Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Art Of The BORDER War

I am certain that the military treatise of Sun Tzu will soon appear on the Mayor's Book of the Moment Club for reading by all loyal sycophants and cheerleaders.

There is no doubt in my mind that this book is on his bedside even now and that he reads it every night. In fact, as seems to be typical with the books that the Mayor likes, he has probably read it several times already. How else to explain the military talk with respect to the advertising blitz that has taken place previously and will take place again. How else to explain the reference to the "enemies" and the new enemy, "the County."

I am certain that Sun Tzu said, and if he did not he should have, that a micromanager Generalissimo like our Mayor should control his troops and know what they are doing at every moment. If not, then one of the loyal soldiers who thought that what he/she was doing to win the war in fact could mean disaster right when the war starts.

Unfortunately, that is what happened last Monday night at Council. The worst part about it is that the Generalissimo allowed it to happen and sat in the Mayor's Chair as his position was being undercut and did nothing.

I see that after my BLOG was posted, the Star reposted online the Gignac vs. Duncan story and now it is in print. How could Eddie ever have allowed the Gignac outburst to happen? How could he allow Councillor Gignac to take a shot at Minister Duncan? He gave Sandra and Dwight the "out" that they needed NOT to be involved. He totally lost his bargaining position against them.

For one small seeming victory in an insignificant battle, Councillor Gignac may have cost Eddie Francis and the citizens of Windsor the war. Because of her effort, Council will send another letter to the Minister of Finance re the Kentucky Coffee Tree Grove and Hackberry Grove. The result of this is going to be the same as far as the Minister is concerned. But more importantly she raised a ruckus about something that few people would have known about or understood and now has made a major issue out of it.

Take a look at the letter that the Minister sent to the City's Deputy Clerk. The Minister dare not intervene, he says, for fear of breaching the Members' Integrity Act. This Act is a real concern as Sandra Pupatello found out a number of years ago in the case involving her helping a friend ship out a number of boxes overseas. A complaint was filed against her under this same statute.

To be direct, I believe that the same issue arises for Sandra and Dwight if they dare intervene on the City's behalf with respect to the border road. It may well be now that the Windsor Star Editors and Gord Henderson will have to back off lashing out at them because of the Statute. Legally, they may not be able to do a thing even though I'm sure that they would want to help out their fellow citizens!

On the one hand they are a powerful resource to help out their City as we saw with the huge grant with respect to the Engineering Complex and yet on the other hand, they may not be up to doing a thing for us in matters that are crucial because of Legislation. What a dilemma. If only Councillor Gignac had left well enough alone and Eddie had ruled her out of order when she raised the issue at Council.

I wonder if this is the reason why Sandra and Dwight refused to meet with Eddie before or after the MPPs/Mayors' meeting. They were afraid that they would violate the provisions of the Act so that what they might be perceived as doing was influence peddling.

Here are the relevant provisions of the Act:

  • Influence

    4. A member of the Assembly shall not use his or her office to seek to influence a decision made or to be made by another person so as to further the member's private interest or improperly to further another person's private interest.

    Activities on behalf of constituents

    5. This Act does not prohibit the activities in which members of the Assembly normally engage on behalf of constituents in accordance with Ontario parliamentary convention.

Remember, the Mayor is not only the Mayor of Windsor but he is also the Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission. When the Mayor is dealing with the border, which hat is he wearing? Are his interests at the time he is talking with the two Ministers public or private? He is putting them in an impossible position.

Is Eddie acting as a proponent in the DRIC matter even if he is acting as Mayor and is acting in what he perceives to be the public interest? The definition of "private interest" in the Act is a strange one:

  • "private interest" does not include an interest in a decision,

    (a) that is of general application"

Do Eddie's actions fall within this provision or don't they?

If Councillor Gignac had never raised this matter, then probably no one would have been the wiser. But she did raise it and everyone can now see Dwight's letter and what his position is. Where before, Eddie and the two Ministers might have been able to work out an understanding that would not breach the Statute, now the two Ministers and any other Minister in the Government must be very careful what they do when the Mayor approaches them.

After talking with Eddie, can Sandra and Dwight lobby on behalf of Windsor with the Minister of Transportation or is that crossing the line since it is his file and not theirs? Isn't that the reason why he came down to Windsor for the big meeting? I'm sure that you remember the Dwight/David Caplan Gong Show involving $500 million a few years ago. Caplan is the Infrastructure Minister. Now that Dwight is Minister of Finance, how can Minister Caplan go and speak to him about money for Windsor? Can any Minister talk to the Premier since ultimately he has to make the decision? Heck, can Sandra even talk to Dwight? Who can talk to whom. This is ridiculous.

What a mess this has now become. If only the Generalissimo had micromanaged this matter as he normally does. If only he had heeded the advice of Sun Tzu who said in respect of laying plans:

  • 1. The art of war is of vital importance to the State.

    2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected."

DUH, even at that time roads were important!

In Eddie's video on the Star website, there was the following exchange:

  • "Reporter: Is it just Council on Saturday or are you going to invite the MPPs?

    Francis: Right now it is Council but I am thinking, and I will, follow up with another letter. Last time we met with the Ministers of Provincial Parliament and the Members of Provincial Parliament, we did ask for a meeting prior to our meeting following that County meeting, for a meeting with Council and the response was no. So we will follow up again and to see whether or not they are available for a meeting this week and we will have the City Clerk send a letter out requesting their availability for a meeting for this Saturday and we will see what the response is.

Based on the Duncan letter and the Members' Integrity Act, Eddie should have saved taxpayer money on buying stamps. They cannot attend! As they told him:

  • "Local MPPs Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello sent a letter Thursday turning down an invitation to the Saturday meeting, citing the Members' Integrity Act, which they say prohibits them from commenting "on specifics of any proposal for a new border access road, including GreenLink, before a final recommendation is selected by (DRIC)."