US embassy cable - 05TORONTO2704

ONTARIO COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTER PUPATELLO ON BORDER ISSUES AND SHARIA LAW

Identifier: 05TORONTO2704
Wikileaks: View 05TORONTO2704 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Toronto
Created: 2005-10-17 10:08:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: ETRD ELTN ENRG PGOV SENV CA US Border Patrol Environment
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TORONTO 002704 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT PASS NATIONAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD, ELTN, ENRG, PGOV, SENV, CA, US, Border Patrol, Environment 
SUBJECT: ONTARIO COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTER 
PUPATELLO ON BORDER ISSUES AND SHARIA LAW 
 
Ref: (A) Toronto 2248 (B) Toronto 2255 
(C) Toronto 2426 (D) Toronto 2568 
 
Sensitive but Unclassified - Protect accordingly. 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary: Ontario Community and Social 
Services Minister Pupatello emphasized the importance 
the Ontario Government places on relations with the 
United States during an October 13 courtesy call the 
Consul General paid on her.  Pupatello digressed from 
issues associated with her portfolio to raise her 
riding's concern with Windsor-Detroit border crossing 
issues, to include expressing displeasure with 
premature statements by Michigan Governor Granholm 
regarding options taken off the table in the bi- 
national process.  She discussed Ontario's efforts to 
close its coal plants and expressed concerns about 
pollution from the Ohio Valley.  She also recognized 
the need for Toronto to resolve its garbage problems. 
Pupatello insisted that her Ministry, which has 
responsibility for women's issues, had been 
misrepresented in the media as a proponent of Sharia 
law.  She said the Sharia law frenzy resulted from the 
Arbitration Act of 1992, which had no provisions for 
proper review to determine if its uses were in 
compliance with Canadian law.  End Summary. 
 
Relations with the United States Very Important 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
2.  (U) The CG, accompanied by Conoff Steele 
(notetaker), paid a formal introductory call on Ontario 
Community and Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello 
on October 13.  Minister Pupatello noted her attendance 
at Ambassador Wilkins's dinner in Windsor on August 18, 
stating that U. S. relations are very important to the 
Ontario Government.  She expressed the hope that her 
office would continue to have close relations with the 
Embassy and ConGen Toronto, and that the Ambassador 
would return to Windsor, her hometown, soon.  She 
stated that her Ministry's primary responsibility is to 
work with vulnerable segments of the population "when 
other ministries, such as energy or education or health 
fail them." 
 
Windsor-Detroit Border Crossing 
------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) The CG and Minister Pupatello discussed the bi- 
national process to identify a new border crossing site 
between Windsor and Detroit (ref (B)).  Minister 
Pupatello stated that the Ontario Government was not 
pleased by Michigan Governor Granholm's decision to 
publicly announce on October 4, on her own initiative, 
the Detroit River International Crossing Study decision 
to drop several border crossing options from the study. 
Pupatello complained that Granholm should at least have 
called Premier McGuinty to let him know what she 
intended to do.  Ontario officials were also displeased 
that Granholm's office subsequently delayed returning 
their calls on the issue while Michigan Department of 
Transportation official Mohammed Alghurabi continued to 
speak publicly on the issue throughout the week (Note: 
Premier McGuinty's staff has also lodged this 
complaint.  End Note.). 
 
4. (SBU) The CG observed that politics on both sides of 
the border impacts the process (ref (A)).  She said 
that the process appeared more complicated in Canada, 
since environmental assessments take longer and the 
road infrastructure leading to the border is not as 
well integrated.  Minister Pupatello noted that the bi- 
national process is on schedule, and that it was hoped 
that some environmental assessments could be conducted 
concurrently to save time.  She said Ontario would 
prefer that political leaders on both sides make 
decisions regarding the border crossing rather than 
engage in the bi-national process, but in the current 
litigious environment, she acknowledged this did not 
appear to be a viable option.  The CG responded that 
waiting until 2013 would likely not reduce the number 
of lawsuits and asked if Pupatello had heard of the 
possibility of enacting omnibus legislation.  Pupatello 
said that this might be necessary, but all levels of 
government on both sides of the border would need to 
enact legislation in sync with each other. 
 
5. (SBU) Minister Pupatello mentioned that, as an MPP 
from Windsor, she was very involved in border issues. 
She commented on how difficult it was to be a 
provincial lobbyist and also look out for local 
interests in Windsor.  She said Windsor currently had 
no voice at the federal level because Windsor's NDP 
opposition MP has no influence in the federal 
government.  The federal government was only engaged 
with local issues if it felt it could win the local 
riding.  This situation meant she must be a stronger 
advocate for Windsor than would otherwise be normal for 
a provincial Minister. 
 
Coal and Trash:  Cross-Border Environmental Issues 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
6. (SBU) Minister Pupatello argued that Ontario needed 
to move forward with a significant conservation 
platform.  She suggested that the province might not 
meet its goal of closing all coal-firing plants in the 
next four years if the only alternative was to buy 
energy produced by dirty coal burning plants from the 
United States because this would defeat the purpose of 
closing the plants.  In her district, she claimed, 
fifty percent of air pollution derived from the Ohio 
Valley, an area Ontario cannot regulate.  She noted 
that the provincial Minister of Environment was adamant 
in her belief that clean coal "was an oxymoron."  But, 
she conceded, energy would always win out over 
environment in Ontario - the province, with its 
dependence on manufacturing, had learned its lesson 
from the 2003 blackout and the past summer's rolling 
brownouts.  The CG pushed back that she believed 
Ontario had not given clean coal technology a fair 
hearing and promised to forward information on it and 
the FutureGen project to the Minister. 
 
7. (SBU) Minister Pupatello also admitted to the Consul 
General the need for Toronto to solve its garbage 
problem, commenting that the current recycling process 
is cumbersome and discourages the populace from 
following through.  The CG noted that an EPA team that 
recently visited Toronto had been impressed by public 
compliance with recycling requirements, citing 
Toronto's strong public education program in this realm 
(ref (D)), but agreed that it was a stop-gap measure - 
incineration and landfill sites inside the province 
were the obvious solutions. 
 
Sharia Law 
---------- 
 
8. (SBU) Minister Pupatello told the Consul General 
that her office attempted to impede the province 
legally endorsing application of Sharia law in Ontario, 
rather than promote it as media reports suggested.  She 
said concerns regarding this issue stemmed from the 
Arbitration Act of 1992, which allowed arbitration 
across the board to relieve pressure on the court 
system, but did not provide provisions to review 
adequately the act to see how it was being used and 
whether it was being implemented in compliance with 
Canadian law.  The Ontario Government chose former NDP 
Attorney General Marion Boyd to head consultations 
after the media began reporting that the government was 
promoting Sharia law.  She had spoken with the groups 
impacted, but no evidence was uncovered showing that 
arbitration was happening in violation of Canadian law. 
 
9. (SBU) Public outrage - including expressions of very 
un-Canadian anti-immigrant sentiment - had prompted 
Premier McGuinty to rule out legal endorsement of 
arbitration decisions issued in accordance with Sharia 
law (ref (C)).  Minister Pupatello said the government 
would introduce legislation to strengthen the 
Arbitration Act, including proscribing the actions of 
arbitrators and setting forth qualifications.  She also 
stated that the Ontario Women's Directorate would 
conduct public education to reach out to immigrant 
women and make them aware of their protections under 
Canadian law. 
 
10.  (SBU) COMMENT: The courtesy call lasted far longer 
than was scheduled; a fire drill eventually broke it 
up.  Pupatello is one of a series of provincial 
ministers who have recently gone out of their way to 
express with passion the importance of the U.S.-Canada 
relationship.  Issues associated with the Minister's 
portfolio - new adoption legislation, in particular - 
had to be postponed for another conversation. 
 
LECROY 

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