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Tory debate heats up over Ont.-Que. border (February 01, 2002)

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Ontario's Labor Minister Chris Stockwell insists Ontario's border will be closed to Quebec construc...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Ontario’s Labor Minister Chris Stockwell insists Ontario’s border will be closed to Quebec construction workers; it is only a matter of time.

During last night’s Tory leadership debate, Stockwell was moved to make the comments after being badgered by former Transportation Minister Tony Clement.

“Chris, you’re a tough guy, go out there and be tough. You’ve got our support,” ripped Clement.

“Yes, I’m a tough guy,” Stockwell replied, “and yes, I’ll do it. We will make the decision next week to shut the border down.”

Not wanting to be left out of the discussion, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reminded everyone it was he, as the labor minister of the day, who introduced the Fairness is a Two-Way Street Act, which threatened to ban Quebecers from working on government construction sites in Ontario.

“They didn’t believe us that we would bring in legislation,” charged Flaherty.

Elizabeth Witmer, who also had a turn running the labor ministry, chimed she was the first to meet with construction unions in Ottawa, in an effort to garner a larger share of the spotlight.

“I paved the way and it frightens me that there has been no action since I left the ministry of labor,” she said.

Laughing out loud, Ernie Eves took his rivals to task for debating how to solve the issue.

“Why didn’t they solve the problems when they were minister?” he simply asked.

Stockwell responded to the former finance minister, “Because the minister of finance wouldn’t give me any money.”

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