Good Old Mister Wilson
It has to be a blow to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon who was appointed as the Conservative's Quebec lieutenant and was to help them get a majority government by winning seats in that Province. He was described as the "Deputy Prime Minister in fact if not in name."
However the Tranport Minister's star is fading badly and I am not sure that his desperation trip to meet Governor Granholm will save him now. All it showed up was his powerlessness.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
That story in the Globe about the Bridge Co.---2 1/2 pages including a half front-page full-colour photo of the Enhancement Project bridge in the Saturday Business section---must have terrified the Prime Minister's Office.
It was all going so smoothly the PMO must have been told by Transport Canada...Bill C-3 was in place, DRIC had kicked out the twinned bridge, the road to the Ambassador Bridge under BIF was not being built. The Plan was to scare Matty Moroun, or more likely his family, into selling the bridge now at a low-ball price or else take the chance of losing everything.
The Globe story and the aggressive communications campaign by the Bridge Co. coupled with the good showing by the Bridge Co. Execs in front of the Commons and Senate Committees on Bill C-3 finally woke someone up to the fact that Transport Canada had blown it.
It was damage control time and ergo Ambassador Wilson. The underground turf war between Transport and Foreign Affairs was now out in the open for everyone to see. And Cannon did not have the credibility of Wilson either inside or outside of Government.
TRANSPORT MINISTER CANNON IS IN SERIOUS TROUBLE
As far as Quebec goes, it may be that someone in the PMO wants him working there rather than fussing with Transport matters. And he had better start producing.
Back in mid June, a
- "poll by Decima Research, provided exclusively to The Canadian Press, placed Liberal support at 32 per cent, the Conservatives at 29 and the NDP at 18. The Bloc Quebecois and Green party were tied nationally at nine per cent."
Just the other day, in an Environics Research Group poll,
- "One of the surprises in the poll was that Layton was the most popular leader in Montreal, where the NDP has never elected an MP.
Among Montrealers polled, Layton scored 24 per cent, compared with 19 per cent for Harper, 16 per cent for Dion and 12 per cent for Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe."
It was said as well that "Liberal voters may be turning to the NDP in the urban area." Instead of to the Conservatives I must assume as was hoped by the Party! Cannon's history was with the Quebec Liberals after all. (His son Philippe Cannon ran as a Liberal candidate in Quebec City).
It is not all bad news for Cannon however and may be the reason why he is being shifted out of Transport into a more political role:
- "In Quebec, the Bloc was at 31 per cent, down a healthy 11 percentage points from its level of support in the January 2006 federal election. The Liberals were pegged at 17 per cent in Quebec, down three from the last Environics poll conducted in March, while the Tories sat at 28 per cent, up two percentage points from the last poll and 3 points higher than they scored in the election."
Michael Wilson has some experience with the Bridge Co. from the past. As you know the Bridge Co. fought Canada for about a dozen years over the ownership of the bridge. That litigation started under the Liberals but the Conservatives settled the matter. Wilson was in the Cabinet when that was done and must have had some knowledge of what went on.
Accordingly, who better today to talk to the Bridge Co. to see if a solution can be reached. The Ambassador held out an olive branch at Mackinac that even Transport Canada must have recognized when he talked about private interests when answering Bridge Co. opponent Rep Steve Tobocman's question.
Moreover, Harper has enough problems with the Liberal Senate that he does not need another one given the favourable "Observations" made to the Bridge Co. by Senators. Their Report would make a tremendous litigation tool for the Bridge Co.
PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH
In the end however, Wilson is involved because someone figured out that Canada does not need another softwood lumber war over the Ambassador Bridge.
It boggles my mind that the Canadian Government has not taken seriously for so long that the US State Department, on behalf of the President, has decided that the Bridge Co. does NOT need a Presidential Permit for what they are doing. Perhaps Foreign Affairs has finally realized that the State Dept has effectively told DRIC that their new Bridge in their central corridor makes no sense.
But it is the following article that may have finally scared Canada and the Canadian Ambassador to the US. It is such a petty story and it seems such an insignificant one as well. Yet it opened up their eyes to the fact that President Bush is more concerned with American private property than a treaty with Canada.
And as Dan Stamper said in a recent Today's Trucking article:
- "Stamper, though, suggests that Windsor politicians, as well as officials in the other two levels of Canadian government, are the main driving forces behind DRIC.
"Essentially, anti-American ownership from a Canadian perspective is the issue here,” he says. “That's the basis of DRIC."
With this background, is there any doubt but that Ambassador Wilson is in control. He and his predecessor Canadian Ambassador to the US Michael Kergin who works for the Province can work a nice solution with the Ambassador Bridge Co. I am certain.
- Bush fires U.S. representative to International Boundary CommissionIn a bizarre twist to a dispute over a four-foot-high fence near the U.S.-Canada border in Whatcom County, President Bush on Tuesday fired Dennis Schornack as U.S. Commissioner to the International Boundary Commission and member of the International Joint Commission.
"I would like to extend my best wishes in your future endeavors," wrote presidential assistant Liza Wright in conveying Bush's order. The letter told Schornack that he is "terminated effectively immediately."
The firing came without warning. The legal counsel to the International Boundary Commission described Bush's order as improper. He argued that Schornack holds a quasi-judicial position with an international body.
"First of all, he can't fire him: He can appoint him but he can't fire him," said Elliot Feldman, the IBC's legal counsel.
Schornack was in Michigan and not available for comment. But Feldman had plenty to say when interviewed by the P-I.
"The President has a fight on his hands," he said. "There has been quite a lot of threats and bullying to the commissioner. We thought it was all rather hollow."
The IBC and IJC are low-key bodies, composed of commissioners appointed by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
They are charged with overseeing the world's longest peaceful border, and working out trans-boundary disputes between the two countries.
They're best known for midwifing settlement of a longstanding dispute between the city of Seattle and British Columbia over the raising of Ross Dam, and for intervening when the pollution from the Trail Smelter in B.C. killed trees on the U.S. side of the border.
But Schornack appears to have run afoul of a powerful right-wing legal group with deep, longstanding ties to the Republican Party.
Herbert and Shirley-Ann Leo of Blaine, who live just south of the border, built on their property a four-foot-high, 85-foot-long concrete wall. The wall intrudes into a 10-foot-wide "clear boundary vista" maintained at the 5,000-mile-long border.
The boundary vista area has been maintained for a hundred years, but has assumed additional importance due to an upsurge of smuggling of illegals and "B.C. Bud" marijuana across the border.
According to the commission, the wall was "severely hampering the ability of the U.S. Border Patrol and Royal Canadian Mounted Police to protect the border." The IBC asked the Leus to remove the wall.
The couple refused, and have received assistance from the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation on grounds their private property rights have been violated.
After being refused legal help by the U.S. Department of State, the Commission retained private legal counsel, which filed papers in the case in Seattle defending the Commission's right to protect the border.
At that point, however, a dispute broke out between agencies.
The U.S. Justice Department asked to take over the case, and negotiate a compromise that concedes the couple's private property complaints. But the Commission argued that it is an international body.
In its defense, the IBC said in a statement: "Sooner rather than later, the Administration will be seen to prefer private property rights over national security and ready to undo an international treaty with Canada to serve that preference."
Schornack has impeccable Republican credentials. He was a longtime aide to Michigan's longtime (1990-2002) Republican Gov. John Engler. But he became outspoken in the case of the four-foot border fence.
"We are not interested in taking the Leus' property," Schornack said. "We are only interested in keeping permanent obstructions, such as walls, away from the border site lines, a mere 10 feet."
The Treaty of Washington between the U.S. and Canada directs the Commission to keep the boundary vista clear. The 1925 treaty was ratified by Congress, making it a law of the United States.
The Commission offered to remove the Leus' wall at its own expense.
Feldman said he believes the Department of Justice and White House made a backstage deal with the Pacific Legal Foundation.
"We believe they have made a deal and are selling out the national security of the United States," he argued. "We know there is someone in the White House who went there from the Justice Department. This has all the same features and it involves the same people as the firing of the U.S. attorneys."
The Justice Department could not be reached for comment.