LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Avoiding the bare minimum

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Avoiding the bare minimum
Cornwall Transit.

Tuesday night, city council faced a vote. Unlike matters of reserve funds, the outcome promised no ill effect on our city coffers, our residents, or our transit system. It was a moment for all of Cornwall’s leadership to stand up for something worthy at a time when the entire country, and much of the world, is paying attention.

When Coun. Elaine MacDonald proposed that the city provide free access to our transit system, for the asylum seekers entering from the Quebec-US border, she offered a gesture to those who’ve come seeking respite in our community. Given that they already have access to bus tickets, and given that Cornwall Transit is always seeking ways to expand ridership, the result of a ‘yes’ vote would have cost us absolutely nothing.

But still, a group of five city councilors, seemingly unaware of the geopolitical significance of this situation, found it upon themselves to say ‘no.’

This was not a vote about ridership, or what level of government should be footing the bill. We know that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada is in the midst of efficiently and responsibly processing the asylum claims being made, and that many of the newcomers will go on to pursue their futures in other, more predominantly French-speaking parts of Canada. We know the Canadian Government is picking up the bill. The vote was merely a welcoming gesture, the civic and humanitarian version of a hot cup of coffee offered to a weary traveller at a truck stop. It was honestly, the least we could do.

One might hope that Council’s ‘no’ is drowned out by the louder, more collective ‘yes’ being heard from everyone who has gladly jumped at the opportunity to help our newcomers, including the four councilors who do bring a compassionate view to the table. And hopefully, in the eyes of our new neighbours, it’s those voices which represent our city as a place where anyone can move to for a world of possibilities.


Marc Benoit,


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