Killing Greenlink One Schwunnel At A Time
Nobody but nobody, even with the Windsor Star and Gord Henderson on his side should dare take on Spanky and his gang and think he can win in the end. That was made clear in the Budget papers where the MITI Minister was specifically mentioned by the Minister of Finance to put Gord in his place.
Dwight and Sandra, obviously with the concurrence of the Premier, have decided that they have had enough of Eddie Francis. The front page article of the Saturday Star made that abundantly clear. It was a direct challenge to the Mayor and he ran off like a dog with his tail between its legs when confronted.
Hopefully, this may be a life-changing lesson for Eddie who had better understand now that you don’t pick on someone who has a lot more power than you ever will and a lot more dollars. Being the big fish in a small pond doesn’t mean anything when you are swimming in the ocean.
Just to make the point, the expression
- "Tail between the legs" describes the body language of a dog that has been defeated in an encounter with a stronger dog - it runs or slinks off with its tail between its legs.”
There were several points that I wondered about when I saw the EH News and CBC News stories of the ribbon-cutting for the Walker Road road and rail grade separation that I found unusual. Is it reading too much into events or is this confirmation of the slap in the face to the Mayor? Snub the Province and get snubbed right back:
- It looked like Sandra and Dwight were in one vehicle while Eddie was placed in a vehicle with his good buddy, Jeff Watson driving off at the end. I guess Jeff drew the short straw.
- The three Senior Level representatives were standing together while Eddie was standing alone off to one side in the News shot as speeches were being given.
- I thought it was the normal protocol for the Federal representative to speak first at these types of events but on this occasion it looked like Eddie did so. If he did, then Eddie could not get the last word. Obviously, if Eddie dared say something negative, then the speakers following him, especially Dwight, would have humiliated him publicly.
I bet that the Dwight cannot wait to see if the Mayor will dare snub him again at the next pre-Budget meeting on November 10, right after the Walker Road ceremony. Such co-incidental timing too. I would also bet that the first time that the Mayor dares say something untoward when he appears, as he has to now, Dwight will say with a big smile on his face:
- “THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG.”
Obviously, the Province has tolerated the Francis insults and snubs long enough. No doubt the Feds are applauding. Jeff Watson certainly is.
It is abundantly clear now that the Mayor has been told that Greenlink and its Schwunnels are dead. Live with it or else. It is the “or else” that terrifies the Mayor. It means that the Senior Levels will walk out of this City leaving him the responsibility of explaining to the citizens of Windsor why this City is being destroyed by his failure to negotiate a deal on the border road.
His “quality of life” nonsense won’t cut it with people who are seeing their jobs disappear and their homes potentially being foreclosed when thousands of high-paying and spinoff jobs could have been made available for infrastructure work.
Eddie may not care since he said he was only a two-term Mayor but the Councillors will and they will walk away from him. It will be March, 2003 all over again for the next two years.
I am not making this comment up strictly because of one newspaper article. There have been a number of steps that have been taken over the last few weeks that culminated in what the Minister of Finance had to say.
The first indication came in a BLOG written by Chris Schnurr. Schnurr wrote to Minister Pupatello and asked:
- “I have one basic question, given the importance of the border file:
Is the Province of Ontario, notwithstanding any legislative action that the State of Michigan may or may not undertake as it pertains to the construction of a new border crossing, committed to proceeding with construction of the proposed Windsor-Essex Parkway?
The very strange response came back:
- “However, I did not receive an email response, but a phone call from MPP Pupatello’s office.
I have asked the MPP if she could send her response in email format to post on this blog. But her office stated that the Province of Ontario is “absolutely” committed to construction of the W.E. Parkway so long as there isn’t a lawsuit.”
That comment was directed right at the Mayor who has been threatening lawsuits for an eternity but of course has not done anything.
Sandra next made the point at the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario convention held in Windsor recently:
- “A call for immediate action on the new Windsor-Detroit crossing has been issued from the provincial trades and Windsor construction and community officials.
“Our goal is to have that project on time and get that shovel in the ground,” said Sandra Pupatello, Minister of International Trade and Investment for Ontario and MPP for Windsor West…
She stressed that in order for communities such as Windsor to grow or rebound from tough economic times, infrastructure renewal is a priority. Windsor’s infrastructure is in need of immediate upgrades and projects like a new border crossing and the new Windsor-Essex Parkway are examples of that need being addressed, said the Windsor West MPP.”
The expression “immediate upgrades” is a synonym for expansion of our Expressway at this time and not following the sequencing that the Mayor has made up as a bargaining chip.
However, when I read those remarks, my first reaction was that the Minister was disrespecting the DRIC process again by telling us what was going to happen before the Environmental Assessment was completed. Why would she do that and give David Estrin a successful lawsuit on a silver platter?
If you think that was bad, then Dwight who, along with the Federal Finance Minister, may have prejudiced the process as well in a joint letter to the Toronto Star, directly challenged the Mayor.
Try to explain to me this language used by the Finance Minister and tell me that the Environment Minister will not be under intense pressure to go along with what was said. Explain to me that there is no apprehension of bias that the entire process has been contaminated now:
- “Preparation for Windsor's border highway begins
Ontario's infrastructure ministry will come to Windsor over the next couple of weeks to start meeting with chamber officials, labour associations and contractors to launch job-hiring preparation for the massive border feeder highway planned for Windsor, the province's finance minister Dwight Duncan announced Friday.
"We want to talk with labour and business about the job opportunities all will have as we invest in the largest and most expensive piece of road in ever built in Canada," he said…
"We are beginning the process next week, involving local business and labour to take advantage of this investment," Duncan said. "We are anxious to get on with it…"
Duncan vowed Friday construction will begin sometime between next June and September.
"We are determined to get our work done and get on with things," he said. "We have an outstanding project and it's time to start."
So much for Greenlink when the Province has its “outstanding project.”
I have commented on the fact that the Mayor over the past few weeks has seemed so meek and mild. No threats of litigation, no threats of unleashing our ultimate weapon, David Estrin. Again, the A Star article demonstrates the diminished position of the Mayor, or rather his facing up to his reality:
- “Council has hinted at legal action to derail the DRIC effort if its own Greenlink border solution was not adopted. But Mayor Eddie Francis on Friday offered no indication such action was imminent.
City officials will continue to provide input at every opportunity to the DRIC team until all final decisions are made on the project, Francis said, but the mayor offered no threats beyond that as he has in the past.
"They know exactly where we stand," Francis said. "It's their process and it provides us the opportunity to give submissions. We will continue to follow that and use the rights afforded to our residents under the legislation. It is our view Greenlink is well-thought and supported…"
"This process still has a long way to go and will afford us a number of other opportunities to make submissions," Francis said.”
Yes sir, make submissions to an Environmental Minister who won’t dare stop a process to which months of effort will have been made so that the DRIC Road can start as soon as possible. Now that is protecting the Citizens of the City of Windsor!
The Mayor very well knows that he absolutely has no bargaining position. Even threats of litigation are laughable given this City’s dire financial straits since we are now totally dependent upon Senior Level largesse. Our Mayor has failed to do anything for economic diversification for this City.
As I have said before, the Federal Government has complete power over the border road constitutionally if they wish to exercise it given the concessions made by Eddie when he was in Ottawa in front of the Senate. If Eddie becomes too obnoxious over the border road, Eddie knows that the Province can just upload the Expressway and Huron Church. It is a simple step to do so.
Dwight wants to start the process now:
- " Ontario's infrastructure ministry will come to Windsor over the next couple of weeks to start meeting with chamber officials, labour associations and contractors to launch job-hiring preparation."
That was the direct challenge to Francis. Do something now or forever hold your peace. Do you really believe that once the snowball starts rolling and the momentum increases that Eddie can stop it months from now with his "submissions" to the Minister of the Environment. Does he really believe that Council will go along with a lawsuit that will stop the creation of thousands of jobs? Please!
Instead we get more mouthing off by the Mayor who demands that the Senior Levels work with him and not the other way around. I am not sure why he thinks anyone has any interest any longer in what he has to say:
Now you should understand why there was a need for the mayors’ meeting and why Eddie appeared to hold out an olive branch to his colleagues. He needs a way to back off of his Greenlink proposal without losing face. He will graciously give in to the County for something in return, anything.
Of course, Eddie may believe that the Bridge Company will start a lawsuit over the EA process so that they will take the blame if there is any negative reaction from the Public. Of course, that would allow him to piggyback on it. But why should they do anything? They want a road built to their Bridge. Everyone knows that the DRIC bridge cannot be built given the lack of traffic and the lack of money. If in fact the road is going to be built to the border, then there is only one place it can go…right to their Enhancement Project.
Just in case Eddie believes that Dwight is bluffing and that, if he does actually sue, he can win a third term as Mayor by positioning himself as Windsor’s Saviour, then he is deluding himself. First, we are going to hear ad nauseum about the “12,000 full-time project-related jobs” for building the road and also about Jeff Watson’s 25,000 jobs.
More importantly, Eddie should know that Dwight had his troops exercising in preparation for the next Mayoral and Council election campaigns. Nothing better than getting experience and some battle scars in something that is inconsequential like the Federal Election running against Joe Comartin.
- “Liberals say they still have plenty of feet on the street when it comes to the nuts and bolts of door-to-door campaigning, thanks in large part to provincial foot soldiers from the successful campaigns of MPPs Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello.”
As the Star reported:
- “Liberal Steve Mastroianni [is running] in Windsor-Tecumseh, which is Duncan's provincial riding…
Al Maghnieh, campaign manager for Liberal Steve Mastroianni in Windsor-Tecumseh, which is Duncan's provincial riding. He pointed out that Duncan has canvassed for Mastroianni and helped with campaign strategy and organizing.”
Woof, woof, woof!