Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 24, 2006

Just Some Quick Thoughts

Here are a few quickies from stories in the media over the last few days:


No wonder we are getting nowhere on the border in Windsor. Here it is in plain English:
  • "I will say with public-private partnerships we open it to anybody who can qualify," said Catherine Loubier, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Cannon. "But I can't tell you anything more because the project is non-existent so far."

So if the project does not exist, what has been happening here for the past eternity involving the Bi-National partnership, DRIC and the millions of dollars spent.

Shouldn't someone tell the Minister! Perhaps if he talked to some of the proponents, or rather if his staff allowed him to do so and not hid him from public view, or if he actually visited Windsor (Ontario Minister Cansfield can tell him how to get here), then we might have some resolution here.

Oh I forgot, there are votes to capture in Quebec first.


I am sure that you saw the story "Passenger hit by glass after rocks strike bus." We learned that "Transit Windsor supervisor Ken Lew... said rocks are regularly thrown at buses travelling the routes near Mic Mac Park and it's probably costing us thousands."

So why do anything right. Mr. Lew's comments may certainly help the injured party's lawyer get a massive settlement for gross negligence!


Will Councillor Halberstadt please get onboard. "Coun. Alan Halberstadt said the deficit concerns him. "It's money that wasn't realized in 2006 and we're going to have to deal with it one way or another..."To say that we have a surplus without bringing that into it, is a little misleading."

Geez Alan, you are sounding like Councillor Lewenza who told us next year's post-election budget will mean higher taxes or a reduction in services when everyone else was telling us how well-off we were.


A classic statement "Of course there's a monetary interest here," Chairman Heil of the Windsor Heritage Committee said. "Any property owner has a natural inclination towards maximizing monetary value."

Sure, who cares if the Nuns "could... lose the highest bid for Holy Rosary Convent."

How nice of the Heritage Committee and Council to "expropriate" without compensation. But then again, isn't that what the Senior Levels want to do with the Ambassador Brisdge's business! Our Council is learning from the best

Only in Windsor, Pity!


"Dennis Archer, speaking at the 130th annual Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting, said that "neither community should run away from its strength in the auto industry but it is in our collective best interests to diversify and seek alternative industries."

Mr. ex-Mayor, we have started a snow-cleaning business that we offered to Detroit during Super Bowl. Does that count?


Did Dwight lose his bet after all? Now he did hedge his bet. After all he claimed that the $400-million Casino Windsor expansion will eventually win back U.S. gamblers lost because of a falling Canadian dollar, border delays and new anti-smoking bylaw

Here is what Dwight Duncan, our MPP and Cabinet Minister, said though about initial problems,
  • "It will be an initially short-term decline, but things will pick up. In six months, we'll see who's right and who's wrong...we will monitor this very carefully."

I think YOU were wrong Dwight so it's time to pay up for Windsor. After all, the next Provincial election is coming up soon and you don't want Eddie running against you do you?


Will we ever learn the truth about Enwin?

CKLW reported that "Enwin Powerlines and Enwin Utilities are merging into one company. The move will not mean a loss of jobs but Mayor Eddie Francis expects there to be as much as $500,000 a year in savings through lower administration costs."

I wonder why this had to be reported only AFTER the election along with news such as the big losses at Windsor Airport


Todays Trucking magazine seems to be the border Leakor's favourite media outlet. You remember that the magazine has received stories that no other media outlet has so that they can publish it so people like me will get the story quickly and recirculate it. That's the Leakor's favourite method of distribution.

The online version posted a story the other day about Minister Cannon and his P3 remarks. Just like with the Windsor Star, one must read right to the end to get the real juicy bit and there it was:

  • "Cannon added that Ottawa intends to complement a potential P3 arrangement with pending legislation -- Bill C-3 -- that would give Ottawa more power over the construction, maintenance, sale, and operation of private international bridges and tunnels.

    "The International Bridges and Tunnels Act establishes a modern and streamlined legislative framework that provides clarity and certainty…," he said.

    The Ambassador Bridge, which currently is the only commercial bridge crossing connecting Windsor and Detroit, is one of only two privately owned crossings between Canada and the U.S.

    The Detroit International Bridge Co. -- which is moving ahead with plans to twin the Ambassador -- could also be a contender to work with the federal government on a P3.

I don't remember anyone saying that before about a Government/Bridge Co. arrangement. In fact the Globe and Mail on the 21st, the same day as the Todays Trucking story, had said "the name of Manuel (Matty) Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, was conspicuously absent from talk about a new partnership."

Was someone correcting an error? Was someone signalling to the Bridge Co. that the Department did not want to fight but wanted to engage in some dialogue? Remember what Matthew Moroun said at the Commons hearings on Bill C-3:

  • "To that end, we are not suggesting that the Ambassador Bridge go it alone. That would be a ridiculous statement and an ignorant one. We are asking this committee, and especially Transport Canada, to please put down your sword, set this legislation aside, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue, not just at a very formal hearing to discuss the legalese of this legislation, but rather to discuss and brainstorm and cooperate with one another toward an even more successful Ambassador Bridge for the advantage of the operation, the government, and the public. "

Can we actually now hope that some talking might really begin! Perhaps we might have something for which to be "thankful."


Be careful if you drink the water at City Hall. The Medical Officer of Health must immediately quarantine the City Hall water supply until the source of contamination is found. We are seeing incredible attacks of loss of memory.

Why only the other day, the Mayor lost his photographic memory. He said as I quoted yesterday

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said he didn't remember whether the Spitfires document contained a confidentiality clause. "I don't recall,"

As for Councillor Gignac, she said

  • "What I do remember is we got what I consider to be a fair bargain for the residents."

And in today's Star:

  • "The city's chief administrative officer John Skorobohacz said he wasn't sure if the agreements to sublease the city's space in the building contained confidentiality clauses. Several councillors however, confirmed they did."

Even the Star editors are aware of it:

  • "There are several disturbing aspects regarding the city's secret deal with the Windsor Spitfires, including the memory lapse of Mayor Eddie Francis...Thankfully, a few councillors have filled in the gap in the mayor's memory to explain a disconcerting process that has left taxpayers in the dark...A mechanism already exists to determine what information should and shouldn't be public. It's called the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Francis and city councillors should commit it to memory. To make sure they don't forget it, they should post it on their fridge."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Newbie Baptism Under Fire

Pity the three Newbies who are about to go on Council and even feel sorry for the returning Councillors.

Now you, dear reader, and they may understand why I am being aggressive about my Municipal Freedom of Information Application and why Chris Schnurr is doing his.

As the song goes from the Music Man:

We've surely got trouble!
Right here in River City...
Oh, we've got trouble.
We're in terrible, terrible trouble.

Frankly, whom do we believe? The secrecy of this Council is frightening. The consequences to us as citizens and taxpayers unknown but very scary. If what I am going to talk about is bad and horrifies you, imagine the border file and how it will impact generations to come of Windsorites. (Check out my Cleveland border BLOG today too)

Let's talk about Canderel first.

Here is the Privacy Commission Order. The entire decision is online at its website

  • 1. I order the City to disclose the responsive record to the appellant by sending a copy to the appellant no later than December 15, 2006 but not before December 8, 2006.

    2. In order to verify compliance with this order, I reserve the right to require the City to provide me with a copy of the records disclosed to the appellant pursuant to order provision 1.

Here is exactly what the Privacy Commission said from its decision:

  • "The affected party made no representations as to whether the terms of the lease were “supplied” to the City.

    With regard to whether the terms of the lease were supplied “in confidence”, the affected party stated that:

    the commercial agreement was negotiated in confidence at the request of the City. The City has not to this day consented to the disclosure of any parking related information."

Yet the Mayor can say as the Star reported

  • "We were asked to keep it confidential," Francis said Friday. "

How generous of the Mayor and how hypocritical to say after the decision was made and 10 months after the request for disclosure was made

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said the city will comply with the privacy commissioner's order. "From our perspective, it's always easier to release information so we don't have to deal with rumour and speculation."

Eddie could have released the information. He had a choice to disclose but forced an appeal instead. Now he has no choice. He lost the case. The City tried to keep the deal secret and could not. Moreover, the Commission will monitor the City to ensure that it does comply!

So Mr. Mayor, so that we do not have to go to the Privacy Commission again and "so we don't have to deal with rumour and speculation" when shall we expect the Canderel sub-tenancy and East end arena details with the Spitfires released? When may I expect my documents after almost 6 months? The election is over now so you don't have to be afraid any more.

Secondly, can you believe Roseann Danese's East End arena story today. Hmmmm I wonder when she will be assigned to the Afghanistan story and shipped overseas! I have tried to catalogue the main bits of her story slightly differently so you can see the full impact of what she wrote:


  1. "Windsor city council agreed to include the clause guaranteeing confidentiality after the Junior A team asked for it."
  2. Mayor Eddie Francis said he didn't remember whether the Spitfires document contained a confidentiality clause. "I don't recall,"
  3. Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac also claimed not to have known about the confidentiality clause.

Jones said he believes it was chief administrative officer John Skorobohacz who told councillors that it was the policy of the OHL "not to reveal (arena) deals."

  1. It is the first time an agreement with the Windsor Spitfires has been kept secret. Details of previous agreements were always made public
  2. Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the agreement renewed last year with the Sarnia Sting is open for public scrutiny

Councillors have not seen the agreement itself just a Council report.

  1. Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac said "What I do remember is we got what I consider to be a fair bargain for the residents."
  2. Valentinis said councillors wanted to know what other cities were earning from their arenas and asked at the in-camera meeting "how do you know you're getting a good deal?"
  3. Zuk said she believes the deal is a good one

How much does the Mayor trust his colleagues

  • Copies of a report on the deal were distributed to council members during the October meeting but collected by administrators after the issue was discussed.

I am sorry but this is amateur hour on a potential $100 million deal.

Do you remember the last big story about an Agreement not being reviewed properly by the Mayor and Council that cost the City millions? Have no lessons been learned, especially by the Mayor who was involved directly in that one too?

No offence intended but how does anyone know what the Agreement is and how good it is if Councillors have not seen it? How do they know we got a good deal if there were no comparables? What does City Hall staff know about negotiating arena deals?

I remember that the Mayor told me, when we were still talking, that he had a photographic memory. Now he cannot remember something done a few weeks ago. "I don't recall." As Senator Mercer would say: "

  • "You are a good politician. There is no Question Period at the municipal level, but you have just avoided the question..."

Does this deal fit in with the Canderel subleases. I sure would like to know that.

Do you remember what I said in my arena Press Conference:

  • Are There Serious Ethical Issues Involving:
    (A) Windsor Spitfire Negotiations
    (B) $4.5 Million Payment
    (C) Conflicts Of Interest
    (D) Hidden Agendas And A Municipal Act Judicial Investigation
    (E) Acting In An Unreasonable Manner And Not In The Best Interests Of Residents.

Finally, it seems that people are starting to question things. So Newbies, what are you going to do. Returning councillors, what are you going to do? Potential mayoral candidates, what are you going to do?

Are you going to continue to be led by the nose by the Mayor and Administration and treated as children who cannot be trusted? Or are you going to carry out your legal responsibility as Councillors of Windsor and ensure that you know the deal, are advised properly and allow the Citizens of Windsor to be given the full, complete and true disclosure of matters that can impact us. We cannot afford more Canderels and MFPs. This City has serious, big-time debt. We cannot afford more secrecy and financial hits.

Just so the Newbies and returning Councillors know what their legal responsibility is, the Municipal Act sets it out in Section 224:

  • It is the role of council,
    (a) to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality;
    (b) to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality;
    (c) to determine which services the municipality provides;
    (d) to ensure that administrative practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council;
    (e) to maintain the financial integrity of the municipality; and
    (f) to carry out the duties of council under this or any other Act

This arena story is not done yet. There is a lot more that needs to be disclosed about how and why this deal was done so quickly and with so much secrecy.

We will know within days if citizens made good choices in electing Messrs. Dilkens, Marra and Hatfield and whether Councillors who have been re-elected feel comfortable still after it seems they have not been told all the facts. Do they have guts or not? Will they stand up for the electorate or cave in during their first few weeks. Will we have a Council that works or will we have 4 more years of hell.

Council has the power under the Purchasing By-law:

    56. Where a Contract may extend beyond the term of Council, the Contract shall contain provisions to minimize the financial liability of the City of Windsor should the subsequent Council not approve sufficient funds to complete the Contract and the City of Windsor may terminate the Contract.

Council also has power under the Municipal Act:

  • Sec 274 (1) If a municipality so requests by resolution, a judge of the Superior Court of Justice shall,
    (a) investigate any supposed breach of trust or other misconduct of a member of council, an employee of the municipality or a person having a contract with the municipality in relation to the duties or obligations of that person to the municipality;
    (b) inquire into any matter connected with the good government of the municipality; or
    (c) inquire into the conduct of any part of the public business of the municipality, including business conducted by a commission appointed by the council or elected by the electors.

As Mayor Bradley of Sarnia said about his deal: ""I think the deal is so good, I want it public. The documents are available to anybody who wants it..."I'm not signing a gag order to participate in a discussion about the community."

OK Newbies...ball is in your court!

How To Spend Money In Cleveland

It looks like David Estrin and friends had a nice visit to Cleveland at Windsor taxpayer expense to meet the US Coast Guard. I hope they had a pleasant lunch.

I assume that Councillor Halberstadt will send the appropriate apology letter to the Bridge Co. now.

You may remember that the Councillor said in his Blog:

"The Ambassador Bridge, in a bizarre move, has applied to the United States Coast Guard for a permit to build a second span and the city feels a need to become involved in blocking that process."

The Bridge Co.'s actions were not so strange after all it seems. As the Star reported:

  • "The coast guard has been named the lead federal agency on the U.S. side assigned to process the bridge's twin span permit application."

To whom should the Bridge Co. have applied if not to the lead agency?

But we should not be too angry at the Councillor. After all, someone worked him and his colleagues up. We are beginning to see who the City thinks its "enemies" are. We are seeing the start of the war that is being prepared to be fought with taxpayer money! After all, someone in power in the City "feels a need to become involved in blocking that process."

Now our dashing Councillor, the protector of the public purse and of open and transparent government, wants us to believe that:

  • "Estrin is still working on a public report to Council, complete with recommended resolutions and legal remedies, he believes the city should take to protect its interests against the enemies. It will be up to the new Council to say yeah or nay."
Oh Alan, give us a break. Do you really think we are that stupid as to believe that we do not know why Council has already set aside $400K for legal and consulting fees. Has Gridlock Sam come back to help out Estrin again as well? Did the Dynmaic Duo make a presentation to the US Coast Guard on our behalf?

Why are you pretending that there is no strategy already decided upon by THIS Council and why are you refusing to publicly post on your Blogsite the one or two Resolutions that Council has already passed in this matter! Why do you refuse to tell us the exact amount of taxpayer money that has been spent to date on this US extravaganza and how much more will be spent? Tell us exactly who "feels a need to become involved in blocking that process."

It is great that you want to open up City Government and we should be grateful for the tiny steps that you have taken so far. But stop pretending to be our champion unless you really are going to do the right thing for taxpayers.

What I find bizarre is the cost of preparing a 35-page report about Windsor issues to be presented to a US authority in the US and the cost of sending a CANADIAN lawyer to an AMERICAN agency. I wonder if the Coast Guard gives a darn about Windsor. I wonder how impressed that they will be with Mr. Estrin's CANADIAN accomplishments.

I thought the Coast Guard mandate is the US. Why would they even consider CANADA. In any event, what we learned is that Estrin lost! He was there to call "for suspension of the Ambassador Bridge company's application to twin its span." It was reported that "It does not appear the coast guard will suspend the application."

Don't we have a CANADIAN process on which our CANADIAN lawyer should be focusing? Do you think that the City of Detroit will spend the money to hire a US lawyer to make a presentation to tell the Canadian authority what the impact of the enhancement project will be in Detroit? Of course not. Only Windsor would appear in another country to tell them what they should do under their process.

I certainly hope for Windsor's sake that Estrin has the backup for the charges "that information provided in the bridge company's application is clearly erroneous, and in other places misleading and inaccurate." These are very serious allegations to make. If they cannot be proved, then there could be serious consequences to the City. I wonder if Estrin's statement is the real justification for the "enemies" remark that has been repeated several times now.

The three new enlistees better be prepared for the Strategic meeting that the Mayor will be holding shortly. Remember, they will be told to keep everything confidential. We cannot let the enemies know what is going on. Shhhhhhh. Mum's the word!

Eddie And The Senators

No it is NOT the name of a new rock group although Eddie did get rocked and rolled!

Yesterday our distinguished Mayor and legal counsel and hired gun, David Estrin, appeared in front of the Senate Committee discussing Bill C-3 in Ottawa.

That David Estrin is sure using up quickly that $400K Council voted in secret to pay him and his consultants, what with him being in Cleveland the day before in front of the US Coast Guard blasting away at the Ambassador Bridge Co. and then in Ottawa. And it was a good thing that Mr. Estrin informed the Senators during the hearing that he was a lawyer with 30-plus years environmental law experience or they might have thought he was merely one of the Mayor's staff members. They know now that Windsor only travels first class.

Obviously, I was not there so am at a disadvantage but I did hear the Webcast of the Senate hearing "live." My reaction: the Senators resented that he appeared in front of them, although they were extremely polite, but did not go to the Commons hearing to speak there first. I think he was viewed as a glib politician who did not answer questions and was "over-reaching" in what he wanted to the detriment of Canada. He was viewed as someone who got what he deserved by the amendments of Bill C-3 in the Commons but who wanted, like Oliver, MORE PLEASE!

Whoever "coached" him on his performance miscalculated. He was there as the "lawyer/Mayor" speaking legalese to the Committee. He did not act as the people's Mayor looking out for the good of his community while balancing the needs of the economy of Canada. He appeared in front of them frankly as a small-town, municipal Mayor trying to tell the Transport Minister what to do with Eddie effectively asking for a "veto" right. The Senators would have none of it.

Eddie had two main points:
  1. The Minister should be compelled to have consultations with the City and if there is no agreement, some kind of arbitration system would be set up (unfortunately I do not have the language of his amendments)
  2. He wanted limits on what "approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel" meant or the Feds could have unlimited power to take over provincial and municipal roads (such as Huron Church presumably) to the detriment of the local community. It would lead to the "gutting of the provincial and municipal authority as it relates to local roads in our cities, towns and provinces."

Eddie was also concerned that the language "International bridges and tunnels are declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada" was also too broad.

The Senators noted that amendments were made in the House over the initial language and did not seem inclined to want to give the Mayor more. They focused, as they should, on the national aspect of the project and not just Windsor's local interests.

Although I did not see it, I could just imagine Eddie squirming when they asked him about his position as Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission and when they asked him about Tunnel traffic volumes. He knew that they had focused on the "competitive" aspect of his relationship with the Bridge Co. He did not provide an answer as to volumes since the 40%+ decline would have undercut his position!

Eddie showed several pictures of the border to the Senators. I wonder when they were taken? Recently or several years ago.

Obviously, the Chair of the Committee knew that Eddie likes to "threaten" lawsuits. She asked directly "If Bill C-3 is adopted as is, will the City of Windsor consider making a court challenge on constitutional grounds?" Eddie's answer was: "We want to work with the government and will continue to do so, but issues of local concern will be raised in the proper forum." The Chair again asked "You mentioned "the proper forum." What is the proper forum? Is it a court challenge?" Eddie backed off and said "I hope it would not have to go that far, but if constitutional issues must be praised, we will exhaust those options."

Why was Eddie so afraid to say YES! He lost his credibility every time when he gave the "political" answer.

One other point. One of the Senators asked "Has the city of Windsor been involved with this federal study group?" ie DRIC. It is a shame that Eddie did not say that the City has apparently NOT been involved with the Municipal Advisory Group so the Senator could have asked why not!

To sum up what the senators thought is this great line: "Gentlemen, [Francis and Estrin] we heard you were coming here today and we were anxiously awaiting your testimony. Thank you for a colourful presentation."

As for our Mayor, I would hope he would learn from what he said at the session:

  • "My job as mayor is to take care of my own boundaries and my own city and to take care of municipal issues."

Based on this, perhaps he could keep Estrin within Canada next time around and save us a few thousand dollars! The US Coast Guard does not need him to tell them how to do their job!


Here is just one example from the Senate hearing of why our "Perry Mason" Mayor needs to learn how to answer questions when being examined, especially by experienced questioners who have no interest in games playing. Can you imagine if he was being cross-examined by someone who did not want to play nicely. It seems that Eddie may have difficulties when he is NOT in charge with the power of the Procedural By-law behind him.

...Senator Mercer: You are a good politician. There is no Question Period at the municipal level, but you have just avoided the question...

Senator Mercer: However, you are the mayor of the city of Windsor.

Mr. Francis: I am.

Senator Mercer: You are chair of the tunnel commission, is that correct?

Mr. Francis: I am chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission, yes.

Senator Mercer: Does that come with the title of mayor? Is the mayor always the chair of this commission or is this something separate?

Mr. Francis: No, the mayor has historically taken on roles and responsibilities on a number of committees. In addition to the Windsor Tunnel Commission, I am also chair of the energy company. It is part of our job. Our jobs never end. We work on committees.

Senator Mercer: I have bridges in my province that go from one city to another, not from one country to another.

Mr. Francis: It was established when the tunnel was created and vested in the city of Windsor that a committee and a commission would be struck. The commission is an agency.

Senator Mercer: City council then chooses who the chair is, do they?

Mr. Francis: The commission does, yes.

Senator Mercer: The commission, but who appoints the commission?

Mr. Francis: The city council.

Senator Mercer: I told you he is a good politician.

Eddie's full transcript will eventually be available on the Senate's website for your reading pleasure.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nerds Need Not Apply

So you wanted to work as a spy. You wanted to be a "00" agent, licensed to do whatever it is you wanted to do. You were mysterious and secretive, always looking over your shoulder, practising judo holds, keeping up-to-date with the latest gadgets.

How about that job that you always wanted...the career move that said you made it, that you had arrived. You were now going to be head honcho with a key to the "Executive" Washroom and the right to eat in the private dining room and with all of the perks that went along with it.

Remember the loan application for your first mortgage for your dream home. That snotty bank manger looking down his/her nose at you, wondering whether you could actually afford the monthly payments on YOUR salary, asking if you really wanted a home that big, and was a pool really needed and was your spouse sure that he/she would not be laid off.

Well, dear reader, if you thought that CSIS wanted to know your background or that a resume was tough to fill out or a mortgage application wanted to know your history, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Below is a game show application for the Howie Mandel TV Game Show "Deal or No Deal." If you can complete that, then everything else in life is a snap!

Name: *
Home Phone: *
Cell Phone/ Pager:
Alternate Phone:
E-mail Address: *
Permanent Street Address: *
City: *
Province: *
Country: *
Postal Code : *
I check my e-mail often: Yes No *
How did you hear about the casting? Select Option TV Radio Newspaper

If Other, please explain:


* 1. Who is your current employer? What is your occupation? (What job pays your bills now?)

* 2. What levels of education have you completed? (please specify school and major):
High School University or College or Other (Check all that apply)

School(s) Major(s) Year Graduated

* 3. If you do not make the show, what will be the next milestone in your life?:

* 4. Please check all those that apply:
Married Divorced Boyfriend/Girlfriend Single Engaged

How long have you been in your current relationship?

* 5. What would your friends say are your best qualities?

* 6. What would your friends say are your worst qualities?

* 7. How are you competitive in your everyday life?

* 8. What pets do you own now or have you owned at any time in the past?

* 9. What is your unique and personal motivation for wanting to be on the show?

* 10. Who is the most important person in your life that you have lost touch with?

* 11. Who do you live with and for how long have you lived with them?

* 12. Please list your last 3 jobs:
* 13. What is the most daring and dangerous thing you have ever done? Describe the circumstances

* 14. If you were going to be in People magazine, what inside info about you would be next to your picture?

* 15. Describe your most embarrassing moment.

* 16. What is the weirdest thing about you?

* 17. Where would you take your dream vacation?

* 18. If you had Aladdin's lamp and 3 wishes, what would you wish for? (Rule: you can't wish for money or more wishes)

* 19. In the lines below, write a short poem or rap about yourself.

* 20. If you won what would be the first thing you would do with your winnings?

* 21. Do you have a lucky charm? If yes, what is it and why is it lucky?

* 22. Who deals with the finances in your household?

Below please list the people you would like to appear with you on the Program to help support you:

Supporter #1:
* Name:
* Home Phone:
Cell Phone:
Other #:
* Supporter's Relationship to you:
* Why do you want this supporter on stage with you?:

Supporter #2:
* Name:
* Home Phone:
Cell Phone:
Other #:
* Supporter's Relationship to you:
* Why do you want this supporter on stage with you?:

Supporter #3:
* Name:
* Home Phone:
Cell Phone:
Other #:
* Supporter's Relationship to you:
* Why do you want this supporter on stage with you?:

Supporter #4:
* Name:
* Home Phone:
Cell Phone:
Other #:
* Supporter's Relationship to you:
* Why do you want this supporter on stage with you?:

Supporter #5:
Home Phone:
Cell Phone:
Other #:
Supporter's Relationship to you:
Why do you want this supporter on stage with you?:


* 23. Have you appeared on any game/talk/reality shows that have aired in the past two (2) years or are likely to air within the next year?
YES NO (Select One)

If YES, please fill in the following:

Show Name Air Date
(Include Tape Date if not aired) Amount Won
(if applicable)

If additional space is necessary, use the space provided at the bottom of the application

* 24. List all TV game or contest shows on which you have appeared, and whether or not you won any prizes. If you have NOT appeared on any such shows, please state this. Do not leave the space below blank.

* 25. Have you applied to be on any TV shows in the past year?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, which ones?

* 26. Are you currently being considered for any other reality shows, including, without limitation, any game or contest shows?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, which ones?

* 27. Have you ever been arrested?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, please describe in detail when and where the event occurred, and what the outcome was:

* 28. If you were arrested, were you ever charged or convicted of any crimes?
If YES, please describe in detail when and where the event occurred, and what the outcome was:

* 29. Have you ever had a temporary or permanent restraining order issued against you or has anyone tried to obtain a temporary or permanent restraining order against you?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, please include details, including, without limitation, date(s), place(s), name of party seeking the temporary restraining order and relationship of such party to you, a description of the basis upon which the temporary restraining order was sought, whether it was issued, and the basis upon which it was issued:

* 30. Is there any pending litigation against you?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, please describe when and where the event(s) occurred, the other party/parties to the lawsuit(s), whether you were the plaintiff or defendant, the nature of the case(s), and what the outcome was for each case:

* 31. Have you ever been evicted?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, please include details, places and dates:

* 32. Have you ever been the subject of disciplinary proceedings or actions in school, the military, at work or in any other context?
YES NO (Select One)
If YES, describe in detail, including, without limitation, date(s), place(s), the setting, the exact nature of the charges and proceedings, and the actions taken in connection with the charges and/or proceedings:

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Detroit-Windsor's P3 Solution

Thought you might be interested in reading the Globe story on Transport Canada Minister Cannon's P3 announcement/trial balloon.

I thought that the Globe and Mail did the best job of all of the articles I read on the issue from the different media outlets. (I am not talking
about the Windsor Star since my assumption is that Windsorites would know the background).

Why did the Minister make the announcement? Clearly a variation of the P3 is what the Governments want to do. We have heard that from Ontario notwithstanding the denials and from MDOT in Michigan. Cannon's statement was nothing more than the Feds asserting control publicly and wanting to see who would bid if a proposal went forward. I am sure that there is a number of notes on the desk of the Minister today from interested parties.

Trouble is, if the various private investors do proper "due diligence" to determine traffic volumes and future profitability, then none will come forward (Can Borealis be that dumb twice now with Windsor?). If they do the basic research, then they will see that volumes are crashing not increasing. I asked this before:
  • Who would pay $50 or more per truck to use the new bridge when they could pay less at the Ambassador Bridge

  • Which private enterprise group would finance a bridge that could not compete and could not cover interest payments.

  • Which private enterprise group will even consider financing the bridge once the Bridge Co. starts building their enhancement project

  • Why should taxpayers have to finance a money-losing crossing

  • Who other than taxpayers would have to finance the losses of the new bridge every year forever

  • How much will the the Government lose on the new bridge when it goes bankrupt
That will mean the Governments will have to finance it all themselves (not likely) OR they will finally have to talk with the Bridge Co., with their bargaining position totally undercut.

The Globe reporter was able to put the story in the proper context for its readers. The issue is really how the Bridge Co. fits into all of the machinations and how it is going to be dealt with by Government. The Senate hearings over the next week or so should give us some indication of what will happen with Bill C-3 and the Government-Bridge Co. relationship.

Take note of this comment by Dan Stamper in yesterday's Star:
  • "Ambassador Bridge company president Dan Stamper said Cannon's announcement "kind of busts the bubble" of critics who have been demanding the new crossing be publicly constructed and operated.

    He said it is a sign governments on the Canadian side are prepared to fix the feeder roads while the bridge company moves to build a twin span

In the end, that is what the P3 will look like! It will be a torture getting there but that is the only realistic alternative that I see that will face-save for everyone (along with protecting a corridor to a new bridge on the DRIC route if it is needed one day. Governments have to justify the mega-millions spent on DRIC don't they!). It is how each party carries out its part of the "partnership" that has been on-going for over 75 years.

Remember that Government has "partnered" with the bridge over roads before. There is a precedent:

  • "The opening of the Ambassador Bridge in 1929 resulted in a significant rerouting of Hwy 3 through Windsor. The highway had previously entered Windsor along Dougall Avenue, concurrently with Hwy 2. Until 1929, Hwy 3 ended at the International Ferry Dock between Dougall Avenue and Ouellette Avenue. When the new Ambassador Bridge opened, Hwy 3 was rerouted along Huron Church Line Road, a route which it retains to this day. The old alignment of Hwy 3 into downtown Windsor became Hwy 3A."
What we will see is an "intermediate" solution, good until after 2030 with a "fixed" road built by the Governments to the enhanced bridge built by the Bridge Co. In this way, money will not be wasted on billions for a new bridge a mile away from the existing crossing since traffic has drastically declined. IF and when it picks up and reaches the numbers that DRIC has projected, then (assuming that technology has not developed new alternatives) the "new" DRIC bridge can be built.

West End activists and politicos should finally understand that neither Sandwich nor Delray will be destroyed under this P3 either nor will Sandwich be sandwiched between 2 bridges.

And it won't be more of the same either. There will be much more Government oversight due to the passing of the health, safety and security aspects of Bill C-3.

In other words, there is a workable solution out there if anyone is really interested. And I am sure that you have noticed, dear reader, that I have ignored the Mayor and Council. Everyone else will too unless they get onboard quickly!

Ottawa to explore private help at border
Detroit-Windsor expansion must have 'value for money,' official says

Ottawa wants to listen to pitches from the private sector to help construct a new Windsor-Detroit crossing, but the name of Manuel (Matty) Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, was conspicuously absent from talk about a new partnership.

Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon reaffirmed the federal Tory government's plans to evaluate a wide range of options to reduce trucking congestion at North America's busiest commercial crossing.

"We have to make sure that there is value for money," he said yesterday, noting that public-private partnerships, or P3s, will be held accountable. "I'm not announcing that we're going to do it. We're going to explore this possibility. It is in the realm of the options that we must look at."

The previous Liberal government also backed P3s as a potential model, endorsing a bi-national study group's governance statement in August, 2005, saying Ottawa is open to the idea of the private sector's involvement.

The study group, called the Border Transportation Partnership, was founded in 2000 by governments in Canada and the United States. A "preferred location," with details of routes leading to the proposed new bridge, is expected to be announced by late 2007.

One year ago, the group recommended that a new border crossing be located west of the 77-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which is privately owned by Mr. Moroun, a reclusive Michigan billionaire.

The group ruled out Mr. Moroun's proposal to build a new crossing parallel to the existing bridge, but the U.S. businessman has submitted his plans to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for review.

"The proposal consists of building a six-lane, cable-stayed bridge across the Detroit River to the west of the existing span," according to the agency. "The width of the proposed bridge is larger than the existing structure, with a clear roadway width of 31 metres."

Ed Arditti, a Windsor lawyer and blogger who has been tracking the Ambassador Bridge's expansion plans, said he believes that Mr. Moroun still has the upper hand, even though Ottawa is no fan of having the billionaire strengthen his hold on the border.

One way or another, Ottawa will have to deal with Mr. Moroun, who has assembled properties on both sides of the border.

Mr. Arditti said he doubts any P3 will be able to work more efficiently than Mr. Moroun, who is seen by some observers as having the lead in the race to build a second bridge across the Detroit River.

Ottawa is "the jockey who is scrambling to get back on the horse," said Mr. Arditti, who figures that private tolls levied by the Ambassador Bridge operators for the new crossing would be much lower than any rate charged by a P3.

The Detroit River Tunnel Partnership said yesterday its project remains alive, noting it recently won an endorsement from the Windsor and District Labour Council.

Mr. Cannon said it's too early to discuss potential private-sector partners, emphasizing that an environmental assessment of the Windsor-Detroit corridor won't be finished until next year.

Mr. Cannon flatly rejected reports that Ottawa had already backed plans for a new Windsor-Detroit infrastructure megaproject in concert with the private sector. "That wasn't in the works," he said during a news conference after speaking to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.

Neither Mr. Cannon's final speech nor the draft version carried any such megaproject announcement, said a Transport Canada official, who pointed out that site selection isn't even finished yet.

A new bridge, including customs plazas and feeder roads, could cost up to $3-billion, experts say.

Mr. Cannon acknowledges that there is a "great deal of wariness" about having the private sector help build public projects, but the council released a survey yesterday that suggests Canadians are warming to the notion of private investment playing a key role in improving public infrastructure.

Broadly speaking, Ottawa favours greater private investment for much-needed infrastructure spending, Mr. Cannon said.

"We're trying to, fundamentally, look at ways where we can accelerate the investment in terms of infrastructure," he said. "This is something that we believe is extremely important for our economic development, but at the same time, our competitiveness."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Here's OUR Council Plan

Bill, Percy and Drew have to be upset. I know I would be.

If I were a Councillor, especially a newly elected one, I think I would be annoyed too. Here I am, just after a successful campaign with my ideas approved by voters in my Ward and I am being told what the next 4 years are all about by the Mayor without any of my input. Actually, not by the Mayor directly but via a Windsor Star columnist. How rude!

It was not supposed to be like this.

Remember 3 short years ago, from Eddie’s Kick-off speech:

  • "I believe in open and accessible government:

    An environment where City Councillors will become active participants. I fully intend to empower our City Council, our employees and our citizens by ensuring they know that their opinions count ……their ideas will be considered, by making sure they have the facts they need to make informed decisions and by respecting the very legitimate concerns of Councillors who work so hard at just trying to be heard.
    There is a great deal of knowledge and expertise that is ignored or discouraged. Councillors must be allowed to participate and encouraged to bring forward and express their ideas openly and freely. Council members will be asked to accept a greater role including portfolios which will include duties above and beyond their local ward responsibilities.

How about his Platform:

    City Councillors must become active participants, with the Mayor, in governing our City. Our Councillors come from diverse backgrounds that are rich in different life experiences. Many will have previously served as Councillors. We must leverage the depth and breadth of their knowledge and expertise to the City’s advantage.

    Each Councillor has a vision of the City that encompasses more than just their immediate ward obligations. Councillors who chose to accept additional responsibilities will be assigned portfolios that suit their experience and skill set.

    These portfolios will include duties above and beyond their local ward responsibilities, including Social Services, Fire and Police Services, Community Services, Infrastructure Services, Finance etc.

    Bullpen Meetings
    At the start of each day, I intend to host an informal "bullpen meeting" with administration. Councillors will be invited to ensure that the day’s major activities at City Hall will be clearly understood and to encourage participation where expertise or experience benefits the process. On a regular schedule, I will meet with each Councillor individually to discuss Ward issues and to review the progresses and challenges they face with their portfolio responsibilities.

I saw this on his recent website:


    Bullpen Sessions IMPLEMENTED

    Council setting agenda IMPLEMENTED

Not very much when you compare actual with promised. How can one explain the wide gap? It’s easy, Eddie has his own agenda. In case, Councillors want to know what it is, he told it to Gord Henderson before the polls were even closed. Here is what Eddie wants to do, like it or not. And there will be a strategic session where Councillors will buy into it, or else.

Gord said

  • "Look for border infrastructure, the Zalev scrapyard and Windsor Airport to top the must-do list when Mayor Eddie Francis and his new council meet with a facilitator in early December to draw up a battle plan for the next four years…

    If it's anything short of a solution that improves the city's quality of life, gets trucks off our streets and at the same time moves traffic across the border, that we will not be supportive of. We will be very aggressive in making sure we get it right and they get it right.

    Francis sees Windsor making progress on quality-of-life issues, including a rails-to-trails program, streetscaping and neighbourhood cleaning and beautification, which he believes are fundamental to creating the kind of community that attracts diverse investments.

    He thinks the Zalev scrapyard, the city's biggest eyesore and a major environmental concern, could become a rails-to-trails starting point and a poster child for brownfield reclamation

    Francis wouldn't tip his hand on plans for Windsor Airport, which has been bleeding red ink under a contract with a private operator, but said the airport, and especially the airport lands, will be a top priority. "I don't think we've used it as a primary driver in economic development but we will…

    Another pivotal development will be the hiring of a chief executive officer by the new Windsor-Essex County Economic Development Commission…

    Also high on the to-do list will be efforts to convince the University of Windsor to join St. Clair College in boasting a downtown campus. The former Salvation Army building, owned by the struggling Capitol Theatre, is considered the leading candidate to join the Cleary as a campus site.

    Last, but certainly not least, is the city's involvement in frantic behind-the-scenes efforts to secure a new product for Ford of Canada's Essex Engine plant."

Now that they know what they are to do, Councillors merely need to rubberstamp it at their strategic session in December. Then they can go to sleep until a month before the next election as was the case this time around. They can discuss in open public session and spend hours debating on pitbulls, feral cats and skunks as well as other circuses. And tell us how democratic we are here because open sessions are twice as long as closed door ones.

I write all of this because one of my inside moles sent me this comment. He/she was right too:

  • "…maybe something you might give your thought to - this "strategic planning" and use of a facilitator et al for the incoming council... if I were a councilor, of independent mind, I would balk at participating. All these meetings do is create a "consensus" as to what the goals of the council are for the next year, and in a way then, give Eddie carte blanche to run around behind the scenes and work his magic, because after all, he is working towards the "goals" that the council set, and how can they argue with the details in public when they approved it in principle in private? When in fact, if they didn't come to consensus we might have an actual public debate on the how and why of issues and their resolution, instead of council reduced to clapping seals when Eddie announces a new item to check off as being accomplished. I think that these strategic sessions, and insisting that council come out of them with a common set of objectives, reduces their power and ultimately reduces the level of transparency. Are we going to be privy to these sessions? NO…it was just council and senior administration and a select few other individuals"

Drew, Bill and Percy have their marching orders. Join with your colleagues and let Eddie do it all.

The Border--Where It's At

I was trying to figure where all of this border nonsense is going in light of what has taken place over the last 4 years or so.

We have had diversions like Bill C-3, DRTP, the Schwartz Report, Cansult, leasing the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, quality of life and building a 14 KM tunnel from Highway 401 to the border. Now the latest attraction is P3s and supposedly allowing a "private" role at the border as the mass media headlines scream out. I guess the Government wanted to float the trial balloon to see how many private investors bite at the opportunity to lose a fortune financing a new Government owned bridge in Windsor.

What I have found interesting is that it is the City of Windsor that is freaking out but not the Bridge Co. or DRIC [although DRIC has major funding issues now]. I have not sensed any panic from either of those two parties. They just keep doing what they are doing in spite of everything going on around them.

What prompted these thoughts is that I have heard that Lawyer David Estrin has been seen in town over the past little while. I was trying to figure out what he was doing. Clearly it has to do with both the Bridge Co. and with DRIC since both are moving forward and are close to achieving their objectives. It may even have to do with an EA to follow through with what Council wanted to do in their Resolution at the Tecumseh meeting. It really does not matter what he does.

From the Bridge Co.'s perspective, in spite of the naysayers, for the past decade, they have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars in preparation for their enhancement project. The Ambassador Gateway project is nearing completion on the US side and they are the only party that does NOT require a Presidential permit. On the Canadian side they are working their way through the EA process. They could have their enhancement project finished within several years!

As for DRIC, they are moving methodically forward, doing whatever it is that they are doing, to come up with their solution. They are a useful tool for politicians on this side of the border who want to "respect the process" ie put off as long as possible a decision since no matter what it is, they will be criticized. So let DRIC take the hit now and soften everyone up.

So the two parties are moving forward and who is in the middle between them like between the jaws of a vise, waiting to be crushed---Eddie Francis and Council.

They have completely followed the wrong strategic course from Day #1. They failed to recognize the realities of the border situation. Instead, with arrogance, they misused the good-will the City achieved by citizen action before this Council was elected. Instead of negotiating a proper positon with the Bridge Co. and Senior Levels as they could have done as adults, they played as if they were petulant children who threw tantrums when they did not get their way. Of course, their action was motivated by grand visions of controlling the border but that is another story.

So David Estrin is back presumably to achieve Council's objectives. Who knows, to prove me wrong Eddie may even start a lawsuit against the Feds.

Except it is different now. If there is delay, and it can be attributed to the City, it starts costing both major protagonists time and real money. That will not be tolerated. Moreover, neither party is concerned about a Mayor of some small town. To be blunt, he may be able to push around major players in Windsor beause he is the Mayor and he controls Administration but he does not control them nor are they intimidated by him! Frankly, they tolerate him

Here's the reality that needs to be considered.

From the Bridge Co.'s perspective, they are known to be litigious. They took on the Government of Canada over FIRA rules for a dozen years and won. They took on GSA over the new US Customs booths and won. Does Eddie want to take them on? He becomes the prime witness on behalf of the City and he will not be able to pass the buck to the Councillors while on the stand! Some of the wild-mouthed statements of Councillors may come back to haunt them now too.

As for Canada, they have the constitutional authority now to do what they want respecting the crossing and access roads. Bill C-3 merely helps them. Can you imagine what would happen to the Mayor and Council here if Transport Minister Cannon pulls the Fed's BIF money to help fix up old bridges in Quebec. After all, $300 million is a lot of money just sitting doing nothing when it's his job to get Conservatives elected in Quebec.

Eddie and Council are playing a dangerous game. If the money goes, then several on Council will be attacked by the construction industry and the unions for losing all of that infrastructure money at a time when Windsor desperately needs jobs! Good thing the election is over.

And you know who will get the blame and why. It is so predictable since the City and Province have formed an unholy alliance against the Feds. What a way for the Feds to get back at both at one time!

I am not sure what the answer is to be blunt. No one needs Windsor now as the past few years have shown. We have no friends or allies, no pretending that we have a position since Schwartz has left and no vision. We merely disrupt and threaten and perhaps write detailed responses "asking."

What failure we have experienced. Perhaps a strong new Council is our only salvation---but I doubt that will happen either unless the three newbies give Council some backbone. How sad for us!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tunnel Contest Answers

You will be shocked at the answers you receive, when you see what has happened to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, formerly known as the "cash cow." You will not believe what you read.

I have to wonder why the City of Detroit would want to partner with Windsor in the Tunnel. We know already that it is unlikely that any dividend will be received by the City next year so that means that Councillor Budget has to find around $6.6M from taxpayers to fill the gap. We know the Tunnel has major problems but we still do not know what they are due to Council secrecy. We know that there are financial problems and traffic volume problems.

Here are the answers to the questions:

1. About 75,000 less vehicles in September and 88,000 less in October than last year

2. About 400,000 less vehicles year to date

3. About 485,000 fewer vehicles will go through the Tunnel overall in 2006 or about 9% of the total volume

4. Who knows when a manager will be hired to live and breathe the Tunnel business.

5. Why would anyone want to invest in a business that is going so rapidly downhill?

6. The Senior Levels will have a lot of explaining to do to justify investing a total of $30M in Tunnel Plaza Improvements with an asset that is rapidly losing volumes. With decreased volumes and Tunnel queuing, isn't the vehicle back-up on city streets problem disappearing on its own? Aren't there cheaper solutions anyway that have not been fully explored by the City's EA process?

7. How can one say that the litany of unsolved problems at the Tunnel is a mark of successful management of the Tunnel by the WTC Chair.

8. As for the new border crossing, if one is ever needed, what makes anyone think that a Public Authority will be any more successful than our Mayor at running a border crossing properly

9. Didn't Eddie value the Tunnel at $2-300M at one time. I estimated it to be worth $20-30M especially if one takes into account the fact that it is a "unique" security risk. Even if it is worth 5 times more than I say, look at the huge drop in value in such a short time.

10. Here is a bonus answer for you. Compared with 1999, Tunnel traffic will drop by over 40% by the end of this year, from 9.5M to 5.4M vehicles.

I have to be fair...not all of the mess can be attributed to the Mayor/WTC Chair Eddie Francis. The decline started before he became the head (although as Councillor he was on the WTC as well). What we can say is that under his watch
  1. the "unique" security risk of the Tunnel has NOT been fixed,
  2. the value of the Tunnel dropped significantly,
  3. finances declined due to serious errors in management,
  4. the Tunnel dividend to the City ended meaning taxpayers have to fork over anothter $6.6 M
  5. the Tunnel has to be borrow millions from the City running down our already dangerously low reserves,
  6. volumes decreased rapidly, around 9% this year alone
  7. there is no effective plan to move vehicles through the Tunnel more quickly,
  8. Tunnel ventilation building costs have sky-rocketed and
  9. the Tunnel Plaza Improvements are a $30M waste of money.
Can Eddie be this bad a manager? If so, why hasn't the WTC Board or the main shareholder City Council removed him? Are they negligent in performing their oversight function? Or is there some other plan.

Hmmm since the Tunnel seems to be in such a mess, maybe I should try and get it from the City at a low price and then build it up to increase its value. I wonder where I can get the financing to do so.

I got it--hello Mike, have I got a deal for you!

Hot Off The Presses: Cannon's P3 Speech

Speaking Notes for the Honourable Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
to the 14th Annual National Conference
on Public-Private Partnerships

Toronto, Ontario
November 20, 2006

Good morning, and thank you for the kind introduction.

I would also like to thank the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships for giving me the opportunity to talk to you this morning.

I am sure everyone in this audience has taken note of the recent comments about public-private partnerships made by my colleague the Minister of Finance.

I am sure also that our joint announcement two weeks ago of a call for qualifications of private sector partners in the completion of the Autoroute 30 project in Montreal did not go unnoticed.

Our government sees great opportunity for public-private partnerships in the realm of infrastructure. And perhaps nowhere is the need greater.

Physical infrastructure is the basic building block of any economy – it supports everything, literally and figuratively. This is true for all countries, but even more so for Canada.

We are a trading nation, so it is essential to have efficient ports, airports, and border infrastructure. To be competitive, we must be extra-efficient at moving things around.

Consider just our trade relationship with the US.

Every day, some 36,000 truck trips in both directions, close to 1,500 flights, 300,000 people, and $1.6 billion in goods and services cross the Canada-US border.

In 2004, the Detroit-Windsor crossings alone handled nearly $160 billion in trade. More than a quarterof all Canada-US trade goes through that one crossing.

We are more-and-more an urban nation, with growth centered in a handful of ever-expanding metropolitan areas.

The provincial and territorial governments have estimated the need for capital investment in transportation priorities alone over the next 10 years at close to $100 billion.

If we do not keep pace with the need to replace and renew ageing infrastructure, our quality of life and our economic prosperity will suffer.

We need to think about our infrastructure with real objectives, such as to improve the quality of our environment, the air that we breathe.

It is happening already. A study by my own department estimates the economic cost of traffic congestion in Canada’s major urban areas at some $3.7 billion a year – almost $1.7 billion a year here in the Toronto area alone. This calculation does not include the cost to our health and qualify of life.

Strengthening Canada’s economy for the long haul is a priority for Canada’s New Government, and the foundation of our economic strength is infrastructure.

There is no doubt that infrastructure is a legitimate area for federal government investment.

And we intend to do that in a framework of open federalism which respects the true spirit of confederation. Federal funding must be put on a predictable, long-term track, supportive of national objectives and responsive to local priorities.


In Budget 2006, we committed $16.5 billion to federal support for infrastructure over the next four years. That is an unprecedented amount. It includes:

$900 million in new funding for a Public Transit Capital Trust;
maintaining current funding under existing infrastructure agreements, such as gas tax funding agreements worth $5 billion over five years; and
an additional $6.6 billion in new funding for infrastructure as well as $591 million for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor initiative.
We have consulted with provinces, territories, the municipal sector and many stakeholders, including the Council, on the most effective way to use our infrastructure investments to:

promote a more competitive, productive economy;
improve the quality of life in Canada’s communities;
achieve tangible improvements in the environment; and
ensure transparency and accountability to Canadians.
Over the next while, and within the context of our commitment to restore Canada’s Fiscal Balance, we will set out how we intend to work with partners to put our infrastructure money to work for Canadians.

As you know, our government emphasizes transparency and accountability to Canadians.

As a government, we have a responsibility to provide every possible assurance to Canadians that we are spending their money wisely.

And for me, that most certainly means partnership with the private sector. Our infrastructure programs are designed to encourage private sector involvement, and we are supportive of this option in instances when provinces, territories or municipal governments signal they see a P3 option as a priority. Within this framework, many models are possible.

Upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway in the Kicking Horse Canyon region of British Columbia is a perfect example.

Almost half the $130 million cost of the second phase of this three-phase project is being contributed by the federal government through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. The British Columbia government is arranging the remaining financing with its private sector partner, the Trans-Park Highway Group.

What is interesting here is that the Government of Canada contribution is being delivered by way of milestone payments. As a general rule, the Government of Canada pays on the basis of goods received.

In this case, the private sector partner was able to make a convincing case for milestone payments, and the Government of Canada was able to show the flexibility needed to make the partnership possible.

In fact, as many of you know, we’ve had a lot of success with P3’s over the years – the Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and PEI is probably the most famous example.

There are many others innovative governance and financing arrangements that have been just as successful – airport and port authorities across the country, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and others. In spite of these successes, however, many Canadians are still wary of the idea of involving the private sector in the delivery of public services.

I think a great deal of that wariness can be attributed to a lack of understanding – and I believe it is incumbent on the government to work with its private sector partners to communicate the value of these projects to Canadians.

There are certainly opportunities for that kind of communication. The Canada Line in B.C. – an 18.5 kilometer light rail line from central Richmond to the Vancouver International Airport and downtown Vancouver – is one.

The financing arrangements for the Canada Line have won two awards from Project Finance magazine – the 2005 North American Transport Deal of the Year, and the 2005 North American Infrastructure Deal of the Year.

The Government of Canada is the largest public partner in this project, with a contribution of $450 million. Other major public partners include the province of British Columbia, the Vancouver Airport Authority, the Vancouver Transportation Authority, and the city itself. In all, the public sector is contributing more than $1.2 billion of the $1.9 billion total cost of the project.

Beyond winning awards, this project shows that P3’s can work in the Canadian light rail market – and with the growing need for efficient, sustainable transportation in our cities, the line sets an important example for the future.

This is not to say that every major infrastructure project from now on will be a P3. There will continue to be situations where a more traditional investment is the most appropriate course. The highway through Banff National Park is an example where the federal government pays for, owns, and operates the asset.

The private and public sectors also come together in ways other than through P3s. The New Brunswick Broadband Initiative is an example.

The federal government contributed $16.5 million toward connecting the province’s residents and businesses – more than one-third of the total investment – and in doing so leveraged private sector investment from Aliant Incorporated as well as the contribution from the New Brunswick government.

I want to stress, as well, that in considering these partnerships, we understand that government policies have a direct impact on how much, when and where the private sector is willing to invest.

We all want stability and predictability – no surprises.

We are acting on this.


To accompany the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, we are proposing amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, and we have also tabled a Canada Airports Act. Regulatory stability is a principal consideration in both of these – the kind of stability, predictability and coherence the private sector needs to justify major investments in transportation infrastructure that is owned /or operated by private companies.

The Canada Airports Act provides for a comprehensive, modern, corporate regime and governance framework tailored to the unique circumstances and structure of airport authorities.

As well, Bill C-3, the proposed new International Bridges and Tunnels Act establishes a modern and streamlined legislative framework that provides clarity and certainty for the approval, construction, alteration, maintenance and operation of international bridges and tunnels.

These legislative initiatives are an indication of the Government of Canada’s commitment to creating an attractive climate for private sector investment in infrastructure, while protecting the broad public interest at the same time.


And that is certainly a key point. Any public-private private partnership involving the Government of Canada must protect the public interest by:

offering a clear demonstration of value for money, including showing how project risk is distributed between the taxpayer and capital markets;
tapping into private sector innovation and efficiencies; and
maintaining the government’s role in ensuring effective public oversight.
I referred earlier to the economic importance of the Windsor-Detroit border crossing. We are committed to an efficient and secure gateway, as we have signaled on many occasions. The development of additional border capacity is a national priority for Canada and the United States to support the dynamic just-in-time economies in both countries.

Many of you may be aware that Canada, the United States, Ontario and Michigan are currently working on increasing the long-term capacity of this crossing.

Together, we envision connecting Ontario Highway 401 to the interstate highway system in Michigan. The project will include a new bridge over the Detroit River, Canadian and U.S. customs inspection plazas, and connecting roads to the existing highways.

The partnership is also looking at various governance structure of the crossing, and how contracting and procurement for all the components will be carried out.

Our bi-national team is currently working to determine the optimum location of a new crossing, taking into account the impact on the environment and local communities on both sides of the Detroit River. The environmental studies are scheduled for completion in 2007, approvals are expected to follow in 2008.

Once this is done, property acquisition and design will start, followed by construction. Ideally, the new crossing system will be open for use by the end of 2013.

We are working closely with our partners to examine possible models for private sector involvement on both sides of the border. This will be a rather unique arrangement, involving not just two jurisdictions in Canada, but the state and federal governments in the US as well.

Without prejudging the outcome of the environmental assessment, as we get closer to implementation, we will be working closely with Ontario on the Canadian side of the border to determine who does what for each component or segment of this enormous project from one end to the other. There will be instances where Ontario will lead the work, and others where Canada will need to be front and centre. And of course, there are other elements where we both will be involved together.

I can tell you today, the Government of Canada for its part intends to explore the opportunity to partner with the private sector to design, build, finance, and operate the new crossing.

Public-private partnerships of this sort could be very attractive to the private sector.

When governments and the private sector work together, the public interest can be served for the mutual benefit of Canadians, as well.

I thank you for your time and attention this morning and for your commitment to the issues of Canada’s infrastructure.

As you’ll have noted, my Deputy Minister, Louis Ranger, is the moderator to this morning’s first panel. Louis will be pleased to answer your questions and hear your views.

Should The DRIC Numbers Be Revised Downward Again?

Here is a recent story that I saw in

If this story is correct, can anyone justify spending billions of taxpayer dollars on both sides of the border on a new crossing today. Does anyone believe that this is just a temporary "blip?"

If this story is correct, which investment outfit would be interested in financing a new Government crossing in a public-private partnership with traffic volumes not rising as quickly as DRIC said? Will Government provide a guarantee of billions if there are losses?

If this story is correct, which of the crossings--the new bridge, the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the the Ambassador Bridge or all of them---would have serious financial problems since vehicle volumes are significantly lower than in the 1999-2000 time period?

If this story is correct, when will Governments wake up and let the Ambassador Bridge build their enhancement project at their business risk with the appropriate Governmental oversight?
  • Slowing economy reflected in reduced Ontario-US traffic

    TORONTO, Ont. -- The number of trucks crossing the Ontario-US border between January and September 2006 fell by over 82,000 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association.

    The Ontario Trucking Association indicated that the drop in traffic provides further confirmation that the province's economy which is so dependent upon the export of manufactured goods is feeling the effects of the high value of the Canadian dollar compared to the US greenback, competition from low cost manufacturing in China and a slowing US economy.
    David Bradley, president of the OTA, whose industry hauls 80% of Ontario-US trade says, "the trucking industry is a good bellwether of economic activity and the current picture is not pretty."

    "Most of what is produced in Ontario is for export to the US and a lot of that traffic has dried up over the last year or so," he added...

    According to Bradley, the reduction in border traffic may have eased truck congestion at some of the border crossings, but people need to understand that this is not because the borders have become more efficient; it is because car and truck traffic is down.

    "The border continues to thicken, and we have – despite the reduction in traffic – continued to see unacceptable southbound delays at some of the busiest crossings," says Bradley. "More and more red tape and cost is being thrust onto cross-border trade supposedly in the name of security; little urgency is being given to much-needed short-term infrastructure and resource enhancements; there seems to be no long-term investment plan to ensure we'll have the infrastructure in place to support future trade when we need it; and, we continue to be frustrated by complacency on the part of the people whose goods we deliver to ensure their companies and their freight are designated as secure."

    "The province's future economic success is still indelibly linked to whether the border facilitates or impedes trade. It is now more important than ever that we get it right," he said."

Just like the automobile industry, we are seeing a major restructuring of our economy. I wonder if DRIC took that into account when telling us what the future cross-border traffic numbers will be as the justification for spending billions on a new "twinned bridge" a mile away from the existing one. They have had to lower their projections so many times in so few years that one wonders what the real story will be and whether spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money makes sense.

Shouldn't we deal with reality instead of slogans:
1) Fix the road to the existing bridge now
2) Let the Bridge Co. build its enhancement project so that private enterprise spends its money now and takes the gamble on traffic volumes
3) Determine where a new bridge should go and protect the land and corridor to it
4) Design the new "fixed" road to the border so that it can serve both bridges.

Isn't this the logical way to go such that it gets the job done now at a minimum cost to everyone without gambling on the future? And avoids useless litigation as well!