Transport Canada minister shoots back at Niagara Falls MP over travel

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Published August 23, 2022 at 10:06 am

Transport Canada Minister Omar Alghabra asked Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli where the Conservative outrage was when "Freedom Truckers" were blockading border crossings.

At Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Transport Canada Minister Omar Alghabra questioned Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli’s commitment to an open border with the U.S. given recent events.

With three land border crossing in his riding, which also covers Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie, Baldinelli suggested Buffalo was ready “to throw a parade” for the minister, given the increased traffic to their airport.

Alghabra was having none of that and asked Baldinelli where all the Conservative outrage was when the “Freedom Truckers” were physically blockading border crossings in February.

As well, Alghabra’s office is noting that while the situations aren’t ideal at airports like Pearson International in Mississauga, they also aren’t as bad as the Conservative are suggesting.

“Our Government recognizes that airport delays, caused in large part by industry-wide labour shortage, are frustrating for travellers,” a spokesperson from Alghabra’s ministry told InNiagaraRegion.

“Since the beginning, Minister Alghabra has met with airlines, airports, and Canadians, to address concerns about airport delays and work to resolve the issue with our partners. Ministers Alghabra and (Marco) Mendicino (Minister of Public Safety) also recently met with US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorcas, to discuss enhanced collaboration on cross-border travel. Overall, progress is being made but there is more work to do.”

The ministry is suggesting that travel delays have improved leaps and bounds over the past three months.

“Over the second week of August, less than two per cent of arriving international flights at Toronto-Pearson were held on the tarmac due to congestion, as compared to 18 per cent over the first week of May.”

Security has sped up, as well, they maintain as “87 per cent of passengers are now waiting less than 15 minutes to go through security before their flight, up from 63 per cent in the first week of May.”

They noted that the federal government has been doing its part to address staff shortages.

“This progress is in great part due to the over 1,700 new CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) officers that have been hired over the last few months. The number of cancelled flight has reduced as well since the beginning of the summer,” the spokesperson said.

“We will continue working with industry partners to assess progress and ensure the travellers’ experience continues to improve.”

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