Will The Bridge Company Buy The DRIC Bridge
Seriously, have you heard a peep out of any of them since the election with respect to the economic catastrophe that this country is in. $75 billion paid over to the banks already and no one says anything. The Government claims that they are so tightly regulating our banks that we ought not to worry about anything. I would hate to think how much money they would have to put in if they were not regulating!
Perhaps I should run for the leadership of the Liberal party. I would have been out there by now accusing the Government of cover-up before the election and not telling the public the truth with respect to the financial position of our banking system. It is inconceivable to me that this has happened just in the time- frame after the election.
Not only that, the world must be turning itself upside down if Ontario is now a have-not province and the federal government may be running a deficit as well.
However, the reality has to be that our Government is in dire financial straits. There is no other explanation for it. Just take a look at this story and shake your head in despair
- Canada mulls selling CN Tower to balance books
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada could slap a For Sale sign on Toronto's needle-like CN Tower and other national assets as a way to ease pressure on the federal budget in the midst of the financial crisis, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday.
Flaherty mentioned the landmark, until recently billed as the world's tallest free-standing structure, as one property that could be auctioned off so that Ottawa can remain in the black.
When asked by reporters if the building was on the block, he quipped: "Do you want to buy it?"
He declined to name a price.
Asset sales are one way of cutting a deficit or helping to generate a small surplus, he said.
"If that review shows that there are some assets that should be sold, then we'll go ahead."
My sources tell me that the Ambassador Bridge Company is aware of the dire financial position of the Government of Canada. A team of Bridge Company financial analysts and outside experts have been working around the clock trying to put together a package to try to assist the Government.
When initially approached to consider this matter, the Owner of the Bridge Company looked at his calendar to see whether this was an April 1 joke. It was inconceivable to him that a Government who wanted to partner with the have-not Government of Ontario to spend $5 billion on a DRIC road, Plaza and Bridge to try to force him out of business would at the same time be trying to dispose of assets because they were going to run a deficit!
He had difficulty understanding that logic. It seemed circular to him. But then again, he was a business person and not a politician. The politicans and bureaucrats live in their own cocooned world with their own logic that cannot be understood by mere taxpayers.
Initially, some of the younger analysts who did not understand the border business suggested that an offer be made to construct the DRIC bridge and take over the entire project from the Government. Thus the Bridge Company would run their private operation and the DRIC operation as well perhaps as part of a P3 with them being the operator.
Of course, they did not appreciate that duplicating the bridge and plaza a mile down the road was absolutely stupid financially and practically suicidal to the bottom line. It could never be paid for or financed.
As an example that people not familiar with the border would overlook when calculating costs, on the operations side alone, a full team of Customs officers and support staff would be needed at each of the bridges thereby doubling the costs at a time when traffic was declining with little hope of a major improvement and when the Government wants to control costs. The Governments would never go for this duplication resulting in tieups at each of the bridges because they were not staffed adequately. Even now, booths are not staffed properly all the time resulting in problems for border crossers.
There was consternation on the part of most of the people involved in the project because, given the 80 year partnership of the Bridge and the Governments, the Bridge Company people wanted to help out. At a brainstorming session, the President of the Company demonstrated why he was put in that position. Dan Stamper had an "AHA" moment.
In passing, that is a medical term whereby "solving a problem that requires creative insight prompts distinct changes in brain activity."
Stamper's solution was mind-boggling. He suggested that the Bridge Company offer to build their Enhancement Project and that the Governments agree to build the City's WALTS road to the Bridge. And then table DRIC!
Initially, there was opposition to the idea. The people there thought that the Governments could never do as was suggested for the following reasons:
- P3 investors and managers would not be able to rip off the Government and taxpayers and make excessive profits
- taxpayer subsidies would not have to be paid to support the DRIC bridge or the other crossings to prevent their bankruptcies
- no homes and businesses would be displaced in Delray or in Sandwich since the Bridge Company already had all of the land they needed
- the project would be finished in a very short period especially since the likelihood of any legal action would be greatly diminished
- tolls would not have to go sky high over the bridge to cover the costs nor any levies or fees charged to use the border road if it was built properly
- Michigan did not seem to want to the billions of dollars of federal matching grants and seemed to be insistent upon spending $1 billion to build the bridge and Plaza on their side of the river.
My information is that there was a very nasty fight within the Bridge Company over whether the Enhancement Project and the City Road route be offered as a solution so that the Government of Canada would not have to dispose of more assets in order to pay for the DRIC project. Eventually, everyone agreed that it was the only solution that made sense.
Sources claim that Stamper has arranged a three party meeting with himself and the Ministers of Finance for Ontario and Canada in Ottawa shortly. Their meeting will take place in the new, trendy meeting place for Finance Ministers: the Federal Minister of Finance's limousine as he drives the other two from the airport in Ottawa to the downtown. If this kind of the meeting is good enough for our Mayor, then it is good enough for Dan.
Apparently, if the meeting is not going well, Stamper has a contingency plan. He may ask the Ministers to extend the car ride and discuss his offer further but that he cannot stay in the car with them. Apparently, Stamper will suggest that the two Ministers should cross the Ottawa River and
- "Go to Hull."