Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


This is the second instalment of my Three Part Series on Windsor's future. It is where I believe that Windsor could be moving with the right leadership. Our problems are not as big as some would want us to think for their political agenda and are not as hard to solve as some would want us to believe.


Windsor was finally open for business and not only was new investment wanted, it was welcomed with open arms. And how welcome it was.

Windsor’s prime border location meant that not only was it a key spot for trucks and rail traffic to cross the border, but also it became the terminal of the H2O highway. The ports of Windsor and Detroit played a key role in the expansion of trade from overseas. The region became the distribution and logistical centre for the distribution of goods from around the world into the US Midwest and to and from Canada to the southern US ports and Mexico. A whole new industry was created since Windsor learned how to present itself as a transportation hub.

It was just like what happened in northern New Jersey. New Jersey for heaven’s sake, becoming an economic powerhouse! That was happening to the Windsor/Detroit Region now:
  • “the solid if dull warehouse sector [was the] driver of the area's commercial real estate… Its central location on the eastern seaboard along with its excellent highway, air, rail and seaport access make it a hub of choice."

    It was not too long before the region's median income shot higher, home prices increased and the area's shopping malls were busy again.”

We were building on the feeling of excitement in the air that occurred a year ago when the Chair of the Board of the University of Windsor, Dennis DesRosiers, cut the ribbon for the start of construction of the final phase of the University’s Engineering Complex. In addition, the bulldozers were there to start clearing the land for the University/Industry/Government auxilliary 300 acre Research and Development site on the airport lands in a complex designed for both the automotive and medical industries. Companies were virtually banging on the doors demanding space at the facility. It helps when your Chair is a recognized expert in the automotive business and can call in a few IOUs to help out his hometown.

The City, the University and the three levels of government had stopped feuding and were partnering with a number of the major worldwide industrial leaders in bringing new R&D jobs to the region. Retraining of employees who had been laid off in the automotive sector was part of the innovative approach taken by the new partners. It really was remarkable how easily people who were skilled in one area of an industry could adapt to meet the changing needs of another. Who would have thought that automotive tool and die makers, with a bit of assistance mind you, could create some of the most exciting medical devices around.

Enough of the past. It was a celebration of the present and the future of this City. All the dignitaries were there at the opening ceremony. US Senator Kwame Kilpatrick represented the President of the United States. He was very gracious and forgiving. He didn’t hold a grudge against Windsor for not completing the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel deal even though it did cause of a bit of embarrassment for his Budget since he had counted on the money from Windsor. Oh there were a few rude people who shouted out about text messages but they were ignored. As the saying goes, it was all water under the bridge.

Federal Transport Minister Dwight Duncan came down from Ottawa to his hometown to be there. His decision to leave Queen’s Park and his position there of Minister of Finance to support the Liberal Leader seemed to energize the Federal Liberal Party and give credibility to their Leader. Lo and behold, in next federal election the Liberals formed a minority Government. Dwight was offered any position that he wanted by the Prime Minister and he chose Transport so that he could be involved in concluding the border issue. Being part of one of the biggest capital projects in Canadian history that was vital to the economic future of Canada wouldn’t hurt either if he ever chose to run for Leadership of the Federal party. Saying the former Mayor was wrong had not hurt his career locally either. He was smart enough as a politician to understand that he was given on a silver platter an issue that would galvanize the Community in his favour.

His departure opened up the job for Premier in Ontario. He was the frontrunner to take over from the outgoing Premier but when he decided to go to Ottawa the race became wide open. It took five ballots but finally Premier Sandra Pupatello won out! She had a leg up you might say once Dwight decided that the greener pastures of Ottawa made more sense to him. After all, Dwight did learn how to speak French.

Sandra was at the ceremony too. There was no way that she was going to allow the border file to be concluded without her being front and centre either. It was a bit of payback for her as well given all the shots that she had taken from certain people in Windsor over the years who attacked her on her border position and her supposed do-nothing approach. What choice did she have when she was told that she had to “respect the DRIC process.”

She had more than made up for it with all of the money that she arranged to place in Windsor for some of the other projects that she saw around as her plane was circling YQG for a landing. Its status as a major feeder airport especially for private jets and cargo planes was a great positive for the area except when Air Traffic Control kept her plane in the air because of congestion on the ground.

It really was remarkable what happened. Fifty jobs compared with fifteen thousand made it a no-brainer. The brilliance though was to figure out a face-saving way for everybody to pretend to get everything that they wanted with no losers.

It was never clear exactly who came up with the idea but someone mentioned something about a BLOG about kangaroos and what happened in Australia to use as a precedent.