Senior Levels Snubbed Again
When I read the headline in the first Press Release---CANADA AND ONTARIO IMPROVING HIGHWAY 401 IN ESSEX COUNTY--- my heart beat a bit faster. Was this it? Had the Feds and Province made a decision as to the route to the border?
Before I get to that, let me deal with what happened yesterday in Parliament. Bill C-3 received third reading in the House of Commons and so it goes to the Senate for review. However not before Brian Masse, the major MP on the border scored a massive victory, or so he will tell the world. He was able to get amendments on 2 sections of the act dealing with consultations:
- "The Minister may, if in the opinion of the Minister it is necessary having regard to all the circumstances, consult with the other levels of government that have authority in the place where the international bridge or tunnel is, or is to be, situated and with any person who, in the opinion of the Minister, has a direct interest in the matter."
In passing here is an interesting thought! Perhaps Brian finally realizes after hearing Stamper and Moroun at the Ottawa hearing that the Bridge Co. is not been treated fairly after all. The Bridge Co. is, if you did not know it, one of Brian's biggest constituents. Perhaps he is learning that he has to represent all of them. He met the son of the owner of the Bridge Co. at the hearing who also happens to be on the Board of the University of Windsor. I wonder if Brian sent a note of thanks to the Moroun family for their generosity in donating millions to another of Brian's constituents, the University.
I wonder if the lightbulb finally went on in Brian's head that by forming an alliance with the Bridge Co. rather than always fighting them, his constituency could be improved. You know, one constituent helping another constituent. Perhaps if Brain could talk to the West End activists and Ward 2 Councillors Jones and Postma, Windsor could start moving forward in a partnership with the Bridge Co. to achieve something positive.
I tell you about what happened in Parliament because of what I am going to tell you demonstrates how futile Masse's actions were. Brian tried to help his friend Eddie out and we shall see how grateful Eddie was for all of his efforts. Brian may want to rethink who his friends really are.
Unfortunately, when I read it, the first press release only dealt with:
- The start of phase three improvements to Highway 401 in Essex County by improving a 10 kilometre stretch of Highway 401 between Highway 77 and Essex Road 27.
- Improving the Windsor South Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility.
Then the kicker as stated by the Federal Minister that completely dashed my hopes:
- “This project will improve traffic flow and provide safety improvements to this important stretch of Highway 401 leading to Canada’s busiest border crossing,” said Minister Cannon. “The Government of Canada and its partners look forward to the completion of this great project.”
No decision on the road to the border, the key problem for this border crossing, after all.
The backgrounder to the Press Release was interesting. It stated:
"Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2006 with substantial completion by 2007 on:
- Advance utility relocation for the Walker Road road-rail grade separation; and
- Intersection improvements on Huron Church Road at Industrial Drive to facilitate access to the U.S. Customs truck pre-processing facility.
Several more projects will complete environmental assessment and detail design in early 2007:
- Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Plaza master plan improvements"
These backgrounder projects were all part of the "Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy." You remember that was a deal that the Mayor signed on behalf of the City of Windsor on March 11, 2004. He said at the time:
- "Our new approach is far superior,” said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis. “It’s much more collaborative and it focuses much more on addressing community and regional needs – including less congested streets. More importantly, it recognizes the dual role of Windsor as both a community in its own right and as the largest Canada-U.S. gateway.”
We were buddy-buddy with the Senior Levels at that time and Eddie could not wait to share press release space with his friends in high places.
Then a second Press Release was issued today. It talked in detail about the Intersection improvements on Huron Church Road at Industrial Drive:
- "The governments of Canada and Ontario, in partnership with the City of Windsor, today announced $357,000 in road improvements on Huron Church Road at Industrial Drive, as part of the Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving strategy to improve traffic flow at Canada’s busiest border crossing.
Coco Paving Inc. of Windsor, the successful low bidder on the contract, starts construction this week and is anticipated to complete the project by mid-August 2006."
Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield both gave their comments in announcing the project.
So what did Eddie have to say in this Press Release:
In layman's language, he said "NOTHING, NADA, ZERO, ZILCH"
I am certain that he was asked to contribute something. After all, the project is in Windsor and it is only good manners and protocol to allow the Mayor a paragraph as was done previously. Obviously, he chose not to say anything.
I do not get it at all. Why did he snub the Senior Levels for a second time? Did he do this on his own or did he call another emergency in camera session of the Councillors to get their concurrence? Given the Council Resolution in Tecumseh, why weren't Windsorites involved in the decision-making?
Is there a sound reason to snub or is it merely Eddie's petulance showing? What possible benefit is there to take an action such that Councillor Valentinis will again have to ask why no one listens to Windsor and why we are not getting our fair share of money from the Senior Levels? Are the Mayor and Councillors that dumb and have not learned their lesson yet?
This type of action is not how an experienced businessman, lawyer or Mayor should act. It is immature and foolish and has cost us and will cost us dearly.
As for Mr. Masse, there is nothing like working hard to get an amendment passed, as weak as it is, and then seeing the so-called beneficiary of it make you look like a fool. Eddie got what he wanted and then to thank Brian for his efforts, snubbed the people again whom Brian wanted to consult with him. As I said, what Brian did was futile. Maybe now he will understand why some of us feel the way we do!
Can Windsor afford four more years of Eddie Francis? You are going to have to decide that soon aren't you?