Mississauga Council Stands Up for Clean Water Against Donald Trump

Prime Minister Trudeau may not be involved in a massive bromance with U.S. President Donald Trump like he was with former president Obama, but there is at least a desire to work together collaboratively on certain issues such as softwood lumber and trade. Trump even went out of his way to mention Trudeau by name during the president's first speech to the U.S. Congress. Canada-US relations seem at present professional and workable at best.

That being said, Canada and the United States are not always going to be on the same page, and one file that is certain to raise contention is on the environment. Canada’s government believes in action on climate change; Trump believes climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, and may still believe that now as president.

One good piece of advice for those who are opposed to Trump: pick your battles. There are a litany of policy positions that Trump has that could infuriate you in a variety of ways, so pick your spot carefully and focus your energies on certain issues.

Case in point, the issue of freshwater surrounding the Great Lakes Region, an area that plays a key role in Mississauga’s attractiveness as a growing waterfront city. President Trump's recent budget calls for an almost 22 per cent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will see a withdrawal by the Americans in cross border efforts to clean up the Great Lakes, a move that was criticized on both sides of the political aisle, from Democratic mayors and conservative Republican governors in Wisconsin and Michigan, states that Trump carried to his "huge" election win in 2016.

Insauga had a previous piece about water in the Great Lakes region in which we discussed how issues surrounding freshwater protection could affect Mississauga. These latest developments signal how one single action from our American neighbours could bring lasting ramifications when it comes to cross border environmental protection initiatives.

Mississauga city council agreed in this week's regular meeting to approve a motion brought forward by Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey declaring support for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). As Mayor Crombie said in a press release, since its founding in 2010, the GLRI has funded protection and restoration of the Great Lakes. Since Mississauga has a 223 kilometer shoreline that runs along Lake Ontario, keeping the Great Lakes clean is vital to a healthy community, and these cuts would threaten those efforts. The Trump Administration is also proposing eliminating the controlling of invasive species, particularly Asian Carp, from entering the Great Lakes.

Just to show you that this isn’t just some stand alone Mississauga thing being done so city councillors could give themselves another pat on the back or stroke their egos, Toronto city councillor Mark Grimes (from south end Etobicoke, also another waterfront community) brought forward a similar motion before his colleagues on Toronto City Council. Toronto City Council subsequently voted to approve the motion unanimously; no small feat in the council of the largest city in Canada.

As Councillor Tovey himself said in council as this motion was introduced, "why bother redeveloping the waterfront if the water is going to become toxic?" At first when watching Trump’s antics, it was fun to snicker safely on our side of the border, but now he's taking actions that could directly affect Mississauga's waterfront and our water. That should cause concern for anyone in Mississauga and elsewhere across Canada and the U.S.

Since Mississauga has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the Trump administration's policy direction, this motion is really more of a statement than anything else. But again, going back to my point about picking one's battles with Trump, it beats sitting on your hands and keeping quiet and it’s an area where anti-Trump activists can focus their energies. Ironically, the Trump Administration said their priority with the EPA was to refocus its mission to "clean air and water." You can't blame Mississauga and other jurisdictions for sensing the skepticism of that statement when you decide to cut the agency responsible for that task by 22 per cent.

Having Mississauga call Trump out on his contradictions can't hurt Mississauga’s reputation either. If Trump engages in one of his random Twitter rants about some place he's never heard of, that can also serve to boost the profile of Canada’s sixth largest city.

I would even reckon that it would give Mississauga more international attention than Hazel's appearance on Fox News or Obama's mispronunciation ever did.

Follow me on Twitter at @thekantastic

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