Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 17, 2006

Eddie's New Border Worry

Here is a Detroit News article by two consultants to the Bridge Co. It sets out very convincingly what the Bridge Co. believes is the solution for the border.

Our Mayor's "show and tell" at the Joint Councils meeting has made Windsor front and centre of the problem. Where previously, ie when Eddie and this Council were first elected, Windsor was proactive, three years later we are again reactive dancing to the tune of the Senior Levels again.

The Mayor confirmed in front of the Detroit Council that he and his Council have been sitting on $300 million for almost three years to fix the road to the border and yet we cannot still agree on what should be done. Where the Americans have spent hundreds of millions and are about to finish the Ambassador gateway project, we have plans! It's hardly the way to make friends is it.

Moreover, with the border running much more smoothly, it is becoming more difficult to keep on blaming US Customs for failing to staff booths.

No Mr. Mayor, the problem is all yours now. It is hardly a prediction but if you do not act soon and in a positive manner rather than pointing fingers, then the Senior Levels will. The funny part too is that they seem to be more sensitive to our needs---no use of E C Row, no cutting through the Ojibway Nature Reserve, utilizing the WALTS study corridor--than our Mayor and Council

Detroit doesn't need another bridge

Government would repeat Port Huron fiasco with new span to Canada

Gary Wolfram and Craig Ruff /

A flawed government-sponsored study has called for the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River between the United States and Canada. Michigan should not commit precious transportation dollars to an ill-advised project and should instead focus on fixing its roads and other existing bridges.

This issue not only affects taxpayers, but businesses such as the automakers, which cross the border constantly, and Metro Detroit and Windsor residents who enjoy entertainment, shopping and other activities across the border.

First, there is no need to spend $3 billion of Canadian and American taxpayer money for a new bridge, plaza and roadway connections. The bottleneck in the crossing is not in span width, but in inspection facilities.

Second, there is certainly no reason for the government to build a bridge because there are plenty of incentives for the private sector to expand the crossing if the need develops.

Four-year traffic decline

While about the same or slightly more commercial vehicles have crossed the Detroit River between 2000 and 2004, total vehicles are anywhere from 10 to 25 percent lower by month than four years ago.

Bottlenecks are a function of the number of inspection booths, number of customs personnel, and motorists' preparedness.

The Detroit River International Crossing, a partnership of the federal and Michigan governments as well as the Canadian and Ontario provincial governments, has a poor track record on projections. In the last three years, its models projecting demand have been overhauled twice.

What confidence does this give us in the project's use of a 30-year projection of demand to defend its conclusion that a new bridge must be built?

Government planning fails

The planning for the Blue Water Bridge, which links Port Huron and Sarnia, illustrates the problem with government planning. The three-lane Blue Water Bridge experienced backups in 1992 when its annual traffic was 6 million vehicles. Planners judged that an insufficient number of lanes caused backups and determined that a second span would alleviate delays.

In 1998, the second three-lane span opened, and traffic stood at 5.2 million vehicles annually -- nearly 15 percent lower than in 1992. The bridge still does not carry enough traffic to justify the second span. The problem was always a shortage of customs booths and a poor plaza design.

Given the past track record of Canadian-U.S. government studies, we seriously doubt that there is an impending need for additional bridge capacity.

In addition, the Ambassador Bridge is operating at much less than full capacity, overall traffic has been flat for the past six years, and closures of and cutbacks at Michigan and Ontario auto plants are threatening to dampen cross-border shipping.

Border-crossing obstacles

Between Toronto and Chicago or Toledo, Ohio, there are two major impediments to the efficient flow of commercial vehicles. One is the U.S. plaza at the Blue Water Bridge. The second is the stretch of six miles (through commercial districts and 17 traffic lights) between Highway 401 in Windsor and the foot of the Ambassador Bridge. Government planners should confront these obstacles -- not call for new lanes.

The Ambassador Bridge and the Michigan Department of Transportation have ensured inspection capacity is met through a partnership that will improve access to the bridge and relieve traffic congestion on the Detroit side.

In addition, the Detroit International Bridge Co. is spending $50 million to expand the U.S. plaza. This will serve the needs of border inspectors for at least 50 years.

If future demand warrants it, a new bridge should be privately owned. The privately owned and operated Ambassador Bridge has a 76-year history of being safe and well-maintained.

If a new bridge is needed, the private sector will have every incentive to build one because delays on the bridge mean lost revenue.

Hard-strapped Michigan faces critical transportation needs. In Southeast Michigan, alone, about $40 billion is projected to be needed for road improvements. That should be our priority, not building an unnecessary new bridge over the Detroit River.

Gary Wolfram is president of the Hillsdale Policy Group, a Hillsdale-based consulting group specializing in tax and public policy, and Craig Ruff is a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing. They are consulting for the Detroit International Bridge Co.


If you read the Star today about the hearings in Michigan on the 23rd and 30th, you would not think the sessions are very important: "A handful of leaders from the state's Senate and House transportation committees have accused the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) team of being too secretive in its findings."

Well the handful of leaders include Representative Philip LaJoy, Chair of the House Transportation Committee and Senator Jud Gilbert, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. Those Committees only have MDOT report to them after all.

Remember when the Governor made the decision on October 4, 2005 about eliminating the Downriver crossings, well the Senate previously had introduced a Resolution on September 6, 2005 called "A concurrent resolution to express opposition to the study and construction of an international border crossing in the Downriver area."

Who knows, we might get lucky and have the Michigan House and Senate/Governor do us all a favour and end DRIC completely this time! I would not think that our Governments on this side have the nerve to do it.

Joe's Third OPC Victory Anniversary

I have seen stories in newspapers or read Editorials or columns, as I am sure that you have, that just drive me crazy. They seem so one-sided or unfair or malicious that you have to wonder why they were published in the first place.

Editors and publishers are not dumb. They have reasons why something was done the way it was which may be quite legitimate. They are well aware that they may have to justify what they have published.

They like their jobs too and many newspapers are part of a chain with a head office. They know also that they have readers who can cancel subscriptions or advertisers who can pull their ads and use other media. Major papers in the US have had "boycotts" started against them by groups eg The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The aim of the groups was not to put the paper out of business but to get the group's message across.

Of course, there is the remedy of a lawsuit if someone feels aggrieved but that is expensive and time-consuming.

Continuing on with this Blog's desire to educate readers, I thought that you might be interested to know that there are other ways to get a remedy from a newspaper. Many trade and professional associations have their codes of conduct and adjudication groups to deal with complaints. Here is an example of one Association, the Ontario Press Council and an excerpt from what they say. Also read about one of the complaints involving Windsor below:


    The Ontario Press Council has chosen not to follow the lead of the United Kingdom Press Complaints Commission and other councils in adopting a formal code of practice for newspapers. Instead it has relied on the decisions reached in previous adjudications of complaints as precedents by which it judges current issues. Following is a sampling of general conclusions reached in the three decades it has been adjudicating public complaints against Ontario newspapers.

    A Press Council adjudication represents the collective opinion of a newspaper's conduct shared by people from a broad cross-section of Ontario society and from the newspaper field. It is an opinion that the newspaper undertakes to publish, not an order that the newspaper must obey. Council's dismissal of a complaint about the nature of comment does not mean that it agrees with what has been published.


    Newspapers should seek to provide light as well as heat in commenting on controversial issues.

    In the interest of credibility, a column should disclose any possible conflict of interest on the part of the writer.

    Columnists are given wide latitude to express controversial opinions but, when they present what purports to be a statement of fact, they should ensure that it is accurate and, when necessary, provide the source of the information. If the statement is found to be in error, the newspaper should be prepared to promptly publish a correction or clarification.

    It may be unfair to print critical comment on an issue without simultaneously or previously publishing a straightforward news story that gives a balanced outline of the facts.

    It is not reasonable to expect that an editorial will include every point the newspaper intends to make. There is no reason to expect a newspaper to change its editorial position because a preponderance of published letters to the editor disagrees with it. At the same time, the newspaper has a right to rethink its opinion without having to apologize to critics of its previous position.

    A newspaper publishing an unsolicited opinion article should go beyond simply determining that it is not libellous; it should he prepared to accept responsibility jointly with the author for factual errors.

    Occasional provocative or controversial columns by copy editors and other non-columnists should be flagged to say the author's opinions are his or her own and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

    A columnist may choose to write a sympathetic, one-sided article about an individual but it is important that the subject's credentials be presented accurately.

    Newspapers have the right to express controversial or unpopular opinions but readers deserve to know whose opinions they are; provocative statements in an unsigned column should be identified somewhere as the newspaper's viewpoint or should otherwise be attributed.

    The Press Council supports free expression of opinion that purports to be based on statistics but believes that readers have the right to know where the statistics come from.


    Sometimes the real fault is not in the errors but in the refusal to acknowledge them.

    Although a number of stories published over a period of weeks or months about a controversial subject may, when taken together, represent a balanced examination, the Press Council maintains that each article should be able to stand on its own in terms of fairness and balance.

    The tendency to generalize on the basis of a relatively small number of interviews is a significant weakness in both news articles and columns of opinion. Equally perilous is the temptation to declare without supporting evidence that public opinion is behind a particular position or group.

    A newspaper that publishes significant misinformation, such as an erroneous report that a public facility is to be closed, should be precise in explaining to a complainant just how it intends to publish a correction. A brief item in the usual location for corrections may not be adequate in cases where readers may be misled by the original error.

    A newspaper has an inescapable obligation to vigorously pursue comment from any person about whom it plans to publish derogatory accusations and if possible to print it at the same time. It should check, preferably before publication, damaging statements one person attributes to another. When dealing with a sensitive issue, it should endeavour to see that the public is fully and fairly informed, either by giving fair treatment to differing views within the same article or in two articles published simultaneously.

    Newspapers should take care to ensure that quotations are complete and accurate although ellipsis may be used to indicate that inconsequential words have been omitted.

    Newspapers should be prepared to publish rational criticism of their own performance as long as it is not defamatory.

    Reporters must sometimes rely on unnamed sources but such practice should be employed as sparingly as possible and care should be taken to avoid casting suspicion on a group when only one individual is involved.

    A newspaper that undertakes what it describes as an unscientific survey of public opinion on a controversial subject should include information about the sampling, including figures on those who declined to be interviewed and who in some instances might be assumed not to share the views of those quoted.

    Reliance on the recollection of a conversation overheard weeks earlier as the basis of a direct quotation in a news story is an error in judgment.

    The Press Council believes publishers, editors and reporters, while actively engaged in journalism, should not seek or hold elective political office in their newspaper's distribution area.

    Newspapers have an obligation to publish a correction promptly on a substantive error, whether they spot it on their own or have it drawn to their attention, particularly if it reflects unfairly on an individual, group or organization.

    The Press Council rejects any suggestion that the press should be limited in its editorial freedom but it emphasizes that a newspaper that is the only one in its community has a special responsibility to inform its readers fully on all aspects of local issues.


    Journalists writing about matters in which they are personally involved should clearly identify such involvement in every article.

Just so you know, the Press Council route has been used before in Windsor and against the Star. In searching the OPC website, I found this:

  • Joe McParland vs Windsor Star (Adjudication March 19, 2003)

    A complaint that a column in the Windsor Star unfairly condemned a municipal election candidate by innuendo has been upheld by the Ontario Press Council.

    The column by Gord Henderson, published Sept. 7, 2002, two days before a byelection, referred to Joe McParland in two sentences that read:

    “As for McParland, I don’t understand why his campaign literature didn’t mention that he’s a former priest and that his background as a property manager in the 1980s included helping manage JP’s, a controversial Riverside Drive gay strip club. After all, strip clubs have been a big issue in Ward 2.”

    McParland, who was defeated in the byelection, said he found the words “harmful in the extreme and devastating to me as both an individual and a candidate.” He said he decided in 1984 to voluntarily leave the Roman Catholic priesthood after four years of active ministry in which he experienced doubts about his vocation and an emerging awareness of his gay sexual orientation.

    Noting that the words “former priest,” “controversial” and “gay strip club” all appear in one sentence, McParland said the innuendo is reprehensible; that readers inferred from those comments that “I am dishonest, deceptive, a child molester, a pedophile, etc.”

    The Star said readers deserve to know the background of anyone running for office and that while candidates decide what is to go into their campaign literature, the newspaper’s job is to deal with issues that it sees as important.

    The columnist said the priesthood is still a respected profession in Windsor and he thought it would be beneficial to be identified with it. He disagreed with McParland’s contention that strip clubs were never an issue in the campaign. And he said he couldn’t believe readers would assume a person is a pedophile from reading the reference to his former calling as a priest and management of a gay strip club.

    The Star’s editor said he viewed the reference as “harmless” and added that he couldn’t imagine how anyone might jump to the conclusion that the column was “slyly impugning your character.”
    Noting criticism of the fact that the column appeared on the last publishing day before the election, the Star said it’s common practice to wait until late in a campaign before writing an overview of an election.

    In dealing with McParland’s complaint, the Press Council gave consideration to its long-held policy of extending to columnists wide latitude in expressing controversial or unpopular opinions. But it decided that in this case that policy was overridden by the preamble to its constitution which says, in part, that through the Press Council readers can call Ontario newspapers to account for unfair conduct such as “condemning people by innuendo.”

    TEXT OF THE ADJUDICATION (March 19, 2003)

    Joe McParland, a candidate in a municipal byelection in Windsor in 2002, complained that two sentences in a Sept. 7 column in The Windsor Star led readers to infer that he was “dishonest, deceptive, a child molester, a pedophile etc.”

    The sentences, part of an article published two days before the election, read: “As for McParland, I don’t understand why his campaign literature didn’t mention that he’s a former priest and that his background as a property manager in the 1980s included helping manage JP’s, a controversial Riverside Drive gay strip club. After all, strip clubs have been a big issue in Ward 2.”

    McParland said he voluntarily left the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1984 in good standing and for no other reason than “an emerging awareness” of his gay sexual orientation. He described as “reprehensible” the fact that the words “former priest,” “controversial,” and “gaystrip club” all appeared in the same sentence.

    The Star responded that the columnist was merely expressing surprise at “key omissions” from McParland’s campaign literature, that reference to his years as a priest would have been viewed as positive by many voters in a largely Catholic city and that strip clubs are a contentious issue in Windsor.

    Given the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church, the Ontario Press Council sees the reference to McParland’s departure from the priesthood juxtaposed with his business involvement with a gay strip club as unfairly condemning him by innuendo and upholds the complaint.

The result of all of this was the Star publishing a story on Page 2 "Complaint upheld by press council."

And Happy St.Patrick's Day to you too, Joe!

A City Of Conviction

Today's Star headline reads: "Warmer weather boosts crime rate." Hogwash, that is not the real reason

Windsor has a generous heart as everyone knows. We give to all charities and help out our citizens in times of need.

We are also becoming known as the City of People with Great Conviction

No, not that kind of conviction I am afraid, the jail kind. I am sure you read the story about "Local lawyers will likely seek reduced sentences for their clients because of unsanitary conditions and overcrowding at Windsor Jail...[The lawyer] said more than 15 inmates have contacted him about the jail's conditions, and some have talked about launching a civil action."

Apparently the Windsor Jail story has spread quickly via the underworld grapevine. My stoolie, the Daily Viewer, told me that the following is the front page story in the criminals' newspaper, "The Daily Squealer."

"Criminals Flock to Windsor to Cash In

As the jail conditions continue to deteriorate, criminals nationwide are landing in Windsor to cash in the mega dollars to be earned.

“You know the saying, if you do the crime; you do the time – but not in Windsor. If you do the crime, they give you a dime – and much more,” says one local criminal from Detroit who heard about the good news. “Criminals are more than happy that they are getting a break.”

With three days' credit for each day spent in jail on sentences and a civil "class action" lawsuit about to be launched because of the poor conditions in the jail cells, Windsor will become a safe haven for criminals looking to cash in.

“We are literally seeing hundreds of criminals give themselves up for a night in our jail cell for a piece of that lawsuit money,” said the Windsor Police spokesperson. “Every petty crook from both sides of the border is scrambling to get here. Crime has skyrocketed and the jail cells are becoming overcrowded even more now with all this media attention.”

As for Windsorites, the Police Department is demanding increased funds from Council to hire more officers arguing that there is "wiggle room" in the Budget to do so. The Police union is threatening wildcat strikes if more money is not paid for overtime due to the huge increase in time spent in paperwork because of the arrest of all of these criminals. The union is also demanding earlier retirement and better OMERS pensions since officers will "burn-out" because of the increased workload.

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis is expected to hold a press conference at his satellite office in Tecumseh to ask all citizens to remain calm but to hide all personal possessions - including all files that mention anything about the Border. "

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Who Is Running This City

Seriously, can it get any worse or any funnier than this?

That there is no leadership in this City whatsoever has become abundantly clear. Dan Mulhern, the Michigan Governor's hubby, better come back quick to start talking about that subject again. And Dalton McGuinty wants municipal councils to have four year terms! How about a compromise, two years with the right of recall too!

Obviously, I am talking this time about the Public meeting that has just been set up to deal with the City's response to DRIC. Strangely they do not call it a "special" meeting, the language used when we had the big Caboto Club meeting on the border. I bet the choice of the word "public" was deliberate to distinguish this meeting from their usual secret or "in camera" meetings on the border. I assume we were to give them credit for their openness and transparency.

The strange thing about all of this and the timing is that the City Presentation will take place a few days before DRIC sets out their position on March 28. Clearly, the City and any concerns it may have are been ignored in what is happening next. What then is the purpose for any of this other than electioneering.

Eddie better have convinced Dwight to make a big border announcement for Windsor in his Budget speech so he can claim victory later at the public meeting or else Eddie will have failed on that too. Does Dwight dare without the Feds' support or without antagonizing Toronto if he makes no subway announcement?

Now unless there is a way around this, I do believe that the meeting may violate Council's Procedural By-law, you know that document that the Mayor throws in people's faces, and may even be contrary to the Municipal Act. So I am not sure what kind of a meeting it is going to be. The Senior Levels will ignore anything that comes out of it anyway and will treat it as illegitimate if the Mayor tries to say that he received public support for anything. No Resolution can be put forward and voted on that would be valid if there is no proper meeting. Utter chaos.

I wonder if the Mayor's Blackberry is working since I believe he is away for the week. Surely he must have been involved in the fiasco of having a City of Windsor meeting being held in Tecumseh! He is too much the micro-manager to delegate this task to another. Can you believe it!

It is such an important meeting too that people who rely on public transit to get around cannot get there since Councillor Zuk on Melanie's show admitted there was no bus service to the Ciocaro Club. But don't worry, we will see shuttle buses arranged ASAP at a cost to City taxpayers.

Now Councillor Zuk took it upon herself to appear on Melanie's show to answer questions on this. At least she was brave. I must admit I would have liked to hear Councillor Jones since he thought a meeting in Tecumseh was odd too.

I made a few notes about what she said and will give you my comments in brackets:
  1. She admits the meeting is not in Windsor but said there was no other place available for it [Yea right...the City has known that it was going to make a response to DRIC and when it would be finished. What this says to me is that there was NO intention to have a public meeting until the very last second or else a suitable location would have been arranged a long time ago.]
  2. She admits there is NO bus service there [Joyce is Chair of Transit Windsor so the City can do something but I am sure that she needs her Leader's approval first and probably approval from Transit Windsor as was done before in a similar situation a few months ago]
  3. She claimed that DRIC was moving at lightening speed [Before we complained they were too slow. It is the City that is asleep]
  4. Windsor had to get our response in at the last minute [DRIC extended the time for the City to get their response in by a month I believe. If Sam and Co. was not so busy being involved in the "fear-mongering" Saturday session, Sam and Estrin could have had their work done in a timely fashion.]
  5. Joyce was not certain what the setup will be for the meeting although Sam will give another presentation. There might be may be questions on cards allowed as well as people speaking [She backed off quickly when Melanie said they would be accused of cherry-picking questions]
  6. The City wants to give people a chance to be heard [No the City does not. Of course we have NO idea what Sam will say so how can anyone speak intelligently about it. We listen to him and then have to react immediately. The City is pretending, not really listening. Sam's Report was shot down within a few days after people had time to think about it. It may well happen again but better that the negativity be hidden and not in public view like last time too]
  7. We are allowed to talk about the Schwartz Plan too ie we can say nasty things about it too [Want to bet on that one! I am certain that Eddie has that Procedural By-law down pat by now so that he can make any person sit down that does not speak about the only topic to be discussed: "the City’s response to the Detroit River International Crossing Partnership (DRICP)."

A question for Cogeco. I heard that it is very difficult for Cogeco to get cabling into the Ciocaro Club for broadcast coverage while it is much easier at the Caboto. Is that true? Hmmm so if I do not want wide coverage of a meeting but want it to be open.......

Really, this is past the point of being laughable. It is a tragedy for the whole Region to observe at our expense. Is there anyone in charge at City Hall that knows what he/she is doing?

What's Yours Is Mine

I am still trying to figure out why Citistat has not yet been implemented. I figured that with the amount of money wasted, that Citistat was designed to prevent, we probably could have been on the road to building a new arena. On the Mayor's Report Card it is still shown as "Implementation of CitiStat..In Progress."

In other words, when is inaction not in action---when it is in progress!

Now I was trying hard to figure out how to get the Mayor to do something finally on Citistat. That pesky Councillor Halberstadt asked about it at Council once that I recall and was brushed off (We better get our non-Tag team efforts geared up again soon).

Then I had the perfect idea. I would pretend that Bill Marra wanted it in the last election. If Bill wanted something, then Eddie would grab it and make it his own!

How did I know that...well I told you before about Eddie's Youth Council idea. "Bill Marra talked about [teen Youth council] at a UWSA Council Meeting before the last election, a meeting that he and Eddie attended. "Hello Devonshire Mall Loiterers." Bill also talked about holding Town Hall meetings throughout the year.

And who was the Chair of the committee which developed the city centre-west community improvement plan or the "urban village"---why Bill Marra.

But it was the tunnel concept that proved to me how to get Eddie to do something. Our Mayor is a big booster of a tunnel" "We want to see every option explored, including tunneling or anything that would basically see the trucks buried," Francis said. "It would improve the environment, quality of life and allow trucks to move more freely toward the border."

To be direct, the beginning of the "let's build a tunnel" movement for Eddie was in a news story in December 27, 2005: "Council expected to retain border experts" ie "Council is also concerned whether the proposed feeder road leading to a new crossing will be a tunnel, below street level or at- grade." [It's you know when David Estrin was hired by Mike Hurst to protect the interests of Windsor: December 30, 2002.]

However, to be fair, the person who raised the tunnel issue was Bill Marra again during the last mayoral campaign:

New mayor's role; Sheila Wisdom
Windsor Star 11-03-2003

  • "Both state that Windsor needs a "direct connection" from the 401 "to the border" that bypasses neighbourhoods.

    How can that happen? With three potential crossings in the city, that is difficult to achieve. In the debate on Windsor Star-Cogeco Cable 11, Marra hinted that the solution may be something like a tunnel, which could help the project avoid residential areas and therefore avoid being tied up in hearings or litigation for years. This, however, will require convincing the federal and provincial government to put real money on the table."

THE BIG DIG; Taking trucks underground; Dave Battagello Star Border Reporter
Windsor Star 04-17-2004

  • A tunnel under the city, stretching from the 401 to the border, would eliminate tieups on Windsor streets, improve air quality and offer seamless access to the U.S., its backers say.

    "It's doable," says former councillor and mayoral candidate Bill Marra. "Going underground is not a new concept. It's being done time and time again, especially in Europe. My family is from Switzerland and they go through mountains there.

    "This potentially could be a 100-year solution for Windsor if they do it correctly -- not just 30 or 40 years. It's the smart way to go for this community and the environment."

It's all politics after all. I bet Bill understands now how Tommy Douglas felt about Medicare when the Liberals made it their idea!

Dennis, CAW And Timmie

I can just imagine Dennis DesRosiers in his office writing these letters as the CAW keeps lobbing him soft pitches to let him hit a home run time after time. It would be illuminating to have a debate between Dennis and Buzz or Ken over the role of the CAW in Windsor's auto industry today and whether the CAW helps or hurts us.

From Dennis DesRosiers:

There was a little flap in Windsor recently over the fact that Tim Horton's this year is giving away free Toyota RAV4's in their Roll up the Rim to Win contest instead of the traditional GM product. CAW members were threatening to tear up winning tickets and boycott Tim's. I ask would an Oakville citizen turn down the chance to win a GM product, would an Oshawa citizen turn down a Ford. This stance against Toyota is ludicrous. CAW members embarrass themselves again.

This got me thinking of just who sells the most "Made in Canada" vehicles in Canada. And surprising even to me... Toyota wins that race with Honda number two and GM number three. If this was the most important criteria, (arguable for sure) then Toyota could be crowned the most "Canadian" of all the OEM's. GM obviously employs more Canadians. I don't like these titles since all OEMs provide substantial jobs to Canada if not through manufacturing then through their dealers and head offices. Indeed there are currently over 900,000 Canadians directly employed manufacturing, distributing and fixing vehicles. Millions more if indirect employment is counted. When are we going to understand that all the vehicle companies in Canada are substantial contributors to our economic well being and eliminate the label .."Domestic vs Import"? You don't have to manufacture to be important, especially in this day and age of service jobs far outweighing manufacturing jobs in terms of importance to the economy. I wrote the following letter to the editor for any in the media that wish to publish the
facts on this issue and attach the supporting data for anyone who is interested.


Letter to the Editor

Tim Horton's Chose Wisely

Get a hold of yourself Canada and in particular Windsor and CAW members. If you win one of those Toyota RAV4's from Tim Horton's and if you are that offended then just take the cash or send me the ticket and I'll claim the vehicle. Trust me the citizens in Cambridge and Alliston who may have won the GM product the last few years would have taken the vehicle and each of these cities have Toyota and Honda plants. And remember Toyota sells more vehicles "made in Canada" than any other vehicle company, they also directly employ close to 50,000 Canadians at their assembly plants, related suppliers, dealers, head office and warehouses. Who would have thought that a Japanese vehicle company would be more "Canadian" than GM, Ford or DCX.

The Equinox has a Chinese engine so a Toyota made in Cambridge has a higher domestic content level than this vehicle made by GM. Maybe CAW workers should boycott the Big Three? Don't blame Toyota or the other import nameplates for the loss of 20,000 union jobs, they have helped create 50,000 non-union manufacturing jobs alone in Canada in the same timeframe in an auto sector that is growing just about everywhere except in Windsor, Oakville and Oshawa. Without them our industry would be in serious trouble. Tim Horton choose wisely by offering the RAV4, a vehicle that will be built in a new billion dollar plus plant in Woodstock within two years.

Dennis DesRosiers

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I wish that I could be like a big-name Movie or Rock Star and be reported to be everywhere at once just like the Stars who were supposedly in Windsor during Super Bowl when they were really someplace else. Maybe I should try cloning.

March 23 is going to be a busy day:
  1. Dwight Duncan's big Budget Speech featuring infrastructure goodies for Toronto (and for Windsor as well?)
  2. Michigan House Committee Transportation, Joint Meeting with Senate Transportation in Lansing on Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) Study
  3. Windsor's Public Meeting of Windsor City Council: Response to the Detroit River International Crossing Partnership (DRICP) Environmental Process - Border

A Toronto Sun news story came out saying that Dwight is "dampening rising expectations" about new subway funding and multi-billion-dollar windfalls and that even for the subway (and our border) the project "would require federal funding to proceed." If true, this can only mean generalizations rather than specific goodies. Frankly, if Dwight announced a subway deal, he might have to resign as Finance Minister since it would seem to confirm a leak and he would never be able to run for leadership of the Federal Liberals.

And if there is nothing specific for Toronto, then do not hold your breath for Windsor.

As for Windsor's Oldcastle part of Windsor? If not, why is the meeting being held out of the City? Seems odd to me.

Anyway, it is not a "regular" Council meeting under the Procedural By-law nor has it been called a "special" Council meeting as others have been in the past but a "public" Council meeting whatever that is (I hate to be legalistic).

The meeting may well be improper anyway since "regular" meetings must be in Windsor so presumably "special" or "public" meetings must be too (although the Procedural By-law is unclear) ie "All regular meetings of the Council shall be held in the Council Chambers of Windsor City Hall at 350 City Hall Square (3rd Floor), or at such other place within the City of Windsor as Council may from time to time determine"

Nothing under the Municipal Act allows the session to be held in Tecumseh either unless there is an "emergency" and I cannot believe there is one.

Regardless where the meeting will take place, Eddie will control the discussion spouting the Procedural By-law as his crutch by limiting discussion to "response to the DRICP" rather than the real issue, city's total failure to perform as they were elected to do.

After all, would you want to hear from delegation after delegation, telling you that you and your colleagues had failed so miserably?

Soooo, I guess that means the real action will take place in Lansing to see what will really happen on the border! It may not be pretty for Windsor by the time it is all over.


Another day of lots of news in the media that require short Blogs

City hires agencies to collect fines

$20 million in outstanding fines and the City only expects to net $500 thousand? This cannot possibly be true. "In 2004, $5.7 million was recovered. After expenses were paid, the city and county shared about $1.9 million." Something seems odd.

City looking for ideas on how to beautify Windsor

Why are we talking about it other than as a pre-election gimmick. Remember that we already spent $150,000 for planting 64 trees on Dougall and Howard for the so-called PHASE 1 of the program. That was a strange deal anyway too since the project is really five years off and will cost lots of money. It's just a checkmark for the Mayor's report card for streetscaping. Another "talking about something rather than doing" exercise.

Doc recruitment effort boosted

Take a new doctor to lunch I guess to make them and "their families feel welcome so they'll remain here long-term."

We will only be successful in recruiting doctors if City Council gets behind the drive to find more doctors AND if we can bring foreign trained doctors into the country and have them commit to work here for at least 5 years. It is not all that hard to do either if the Province would allow the doctors to come here. Call them "physician assistants" if we cannot afford to pay them as "doctors" and let them work under the supervision of a doctor like a paralegal.

Again, the new Medical School at the University of Windsor along with St. Clair College should become the "specialist" in Ontario for training these doctors or rather upgrading them to meet Ontario standards.

Perhaps the new Medical School can be built in the Western Super Anchor lands to become the focus of an "urban village" that will actually succeed and not just be talked about.

Strike issues don't apply here

"We have great relations at St. Clair and what management is doing across the rest of the province is nasty business," said Sandi Webster, vice-chairwoman of the faculty bargaining team for OPSEU Local 138."

Why don't the local union and St. Clair figure out some way to act as "strike-breakers" so that other colleges across Ontario can be operated as ours is!

Funny, it is the College in the so-called union town that leads the way.

Bam, Kapow---take that London Economic Development Commission! I'll bet you won't show this story to companies looking to set up a new plant location.

Smoking ban help wanted

"The casino's senior managers have told the union they are predicting at least a 30 per cent drop in business." What will this do to cross-border traffic and the need for a new bridge if the numbers stay like this!

We have to be happy about one thing at least: that construction started already on the Casino expansion. Can you imagine if no-smoking and a need for a border ID were already in place. Do you think that there would still be the need for bigger space?

U.S. Congress kills proposed security fence

"The legislation had called on Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to "conduct a study on the construction of a state-of-the-art barrier system along the northern international land and maritime border of the U.S."

The concern to Canadians about this story is that the House of Representatives voted to approve a similar measure in the first place. It tells me again that the Americans are going to decide on where the new bridge is going to go, not us in Windsor, and we should have ensured that we had friends on the US side.

At one time the US Ambassador to Canada supported us but now...

Former Villa Maria sold

I like how Dan Stamper answers questions. He still does have a sense of humour in a matter that frankly drives me crazy: the border.

"Asked whether the property was in a strategic location for possible future twinning of the bridge, Stamper said: "it's also in a strategic location for student housing."

I see also that Councillor Jones also repeated his famous Detroit line about "homes, businesses, churches and graveyards."

DesRosiers--Is the Canadian Auto Industry In Crisis. What About In Windsor

We now have capital expenditure estimates for 2006 for the automotive sector in Canada (Vehicle Assembly, Automotive Parts and Truck Body and Trailer Manufacturing) and the results are very positive. See attached.

Total new and repair expenditures are forecast to increase by over $300 million in 2006 and exceed $4.8 billion. Only during the building boom of the late 1990's when Honda, Toyota and Suzuki were adding plants into Canada and GM, Ford and DCX were retrofitting plants were expenditures higher. Capital expenditures this decade are averaging about $4.5 billion per year versus $3.6 billion per year in the 1990's.

This is further indication that the Canadian automotive sector is NOT in crisis. The OEM's and their suppliers would not be committing close to $5 billion per year in capital to Canada if they did not see a positive future for the Canadian automotive sector. An industry in trouble would never invest at this level. New plants are being built and old plants retrofitted. Almost all of this investment is in Ontario with some supplier investment in Quebec. This means that Ontario should be able to continue its record of being the number one geography in North America for the production of new vehicles. Ontario out-produced Michigan for the first time two years ago and will be less affected than Michigan by the restructurings announced by Ford and GM. So Ontario will continue to grow its automotive manufacturing base while almost every other jurisdiction in North America struggles to maintain it's automotive manufacturing base or adjust to less vehicle and parts production in its area.

We expect significant investments on the supplier side to follow the Toyota investment into Canada and to continue to grow to supply existing Honda, Toyota and Suzuki plants in Canada. Indeed Canada is proving to be an excellent place for overseas suppliers to locate for all the "new domestics" who have come to North America to build vehicles. We expect "new domestic" vehicle production in North America to exceed 8 million units by the end of the decade up from about 6 million units in 2005. About a hundred overseas suppliers have chosen Canada as their base of operations to supply these "new domestic" plants and this number will grow over the next few years.

Moreover, with known announcements through to the end of the decade we expect these capital expenditures to be at the very least maintained if not grow into the $5 billion plus range to the end of the decade. The only possible downside is that some of this capital is targeted at reducing labour costs so employment levels are unlikely to grow by the same amount or grow relatively modestly. But a highly efficient, high productivity industry has a strong future even if there is little employment growth.

UPDATE---There is no company specific information but very little of this is targeted towards Windsor ... the DCX paint plant and a few other smaller parts sector investments. Windsor Essex county is definitely not getting anywhere near what other jurisdictions in Ontario and Quebec are receiving.

Fort Frances Bridge

I was really amused by a few lines in the story about the possible sale of the bridge between International Falls, Minn to Fort Frances, Ont:

"Current tolls, collected only on northbound traffic, are $6 per car, more for trucks, but officials on both sides of the border wouldn't mind if the tolls were scrapped altogether...We absolutely want to see it go into public hands," said Fort Frances Mayor Dan Onichuk...Unlike eastern turnpikes, we have a philosophical preference that there not be a toll."

Does no one want to take responsibility for anything any more. Not only should the Government buy the bridge but it should rebuild and maintain it too at no charge to the locals: "the bridge has been well-maintained, but the 1908 road and railway span probably has only about 15 to 20 years of life left. A replacement would cost about $8 million, the agency said. A two-lane second span built in 1979 is in better shape."

However, it does not come free either. "Depending on the type of repairs for the piers, Mn/DOT estimated the annual maintenance cost for this second bridge to be in the $21,000-30,000 range for the next 20 years (not including any deck replacement issues). The replacement deck options are estimated to cost $1.5 million for replacement to current width, $2 million for a widened bridge, and $5.9 million for a new structure in 20 years."

I bet if Gridlock Sam saw the almost 100 year old bridge he would say that it was falling down, falling down, falling down.

Well I have a better idea. The City of Windsor should try to buy it. I am sure that someone in Administration can justify it as a stratgic fit for our Tunnel [perhaps for redundancy]! With our new financial strength, I am sure that there is "wiggle room" to buy it.

Interestingly, the "private" companies that own it are suffering from a difficult paper market and are looking to get rid of non-essential assets. Instead of using our cash for Windsor roads and sewers, we can expand our border crossing business and buy it to increase our non-essential assets. Who cares, to paraphrase mayor Daley of chicago that "running a [Bridge or Tunnel] is not a core function of city government."

We could go out and compete for ownership of the new bridge too since the Ambassador Bridge Co. might be interested in it. If they have a desire for it, then it is up to our entrepreneurial Council to use taxpayer money to beat them at their own game.

Here is why Windsor better hurry so our big, rich and powerful competitor can't buy it first:
  • "Let’s face it—if there’s a private guy out there and it happens to be the one we think it is, he’s got more money than you and I could dream of,” hinted Mayor Onichuk.

    “Those issues won’t be an issue to him, but they definitely will be to the residents of Fort Frances, International Falls, Rainy River District, and Koochiching County.

    We do understand there may be another party interested in the bridge and certainly we don’t want our strategies to be public to the extent it would hurt our efforts."
As for elimination of tolls, that could be a problem since we may have our own problems with the Tunnel competing against the Bridge Co. and their 200 booths. We could probably go in with low tolls at first and then increase them since we would be the only crossing in town. We could subsidize our Tunnel that way couldn't we with the big profits we could make there?

To be honest, though I do not like the name of the bridge. It needs to be changed to preserve its history yet to reflect the new ownership Hmmm I got it:

Fort (Eddie) Francis Bridge

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Spitfires And The Dark Ages

I wondered if I should buy the Top Hat Club or maybe TBQ...They are both in some financial difficulty I believe. Then if I did, I thought I'd ask the City to build a massive new night-club for me or maybe a big, fancy restaurant on City property overlooking the Detroit skyline. After all, I want to capture the excitement generated by Super Bowl and build on the momentum caused by the opening of the Keg to help revitalize the downtown.

You think that is absurd. Not in Windsor it appears.

Did you read the front page story on Saturday on the new owners of the Spitfires and then the continuation on Page 5. A lot of coverage wasn't it? I was quite interested in reading about them and thought they were nice fellows. Until they moved from the sports arena to the political arena.

We are told that the three new owner/millionaires "have big dreams for Windsor's Junior A franchise....are rolling up their sleeves to turn their dreams into reality"

At the end of the second story on Page 5 they told us what WE, you and I, as taxpayers must do. We have to save them from themselves it appears, so they won't be "the most foolish business men in the world." We have to make them money on the $6 million they invested, "having just paid one of the highest prices ever for an OHL franchise:"

Sounds like DRTP asking for $150 million of taxpayer money to make them a fortune or who knows how much for their "enhanced" project!

Now I don't wish to be rude, but I don't remember being asked to be their partner. They did not ask for my advice before they moved forward. What makes them think that I want to be involved with them at all? Did you see anything in the story where they were going to offer taxpayers a bit of cash if they were successful?

The story told us that Dobrich has business smarts, Rychel is a relentless overachiever with skills as a top-flight judge of talent and Boughner is one of the sharpest minds in the NHLPA. With characteristics like these, what can we poor taxpayers offer them? The only thing it seems is a new arena at our expense, not theirs:
  • "While most of these plans will be quickly achievable, the trio said the long-term future of the Spitfires revolves around the building of a new rink.

    Boughner said there's no hiding the fact that Windsor Arena is a burden in selling players on coming to Windsor.

    "They don't see the rest of the city," Boughner said. "It'll be hard to get to the next level in the existing arena."

    Rychel said the group got no assurances from city officials that a new rink would be built prior to their buying the Spitfires. He added having just paid one of the highest prices ever for an OHL franchise, the group also isn't in position to pour millions into the project.

    "We believe in this city, it's our hometown," Rychel said. "We've made a major investment in the team. Now, the city has to get behind it.

    "We need a new arena because we're in the Dark Ages here. We'd like to be dropping the puck in a new rink by September 2008.

    "If we didn't feel it would get done, and we're still in Windsor Arena 10 years from now, we're the most foolish business men in the world."

I am sorry, but I do not have to get behind anything. And I have some things that should be done by the autumn of 2008 too for the good of Windsor and building an arena is NOT one of the things high on my list.

It is not my fault if they paid too much and cannot afford to put money into a new arena. Perhaps they should have thought about that before. I am sorry if taxpayers have this foolish notion that we would rather put our tax money into matters more essential than ensuring they get a return on their investment. I am sorry if a refurbished Barn does not meet their expectations but may meet taxpayers' financial ones and will ensure that local arenas do not get closed down to give them a palace to "sell" some hockey player.

We are going to hear of every international event in the world and how Windsor/Detroit must be part of it to justify spending who knows how many millions on another "DREAM."

The long-term future of the Spits does not depend on a new arena. As Paul Godfrey of the Blue Jays said. "The best marketing tool is to have a winning ball club."

Who am I to be cynical but do you remember what happened to Skydome. It was built for around $600 million which was paid for by the Canadian federal government, Ontario provincial government, and a large consortium of corporations. Rogers Communications eventually bought it after it ran up huge debts for about $25 million, 1/24 the cost of construction.

Hey, maybe the three amigos are not so dumb after all. They might buy an almost-new arena for a couple of million dollars to take it off taxpayer hands a few years down the road!

DesRosiers On DCX And Our Future

Comment from Dennis DesRosiers on Allenparkpete's note about Chrysler running out of steam.

Interesting article about DCX. Your reader is correct in that no company can have their way with the market for any length of time before the competition responds and in most cases are successful. DCX has had a great run with the 300 but they have also relied heavily on what we call 'safety valves' to maintain market share. There are five 'safety valves' which include fleet sales, consumer incentives, sub-venting lease residuals, extending model runs and pushing inventory down to the dealer level. DCX has been aggressive with most of these over the last year which indicates that their existing product is not selling as well as they would like. Each of these 'safety valves' result in margin reduction somewhere in the system so companies usually only push them hard (they use some of these every day so it is the degree they use them that is important ) when existing product is struggling.

People have to understand that GM, Ford and DCX are not losing market share because they are making mistakes or have less than exciting product. Most of the market share losses that have occurred is because of what the import nameplates are doing right rather than what the others are doing wrong. Not that GM, Ford and DCX haven't made mistakes, they have. But there was a time when only these three companies could jump all the barriers to competition in the market place and as a result they were able to divide up about 90 percent of the market with themselves. Today, there are 8 global entities that can compete head to head and so the previous three have had no choice but to give up market share in the face of this level of competition. You can't have 8 players dividing up 90 percent of the market and at the same time have the original three maintain share. There is a variety of functional things successful OEMs need to accomplish to be successful, these include engineering, design, manufacturing, marketing, selling, distribution, advertising, financing, warranty programs, a national dealer body, used vehicle auctions, etc to name a few. In today's automotive sector each of the majors ( GM group, Ford group, DCX, Toyota group, Nissan group, VW group, Hyundai group, Honda ) can do each of these functional activities very well. There are no barriers to entry. Eight into 90 percent will always result in a lower market share than three into 90 percent. Your reader should be concerned.

Yes DCX has a bunch of new products coming to the market this year but so do all the other companies as well. About 45 all new products are now regularly introduced each year into the market (there will be closer to 70 in the 2006 model year) compared to about 30 new products through the 70's to the 90's. This decade will see close to 500 all new products, the 90's saw only 322 new products. So there is less of a guarantee that the new DCX's product will result in higher market share or at least sustainable higher market share. I believe DCX will be very successful but I also believe they will have lower market share in the future than today and the managing of this downsizing will be critical for anyone who touches DCX, and Ford and GM for that matter since they will likely lose more market share than DCX.

Windsor has very high exposure to these three companies and very little exposure to the growing side of the industry, what we call the "New Domestics". We call them new domestics because they have North American content levels in some cases higher than the content level of selected GM, Ford and DCX products and in general they have very high NA content.

The unions in Windsor have made sure that Toyota and Honda and suppliers to the new domestics will never come near Windsor. Thus Windsor - Essex county will lose thousands of jobs over the next few years, indeed they have already lost thousands of jobs. But the worse is still to come.

This was predictable close to a decade ago and your previous Mayor was quite concerned. So when confronted with this dilemma, Mike Hurst asked me to come back to him with a few ideas for the City of Windsor to respond. My conclusion was that there was little that the City of Windsor could do to stop the erosion of the GM, Ford and DCX position in Windsor Essex county. The City could perhaps slow the erosion by being proactive with other mayors in the same boat by encouraging senior Governments to help these companies with specific requests but they could not stop the loss of jobs. Mike formed a coalition of Mayors that were instrumental in springing a billion dollars of incentives from the Ontario and Federal Government for these companies to respond. (the DCX paint shop investment was supported by this fund ... thanks Mike! ). These investment incentives have helped but they only slow the erosion.

The other thing we identified came from what Yves Landry who once told me ... that "the future of the automotive sector was the six inches between our ears" .. Quite insightful and another one of the reasons Mr. Landry should be viewed as the greatest man to ever step foot in Essex county. We picked up on this and recommended that the City of Windsor aggressively pursue a strategy of attracting "intellectual capital" to the area. Research, design, development and testing activities annually amount to over $20 billion in the North American automotive sector and these activities have to continue whether a company is doing well or not. Lee Iacocoa once said ... "I'll sell the furniture before cutting my product programs". These are also very high value added jobs and less prone to union problems. And Canada was getting very little of this activity. But advanced IT capability and the search for tax breaks for R,D,D and T was freeing up some of this activity for movement away from head offices. Why not reposition Windsor - Essex County as the "Intellectual Capital" of Canada's automotive sector and one of the key intellectual centres in the entire global automotive sector. Now that's dreaming big and a lot more reachable than digging a billion dollar tunnel under the Ojibway environmental reserve.

Mike Hurst aggressively pursued this strategy of moving Windsor - Essex County up the intellectual curve and was able to put in place initiatives that eventually resulted in over $1 billion in investment in intellectual activity, centred around the ARDC but there are about 20 plus other significant 'intellectual' investments in Windsor as a result of his efforts. When we first did the study we could identify only a few hundred engineering jobs in Windsor - Essex County. Now there are closer to 2,000 high end engineering positions. Now the unions have some trouble with this since they believe intellectual jobs are not plentiful enough to off set the lose of blue collar jobs AND intellectuals typically don't relate to a union but Windsor is far better off today as a result of this strategy than the area would have been without it. And secondary investment is starting to roll into Windsor as well. The University of Windsor has targeted well over a $100 million in new investments in buildings and equipment over the next few years and at the core of this investment is a new engineering building that without the automotive sector may never have happened.

Now City Council and the new Mayor have abandoned this strategy so the concept may never fully develop but Mike Hurst had the forethought to understand the problems that were coming to the region and to develop a strategy years before anyone else even though of the issue. But in today's politics a new Mayor can never embrace an old political rivals ideas no matter how good the idea. Thus Windsor is languishing. And by the way don't believe the job numbers related to the medial school. Quote the Provincial Government ... "there will be 96 medical school positions created at the U of Windsor over the next four years which will create 5,000 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs". Give me a break, that would be 175 new jobs per student ... boy are these kids getting a lot of attention. In the automotive sector about 3 additional jobs are created for each new position. Dwight could solve the entire unemployment problem in Ontario by simply adding a few thousand new medical students to the economy. Not going to happen.

And the multiplying works in reverse as well. Remember those thousands of automotive jobs that Windsor Essex have lost and the thousands more it will lose, they also result in thousands and thousands of additional job loses. Maybe that is why Glendara Condo's are being reduced in price. No economy, no jobs, no need for expensive condos.


But We have The Keg

I cannot think of a worse indictment for this Mayor and Council than this Press Release from The Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce. The release speaks for itself in describing our economic mess and the failure of our local Government to face reality!

Instead of playing political games with the border to be re-elected, our elected politicians should have been focusing on making the border work for us to capitalize on our position as the prime North American border crossing point. Instead of threatening more lawsuits, they should have been working with the community to get us more jobs.

Instead of me going on and on, I'll let YOU, dear Reader, read the Press Release and write your own BLOG for it



Windsor, Ontario - The Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce believes that the current effort by the City of Windsor and Essex County Councils to approve a regional economic development organization is one of the most significant initiatives for the region in this millennium as there is an urgent need to revitalize the regional economy.

The Chamber also stated a number of factors responsible for the urgency of the Economic Development for the region. The unemployment rate in Windsor and Essex County continues to under perform compared to the national average. The Canadian Dollar is currently approaching the 90 cents U.S. mark from a level of 80 cents U.S. in 2004.

The Big three automotive manufacturers in our area experienced further market downturn, necessitating additional layoffs and job losses. The Tool Mold and Die industry is currently facing unprecedented global competition from emerging ultra low cost Countries. During 2005 Hospitality and Tourism Industry experienced further decline. In the last few years local building permits for housing, industrial and commercial construction declined precipitously.

The Chamber recommends a number of measures that would expedite the transition stated in the current Economic Development initiative. These include:

· Regional scope for the new Economic Development organization.

· Business-led and driven Board of Directors.

· Appropriate and proportional funding for Economic Development.

· Transfer all responsibilities of the current Advisory Group and Transitional Board to the new Board of Directors as soon as possible.

The Chamber urges the City of Windsor, our municipal governments and the regional government of Essex to work as full partners on a regional team basis in order to achieve the goals of the current initiative. The Chamber calls for a recast organization that understands and knows the needs of the business community. The new Economic Development organization should have a business-led Board of Directors from the region that would be capable of making binding decisions for this organization.

The Chamber thanks the current Economic Development Advisory Group that assisted in creating a regional approach and guiding the process to this point. To provide the final stage of the initiative with a clear beginning and a clear mandate, political leaders should transfer all responsibility and the necessary tools to a single leadership group, the new Board of Directors.

“Without a successful initiative the entire region will suffer as a whole as investors select other competing communities. The entire region has to be in on Economic Development,” said Lindsay Boyd, Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce Director and Spokesperson on Economic Development.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Vigilant Fairness

Finally. I wondered how long it would take the Editorial writers of the Star to tie in Bill Marra with the Lori Dupont case. (His name was mentioned 7 times so you would not forget the connection). It's a good thing that he wrote to a Letter to the Editor to make it easier for them to do so.

I believe it is somewhat disingenuous of the Star to continue writing Editorials as they have been. There was a horrible tragedy. Consequences flow from that as the Star rightly knows from their own headlines and the Hospital has to take steps to protect itself as well or else they would have been acting improperly. It is not all one-sided. As an example:

Police consider charging hospital in nurse's stabbing death
  • Police are investigating whether charges of criminal negligence causing death should be laid against staff and administration of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in last year's stabbing death of nurse Lori Dupont at the hands of jilted boyfriend Dr. Marc Daniel.

    Staff Sgt. Ed McNorton said investigators are looking at Section 217 of the Criminal Code, which describes the legal duty for persons "who undertake to do an act." Breaking the section by omitting that duty can lead to a charge of criminal negligence causing death under another section of the code.

    Sgt. McNorton said police are being thorough and want to cover all bases."

Dieu faces lawsuit in slaying: Nurse 'didn't have to die,' lawyer says
  • Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital and nine of its senior administrators and doctors face a $13.5-million lawsuit in the murder of nurse Lori Dupont."

Life is complicated these days and it does not always flow the way the Star would like it to do so There are competing demands on the Hospital as the Star is well aware. Just like if you, dear reader, have a car accident, your insurer takes over and you are required to act in a certain fashion or your policy could be voided.

Why doesn't the Star remember that "A coroner's probe was put on hold last week and was turned into a criminal investigation after it was revealed that information being gathered by detectives for the coroner's office was also being considered by police for possible criminal prosecution."

I would have thought that it took some guts for the Hospital to set up the inquiry that it did. Perhaps the Star should be reminded too that the Dupont family is onside:

  • " The Dupont family has been kept apprised of the development of the probe.

    "As a family we fully endorse the review that's going to take place," said Stan Dupont, Lori's brother.

    "We're very hopeful that it's going to provide answers to the events that occurred at the hospital."

Vigilant fairness means that it is time for the Star to stop!

Is Dwight Duncan Giving A Budget Gift To Hometown Windsor

When you are Minister of Finance, you can do a lot of things that you could not do before because you fill an important position in Government...Like throw around money to boost your Party's chances in Toronto by building a new subway and help out your Windsor hometown by building roads to the border. And when you might want make a run to be Leader of the Federal Liberals and perhaps Canada's next Prime Minister, the more money the better!

Remember Dwight's so-called Gong Show announcement. I wrote about it before:
  • "Provincial Liberal Ministers Duncan and Caplan announced out of the blue that the Province had committed $500 million of new money to Windsor for the border (although they were unable to provide specifics on the spending and it was not even available until 2010). The next day, they had to apologize for revealing it! The "Gong Show" as Gord Henderson called it.

Well this time it may be all different and for real, or maybe not. Here is an excerpt from a recent Toronto Star article that may be applicable to Windsor's situation too:

$1.5B to push subway into GTA; Finance minister to announce York University extension to Spadina line in March 23 provincial budget
Robert Benzie Toronto Star, 03-07-2006

  • Funding for the much-anticipated York University subway line is expected in the March 23 provincial budget, the Toronto Star has learned.

    Sources say Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will use his first budget to announce the $1.5 billion, 6.2-kilometre extension of the Toronto Transit Commission's Spadina line from Downsview station to York's campus.

    Sources say the project would be a huge political boon for the Liberals as they gear up for next year's election...

    Nor is it known how soon construction could begin.

    Liberal insiders say corporate tax revenues are so much higher than projected that the government will have more than enough money for a high-profile investment in the TTC.

    "Put it this way, (the province) is having a hard time showing a deficit this (fiscal) year," said one source, noting Duncan prefers to eliminate the budget deficit in dramatic fashion next year - just in time for the Oct. 4, 2007 provincial election.

    As disclosed by the Star on Saturday, Ontario has an estimated $1 billion corporate-tax windfall in the treasury. By law, that money has to be spent - or earmarked for spending - by the end of the fiscal year on March 31 or else it must go toward deficit reduction.

    That's why Duncan announced Friday he would table the budget on March 23 - almost two months earlier than usual...

    The subway extension is not the only transit project that could be addressed in the upcoming budget...

    Meanwhile, there was further evidence at Queen's Park yesterday that the provincial treasury is brimming.

Lots of interesting events happening around town and elsewhere that may tie into this budget talk. Let me see if I can make some sense out of them all for you and do some speculating for Windsor.

With all of the new-found cash in the Provincial Treasury, there are people just itching to spend it. What could be more important (other than the Toronto subway, the area code 905 votes and Paul Martin's resignation as Liberal Leader) than the Windsor border that is so vital for the Ontario and Canadian economy.

Dwight Duncan is one of our local MPPs and a pretty powerful guy at Queen's Park in Cabinet as Finance Minister. He needs to keep the home folks happy if he is to remain a power and to move up in the political world to say, Prime Minister of Canada. He also needs to keep reminding the Mayor that he really is the head honcho in Windsor in case Eddie may decide foolishly to take him on politically.

My sources tell me that there were some important Provincial border people in Windsor recently and that some of them might have met the Mayor to have a coffee and cookies. [I am not sure if the Mayor has told his Councillors about the Coffee Klatsch since it might be even too hush-hush for them].

I bet if infrastructure was discussed for Toronto in the Budget, then there might have been some infrastructure talk about the Windsor border during that meeting. That would be consistent with what I said previously about Senior Level bureaucrats going around town asking what Eddie wanted on the border (and perhaps what Dwight needed to know too for his Budget speech).

The other interesting thing I heard was that it was just a Windsor-Province meeting which seems strange since aren't the Feds involved in the border file too? You remember of course, that Eddie went after PM Martin and tried to snuggle up with the Premier over Schwartz so maybe the Feds were isolated. I wonder if Eddie has even called up yet the Conservative MP, Jeff Watson, to congratulate him on his win. If not, then no wonder the Feds were not invited to the party or if invited, did not go.

More interesting news. The Toronto Star reported on Saturday that

  • "Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty... assured Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan in a closed-door meeting yesterday that Ottawa would be at the table when it comes to infrastructure improvements in the province.

    "We did talk about infrastructure because it's important — particularly for southern Ontario, but it's important for the whole country — and we are going to have further discussions about that," the federal finance minister told reporters after a 40-minute meeting at Duncan's office at Queen's Park."

Interestingly this discussion might be relevant for Windsor even though "specific projects" were not discussed during the talks since I have also been informed that the Provincial Liberals are desperate to own the new bridge in Windsor.

I also heard that the City is going to have a big session or Special Council meeting on the border so the public can speak. Remarkably, the date I was given for this meeting was soon after the March 23 Budget speech.

Now why would a secretive Mayor and Council all of a sudden want to have a public City border meeting and right after the Budget after the visit from bigwig border officials. Moreover, it's just days before DRIC makes a new announcement on March 27 or 28 about the border and sets some specific options. Sounds to me like a time schedule is being arranged to maximize publicity for something and/or to put pressure on someone.

Given the timeline, it gives the Windsor Star time to do their thing for Dwight and Eddie on the morning of the 24th to work up the locals into thinking there might be a border solution in our lifetime. (I wonder if Henderson will do an extra column on the Friday too to heap praise on both Spanky and Eddie). It also allows the Star to demand that the Feds do their duty and put up cash. The Star can fume in an Editorial ("fume" seems to be a favourite Star border word) that both Senior Levels must respect the wishes of the citizens of Windsor, as expressed by the Mayor, when the DRIC proposals are announced.

Now probably Eddie does not know yet exactly what Dwight will give him but will he be told the specifics by a senior Liberal who will visit Eddie in Windsor again soon I was informed, most likely during the week of the 13th. Obviously, that person has to make sure that Eddie is onside and to ensure that Dwight gets all the praise he deserves so people will forget his earlier faux pas.

I wonder if the meeting will be on the 15th. I hope not. Remember, "Beware the Ides of March!"

[UPDATE: I am told that the Mayor is away, so the visit will not take place until he returns or unless there is a telephone call]l

And guess what, if things work out according to schedule, Eddie will be able to use the Budget announcement at the public border meeting to say how well he has done for us and to try to foreclose any criticism. Hey, he has to get re-elected doesn't he?

And as for Dwight, the bookies in Vegas will increase his chances of being elected Liberal Leader and the next PM of Canada...Another Windsor boy succeeds!

Finally, to top it off, there will be the DRIC border announcement a few days later. It has to say nothing since there is over a year of studying left to do. The Province cannot have DRIC ending so soon because promises will then have to be fulfilled and we are not yet close enough to a Provincial election. Construction promises are yet to come.

I wonder how close to the truth my speculating is. I have to tell you that I think we will get a big announcement, perhaps about tunnelling or more money for the road to the Bridge. Will it be real or more like the Gong Show, the Sequel.

Why am I so cynical? Note the comment re the subway construction above: "Nor is it known how soon construction could begin." I trust that you recall that previously, Dwight had said there was no money for the border until after 2010.

We Auto Worry

Our local economy has had the Ford and GM shocks. Now a reader thinks we may have a Chrysler problem. Thank goodness we may have a new bunch of doctors from the new medical school both for the spinoff jobs created and to deal with the health and well-being of the potentially laid-off workers.

Allenparkpete asks: Is Chrysler running out of steam? Are their products dating rapidly? Is the competition too tough and getting tougher or was the 300C a great smokescreen for other problems that were neatly masked by the success of that car line. The article below begins to ask questions that were not asked before as the issues plaguing GM and Ford soaked up the headlines. But as we all know, car companies in this area all take their turn at the top...good, bad or ugly. What does this spell for Windsor? As we know with Mr. LaSorda's obsession with manufacturing efficiency that Windsor Assembly has a bright future but will there be more productivity gains at the expense of current workers? Only time will tell.

Is Chrysler's comeback fizzling?

Detroit's strongest automaker may have to cut production as more vehicles languish at dealerships.

CHICAGO -- Chrysler has defied Detroit's downturn in the past two years -- gaining market share and earning solid profits -- but there are growing signs that its comeback may be starting to sputter.

After weaker sales in recent months, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles are piling up on dealer's lots, taking nearly three months on average to sell.

On Wednesday, a top company executive said the automaker may need to cut factory production to cope with the surplus.

"We have more inventory than we'd ideally like," said Joe Eberhardt, executive vice president of marketing for DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, after a news briefing at the Chicago Auto Show. "And we'll work with our dealers over the next couple of months to resolve that."

Chrysler will consider "adjusting production schedules" if stockpiles remain high, he said. Chrysler and its dealers ended January with a stockpile of 550,000 cars and trucks, down from 597,000 at the end of December.

Production cuts would be a setback for Chrysler, which has outperformed its Detroit rivals for two years on the strength of new vehicles such as the Chrysler 300C sedan.
Chrysler is the only one of Detroit's three automakers that is earning money on its car and truck business, with operating profits up 6 percent to $1.3 billion through the first three quarters of 2005. The company will report fourth-quarter 2005 results next week.

But Eberhardt's comments come amid increasing questions about the sustainability of the automaker's comeback.

Despite a string of wins following a three-year turnaround that shed about 40,000 jobs, Chrysler is beginning to show signs of weakness, according to some industry observers.

"They're still doing better than the other two Detroit automakers," said Jesse Toprak, chief auto market analyst for "But it appears they've lost a little momentum from last year."

In January, Chrysler vehicles sat on dealer lots for an average of 82 days before selling, the longest of any automaker, according to Edmunds data. The industry average was 58 days.

Also in January, after sales declines in November and December, Chrysler increased spending on rebates to woo buyers. In January, Chrysler shelled out an average of $4,191 per vehicle, up more than $1,000 since October and the highest of all major automakers, Edmunds said.

For the first time, the company is also providing discounts as high as $1,000 on the 300 in some markets. And some new vehicles such as the Dodge Dakota pickup and Magnum wagon have not been hot sellers.

Chrysler does not publicly provide details about its incentive spending but disputes claims that it has significantly raised rebates in recent months.

Company officials also downplay suggestions that high inventory levels or recent sales declines are signs its comeback is in trouble.

"There's no chink in the armor here," said Jason Vines, a Chrysler spokesman.
Chrysler dealer Jim Kempthorn, however, said the automaker's rising inventories are a major concern. As the glut grows, dealers have been asked to accept more vehicles, which they don't always want or need.

"There has been a constant push," said the owner of Kempthorn Chrysler Plymouth in Canton, Ohio. "Now we are telling them we are full. We really need to get this inventory under control, but it's a real struggle. The people just aren't out there -- they aren't buying."

In December, Chrysler offered its dealers up to $750 for every extra vehicle they ordered during a year-end clearance sale.

And last month, the automaker introduced an incentive program that offers buyers zero-percent interest loans for 60 months on most of its vehicle lineup.

But if Chrysler needs to go further to clear out surplus vehicles, then it should consider all options open, said Chuck Fortinberry, a dealer at Clarkson Chrysler-Jeep.

"If they have to take a little production out so we can clear out the inventory and get the flow going," he said, "then that's a good thing."

Chrysler will introduce 10 vehicles this year, including the Dodge Caliber hatchback and Chrysler Aspen SUV.

Company officials said the new vehicles should bring improved sales in coming months.