we have asked them to do, and establish that process to ensure that there is free and open a consultation that ensures that those vested parties are in fact being consulted in the most appropriate way.
This legislation does not deal with the issue of process. I think members need to be aware of that. If they want to believe in the institution of Parks Canada, and the process, I would suggest they should vote against the legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to be taking part in the debate on this bill, which calls for some legislative work. The bill seeks national recognition for an important place that is historically significant for our country. I will say more about that later.
First, I want to acknowledge the member for 's passion and determination. I have been in the House of Commons for eight years now, and I have had the pleasure of knowing my colleague that whole time. I have a lot of respect for him because he is so dedicated. More often than not, we do not share the same vision for Canada's future and how to achieve it, but I do admire his dedication and his passion for the causes he believes in, such as this one.
As the shadow minister for environment and climate change, I am privileged to be a member of the committee that studied this bill, but I know the study started quite a while ago. The member has been working on this for over 10 years and has been working on the bill for four years.
He and I both witnessed something of an about-face on the ministers' part. I will keep it civil because we are in Parliament. Initially, there seemed to be a willingness to go ahead, and departmental officials supported the initiative and were working hand in hand with the government.
Suddenly we have noticed in our committee that there has been a big switch coming from the ministerial bench. People have said one thing before and then switched their point of view to one that is more cautious. I want to raise the fact that it is not the first time we have seen this. Recently, while studying a bill in the official languages committee, we saw that there had been a big shift in the current government when it started to talk about certain issues.
I would like to see a little more discipline from the government side. We understand that the work we are doing is exceedingly serious. Since the Liberals have been in office for eight years now, we expect more consistency and coordination between the public service, which objectively analyzes the situation, and the government's political and partisan point of view. It is only natural for the government to have a political perspective, but the public service and the government need to work together.
If, three-quarters of the way into a job, it becomes clear that things are not working, then changes need to be made. Most importantly, the stakeholders need to be informed. We saw this happen with this bill. Unfortunately, we also saw this happen with the bill to overhaul the Official Languages Act. We witnessed a kind of mutiny within the government, which was sending members to committee who were basically saying the opposite of the government. I therefore urge the government to be a little more disciplined.
Let us come back to the crux of the debate on this bill. I very much appreciated the historical aspect mentioned by my colleague from Windsor West. This is part of our heritage. Obviously, when we talk about national parks, we are reflecting on our roots and the history of our country. We are reflecting on the presence of first nations and the colonial era, either in New France or under British rule. It is part of a whole.
As my colleague said, in 1749, the French established a farming system, traces of which can still be seen in geographic features. There are streets and neighbourhoods in Windsor with very French-sounding names. That makes us very happy. This concerns that area.
As the member also mentioned, it is not so far from the Gordie Howe International Bridge either. I want to remind the House that this bridge, which connects Canada and the United States, is one of the biggest projects in Canada. This area sees the most trade in the country. I remember that the member mentioned the percentage.
I do not remember exactly how much money, but billions of dollars go from us to the U.S., and from the U.S. to us, via this bridge and the communities around it. That is very important to us.
I respect that this member praises his area, like I am quite sure all members do. I can assure members that I am very proud to be from Louis-Saint-Laurent, and I recognize when members are also proud of their ridings.
Yes, the Gordie Howe bridge is very important. I want to honourably confess that I have a conflict of interest in this matter. I am bringing it up because I want to acknowledge the extraordinary achievement of the Hon. Denis Lebel. He was the infrastructure minister at the time and the man behind this bridge.
We know that there were difficulties. Our partner, our neighbour, had some reservations. There were also reservations on the Canadian side, which is quite normal in infrastructure projects. That said, under the co-operative leadership of the Hon. Denis Lebel, we succeeded in building this bridge, and we look forward to seeing it open soon.
I just wanted to salute this extraordinary contribution. It is one of the Conservative government's great achievements, and it came about under the leadership of the Hon. Denis Lebel. I wanted to mention that.
I think there is currently some disagreement with departmental authorities about how to proceed. It is worth noting that the purpose of national parks is, first and foremost, to determine the cultural importance of this kind of proposal. It has to respect biodiversity. The landscape also needs to be considered. Would establishing a national park in the proposed area enhance the landscape? New parks also have to complement our other national parks.
Quebec has three national parks, including one in the Mauricie region. I am not big into the recreational and tourism activities there, but everyone tells me Mauricie is absolutely amazing. I would like to take a moment to salute one of Mauricie's great native sons, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien, who was the instigator for that national park. Yes, he is a Liberal—nobody is perfect—but I recognize the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien's contribution, and I say that with tremendous respect, of course.
Yes, it has to be connected to the landscape. It has to complement the existing national park system, and essentially, it has to have the support of the first nations, the surrounding communities, the people who live in the area, and, of course, the municipal, provincial and ultimately federal governments.
There are five steps to establishing a national park: identify the general area; select the specific area; assess the feasibility; negotiate the necessary agreements, and finally, establish the park by amending the Canada National Parks Act. That is where we are right now, and we need to get it right. Obviously, the concerns expressed by the government will have to be evaluated.
Once again, I cannot help but notice that the government has waited until the last minute. The hon. member has been working on this for over 10 years and has spent over four years going through all the parliamentary steps needed to move forward. Now, just as we are about to pass the bill, the government is pulling back and asking if everything has been done correctly, because there are plenty of areas in Winnipeg where there could be beautiful parks.
With all due respect, my friends should perhaps have thought of this before, because this matter did not come out of nowhere. They have been talking about it for years. The act has been around forever, or almost, and it is very clear. Maybe they should have checked for problems before we got to this stage.
In closing, I also want to remind members that national historic sites can be evaluated without necessarily becoming national parks. I want to give a nod to my part of the country, Quebec City, where there is a historic site that includes three buildings at 57 and 63 Rue Saint‑Louis in Quebec City. It is probably the most modest historic site around. As an aviation enthusiast and history buff, I also want to salute the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Nova Scotia. It commemorates the first heavier-than-air controlled airplane flight, which took place in Baddeck on February 23, 1909. We salute the fact that it has become a historic site.
There is a difference between national parks and historic sites. We should be proud of our heritage. Let us designate new national parks properly and ensure that it is all done according to the rules.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for 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 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 , 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 , 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 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.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill , 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 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—