No Excuses Left
It is not that hard to figure what the agenda is but who is guiding the effort is the real question.
As I BLOGGED recently, here are the excuses that have been given that I can think of so far:
- Traffic volumes increasing---wrong.
Capacity of the Ambassador Bridge---wrong.
Destruction of Sandwich or Delray or both by the Enhancement project---wrong.
Road system---wrong!...that's a Government issue that they won't address---right!
Mark Butler on behalf of Transport Canada quoted in the Globe and Mail used "security" as his basis:
- "...a new gateway that distances itself from the Ambassador Bridge is essential to Canadian and U.S. economies.
DRIC has "rejected the twinning of the Ambassador Bridge," Mr. Butler says, citing concerns that Mr. Moroun's twinned structure would hurt neighbourhoods and also be vulnerable to a terrorist attack that could wipe out both bridges at once.
"What we do know is that any new crossing must be safe and secure and be managed and maintained for the long-term benefit of both countries," Mr. Butler argues."
- "Drilling down even further, our trade over one bridge - the Ambassador bridge- represented 25% of all Canada-U.S. trade. Trade between our countries across this one span is greater than twice the value of all US EXPORTS to Japan. If we add to this the huge volumes of trade and passenger traffic that crosses the Blue Water Bridge at Sarnia-Port Huron, just north of the Windsor-Detroit region, the strategic importance of this region to both countries is further underlined.
I would like to add a few additional points on the Ambassador Bridge and the plans for a new crossing.
This crossing is strategically very important for both of our countries - for the reasons I just stated. Both of our countries agree that we nee a new crossing - both to handle the current daily traffic and trade volumes, as well as to provide additional capacity to cope with the inevitable future growth in passenger and commercial traffic across this critical Gateway. Equally, we also need reliable infrastructure in place in case, god forbid, there is another major event that may affect our access across the border."
Now we have dealt with capacity before and volume numbers. They have dropped significantly after their peak in 1999, before 9/11, and DRIC has had to revise their numbers downward several times already. The ABPC project of the Bridge Co. effectively quadruples capacity and their new booths allow trucks to go through faster assuming they are staffed by Customs on both sides of the border. Speeding trucks is the big issue on Huron Church Road these days not congestion!
There also seem to be no Free Trade or NAFTA agreements on the horizon or new Just-in-time type approaches that should increase volumes dramatically while the high Canadian dollar will scare away business and tourists.
So forget the capacity issue.
Now security. It seems somewhat disingenuous of the Canadian Government to be concerned about "security" when they will NOT allow reverse customs or Shared Border Mangement to be used because of a Charter of Rights argument re "fingerprinting."
How is it done at airports now without a Charter issue? Surely someone could put up a big sign saying
- "YOU ARE ENTERING A BORDER ZONE. YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO FINGERPRINTING IF YOU ENTER THIS ZONE."
Informed consent should eliminate a Charter argument. The signage is similar to what I have seen re baggage searches for example.
As far as security is really concerned, a solution will have to be found and will be soon or our economy will die. Read this from the Ottawa Citizen:
- "Security measures at the Canada-U.S. border introduced since the 9/11 terrorist attacks have not slowed the flow of goods into the U.S., but have added to costs for Canadian companies, the Conference Board of Canada said yesterday.
The think-tank calls for a variety of remedies to keep Canada an attractive place to set up shop to feed the rich U.S. market -- including pre-clearance of shipments, simplified security rules and improved border infrastructure...
Canada could be a preferred place for companies to locate to serve the U.S. market if pre-approval programs were implemented more effectively -- separating trusted cargo from unknown-risk cargo -- to get goods to market efficiently and securely."
DRTP also has surprisingly come to the Bridge Co.'s defence by offering to build the rail tunnel. It makes capacity and security a non-issue.
As U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said in a CRAINS article
- "the tunnel and a new bridge in the works could co-exist. Two separate plans call for new bridges.
No capacity and security are not the issue in Windsor. The issue is the Bridge Co. ownership. That's what it has really been all about, right from the beginning. Transport Canada and the other Governments thought they could force a sell out. They could not.
And every day, the Governments do something that makes their actions seem more and more ludicrous and help build up a huge damages claim for the Bridge Co.---more money taxpayers will have to pay out. Whether that action is failing for 5 years to build the road to the existing Bridge under the $300M BIF program or considering financing the Bridge Co. opponents.
Ambassador Wilson's remarks above were part of his set speech spouting the "party line" re the border. In answer to the question afterwards, the Ambassador shockingly echoed Canada's Senate. He did NOT have to talk about the Bridge Co. but he did so. It must signal a change of attitude from the Prime Minister's Office rather than Transport Canada which is still trying to save DRIC.
There now must be recognition by the Foreign Affairs Department finally that Transport Canada's actions may give rise to an international incident. That is why the Ambassador is cooling down the rhetoric! He gave a clear indication when he said:
- "we have to take into account the interest of the private sector to make sure that the things that they feel are important, the things that feel must be taken into account in the decision making process are critical to the success of whatever comes out of the other end process.
An over-riding principle has to be that we have got to do this carefully, we have to listen to all those different points of view as we go through this."