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Monday, Jun. 28, 2004

Comartin, Joe

Ontario, Windsor - Tecumseh, New Democratic Party

Early Years

A native of the small farming community of Stoney Point, Ontario, Joe learned about

hard times early in life. His father, a factory worker and farmer, died when Joe was less

than a year old. With seven children and an eighth on the way, Joe's mother, Loretto, was

forced to live on meagre social assistance and the limited support her extended family

could provide. The sheer strength of Loretto's will and determination kept her family

together. At her earliest opportunity Loretto found work, teaching elementary school, so

that she could better support her impoverished family. His mother's strength of character

and her perseverance against the odds left an indelible mark on Joe.

Despite the difficulties of growing up poor and fatherless, Joe followed the example set

by his mother. He fought his way from a one-room schoolhouse through university and

law school, becoming a lawyer in 1973. While a student, Joe often had to work two or

three jobs to support his studies, but he still found time to begin his lifetime commitment

to ensuring that the air we breathe and the water we drink is free of harmful pollutants.

Working with Pollution Probe and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Joe

learned early that environmental protection must be a major consideration in any

economic development plan.

Commitment to Justice and Opportunity for all

As a young lawyer, Joe often took on cases where the challenges were overwhelming and

the compensation small or non-existent. Joe worked tirelessly for people no one else was

able or willing to help. His commitment to providing legal services, especially to women

needing a family lawyer, was his way of making sure that the hardships that single

mothers faced, hardships he knew of first hand, would not be made worse by an uncaring

justice system.

In the early eighties, Joe learned how often workers' health and safety was sacrificed in

the name of corporate profits. In the late seventies Tommy Dunn, an employee of the

automobile brake manufacturer Bendix, died of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by

exposure to asbestos. A few years later, his wife Lucie came into Joe's office. She told

Joe about her fight to get compensation from Bendix and have mesothelioma recognized

as a compensable injury from the Worker's Compensation Board. Joe made sure that

Lucie left his office knowing that she had a lawyer to fighting for her and Tommy's

memory. Even though he had to battle a major American corporation Joe was

determined to hold Bendix accountable and chased them from Canada to the United


Dedicated to the Community

In addition to his challenging legal practice, Joe found time to serve the Windsor and

Essex community. Among his many volunteer commitments Joe was the first

chairperson of the Children's Services Committee for the City of Windsor and was a

member of the city's Emergency and Health Services Inquiry Commission, directed by

Stephen Lewis. From 1986 until 2000 Joe was also a member and chair of the Board of

Directors at the Motor City Community Credit Union.

In 1984 Joe left his private legal practice to join the newly established CAW Legal

Service Plan in Windsor to become its first Managing Lawyer. In this role Joe served the

Windsor-Essex-area CAW membership when they needed legal representation for

personal injuries.

Committed to the vision of affordable and non-profit housing, Joe was a founding

member and/or chair of five different non-profit housing organizations in Essex County.

Together with Ontario's first NDP government and the CAW, Joe led the construction of

over 2,700 units of affordable housing. A staunch ally of the democratic rights of

workers, Joe has provided counsel and guidance to activists and leadership in the labour

movement. In recognition of his commitment, CAW Local 444 named Joe an honourary

member in 1991.

On November 27, 2000, Joe was elected Member of Parliament for Windsor-St. Clair: the

first NDP candidate from Ontario to be elected to Parliament in over ten years. As a

rookie MP, Joe was given the critic responsibilities for the Environment, Natural

Resources and Energy. During his term in Parliament, Joe has worked tirelessly on

bringing environmental issues to the forefront. He pushed the government to ratify Kyoto

and take action on water quality. Joe has been instrumental in raising national awareness

about the problems facing Windsor, in particular matters relating to our air quality. He

has introduced several motions and other environmental issues. He has also petitioned

the Commissioner of the Environment in an effort to force the government to take action

on the recommendations stemming from the Gilberston-Brophy report. This led to Joe

being recognized by Wild Canada as "Rookie MP of the Year" in 2001. Their

media release declared:

"Comartin is an MP to watch. He will be a bright and shining star in the

effort to protect Canada's wildlands and wildlife."

Joe has been married to his wife Maureen for almost thirty-five years. Together they

have raised three children: Heidi, Adam and Eric.

Other Windsor - Tecumseh candidates:

Party L E T
Liberal 0 135 135
Cons. 0 99 99
BQ 0 54 54
NDP 0 19 19
Other 0 1 1
Total 0 308 308
Updated regularly
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