MPP was part of gov't that cut MNR offices and staff

Brockville Recorder and Times

Tue 18 Dec 2007

Our MPP Bob Runciman's attempt to appear as a defender of the residents of Leeds-Grenville rings so hollow it strikes a resounding gong. It was MPP Runciman who was one of the prime architects of the local evisceration of the Ministry of Natural Resources. It was with his full agreement that three of the four MNR offices in eastern Ontario were closed and the number of staff, including enforcement officers, was cut from 50 to 14. Those 36 jobs were just a small portion of the over 800 Ontario public service jobs which Bob successfully worked to cut from his constituency.

Back in April the environmental commissioner released a report entitled, "Doing Less with Less." The conclusion of that report was that the MNR does not have the resources it needs to meet its mandate. Just this past Tuesday the provincial auditor echoed that finding, saying hiring more enforcement officers will have a calming effect on the situation. The OPP can protect the safety of people, but it too is overstretched. Replacing the conservation officers MPP Runciman cut would help to not only protect our resources but protect our people.

Now this crisis has created another instance of downloading. The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville has been forced to address the MNR manpower shortage by adding the duty of fishing enforcement to our property tax. Municipalities are already stretched to the limit trying to maintain our basic infrastructure. Our roads and sewer treatment facilities are falling apart, while the federal Tories give billions in tax cuts to multibillion-dollar corporations.

Most troubling though is Opposition House Leader Runciman's' statement "If people are poaching or overfishing and they happen to be from one segment of the population is that racial profiling or stereotyping." All Asian-Ontarians are not poachers. What about the thousands of law-abiding Asian anglers? Vigilante justice is not the answer and targeting any racial group is wrong. Ask a conservation officer, poachers come from all walks of life. It wasn't too long ago that Bob called MP Belinda Stronach "a dipstick, albeit an attractive one." Our MP Gord Brown is on tape linking immigration with crime. Our representatives elected here in Leeds-Grenville are providing Canada with one new stereotype, that is eastern Ontario as the home of Canada's rednecks and hillbillies and we all know that that is simply not true.

David Lundy
Regional vice-president

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