I'll bet that you are eager for more good border BLOGs now after all of this watermain and sewer business. I'll bet the Mayor will be happy too that I am diverting your attention from his problems, even if temporarily.
From what I hear, just wait until next week when that story heats up again!
Did you go to the DRIC meeting the other week? If you did, it was to find out if your home or business was to be expropriated. Otherwise, it was all a waste of time.
Digging in my garden gave me the time to try and put matters into a perspective. It is starting to make some sense to me now.
The back-ups all across Canada are almost as bad as after 9/11. Was it really US Customs computer glitches or extra security? Or was it really Canada's worst nightmare: the US flexing its muscles to teach us a lesson. Was it Senator Kenny's "Dirty little Secret!"
Are these the non-trade barriers designed to force our manufacturers to move into the US to stay in business or to keep US companies home? Who needs the border hassles that can arise at any time.
It's all been a big joke. The whole border fiasco in Windsor. It has had nothing to do with roads, security, traffic volume and redundancy. It really has nothing to do with a new DRIC bridge either except on a personal level. As for tunnels or shunnels or land bridges or at-grade or below-grade, who cares! It's all part of something much, much bigger:
In this BLOG, I am going to
CANADA'S NEW POLICY
It is a new policy being put forward by Transport Canada for which a position paper has been released to the public. Let me set out what the Minister says it is all about:
"Canada is a successful trading nation. Our economic growth and standard of living depend on the export and import of products and resources as part of global supply chains...
That is why we are moving forward decisively with our gateway and corridor approach. It’s a new policy direction, more aligned with the way business operates in today’s global economy. It promotes coherent planning among governments and partnerships between public and private sectors...
The Framework will guide investment and policy measures ... and enhance
infrastructure at key locations, such as major border crossings between Canada and the United States, and the Atlantic gateway."
What does this all mean. Canada is a huge trading nation both for imports and exports. A new international business model has developed which
And here is the key element that explains what is going on in Windsor as one of the important gateways for Canada:
"In an increasingly connected world, the key will be an integrated approach to physical and policy infrastructure. This approach places transportation infrastructure at its core, but goes further to encompass other interconnected issues of public policy, regulation, and operational practice that directly impact how well the infrastructure works and how well Canada takes advantage of it. As for investment, the crucial role of private investment will be highlighted, along with a commitment to policies that foster a positive climate for it to increase, while safeguarding the public interest."
We have the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative "to strengthen Canada’s competitive position in international commerce by more effectively linking Asia and North America." Then there is the Atlantic Gateway which is not well developed yet and has untapped capacity but which could grow with container trade, increasing use of the Suez route for Asian exports to North America and the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Finally we come to the major corridor and gateway with the US where the vast amount of our wealth is created and why Windsor/Detroit is an important focus of the Government:
"The Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor encompasses a system of land, air and marine transportation assets, including the Saint Lawrence River and Great Lakes, that offers a competitive and attractive gateway for international trade. The two central Canadian provinces represent approximately 60% of Canada’s exports and gross domestic product. Major transportation infrastructure assets of all modes, as well as four of Canada’s six highest volume border crossings, underpin this economic heartland."
To understand the scope of the Canada-US trade
"With over $1.9 billion worth of goods and services moving across the border daily, Canada and the U.S. are each other’s largest customers and biggest suppliers. To put this into perspective, in 2006, Canada exchanged more goods with the U.S. each month than with any other country throughout the whole year.
Transportation systems are key to Canada’s successful relationship with the U.S. Maximizing the free flow of goods, services and capital with the U.S. is a key priority for Canada."
WHY THE WINDSOR BORDER IS SO IMPORTANT TO CANADA
So this is what the border issue is all about. We have to make sure that our corridors and gateways are developed to maintain our trade position and especially the US-Canada route where most of our trade is still done. This is why Transport Canada is so interested in our crossing. It has nothing to do with a DRIC bridge whatsoever.
As an aside, here is why Ambassador Michael Wilson has taken on a bigger role as the power of Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon has diminished as a result of his political failures for the Conservatives:
" Recognizing the importance of these connections, the federal government is working to further enhance stronger bilateral relations with the U.S. This includes expanding Canada’s official network in the U.S. With the opening in July 2006 of the new Canadian Consulate General in San Francisco, Canada’s network in the U.S. now includes 13 consulates general and six consulates, in addition to the Embassy in Washington."
Windsor and the Ambassador Bridge are specifically mentioned in the Policy Statement that demonstrates our importance for the country:
And what could be more important for land crossings than Windsor:
"The Windsor-Detroit corridor is Canada’s busiest artery of trade. With the area handling almost 30% of total Canada-U.S. trade and more than 2.5 million trucks, an efficient and secure Windsor-Detroit gateway is essential to the Canadian economy.
The Government of Canada is working with partners to develop additional border capacity to support this trade. The federal government will be responsible for the Canadian half of the new international bridge, including the Canadian plaza, and plans to create a new public entity that will oversee and manage this Infrastructure.
In concert with Michigan and its U.S. partners, Canada is exploring working with the private sector to design, build, finance and operate the bridge and plaza. While responsibility for the access road to link the bridge with Highway 401 rests with the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada has also set aside an initial $400 million to cover 50% of the eligible capital cost of building the access road to the new crossing."
THE AMBASSADOR BRIDGE DILEMMA
This is all part of a strategy so that:
"[Governments'] Actions should complement current market-oriented transportation policies, with governments creating a positive climate for private investment in gateway infrastructure, while safeguarding the public interest."
And finally we get to the Bridge Co. Its role is really incidental to the entire Transport Canada strategy but the new approach is seen as a way by some in Government and the private sector to avenge what they see as the wrong done by the settlement by Canada and the Bridge Co. over FIRA so many years ago that allowed the Bridge Co. to stay in business.
It is personal frankly, those people and groups against Matty Moroun! There is no other delicate way to put it. It galls them that he, an American private enterprise entrepreneur, can run the biggest and best border crossing between Canada and the US. His crossing is the model for the others. Every time he does something first or there is a problem at a public crossing that his crossing does not have since he solved the issue long before, they get angry at his success.
I find it ironic that Moroun is his own worst enemy too. He is the one who has made the crossing work so well with him being the one investing his money into it , not the Governments of Caanda and Ontario. If the Governments had invested, we would not be having the fight over the road to the bridge. It would have been solved before.
Because the Bridge Co. has spent its money opening booths and processing centres and adding capacity as needed when volumes rose and after the terrorist attacks, Moroun has allowed the Government the luxury to do nothing but try and beat him and take away the business that he built up to make the Windsor/Detroit region Number 1! Governments have not had to solve the border probelm here because he solved it himself at his cost, even suing the US Government to get booths to end jams on Huron Church! Eddie would have spent a billion out of our pockets with Schwartz, while he did it out of his for pennies on the dollar in comparison!
The Government hypocrisy is mind-blowing. Their policy is
- "governments creating a positive climate for private investment in gateway infrastructure, while safeguarding the public interest."
This so-called positive climate is trying to force the Bridge Co. to sell so they Government can take it over and then do a P3 lease to another private entrepreneur. Does this make sense? is this rational? If it is not personal to Matty Moroun, then what is it? It made no sense to a Senator during the Bill C-3 debate:
"...this government and governments will be going forward with PPPs in the future. We are hoping that more public-private partnerships will exist to share the responsibilities between the public and the private enterprise, whether it is Highway 50 or Highway 30 in Quebec or other bridges to be built. If we are not going to have respect for private projects that exist and that have been going well for 60 or 70 years, how can we expect private investors to risk, whether it is the "competing" project or the "existing" projects?"
It is all a question of respect. One can understand Canada's desire to safeguard our trade by protecting Corridors and Gateways to minimize disruptoions as we are having now at land crossings. One can understand Canada's position to safeguard a vital link in our trade to the US, our most important customer. One can also understand the desire to have it under Government control too or "oversight."
However, where is the respect for a public- private partnership that has lasted for almost 80 years and has made Windsor/Detroit what it is today. Where is the respect for the private individual that has spent the money to help Canada and the US prosper? Where is the respect for taxpayers who may be asked to spend billions on a DRIC bridge that is not needed?
The whole DRIC process is nothing more than a lie, a giant fraud designed to hide the Governments' true objectives. The increasing role of Ambassador Wilson demonstrates to me at least that Transport Canada's overall strategy may be working but its Ambassador Bridge policy has failed miserably.
What it means to me is that Canada and Moroun need to talk soon. Canada cannot afford a dozen more years of litigation when our economy is at stake. Windsor cannot afford this mess when our region is at risk. Jobs are needed that infrastructure can supply now as we finally develop this region as the prime distribution centre in North America!
It's time to put this issue to bed.