Headline News By Dave Battagello 111 Views

Masse calls on Trudeau to legalize sports betting, protect Ojibway Shores

Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s planned visit to Windsor was cancelled late Wednesday, local MP Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor-West) expressed hope earlier in the day the nation’s leader will soon take action on two long-standing local issues the community wants addressed — approval of single-event sports betting and protection of Ojibway Shores.

Masse for years has urged federal government action on both issues. A few years ago he tabled a bill that would allow for single-event sports betting, deemed critical to preserve jobs at Caesars Windsor.

But his bill was shot down in Parliament.

With several states in the U.S. having now legalized single-event sports betting — most recently Michigan — he said the issue has become urgent for Windsor given that Detroit’s three casinos will soon provide customers with the ability to bet on sports, perhaps as soon as March.

“We heard promises (from local Liberal candidates) during the campaign about action on that file and bringing this to fruition,” Masse said. “What’s changed is Michigan has endorsed moving forward on this. Detroit’s casinos are not only ready, but eager.

“This is now about protecting hundreds of (casino) jobs in our local community.”

Trudeau had been scheduled to come to Windsor Thursday for meetings with a handful of local groups, but his office announced around 4 p.m. on Wednesday the visit was being postponed.

“(Sports betting) is something that needs to be addressed,” said Masse before the visit was cancelled. “You already have (sports betting) on your phone and it’s legal now across the river, so you are going to see an (economic) impact here.”

Masse presented information Wednesday on how he believes a simple order-in-council (cabinet approval) is all that is required — not full Parliament approval — to remove a paragraph from the criminal code that would legalize single-event sports betting across Canada.

“We are presenting a solution to the prime minister,” Masse said. “You can do this. Here is a specific way right now through an order in council. What won’t help is any delayed process on this.”

Protection of Ojibway Shores — the last piece of untouched property in Windsor on the Detroit River shoreline — has also been paramount on Masse’s list. The property belongs to the Windsor Port Authority, an entity of the federal government.

The local MP has called for transfer of the 35-acre property to Environment Canada so that it can be protected in perpetuity as green space.

The site has been deemed by area environmental groups as a critical link to the Detroit River for a handful of other connected Ojibway sites — already under environmental protection.

“This property can be transferred at no cost to taxpayers,” Masse said. “I have been after this for several years, but it’s still stuck in its current state. What the government can do is transfer Ojibway Shores to Environment Canada.

“It’s not unprecedented. They transferred the Paul Martin building to the city for $10. This would help be the start for a national urban park (on Ojibway lands) for this area that would be a significant crown jewel for the community and located next to the new Gordie Howe bridge project.”