CORNWALL, Ontario – Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was thrilled to see students enjoying learning about water at the St. Lawrence River Institute’s Water Festival, which takes place on Thursday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 4.
“I love as I see all the new stewards. I love that they get to come in here and learn more. I love that there’s a toilet out there, talking about how much water we waste when we flush,” said McKenna with a laugh.
McKenna arrived at the Institute around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, slightly delayed due to her electric car needing to be charged along her journey. She maintained that it was a priority of hers to get an electric car as the future of travel includes people getting around in vehicles with zero emissions. She also mentioned the $5,000 incentive for those who invest in an electric automobile.
McKenna’s first priority at the Institute was engaging with local students, dignitaries of Cornwall and Akwesasne, as well as staff of the Institute about research initiatives, the importance of our waterfront and the Water Festival displays.
“Nothing makes me happier than seeing young people out. I realize that when you have a chance to discover and connect with nature and water, you want to protect it…we all have to do it together, which is why it’s so great to be here at the River Institute,” said McKenna.
McKenna expressed her worries about climate change and taking steps backwards on work that has been accomplished over the past four years if the Conservative Party of Canada comes to power.
“We’ve been very clear. If (the Liberals) are reelected, there will be a strong priority on water, and I look at the work that has been done (here) and it’s really incredible. The federal government does have some grant programs…we’ve done a lot of with the Ottawa Riverkeeper in terms of the health of the Ottawa River watershed, also with citizen engagement including with Indigenous peoples, so I think there are some real opportunities here,” said McKenna, referring to our unique region.
“I had a chance to meet with some Chiefs from Akwesasne and we have amazing Indigenous leaders communities who want to be partners and who are often closer to the land and waters than we are,” she added.
Mayor Bernadette Clement, who was a River Institute Board member for eight years, was happy to meet McKenna and welcome her to our city, commending her ‘phenomenal’ work as a woman in politics.
“The City of Cornwall has a very progressive Council…and our strategic plan has one entire pillar on environmental sustainability,” noted Mayor Clement with pride.
“I think sometimes we don’t all value (freshwater). I’m someone who thinks we need to re-imagine my community, Ottawa around the river. We often don’t think of Ottawa as this incredible place with the canal…and how we all depend on this water for swimming, drinking, fishing, for the economy…” said McKenna.
McKenna commended the efforts of local Liberal candidate Heather Megill, recognizing her understanding of local environmental and economic opportunities, as well as her pride in the region.
“You have an incredible candidate here in Heather Megill,” said McKenna.