Not the Windsor Star this time around but the Toronto Star. Read the story below on an empty stomach. Not to be outdone, the Globe and Mail has to run a story too that makes me ill! I have posted it too.
Thank our politicans for NOT doing anything on the border and losing out on 10,000 PLUS highpaying infrastructure and indirect jobs for buildig a new road to the border and NOT allowing the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement project to be built while our economy re-adjusts itself.
Frankly, just about every hotel/motel room and restaurant would be jammed every night as out-of-town workers came here for the jobs that our local building trades people could not fill. We might even need the Mexican refugees for the jobs our workers would not do.
Our retailers could actually have customers as workers spent money here and perhaps houses could even be sold rather than being foreclosed.
Instead, we can look for more stalls and delays as politicans here play. You know, the Schwartz tunnel debate, respecting a flawed DRIC process.
Let us continue to chase away investors by not allowing garages to be built.
Let us continue to tell people not to worry about unions as the CAW tries to unionize a call centre so they can pick up and leave town.
Let us continue to spend money like drunken sailors on arenas and Tunnel deals which are not core municipal government functions.
Let us keep the Capitol closed because who wants culture here
Oh, and let us continue to stonewall on finding out the truth about water and sewer charges and not being told what went wrong at Enwin.
Let us develop a "sin economy" as the Globe suggested. After all, we are known as Sin City aren't we. I believe since the zoning permits it....George Sofos ought to open a giant sex club at the Junction rather than a place for families as he wanted. That should make his neighbours happy!
CAMPAIGN SNAPSHOT: WINDSOR
Yet hard times fuel more apathy than anger in this depressed corner of the province
Sep 22, 2007 04:30 AM
National Affairs columnist
WINDSOR – This is a city going through hard times. The rest of the country may be booming; Windsor, where the unemployment rate approaches double digits, is not.
Yet – and perhaps curiously – there seems to be little resentment against Dalton McGuinty's provincial Liberal government. The mood among those interviewed during an unscientific survey by the Star this week was almost fatalistic, as if Windsor were in the grip of forces that no politician could control.
"We're apathetic," explains Shawn Cousineau, owner of the Rogues Gallery comic book store. He says he may not bother voting on Oct.10.
Certainly, there is considerable reason for Windsor to be anxious.
Nothing is working out. The big auto plants, for decades the mainstay of this border community, are scaling back. The city's palatial gambling casino – part of a desperate government attempt to turn Windsor into a tourist mecca – is losing customers.
At Windsor Casino this week, croupiers presided over empty roulette tables, while rooms in the attached luxury hotel were offered to a visiting reporter at deep discount.
Ouellette Ave., the city's main downtown thoroughfare, is a succession of massage parlours and saloons. One of Windsor's few remaining competitive advantages is that Ontario's legal drinking age, 19, is two years below that of neighbouring Michigan. But even local business operators confess that this is shaky ground on which to build a successful economy.
"From Thursday to Saturday, this area is full of drunken teenagers from Detroit," sighs bar owner Dan Houtteman.
Alister Cameron says that business at his speciality restaurant, Three, has fallen back to where it was when he started. Windsorites aren't eating out as much, he says, while visiting U.S. teens prefer beer and burgers to tapas and wine.
Hard-luck stories are everywhere. Machine operator Paul Bryan was laid off last year after his employer, a plastic recycling plant, moved to the U.S.
Since then, he hasn't been able to get a job.
"If you don't have some kind of degree, you can't get nothing," he says. "At least nothing to write home about."
In LaSalle, a suburban community just outside of the city, gear-motor salesman James Murphy lists the customers his company is losing: the Ford plant that's closing, the General Motors operation that's moving to St. Catharines, the small auto part operations that have shut up shop.
"We used to get a ton of work in Detroit," he says. "But with the high dollar, we've lost good customers."
In a tidy middle-class enclave close to a big Chrysler plant, Natalie Metulynsky says she lost her job last year after her employer – an insurance company – relocated to Toronto.
Yet she says she will probably vote to re-elect the provincial Liberals. As does unemployed machine operator Bryan. As does salesman Murphy. "It's not that important which party is in power," explains Murphy.
For the Windsor area's three Liberal incumbents –Economic Development Minister Sandra Pupatello, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan and backbencher Bruce Crozier – all of this is good news. Equally helpful to the Liberals is the fact that their main opponents – the New Democrats – are in some disarray.
The NDP is the party most likely to upset the Liberals. In the past, it has held Windsor provincially. Federally, it has two of the three Windsor area seats. But in this contest, thanks to a bitter feud between the Canadian Auto Workers and party leader Howard Hampton, the NDP faces formidable obstacles.
The dispute has its origins in the 1999 provincial election when CAW president Buzz Hargrove urged union members to support candidates – including Liberal candidates – best able to defeat the then-Tory government.
In 2006, after Hargrove publicly lent his support to the federal Liberals in the hope of getting more aid for the auto sector, a furious Hampton had him drummed out of the NDP. Now, the CAW leadership is actively hostile to Hampton.
"We support an issue-based campaign strategy," says Gary Parent, a senior CAW leader who heads the Windsor Labour Council. "We present the issues and suggest to our members that they vote for whoever they think deals with these issues the best ... But we don't urge them to support the NDP...
"When Hampton did that to Buzz (expelled him) he did it to all of the leadership."
In practical terms, says Kieran McKenzie, campaign manager for Windsor West NDP candidate Mariano Klimowicz, this means that the CAW no longer supplies paid cadres to work full-time on the party's election campaign.
"There's a political reality we're dealing with," he says." We don't get as many CAW volunteers as in the past. But the rift (between party and union) isn't as pronounced as most people and media think."
To outsiders, it might seem strange that the economy doesn't dominate Windsor's election campaign. Since 2002, and thanks in part to the soaring dollar (which makes Canadian goods more expensive in the U.S.) the city has lost an astounding 17,700 jobs.
Michigan's decision to legalize casinos in Detroit savaged Casino Windsor's business, as did tighter security at the border.
Over the last year, casino attendance has dropped by 11 per cent, casino revenues by a whopping 27 per cent.
At 9.9 per cent, Windsor's unemployment rate is well above the provincial average of 6.4 per cent.
Yet at the doorstep, the economy is not front and centre. When interviewed, Windsorites sound much like anyone else: They talk about funding religious schools, health care, tuition fees, the environment and parking.
Some say their voting decisions will be informed by a reasoned analysis of the issues. Others cite habit or pique.
Metulynsky, for instance, plans to vote for the Liberals largely because she thinks they've started to fix the health system.
"Wait time in hospitals have improved," she says. "My mom died eight years ago of cancer. My dad was in the hospital this year with a heart attack. I notice the difference."
Joanne Leyland, a nurse, disagrees. She says the McGuinty Liberals aren't doing enough. "There aren't enough bodies to care for people," she says. Last time, she voted Green. This time, she's not sure.
Kate Woltz, a recent University of Windsor history graduate, frets about high tuition fees. "I feel student needs have not been well met," she says.
Retired secretary Barbara Palenkas says that she'll make up her mind when she senses who is going to win – and then she'll vote the opposite way.
"That way the winner won't get a swelled head," she explains.
Retired autoworker Jack Gibbons is one who does focus on the sagging economy. He'll vote, as always, for the NDP. But not with many expectations.
"The current government hasn't done a lot. But when we had (former NDP premier) Bob Rae in power, he didn't do anything either. In fact, he did more harm than good. But I'm going to support the NDP. The other haven't done anything either."
Hairdresser Trina Meloche says that for her, the key issues are health and education. "PC or Liberal," she says. "Not the NDP."
Conversely, retired body shop owner Mark Sasseville will vote for no one except the New Democrats. "I voted Liberal a couple of times but didn't like it," he explains.
Throughout Windsor, the issue of the so-called third crossing resonates. Most say they want a new bridge or tunnel to Detroit. But few are willing to have it affect their neighbourhoods. In fact, the third crossing issue is so potent, that NDP candidate Klimowicz plans to focus on it, rather than the economy, according to campaign manager McKenzie.
It's as if everyone is trying to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room.
In his bar, Vermouth, Dan Houtteman has an explanation for Windsor's laid-back attitude: When it comes to the economy, the city instinctively sees itself as part of the U.S.
It's an attitude reflected in Windsor's very geography.
Tucked down in the extreme southwest of the province, it is a place by itself, a near island bounded by Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River – with Highway 401 acting as a causeway to the rest of the country.
Across the river from downtown, the gleaming skyscrapers of Detroit are visible reminders of just who is boss. Toronto and Ottawa seem very far away.
"We are so tied into the U.S., to Detroit and Michigan," says Houtteman. "And right now Michigan is not doing very well.
"Windsor feels like a third cousin to the rest of Ontario."
THE DOLLAR AT PAR
Windsor sings the dollar blues
Residents fear loonie's climb will leave border city more dependent on its 'sin economy'
TARA PERKINS, September 24, 2007
WINDSOR, ONT. -- It's just past 9 p.m. on the last Friday night of the summer, the air is warm, and the Detroit River sparkles under its namesake's skyline.
But from the Hilton hotel to Casino Windsor, the sidewalk on this strip of Riverside Drive is nearly deserted. Mahdi Jouduh pedals his ice cream cart, no customers to stop him.
If anyone's got a right to complain about the Canadian dollar hitting par with its U.S. counterpart for the first time in decades, it's the citizens of downtown Windsor. But few of them are grumbling. Many appear resigned to the toll the dollar's strength has taken, although some fear what might be in store now.
For years, the rising loonie has been chipping away at the manufacturing and automotive base that props up this city, because the higher dollar makes products made here more expensive for buyers in the United States. At the same time, it discourages visits to Canada by U.S. tourists.
Statistics Canada said last week that travel into this country from the United States fell 5.2 per cent from June to July, sinking to the second-lowest level since record-keeping started in 1972, as the loonie rose for the sixth month in a row, to hit 95 cents (U.S.).
Americans made only 1.1 million overnight trips to Canada in July, about 81,000 fewer than in June.
Now some Windsor residents worry the loonie's climb will leave this border city even more dependent on its "sin economy" - the casino, bars and strip joints - an economy that's causing some Windsor citizens to fear going downtown at night.
Spattered throughout the city's core are signs on houses, offices, storefronts and restaurants that say "for sale" or "for lease." Many of those places lie empty. It wasn't always like this. Kim Chu at Ray and Kim's Super Convenience store recalls when Friday nights meant long lineups at local bars and restaurants, whose patrons would spill over into her store for cigarettes or gum.
"Now, you go into the bars, it's totally empty," she says. "This summer has been a very sluggish tourist season for us. It's not a very good scene."
She blames the dollar. And she suggests that headlines in U.S. newspapers and on TV stations blasting news of parity could make things worse.
"Not everybody's astute on that, some don't know the exchange," she says, noting that she's had American customers who were angry in recent days when she told them they would get no premium on their U.S. money. "I had a customer come in today who works at the casino and said people are getting irate - they want something back."
But over at the city's strip clubs, it's a different story. Locals say that Windsor's adult entertainment venues have been accepting the U.S. dollar at par for about two years. American tourists willingly handed over their greenbacks, even when they were losing more than 20 cents on each dollar.
That's the power of the sin economy, and why some fear that soon the only businesses left will be strip clubs, prostitution and, to a lesser degree, gambling and alcohol.
Economists would explain it using the price elasticity of demand, which measures how much the demand for a product will change as its price changes.
Goods such as alcohol and cigarettes are known to be relatively inelastic, meaning demand doesn't fall that much when the price goes up, which is why they're heavily taxed.
The staff at Windsor's bars say many of their patrons are 19- and 20-year-old Americans who come to Ontario to take advantage of the lower legal drinking age. That's another segment that will come despite the exchange rate, because they can't drink freely in their hometown bars.
Amid the uncertainty, work on an expansion to Casino Windsor carries on.
The Ontario government revealed the $400-million project in early 2005, as the local economy was already beginning to sink under the weight of the rising dollar. A new entertainment centre, another hotel tower, convention space and restaurants were all planned out, largely with hopes that they will help the area rebound. Unemployment in Windsor rose 81 per cent between 2000 and 2006, and the city continues to lose thousands of jobs.
In 2000, Windsor's unemployment rate was 5.4 per cent. By 2006, it exceeded 9 per cent, hovering well above the national average.
Over at Papa Cheney's Whiskey Well, doorman and bartender John Parent acknowledges that he doesn't see many Americans Sunday through Wednesday, but he's confident weekend traffic will continue to the city that's been nicknamed Tijuana North. "You're coming to a city where everything goes."
That's precisely why many Windsor residents are scared to venture downtown in the evenings, says Ronald Laplante, 76, who has run Vive le Canada Tours & Shuttle for about 10 years. Windsor's title of Tijuana North has "much justification," he says. "The only viable industries left downtown are fast-food places, bars and strip clubs."
He originally conceived his tour business to cater to U.S. travellers, whom he would drive around in a six-passenger van as he taught them about everything from bilingualism to Canadian health care to former prime minister Paul Martin's Windsor roots.
Five years ago, he was doing tours for audiences that were about 95 per cent American virtually every day, he says. "Now I'm lucky to get one a week."
Business has been progressively worse ever since the war in Iraq began, he says. That's a factor he blames more than the dollar. Americans feel less welcome in Canada, he says.
With demand for tours plummeting, Mr. Laplante recently had to get a licence to operate his van as a shuttle. "Now, 90 per cent of my income is from shuttling people out to Detroit airport."
He's noticed that, since the dollar hit and then surpassed 90 cents (U.S.), it's taking him a lot longer to cross into the United States on Saturdays. Canadians are going shopping. This Saturday, on the first morning after the dollar hit par, a snaking queue of cars waited to cross the tunnel into the United States, while traffic into Canada was sparse.
That's no surprise to John Estephan, a teller at the Canadian Windsor Tunnel Exchange Inc. currency conversion store. From behind a sheet of Plexiglas that separates him from customers, he looks out the window to the numbered booths of Canada Customs. "It's been dead, there's been no one," he says. "Just in the past couple weeks, it's been steadily going down."
His boss, Abe Taqtaq, owner of the exchange business, says the outlet is operating at a loss this weekend. He's offering customers a conversion rate of 1 per cent, just to keep the greenbacks coming in, because he takes them over to his location on the U.S. side, and that's cheaper than getting them from the bank.
But he closed the Canadian shop on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday afternoon. It was a tough decision because it's a service business, and "you don't want people to have to second-guess whether we're open or not," he says.
On Friday, the Canadian Windsor Tunnel Exchange location saw 98 people all day. On a normal Friday not so long ago, that number would have been more than 1,000, Mr. Estephan says.
As he talks, a family pulls up in their car, after crossing the border, and a young American man named Venkat Kasala walks in.
He exchanges $400 (U.S.), folds away the $400 in Canadian bills he receives, and looks at the three extra loonies jingling in his hand.
He's heading with his relatives on a two-day trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto, despite knowing that the loonie recently hit par.
"I did think about it, but we can't stop travelling," he says. Then he returns back to his car to drive out of the city.