Monday, 6 August 2007

Thomas Mulcair and Blue Green Algae: A Hot Topic in Outremont?

Farmers who plant bushes and trees for the first 10 meters away from lakes and watercourses should receive compensation as part of a plan to reduce the problem of blue green algae, New Democratic Party candidate Thomas Mulcair (and former liberal provincial environment minister) said Sunday. The NDP will introduce a bill enabling the program across Canada when the House of Commons resumes sitting this fall.

At first glance, Mulcair’s announcement seems a bit strange for someone running in a by election in a riding in the center of Montreal. While Outremont had a few market gardens as late as the 1950s—it was famous for its cantaloupe-type melons—it never had more than a few streams and its two natural ponds were replaced by concrete basins by 1930. What is more, Mulcair’s announcement was made in the rural municipality of Saint Hyacinthe, where there also will be a by election September 17: Mulcair was at a rally for the NDP candidate there, Brigitte Sansoucy.

There’s method in Mulcair’s madness, though. He knows the subject well. Four years ago he put forward a plan to reduce phosphorus in Quebec’s waters, but in early 2006 he left the provincial liberals when he was pushed out of the environment and sustainable development ministry. And the Outremont riding is full of people concerned about water quality, either because they’re what are called here "ecolos," or because they have country places which may be endangered by blooms of cyanobacteria.

As I said before, the Outremont by election could be pretty interesting.

Photo: Parc Outremont from

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