When Larry Met Jenny
Lawrence Cannon must have discovered that his GPS mapping device knew where Windsor was so he would not get lost. I am sure he did not want to wind up in nearby Puce, ON. He is the TRANSPORTATION Minister after all.
However, if you thought he was coming down here to view the situation for himself so that he could make informed decisions based on facts, then you are wrong.
It must be part of the turf war between two Government Departments--Tranport Canada and Foreign Affairs-- to see who is in charge of the border file. Former Ambassador Michael Kergin works for the Province and that has hurt Transport. Then Ambassador Michael Wilson made a speech at Mackinac and probably rubbed shoulders with a number of parties involved in the border crossing issue. And who bought Tigers tickets for Eddie's Mayor friends so they could sit in a private box? Transport Canada finally figured out that its Minister should get here fast.
However, Cannon's bureaucrats want to ensure that he does not learn too much. My sources tell me that he is NOT meeting with any of the proponents for a border crossing including our Mayor (who is very upset that he is being snubbed) nor is he going to make an announcement that Canada will finally build a road to the border under the BIF fund but will meet with some stakeholders. [I will let Gord Henderson write his usual rant column attacking Ontario and Canada for spending tons of money for a border road on the QEW but no tunnel for Windsor.]
Rather he is going to meet with the Governor of Michigan. I wonder if he will be landing in the soon-to-be-City-run Windsor airport or whether he will fly directly to Lansing to save hours of travel time especially if he crosses over the border using the about-to-be-Eddie-run-if-anyone-can-figure-out-the-deal Detroit/Windsor Tunnel.
Let's speculate why the Minister is coming down here.
How about this as a starter. The Minister knows that Michigan needs money. Therefore Canada may want to buy the Blue Water and Sault Ste. Marie bridges in a P3 deal so Cannon wants the Governor onside. Alinda just raised $3 billion for infrastructure investments as an example and those bridges would be nice to own.
Who knows, on his way back home, the Minister may take over operation of the Tunnel too!
A better alternative reason is that Canada may be worried that the Michigan Legislature will kill DRIC and the Minister was told to come down here and give support to the Governor so that DRIC will carry on.
The Minister will probably tell her that they will build the DRIC bridge and will build a new road to the DRIC bridge and impair Huron Church (that is where Gridlock Sam comes in) such that trucks will not be able to use the Ambassador Bridge. Obviously then, the new DRIC bridge will be a big money-maker for Michigan too in the future.
Now this is where it gets really sticky for the Governor. She is Canadian-born and still must have some feeling for her place of birth. Are the Feds counting on that? Yet she is Governor of a US state. What a conflict.
Does she owe Canada a favour since Canada allowed her on her own to appear tough and responsive to Michigan voters by killing the Downriver bridge options to save her political neck so she could be re-elected? In exchange, was the favour to allow the Ambassador Bridge proposal to be killed notwithstanding how highly it was ranked on the US side and how much money the State already paid out for Interstate connections? As a corollary, did she have to permit the DRIC bridge to be built where Canada wanted it on the Canadian side even though it would cross into Delray and cause massive disruption to a Michigan community while preserving Sandwich?
In other words, did the good Governor have to agree in a quid pro quo to do what Canada wanted even if it causes problems in Michigan so she could remain the Governor? Is the Minister here to remind her of that in case she forgot? Will she give in?
Some interesting questions that need answering I would think!
That makes things really dicey now for her! Governor Jenny is caught between a rock and a hard-place.
Renege on her deal with Canada to protect Michigan or harm her own residents and cause an additional financial burden for the State since some State money will have to be paid out by the time this is all done to repay her election debt.
What a dilemma for her and perhaps for her husband if he chooses to run for Governor when her term expires. Never mind the political hit she will take from her own party's members if the Canadian view prevails. And if the DRIC bridge goes further west, where Canada may want it, then it is outside of Detroit and Kwame and the Detroit Council are furious at her.
As a matter of fact, it would not surprise me to see the Fort Erie talks open again as Canada "gives in" to its US friends. Fingerprinting won't be such a big Charter of Rights issue after all. Then how about SBM at the Tunnel too and then Sarnia and the Soo and why everywhere else. And good old Governor Jenny can get the kudos for re-starting the talks. What a win for her political future and her husband's!
It is Lawrence Cannon's mission to promise her the world, to have money rain down on her from our surpluses (or our P3 partner) to keep her supportive so that Canada can achieve its objectives. And to make sure that there is an answer for Delray destruction. He does not have to worry. Eddie wants the plaza at Brighton Beach too for his purposes. A nice announcement about money might keep the Republicans and some angry Democrats off of her back to buy some time.
Or at least that is the hope.
Another less likely alternative is that after the Tunnel fiasco and the Feds being blamed for not putting up outrageous sums of money to help out Eddie, Prime Minister Harper might have said that this was the last straw. His Party had hoped to gain one or two seats in Windsor, especially if Joe Comartin retired. Eddie's attacks against the Feds could cost them their opportunity. He told Cannon to come down here and go and meet the Governor and to tell her that Canada is pulling out of DRIC.
Let Eddie explain as well to his Provincial friends a few months before the election how he may cost them their seats as the money for the road to the bridge and all of the thousands of jobs go down the drain as BIF is not renewed!
A last alternative could be that the two of them have been trying to meet for some time but their schedules would not allow it until now. Both of them have responsibility for border bridges so it was time for a nice chitchat about things in general.
Clearly though the expectation cannot be that high that the Minister of Transportation will be successful. He is mere Cannon fodder. If the Government of Canada thought they had a chance to do something useful down here, they would have sent Ambassador Wilson. After all, he had a good time at Mackinac didn't he and should normally be the lead in any potential deal that may impact the US.