Federal MP for St. Catharines Appointed Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Transport Minister

Chris Bittle’s Appointment to the Position Comes at a Time when transportation improvements in Niagara are long overdue.

Just Please Don’t Resurrect the Two-Decade-Old Idea of a ‘Mid-Peninsula Highway’

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted December 12th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle receives key federal transport appointment

St. Catharines’ Liberal MP Chris Bittle, elected to a second term in this past October’s federal election, is one of several MPs Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named this December 12th to his government’s new team of parliamentary secretaries.

According to a news release from the Prime Minister’s office, Bittle has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to federal Transportation Minister Mark Garneau.

“Our team of parliamentary secretaries will be an important link between ministers and Parliament, working closely with their colleagues to deliver real, positive results for all Canadians,” states the Prime Minister in the release.

“They will help advance government legislation, engage directly with Canadians on key government initiatives, and represent the government in Canada and internationally.”

Bittle’s appointment is obviously good new for him and will hopefully benefit residents in Niagara as well on issues of transportation, including marine, rail, highway and public transit services that are highly important to the region.Public transit, including expanded and more integrated bus and rail services, is one area where many residents across the Niagara region have been looking forward to more accessible and affordable services for years.

The St. Catharines MP is now in a position where he is closer to the ears of a federal cabinet minister who has planning and decision-making powers in that and related areas.

One transportation issue Bittle may now have a greater opportunity to deal with, should it surface again, is any resurrection of a now more than two-decade old plan to cut a multi-lane highway – sometimes called a “mid-peninsula highway” – through the middle of Niagara, including through rural farmlands, woodlands and grasslands, from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas to the Canada/U.S. border at Fort Erie and Buffalo.

An old map showing generally where a mid-peninsula, multi-lane highway through Niagara might go.

Another highway like that, estimated 20 years ago to cost more than a billion dollars, received a good deal of public opposition at the time and would no doubt receive just as much opposition, if not more, from people who wonder why we would want to focus on even more routes for trucks and cars, and all the impacts that would have on the environment, rather than invest in more environmentally sustainable forms of transportation for the 21st century.

The mid-peninsula highway idea actually became a topic of interest during a meeting of an all-party committee of federal parliament discussing gateway routes between Canada and the U.S. in the last term of Trudeau’s government. The very mention of this highway idea by the committee was enough to give some Niagara area citizens and municipal politicians in rural areas where it might go a few jitters.

Certainly, it is time to bury the mid-peninsula highway idea once and for all, if it has not been buried already.

With a Niagara MP in this new position, here is another opportunity to explore other, more earth friendly ideas for improving transportation services in our Niagara region.

To read the Prime Minister’s entire news release on the new parliamentary secretary appointments and learn more about the role parliamentary secretaries play, click on –  ahttps://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2019/12/12/prime-minister-welcomes-new-parliamentary-secretaries

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“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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