Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Quickies

Oh don't be silly this has nothing to do with hotel rooms in Washington, DC. Here are some more quick stories for you to consider


I was not far off the mark in discussing recently that in Ottawa it is scandal not policy that will make or break a Government. Here are some excerpts from the Conservative House leader in the Commons recently dealing with a Question of Privilege that seemed to me to be right on point.
  • "In Hansard the other day, Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): A very unfortunate trend has been coming from the official opposition in the House. It is an official opposition whose members have resorted to an ongoing program of character assassination. I recognize that they consider that to be part of the political game and they can do it in the House with the protection and the privileges of the House, but they must take seriously the responsibilities of every Canadian citizen outside the House...

    That is why laws against libel and slander exist. They are as old as our traditions in this western Parliament. They are laws that come out of our common law tradition to protect the people. While it may not be consistent with the Liberals' strategy, when they have no policies to talk about and no facts on which to base their accusations, they still engage in repeated false accusations that harm the individual reputations of people, harm their families and their loved ones and ruin people's lives. This is what that man is seeking the right to be able to do without consequences."


What is wrong with Michael Wilson, Canada's Ambassador to the United States?

The Toronto Star interestingly called him the "by-the-book diplomat." Was that book Transport Canada Deputy Minister Louis Ranger's Ultra Secret playbook? It made it absolutely clear what he was not supposed to do but it seems that the Ambassador did not listen:

  • "In the eternal Washington competition for access and influence, the Canadian ambassador may need to seek publicity for his or her cause. Clearly, this kind of diplomacy must be practiced with considerable finesse or else risk being accused of interfering in US domestic affairs."

In the Obama affair we learned that there was involvement by the Canadian Embassy in Washington:

  • "Canadian Embassy in Washington suggested that the consulate had sought out Professor Goolsbee specifically because of his ties to Mr. Obama’s campaign.

    “The Canadian Embassy and our consulates general,” the statement said, “regularly contact those involved in all of the presidential campaigns and, periodically, report on these contacts to interested officials."

Now that part was alright and was part of playbook. However now we are learning more about the role that may have been played by the Ambassador himself. How he could make such a mistake boggles my mind because he is a sophisticated player in the political game. Can you imagine what would happen if the US Ambassador to Canada interfered in a Canadian election:

  • "Michael Wilson should step down as Canada's ambassador to Washington while the leaks that damaged Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign are investigated, opposition parties said yesterday, as scrutiny moved from one of Stephen Harper's top aides to one of his high-profile political appointees.

    Mr. Wilson has now publicly acknowledged that he spoke to the CTV reporter who first reported the leaks before the story aired, but refused to discuss what was said.

    The Liberals say it now appears that Mr. Wilson, who was finance minister under former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, took part in political leaks that damaged a Democratic presidential contender.

    Mr. Wilson is perhaps Mr. Harper's most high-profile Tory political appointee.

    In the Commons, NDP justice critic Joe Comartin called for the RCMP to be asked to investigate Mr. Wilson and others."

I want you to know that this is the same Joe Comartin who is the MP from Windsor. I am sure that Joe is well aware of the many roles that the Ambassador has played in the border file. It is obvious to me that he wants the Ambassador changed before the Americans wake up and figure out what Canada is doing with respect to the border at Windsor/Detroit.

Blame the brouhaha on Michael, force him to resign or be fired and then move on has to be the hope of those who want to see a public bridge in Windsor and their strategy.

At least the Bureaucrats in Transport Canada will be happy to see Michael go as well. After all, they want to maintain their control over the border file.


If by chance at the next Council meeting you see me on Cogeco shaking hands with a number of the Councillors, then don't think that I have made up with them and am going to let them off the hook from criticism about the job they are doing.

Au contraire mes amis. I'm actually doing investigative research. Windsor may also have its Crackberry scandal. What I am doing is trying to see which Councillor has the strongest thumb.

A recent report was quoted in the following manner:

  • "Canadians are so addicted to wireless devices that they actually feel anxiety and stress when disconnected from them, according to a new study.

    The report, dubbed "Disconnect Anxiety: And Four Reasons Why It's So Difficult to Stay Off the Grid," was conducted by the Toronto-based Solutions Research Group.

    The group interviewed more than 3,000 Canadians last year for the study, and turned up some startling findings about our dependence -- or addiction -- to everything from laptops to cellphones, iTouch's and Blackberries (or 'CrackBerries', as they're known to the more seriously afflicted.)"

One of my readers sent me a note claiming that one of the Councillors has a Crackberry "habit which is running at an average of $2000.00/mnth."

This seems impossible, unbelievable. I have no idea whether that is true or not but I thought first that I would see whether a Councillors has a very strong thumb from sending out all those text messages or perhaps a cauliflower ear from listening to the phone so much. I cannot conceive of spending that kind of money on a Blackberry, especially taxpayer money.

I will let you know what I find out. There are other ways of getting this information if I am unsuccessful with my preliminary investigation.

If true, then we can join the ranks of other American big cities like Detroit and Albany/New York City with messaging scandals. Hmmmm I wonder how many Library books $2000 a month would buy?


Both Eddie and Detroiters have to be a lot more anxious about whether the US $75 million Tunnel deal will ever get finalized. It is a key factor in helping to balance the Detroit Budget. As the Detroit News pointed out:

  • "Aides to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick say they are on track to end this fiscal year in June with a balanced budget, as long as a few variables happen as predicted -- mainly a $68 million deal to lease to Windsor the city's side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. They say the city's $1.48 billion budget has been pared and they're just trying to chip away at the deficit that has rolled over for several years."

As I have said before, and I hope this does not jinx the deal, who in their right mind would have anything to do with the Tunnel? I expect that it should have a bump upward in traffic because of the Ambassador Gateway project in the US (Did you see the Tunnel's so-called clever billboard on Huron Church Road about sleeping in late?) but if a DRIC bridge is built, a huge chunk of the Tunnel business would be taken away. I just don't see a private investor putting money into a project whose numbers are dropping drastically.

Then who does that leave... the Canadian Federal Government. It should be obvious that the Feds can't take over the Tunnel directly or else the Americans would go ballistic, especially because the Tunnel is a unique security risk. In addition, Bill C-3 would apply to any other new party involved and my understanding is that the regulations will not be finished for quite some time.

Wouldn't it be convenient therefore if Eddie tookover the whole Tunnel for the next 75 years or so and the Feds financed him and subsequently took over his position. While the Feds would not be the actual owners of the Tunnel, effectively they would be in control for a very long period of time.

The beauty of this approach as I see it from the Feds' perspective is that this deal never gets done for $75 million but for substantially less since both of the Mayors are desperate to do a deal. And the Feds know it. No need to do anything yet but just wait and see.

I just hope that Michael Wilson's alleged indiscretion does not mess this plan up for everybody. Hmmmm I wonder if this is the model for what the Feds are trying to do at the Ambassador Bridge as well.


Red Bull that is. I'm sure that you saw the announcement:

  • "Air race to roar over Detroit River

    Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News
    DETROIT -- Motown could get more bragging rights as Sports Town USA this spring, when the world's top acrobatic airplane pilots bring their death-defying series of slaloms, stunts and slides at speeds exceeding 250 mph to skies over the Detroit River.

    The Red Bull Air Race World Series, an international race that features planes zigzagging through 65-foot-high inflatable gates, is coming to Detroit on May 31 and June 1. It's one of two North American cities selected for this year's series of races from April to November in 11 nations including Sweden, Australia, Hungary and United Arab Emirates."

I wonder if Eddie has the nerve to become a sponsor of this Detroit event as well and to announce it at his State of the City speech... you know the rhetoric as well as I do: international event, puts Windsor on the map, big moneymaker for downtown from tourists, regional cooperation with Detroit etc. etc. etc.

Is Roger involved?


Do you remember the fight that Windsor caterers had with St. Clair College potentially taking away their business and competing unfairly with them as a result of them running a catering operation out of the former Cleary.

  • "The downtown St. Clair College campus was billed as a godsend for the core area, but leaders in the city's food services sector fear it's turning into the 800-pound gorilla of the catering industry that could drive some of them out of business.

    Leo De Luca, owner of Koolini Italian Eatery, one of Windsor's largest and most successful catering businesses, is furious over aggressive moves by the St. Clair Centre for the Arts catering operation to lure away his loyal customers.

    "I'm not a whiner, but when you have to compete against a public institution funded by the government that's giving away food to entice businesses, that's just not right," fumed De Luca. He alleges the low-key catering operation run by the former Cleary has morphed into a "ruthless" rival that's throwing its weight around."

I have no idea what ever happened with this matter and whether it got resolved or not. However here is an interesting story out of Detroit's Metro Times that reminded me of that issue:

  • "With revenue projections quadrupling those in previous years and updated equipment improving the quality of its work, the Wayne County Copy Center seemed poised for a glossy 2008.

    The glass-fronted center is located in newly renovated space in the basement of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center conveniently near the elevators. It's been marketing itself with colorful brochures advertising its design, printing and binding work for county offices as well as walk-in business for the same services and general copying...

    But the center, which by county charter is operated by the Wayne County Clerk's Office to do the county print work, has some local printing business owners angry about the competition and others wondering if a government entity, funded by taxpayers, should be taking work away from the private sector...

    "If you brought this out to the nth degree, we'd all be working for the government because they'd own everything. They'd make cars; they'd make steel," he says. "It just isn't right. You cannot use the citizens to create a business that puts the citizens out of work."

I wonder if this last statement applies to border operations as well and the Bridge in particular.