Transport minister meets with local businesses, officials on post-blockade visit


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The federal transport minister said Wednesday the all levels government need to work together to prevent future blockades of the Ambassador Bridge, in a Windsor visit to speak with local business owners and residents.

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On Wednesday, Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra was joined by MP Irek Kusmierczyk (Windsor-Tecumseh) at Select Tool Automation, a tool and gauge manufacturer with specialization in the automotive industry.

“The illegal blockade that happened just over a week ago in Windsor has caused significant damage to Windsor’s economy, in fact to the region’s economy, to our country’s economy,” Alghabra said following a tour.

“I met with the mayors, of Essex County and the mayor of Windsor to talk to them about the kind of impact they felt, to reassure them that the federal government will continue to be a partner with them and offering support.”

Kusmierczyk said businesses are still reeling in the fallout of the Ambassador Bridge blockade, which was cleared by police almost two weeks ago. Police and traffic restrictions continue in the area to prevent a future protest.

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“The damage that’s been done to local businesses is beyond measure,” Kusmierczyk said. “Whether it’s manufacturing whether it’s agriculture, whether it’s mom and pop shops… they’re still feeling it right now.

“That’s something that we wanted to communicate directly to the minister here. We’re happy that he’s here so that he can actually hear from those businesses and hear from both Mayor Dilkens and Mayor McNamara about the impact.”

Mike Bilton, left, business development manager with Select Tool Automation gives a tour of the Oldcastle business to Omar Alghabra, Federal Minister of Transport on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.
Mike Bilton, left, business development manager with Select Tool Automation gives a tour of the Oldcastle business to Omar Alghabra, Federal Minister of Transport on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Kusmierczyk said he’s currently advocating for support for the city and businesses.

“Right now we’re in the process of gathering information — what has been the impact, quantify it, get that information … and we’ll bring that piece forward,” Kusmierczyk said. “Those conversations are already happening, that advocacy is already happening.”

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Alghabra said the federal government is awaiting that information, but said the federal government will “remain an effective partner” with the City of Windsor.

The federal government recently announced funding of up to $10,000 per business impacted by the three-week-long Ottawa blockade.

A key focus of discussions is how to make sure a similar blockade does not happen in the future, Kusmierczyk said.

“We’re talking about next steps, you know, support for local businesses, but at the same time, what do we need to do to make sure that this never happens again?” he said. “To make sure that the flow of goods on the Ambassador Bridge is never disrupted for one hour, let alone five days.”

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Omar Alghabra, Federal Minister of Transport speaks to reporters at Select Tool Automation in Oldcastle on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.
Omar Alghabra, Federal Minister of Transport speaks to reporters at Select Tool Automation in Oldcastle on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star



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