I want to take this time to recap the issues and above all encourage readers to get out and vote.
Someone said to me the other day, that they don’t believe that there has been one central issue that has defined this campaign. I agree with that. There is not just one issue, but there have been several that make this election unique.
They day this paper is delivered by the printers, Oct. 17, is the day that marijuana becomes legal in Canada. This is an issue that will affect all municipalities, not just Cornwall, but like all other municipalities, Cornwall will have a choice to make, whether to “opt-in” and allow private vendors to sell marijuana, or “opt-out” and wait and see.
In Cornwall, three of our mayoral candidates have stated that they’re in favour of opting in right away, while only incumbent Leslie O’Shaughnessy has said he is in favour of waiting to see and opting in at a later date if it suits the municipality.
I don’t think that Mayor O’Shaughnessy is necessarily wrong on this. Even with legalization happening this week, many details are still up in the air, for instance, it was only recently revealed that marijuana would be regulated under the tobacco laws and not the liquor laws. I do however think that Cornwall must and will allow private marijuana vendors eventually. No matter what happens, residents of Cornwall will still be able to buy marijuana through the province’s online store, and if our neighbours allow private vendors, then we are sending tax revenue out of our municipality.
The waterfront, while always a present issue for Cornwall, is a little bit more pressing in this election than it has been in the past. The federal government seems more willing than ever to divest itself of it’s waterfront holdings in Cornwall and even said as much earlier this year. The question now is, what should Cornwall do with them? Do we buy the lands at great cost? Do we allow developers to take it over and do what they want?
Mayor O’Shaughnessy stated at the Chamber of Commerce debate that he believed that Cornwall’s by-laws would help ensure that Cornwall did have a say in what goes up on the waterfront, if and when it is sold. I think that’s true too, but only to an extent. The only real guarantee is if Cornwall acquired the waterfront, or at least the areas of the waterfront that the City is interested in.
Bernadette Clement is right when she says that the acquisition of these lands by the federal government to create the St. Lawrence Seaway should be taken into account. That Cornwall is owed something for the impact the creation of the Seaway is an argument that can be made.
David Murphy’s advocation of a lease-to-own model for Cornwall for the waterfront lands is something that I believe would be an elegant solution to this problem, if it is something that the federal government would even consider.
The final topic that I have heard emerge in this election is attracting a young workforce to Cornwall. This one has emerged recently. Even two or three months ago, I don’t think anyone was talking about workforce, but now it is something that all candidates are addressing.
I think this is an important issue that deserves to be near the forefront of the public’s mind in this election. The City of Cornwall has worked hard to attract new jobs to the city and new employers like Xplornet and Leclerc, but now the focus needs to shift in order to fill those jobs.
Cornwall’s major employer, Walmart Logistics, was looking to fill 150 positions at the recent job fair that was held two weeks ago. Olymel has been looking into a program where they would bus in employees from Montreal to meet their needs. Clearly, this is an important issue. In order to keep these employers here, we have to ensure that Cornwall has a young workforce that is ready to support them. Cornwall’s Economic Development Department has already begun to take steps to help address the issue with attending a job fair in Montreal this past weekend and making inquiries in areas like New Brunswick, where unemployment is high.
All mayoral candidates said that they would provide the Economic Development Department with the support that they need to help them fill these jobs, but what does that support look like? In my opinion, maybe the City of Cornwall can setup a financial incentive for residents to come to Cornwall and work here. Maybe a program when a current local employee convinces a friend to take a job here? Say $25? Then another $25 if they are still working that job in a year.
What is your opinion readers? What has your impression been of the 2018 municipal election campaign? What issues mattered the most to you? Email me a Letter to the Editor at email@example.com