Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, January 18, 2008

Engineering Complex And The Challenges Of Change Report

My insiders say that the the University of Windsor Board will be voting on a location for the Engineering Complex early next week.

Count on it going downtown! As the Star reported several months ago:

"The university has been under intense pressure from the city and the downtown business community to establish a downtown campus."

But with Board Chair, Dave Cooke, a big fan of downtown, where else would it go:
  • "Dave Cooke when he and finance czar Floyd Laughren overuled top civil servants and insisted that the interim casino would be built downtown, not out at the racetrack where the bureaucracy was demanding it go. "
How about this:
  • "Former provincial cabinet minister Dave Cooke, a ferocious advocate of a downtown arena on the so-called Western Super Anchor site...

    Cooke believes the proposed downtown urban village is a pipe dream, given the decline in the housing market, but remains a believer in an arena/multiuse facility that would produce spin-off benefits."

Add in a bit of "politicing" behind the scenes, mix in the needs of a President who wants a "legacy" other then being President for years of the bottom-ranked University in Ontario and top it off with the fact that many of the Board members are also University staff who have to get along with University Management. You see what I mean. It is a no-brainer.

In passing, I wonder if any Board members who have dealings with the City directly will recuse themselves from the vote since the City is involved. Would there be a conflict?

However, before the vote is taken, Board members may want to take a look at this Report. I will wager that very few of them have any idea what this Report is all about. It only came out I believe in January, about 5 months after the Economic Summit Conference ended. That is a short time period for a Commission that took so long to discover it had no brochures to hand out to investors!

They should look at it given the role of one of their faculty members.

  • "The Windsor Essex Development Commission, with major financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, hosted a first ever summit of community stakeholders interested and involved in the economic development of the Windsor Essex region on August 24, 2007."
I must admit that I do not remember seeing very much about the outcome of this meeting and I just happened to find by chance a copy of this report. Presumably, it must make a lot of sense and the people who were invited to speak must be experts in their fields.

I am bringing it to your attention only because of one section of the report, a section dealing with Dr. Mark Meldrum, professor of entrepreneurship with the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor. He talked about the partnership between the auto company Saab, the local university and local government. Clearly, that was designed as a model for Windsor and it is something I believe that makes a lot of sense. The professor is working on plans for an incubator which will provide start-ups with both administrative support and leased quarters.

Take a look at what was written in the report about what he said:
  • "Dr. Mark Meldrum, from the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor, presented “The Saab Story” (see Appendix 2) which described a community in Sweden facing a dismal economic future that had its fortunes reversed by a business incubator in Linkoping, Sweden that was created as a joint venture by the Swedish company Saab, the local university and local government. The “triple helix” effect of academia, business and government working together was the key to the success of this model. More than 100 spin-off companies have been created from university-based research and Linkoping has created a 70 hectare technology park which currently houses more than 400 technology intensive companies. Dr. Meldrum challenged the Windsor Essex region to develop new models of cooperation. He also used the analogy of making a movie to explain how everyone involved with an initiative must be on the same page, essentially “making the same movie.”
Do you know what the most important point is? Come on, in the Mayor's terms "Spit it out!" It is the fact that a 70 hectare technology park was created.

Remember the BLOG I did on the technology zone in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. It was stated:
  • "The Research Triangle Park, now 7,000 acres, was formed in 1959 on scrub farmland located midway between three major universities -- Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State."

The Southern US is not slow either in regard to automotive research:

  • "BMW, the state of South Carolina and Clemson University formed a partnership to establish a premiere automotive/motorsport research center in Greenville. The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research is located on a 250-acre campus along I-85"
BMW partnered with a big research centre. Toyota gave our University a car!

Why is this South Carolina centre a significant concern:

  • "There are more automotive manufacturing companies within 500-mile radius of Greenville, South Carolina than around Detroit."

How about Milwaukee and their joining together of business and University:

  • "The Milwaukee County Research Park Corporation (MCRPC) is a non-profit organization created to manage the development of a university-related research park on 175 acres of Milwaukee County owned land in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. The Research Park will nurture technology-based companies, strengthen Milwaukee County's business base, create new employment opportunities, and facilitate technology commercialization. This objective will be accomplished by bringing together the substantial academic, intellectual, business and entrepreneurial resources of the metropolitan Milwaukee area in a physical environment conducive to such activities."
Pfizer Global Research & Development in the health sector has four major locations across the United States and England. Facilities in which they are located range up to 390 acres in size.

What do all of those projects have in common... space. Acres and acres and acres of land to allow expansion. None of them are located in a downtown that would limit the amount of space that is available. What are we going to do, build skyscrapers for research facilities? I hardly think so.

But in Windsor, we talk about a downtown Complex that will be hemmed in if it ever tried to expand. Does that make sense? It doesn't to me. Then why are we talking about it? It should be obvious. It's the politics of expediency. It's all designed to make us forget that there is no downtown arena and there is no urban village.

Neither the University nor the Provincial Government should give in to pressure from City Hall. To do so would be a disservice to students, industry, the University, Government and the citizens of the City of Windsor.

However, next week, there will be some joy probably at City Hall when the vote is announced. It will be trumpeted as a major accomplishment for the Mayor. He will be pleased. And so will the property owners located near where the Complex will be constructed as their property values shoot up dramatically! Such good fortune.

When The Going Gets Tough...

...Eddie goes Lederhosening.

Where's the Mayor?

That's the big question that a number of people are asking today. Why has our Mayor chosen this week to fly off to Germany when there are so many important events that are taking place in Windsor? Couldn't his trip have been delayed a week or two? Was it really that vital that he go this week?

Who knows what the real story is but it is pretty clear that negotiations have been going on for some time with respect to the Ford plant. It is also pretty clear that there is a problem getting $30 million from the Federal Government. What did our Mayor do... did he partner with the Province and call up the Feds and demand action? Did he offer to go to Ottawa to meet with the Minister of Finance? Did he call up Jeff Watson and demand that he do something for the region? Did he get involved with the CAW rally in front of Watson's office? Nope... he was off in Germany.

I wonder if the Mayor knew that the Ford jobs were dead but didn't want to tell anyone in case he got blamed. His position will probably be that he had this feeling that the Feds might turn down the project so he went to Germany to try to find new jobs. I told you that he had a psychic as a consultant.

Mind you to be fair, Eddie did do something. Before he left he "sent a letter to federal Minister of Industry Jim Prentice." I'll bet it was a good one too.

Then there was the pre-budget meeting yesterday in Windsor with the Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan in town. The purpose of the meeting was
  • "Provincial money for local interests will be the topic of discussion when Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan meets with a wide range of public and private sector groups for a pre-budget consultation in Windsor this afternoon."
The City Treasurer stated:
  • "Colucci said the city wanted to make sure the concerns of municipalities were "front and center" to Duncan.

    "Municipalities face a lot of challenges these days. Especially municipalities in an economically challenged area, such as Windsor," Colucci said.

The Mayor knows all about these challenges and is such a great orator. I would have thought we had an interest to get some money in Windsor for the road to the border, to help our manufacturing industry, to help our tourist industry and so on.

Who should have been our spokesperson advocating that money needed to be poured into this City since we have one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada: the Mayor. Did Eddie deliver a speech designed to get money for the hardest-hit part of the Province. Nope... he was off in Germany.

Did you see Dwight on A-Channel news? Boy was he steamed at our Mayor. He let him have it right between the eyes on Manning Road and Lauzon saying that if he wanted anything done at the airport, he better fix up the road system. It seemed to me as well that he was blaming Eddie for the delays in getting anything done on the border. It was almost as tough a shot at someone in Windsor as his personal attack on WeACT's founder, Chris Schnurr.

I wonder if Dwight was angry because he hoped to be able to give Windsor some money if only the Mayor had made an impassioned plea for it. Now he probably can't do it and will take a beating from the electorate and the media as if it was his fault. If only Eddie had shown up and made the case for us. I guess Cabinet's position may well be that if Eddie didn't show up, perhaps things are not so bad here after all.

Seriously, how can Councillor Valentinis still wonder why this City is being taken for granted by the Senior Levels? How much longer will the Councillor sit by while the City is destroyed?How much more can this City take before the Councillor will act? It really all rests on his shoulders.

My information is that Councillors found out about this so-called massive German investment opportunity in camera on Monday. Apparently they were sworn to secrecy as well as could be expected. I can imagine their surprise when they saw the story plastered over the front page of the Windsor Star and on CKLW.

I don't understand that part of it at all. Why would the Mayor reveals something when he told his colleagues to keep it confidential? I know he likes the limelight but still.

I know several people who are involved in business development and here's what they wrote to me:
  • 1) Any idea if this German food distributor investment the Mayor is blabbing about to all the media is a done deal yet? If not, he has breached what most politicians do when potential investors show interest in a location... the politicians just can't keep their mouths shut!

  • 2) I was hoping you'd take a stab at this.

    Why would Fast Eddie go? The Commission was probably too busy trying to figure out the layout and wording of their up and coming brochures.

    The Development Commission Mission Statement as per website:
    "- to attract new business, capital investment and other assessment and employment creating enterprises"

    Ya! Maybe they were doing that.

  • 3) The net developable area [at the airport] is unknown at this time since a significant amount of the land area is expected to be retained in a natural environment designation/zoning.

    Furthermore, there are huge constraints to development since servicing is minimal or non existent and the lands at the airport will require amendments to the City's Official Plan and Zoning By-law. The servicing costs will be in the multiples of millions of dollars and the planning changes are excruciatingly slow, especially if any objections/appeals necessitate OMB resolution. Also, there are airport zoning regulations that restrict height and use of exterior building materials and equipment to avoid any interference with air navigation systems and aircraft safety...

    Economic development is a percentage business. Many hurdles to go and many ifs to overcome to get to the promised land!

Here is the strangest part though. The City and the County pay over $1 million a year to set up an Economic Development Commission. I don't understand the need for this Commission now at all. The City should ask the County for the money instead since it looks like the Mayor has taken over their function.

Can't the Mayor delegate? Doesn't he trust the Gazelle Feeders to do their job? If he does not then why doesn't he recommend that they be fired now? Aren't they supposed to be the experts in this area, not him? Why does Eddie have to micromanage everything!

You know what I think... the Mayor knew that the situation with Ford was going to be rough. He knew that Dwight was coming to town and didn't want to be in a position where he would have to confront Dwight about Greenlink because he knew he would lose on that. He knew that he couldn't bully Harper or Duncan or the Premier.

What did he do instead? He left town with the excuse of flying to Germany to find his 50 jobs. What was important was that Eddie save his political neck. That was the Mayor's #1 priority.

Ach du Lieber Himmel, is this what leadership means in Windsor?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who Is Really Running For Mayor

I am sure that he thought he was being oh so clever. Mocking us and Councillors as he was gearing up for his election run in 2010. Putting the pieces of his election team together in about as a stealth a fashion as can be imagined. Slowly building up files and columns and new stories that he can point to when he submits his name to be a candidate for Mayor.

He had learned well from Windsor's master politician, the Teflon Mayor, the man who is never wrong, who can never be blamed and who can never be pinned down. The man who is always positive and has a Plan and a dream to lull the masses while he lets others do the dirty work.

But he suffers from the Mayor's weakness. He has to give away little hints so that he can point to them and say with wonderment on his face... why are you so surprised, I told you so.

He thought no one would notice. He thought that even if someone did they would not understand the consequences of what he said.

Naturally, as an insider, he underestimated Bloggers who learned to read tea leaves and animal entrails in Windsor to try and understand what is going on.

Of course he has a way of words that few in the City can match. His words can mean anything he wants them to mean but we know what he really means don't we, dear reader. You have been reading this BLOG long enough to uncover and understand the hidden messages.

Have you figured out who it is yet? If not, read on.

There was a tantalizing hint at the end of the Page 3 column on Saturday. Speaking about the Marra vs. Brister upcoming battle, the remark was made:
  • "Yeah. This could be fun. A classic showdown to kick off the next decade. I almost wish I could be around to enjoy it."

Did you notice the word "almost." There was nothing final in what he said. He learned from Brister's faux pas about "never" running for Mayor.

Councillor Halberstadt in his Letter to the Editor in the Star also allowed us some insight when he said:
  • "I got a kick out of Gord's front-page story suggesting Mayor Eddie Francis will run for re-election in 2010, pitting him against grandstanding pretenders itching to ascend to his throne, including me.

    As a longtime media guy, I totally understand Gord's cravings to stir political pots with an election almost three arid years away. Gord is free to speculate to his heart's desire"

Cravings, stir pots, three arid years....Put it all together. The secret is out now. You read it here first!

Yes, dear reader, Gord Henderson has just announced that he is running for Mayor of the City of Windsor in 2010! That's why he won't be around to watch the Marra/Brister fight. He will be a main participant in that battle for election. He saw what Percy could do to make a few extra bucks on top of his CBC pension. Being a celebrity helps doesn't it. And who is bigger than Gord!

He is not retiring as the Saturday column may have suggested. From being a columnist on the Star perhaps, but he is starting his new career: politician par excellence.

Do you like the way that Councillor Halberstadt combined the two Henderson stories in his letter with respect to Eddie running for Mayor for a third term and the dysfunction in Council. The canoeing buddy of Henderson set it up perfectly. Just like the hint that Henderson also gave us that the relationship between Halberstadt and Francis is strained only a few weeks ago. Henderson and Halberstadt are rock solid together as they play their banjos with their hope of Deliverance for us all from seven years of Francis rule.

Halberstadt is politically savvy enough to know that he cannot be Mayor since it takes a pile of money and organization. He has also made too many enemies on Council for obvious reasons so he would face major opposition. It appears he does not want the job anyway. He serves us well by being Leader of the Opposition no matter who the Mayor is. He always asks the tough questions. If he cannot have the job, then why not his buddy whom he trusts?

The two recent stories by Henderson accomplished exactly what the man who knows everything about everything and everyone in Windsor wanted to accomplish. It was brilliant political manoeuvering and strategizing that Eddie's Eminence Greasie could only admire.

First, Henderson made sure that Eddie could not possibly run again for Mayor when he wrote the 3rd Term story. The public's outcry and hostility eliminated a major competitor.

Next he continued to set up the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget as the one to blame on the arena file to a eliminate him as a competitor.

Of course, thirdly, he was in there with a dig against Councillor Marra as the Mayor in Waiting to put another nail in that coffin.

Fourthly, and this is the genius part, he has Councillors fighting against Councillors, the insiders against the outsiders. They will be too distracted looking over each other to worry about him sneaking up and becoming the lead candidate. Keep describing Council as dysfunctional and needing leadership that none of them can provide for the next year or two and he is a shoo-in.

If you want proof of this, how can anyone describe Councillor Dilkens as an outsider. He has done nothing negative by asking for openness and transparency or looking at the truck problem on Dougall Avenue. He is acting in the best interests of his constituents. That's the problem though... he might become too popular. We cannot have that happening can we... Dilkens needs to be cut down to size by describing him as a co-conspirator. Why else would Henderson mention Councillors Jones and Postma as supporting Eddie for a third term. That eliminates them too.

It is even more sinister than this I am afraid. Do you really think that the Sheriff and the media Renegades are doing this on their own?

Don't be so silly. Clearly, they must be following orders.

Remember what I wrote a long time ago that the "Media is the Government" in Windsor. Well the Media needs to reassert their position in Windsor since certain politicians think that they are above them. They need to put one of their own into power to clean up what has been going on during the last few years. No wonder that the Media needed to support the concept of openness and transparency. They needed to know what is going on didn't they behind closed doors. They had concerns.

Oh it is a diabolical plot. Do you really believe that the writers dare defy their Editors at the Star? Do you really think that anyone would dare speak against the CKLW News Director's point of view at the station?

Strap a "W" on your brain folks! Everyone is now trying to squeeze into the phone booth aren't they! The media is finally supporting the Bloggers' opinions so you think. The transformation seems to be happening overnight doesn't it and in a coordinated fashion, too coordinated in my opinion. That is what gave it all away. It was all too sudden and too surprising. There was too much media unity.

You have now been warned about what is happening in Windsor. Laugh all you want. Call this ridiculous. But have I ever been wrong yet!

Hey Gord, when you become Mayor, could I have a position on the Enwin Board. I hear it pays pretty well.

PS. I am just kidding. This BLOG is just meant to be a joke, satire, to give you a chuckle during your afternoon coffee break. It's not happening is it. I mean really, it is not..............???

Immediate WUC Judicial Inquiry Required

Better late than never?

I assume that this must be our attitude with respect to Council and the ongoing Windsor Utilities Commission fiasco. If it had all been done properly in the first place with a forensic audit by an independent third party, I would not have had to write this BLOG. The matter would have been properly investigated and Windsorites' questions answered.

Instead, we had the Council manoeuvering to prevent citizens from appearing as Delegations, the steps taken to prevent the Provincial Auditor General from acting, the Mayor's Whiteboard presentation, and the limited section 9 Ministry whitewash audit.

And now we have more questions raised that lead to a need for a Judicial Inquiry, not another whitewash audit, the results of which we are still waiting. Council has no excuse for not acting properly this time around. Or does the Ministry have to be pressured again to undertake a section 10 audit?

Let me set out first what the Municipality can do under the Municipal Act:
  • 274. (1) If a municipality so requests by resolution, a judge of the Superior Court of Justice shall,

    (b) inquire into any matter connected with the good government of the municipality; or

    (c) inquire into the conduct of any part of the public business of the municipality, including business conducted by a commission appointed by the council or elected by the electors. 2001, c. 25, s. 274 (1).

Accordingly a simple Council Resolution brings in a judge who can look at the relationship amongst Enwin, WUC and City Council and can look at the affairs and the business conducted by WUC. We can finally get the truth.

Notwithstanding the big fight at Council between the Ward 3 Councillors, there is a very close relationship between Enwin and the WUC. It was conclusively proven when the Enwin spokesperson wrote the Letter to the Editor of the Star on behalf of WUC. I'm not going to go into a big explanation stating the obvious. Enwin and WUC belong to Taxpayers.

We need to understand what monies have gone into and out of those entities and where those monies have gone. We need to understand the decision-making taking place at both of those organizations and how they impact taxpayers. We need to understand who is making the decisions and why.

There's a lot of money at stake. We are looking at over $800 million in watermain replacements. Huge water levy and sewer levy increases have an immediate impact on families in the City and there are negative for new businesses to move here. They also supply significant amount of cash for someone to use as well with the sewer surcharge levy that goes to the City considering that the money does not all go for sewers as I have Blogged before. It is obvious that the budgets are not viewed in as much detail by our City Council Budget Committees since they are the budgets of a Commission and an incorporated entity.

I wrote a BLOG the other day asking where all the capital funds went that were supposed to be invested in watermains. There is something else that I was told by one of my readers. Is it true or not, I do not know and it might be something for the traditional media to investigate. All I was told by Sylvia DeVries was

  • "Thank you for your email enquiry regarding MaXess Networx. Please be advised that EnWin does not comment on matters that are speculative or rumour driven in nature."

Here is the news tip:

  • The Maxess fibre optics business has been sold for an amount between $15-$20M or is in the process of being sold. The buyer is a major communications company.

If you did not know, Maxess is a division of Enwin.

If this tip is true, then my question is where did all that money go or where will it go? Who is using it and for what purposes?

But that is not the reason for my request for judicial inquiry. Did you read the BLOG of Chris Schnurr on Monday? He has revealed some startling information:

1) The Swain report.

The Star reported it this way:

  • "We've got 100 years' worth of construction coming due in the next decade," said Swain.

    "It's a huge problem. We've got time to do it right, we can do it without hideous price shocks, but we can't delay."

    Swain believes 30 years of under-investment in water and waste water infrastructure must be addressed and the actual cost of water be reflected in the prices charged the consumer.

    "If consumers get faced with the full costs of their consumption they will modify their behaviour accordingly," said Swain."

Obviously back in September, 2005 it was clear to WUC that consumers were going to be faced with a huge cost increase yet nothing was done! Why not?

The Inquiry needs to look into the role that "politics" played in this matter. Remember that when the WUC matter first broke the Mayor blamed it all on politics You remember that in 2005 the Mayor in fact wanted a rate reduction.

What is more disturbing however is that WUC seems to take great pleasure in the fact that it was able to offset "the attack on increased water pricing." How did they do it? Through their "strong media relations that support our initiatives... in return for our support of the reporting needs and our ability to provide easy access."

Again, the Inquiry needs to ask what this means. Is this a you scratch my back, I scratch yours approach to the relationship between the media and City Hall organizations to the detriment of the public interest?

Was the media compromised? If so, this is a shocking indictment in which certain members of the media ought to be ashamed. We need to know if the media gave us the straight goods or not and was this approach reflected in other relationships.

2) Pipe line realigning pilot project.

One of the concerns raised with respect to the huge increase in water rates was whether or not there were other alternatives that could be considered to reduce such rates. I find it shocking that rates are increased dramatically and only afterwards is there is a discussion about a process that could extend watermain life by 50 years and cutting costs 50 to 70%.

The Inquiry must examine why this technology and other alternatives were not examined before water rates were increased. Is there a reason why the Commission only discussed this matter in November? Had the whitewash Auditors started their examination of the Commission at this time or was their work already done? If the latter, the question to ask is why the discussion was taken afterwards.

If this technology makes sense, then why aren't rates being decreased now?

3) The consultant

The consultants hired at great fanfare and who put on a performance at City Council during the fiasco were told to close their file.

The Inquiry should investigate why such a step was taken. In the Earth Tech/Watson report there was an expectation of a further study to take place:
  • "the Commission may wish to further evaluate different rate options. It is expected that this will be undertaken during the next phase of the study."

Why all of a sudden was there no need to look at the different rate options other than a massive price increase. Was this report merely undertaken to satisfy statutory requirements and then to be ignored by the Commission who have their own ideas about what citizens should pay for watermains?

The Inquiry would need to understand why the Commission in effect dismissed the consultants. I have real trouble understanding why that was done given some of the issues that the consultants discussed that could impact what the water rates were to be in future.

Such things to be examined included:

  • recommendations related to general accounting and financial principles for the water system
  • amendment of current practices policies and bylaws and development of new policies and bylaws
  • review and commentary on the fiscal relationship between the Commission and the City in the area of debt, debt capacity and debt handling and to make recommendations for alternate approaches
  • the development of an Asset Management System Development and the implementation of Trenchless Technology applications that could reduce infrastructure replacement needs in the 10% range so as to smooth out potential water rate increases and reducing reserve needs
  • implementation of an Unaccounted for Water program to reduce the 21% in water losses (part of this loss is in the treatment process but Windsor's losses are about 3.5% to 4.5% higher than the industry norm)
  • creating water efficiency programs including leak detection as alternative to developing new water supplies in expanding treatment facilities
  • various ways to finance capital construction including the use of debentures so that future users of the system actually pay for it.

There was a huge outcry after the rates were increased, the consultants were paraded before Council and citizens and then the Commission dismissed them leaving outstanding subject discussed above.

4) Bamwell Reservoir

Some more questions are raised with respect to the Banwell Reservoir and pump station. That Reservoir and a proposed elevated water tower were factored into the costs over the 100 year lifecycle analysis. Yet now we learn that the environmental assessment for the Reservoir has been deferred. The Inquiry officer should look into this matter is well.

Shouldn't rates decrease if this capital project is deferred for who knows how long. Or is it "politics" again? Will we face a huge financial disaster in the future when we have to build the facility immediately in a crisis situation?

Perhaps everything is all right. Perhaps everything is all wrong. Perhaps there's a bit of this and a bit of that. The problem is no one knows, a whitewash audit will do nothing for us and more and more issues are coming to the forefront.

There is only one way to get the truth and that is with a Judicial Inquiry. Let the Municipality call one finally under the Municipal Act and let's get the WUC matter off the table and resolved. Do the Councillors have the guts to do so?

We are not talking about pennies but hundreds of millions of dollars of perhaps unneeded expenditures. Now you know why the City needs an Auditor General now!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

City Hall In The News

We are going to journey far afield today. Here are some recent thoughts I had about City Hall.


Looks like the Mayor will fly off to Germany to get 50 jobs but won't drive across the river to the Bridge Co. offices to get several thousand. Instead of flying to Germany, he could fly to Toronto and Ottawa to get 10,000.

I wonder who would negotiate the deal if the German Company comes here. Naturally, the terms would remain confidential a la Canderel and the Arena. The excuse would be they are the first tenants in the airport lands expansion and they insisted on it.

If it is Eddie, can we expect the equivalent of the deal of the century for tenants on Canderel sub-leases, 5 cent Keg parking, Mady garage loss, sell-out to Greyhound of 50% of the funky bus terminal, naming rights for WFCU or failed Tunnel deal with Detroit.

The deal will wind up being something like this:
  • the land will be serviced to be shovel ready at the huge expense of Windsor taxpayers
  • the land will be sold at a low cost to a developer who will build the warehouse facility
  • the German company will then lease the warehouse
  • the Senior Levels will throw in more taxpayer money for grants and financing and worker retraining funds to get the deal here
  • Manning Road will be stalled off some more using the EA process and the Lauzon EA and upgrading E C Row will be expedited as Administration wants.

The German company will get a great deal since they will take advantage of the politicians by throwing in their faces all of the "perceptions" about border problems. Can't have perishables perishing.

Ironically, guess who will supply the German company's trucking needs!

Hey, who gets the airplane frequent flyer points since the trips are paid for by the City?


I wonder why Mr. Mancini as head of the Development Commission did not fly over to Germany but the Mayor felt the need to do so. Is this a vote of non-confidence in the Chair and the Commission by the Mayor on their ability to close a deal? Is this Mayoral micromanagement? Or is the Mayor that desperate for publicity, any publicity given the negative reaction to him by Windsorites?

I think they really need to get together one day over lunch and talk about what economic development means in Windsor. Taxpayers would pay because it's a business lunch so it should be very palatable.

I don't think that they have their act together and that they are working at cross purposes. That can't be good for them or for us because the Credit Union might decide not to provide any funds next year and the County might actually be interested in finding out whether the Economic Development Commission has been able to produce brochures to hand out to prospective investors.

Here's what I mean. And I still can't get over this comment, I am sorry, about the Commission:
  • "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour."

Eddie on CKLW had a different point of view.

  • "Everything we do has to be focused on jobs. Everything we talk about. Everything that we strategize about. Everything that we act on has to be about bringing more jobs to this community."

See what I mean. If they're confused, no wonder no one wants to invest here. They would get a mixed message. Pass the hors d'oeuvres please.


I guess that the Mayor must be tired of hearing how many new jobs his enemies can create. The Bridge Company's Enhancement Project and the DRIC road would create over 10,000 direct and indirect infrastructure jobs in Windsor, many of them very high paying unlike the call centre jobs.

So Eddie has to top them. Again on CKLW he told us about this exciting economic development at the airport (no wonder he wants to stall Manning Road). It will bring a tremendous amount of jobs in the City except no one knows when the announcement will be made and what it is all about.

So now we find it that it is between 50 and 500 jobs for a food distribution company from Germany. That secret was revealed quickly wasn't it?

I see that Eddie and Windsor Airport general manager Federica Nazzani are going to Germany to try to get the business. I wonder if they fly via Detroit Metro Airport to Europe or via Toronto so they use YQG!


Of course, the leaks on CKLW and in the Windsor Star really have nothing to do with bringing a few jobs in a food warehouse to Windsor. No, it is the start of the new Eddie dream for Windsor. Seriously, when Eddie and Donna Cansfield met for lunch, what you think they were really talking about. It was not the border but the intermodal hub.

Eddie will come back from Germany as a hero whether the plant is built are not and will say that this is the beginning of the Intermodal hub at the airport that will revitalize Windsor and diversify our economy. Remember when he visited Texas. Here's what the Star talked about:

  • "Mayor leads NAFTA lobby: Francis named co-chairman of political, business coalition;
    Windsor Star 04-11-2006

    Mayor Eddie Francis will serve as co-chairman of a political and business coalition formed in Dallas that is striving to become a lobbying force for communities along the NAFTA highway corridor...

    The mayor will travel to Dallas next Thursday and Friday (April 20-21) where he will assist in leading the coalition's meeting and also tour the city's transportation hub where rail, road and air freight is exchanged...

    Dallas has emerged as a major U.S. transportation hub within the NAFTA corridor, which includes major cities such as Cincinnati, Nashville, Memphis and San Antonio.

    Goods arriving from China at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach head west to Dallas, then either north to central U.S. states and Canada (through Windsor) or south to Mexico through the border town of Laredo, Tex...

    Francis was looking forward to touring Dallas's transportation hub, a concept he is striving to introduce to Windsor on lands near the airport.

    The goal is for Windsor to become a hub for international trade in relation to freight transfers, the mayor said.

    He estimated funds required to establish such a transportation hub locally would cost between $200 million and $300 million -- an investment that would help maintain national productivity and remain competitive in a global economy.

    "The dollars are significant, but everyone realizes the cost of not doing this would be greater," Francis said.

The previous Eddie dreams are dead--Schwartz, full tunnelling, Schwunnels and Greenlink. Long live the new Eddie dream, the intermodal hub, for the next three years anyway.


When I first heard the story on CKLW about jobs near the airport, my immediate thought was that the Engineering Complex was going to go near the airport. However I remembered that the University gave up a whole bunch of land recently that they had there so that didn't make too much sense to me.

When I found out that it was a food distribution company, what a let-down. Here is what I was hoping it was:

I remembered that an inside source at the Casino told me that the Development Commission took over the VU bar a few months ago and held a big party for about 20 to 30 people, most of whom were Asian.

That I imagined might be a precursor of good things to come now that we see all the stories about the Chinese auto companies during the Detroit Automobile Show. Can it be, I hoped, that one of these companies will open up a gigantic plant here that will employ thousands of people? Is that the reason why Eddie wants everything so positive about Windsor so that when these people read the newspapers they will see nothing but good here?

So much for that theory!

I truly hope that Eddie has kept his Councillors in the loop and that he is kept all of them advised as to the status of whatever he is doing. I wouldn't want this to happen. Gee, it was just five years ago wasn't it when the Star wrote this editorial:

  • "Monday night, Windsor city council will be asked to retroactively approve more than $350,000 in payments to consultants and lobbyists. The money was spent on a project that councillors knew nothing about.

    However, the mayor, members of the development commission and some senior city administrators did know about the "Blue Bell" project, which turned out to be an attempt to lure the $1.2-billion DCX Sprinter van development to a site near Windsor Airport.

    Some members of council are furious that they were purposefully left in the dark over several months while the Blue Bell project proceeded. They should be. The $350,000 had not been budgeted by city council and was spent without the authority of councillors.

    Essentially, councillors were prohibited from fulfilling their duty to constituents, which is to oversee the city's business and mind the interests of taxpayers.

    Mayor Mike Hurst defends the decision to leave out council due to the fact that the discussions were being kept confidential at the insistence of the automaker."
I am sure that Eddie remembers this section of that Editorial and that the the City Hall amnesia disease has not wiped out this memory:
  • "However, if the development commission and senior bureaucrats could be part of the process, why not council? As Councillor Eddie Francis says, one of the central issues that's been raised is one of trust.

    "The fundamental issue here is that someone decided that the most important people in the equation -- councillors -- couldn't be trusted with the information and that's infuriating," says Francis. "As councillors, we have a professional obligation to maintain confidentiality and we have to be in the loop. But someone decided to neutralize council on this issue and screw the Municipal Act."

I see that the Economic Development Commission is going to contribute $25,000 for something at the Detroit auto show. While the cheque will come from the Commission, it is actually taxpayers in the City and the County paying for it. You see when it comes from the Commission, no one really can get too mad about it just like when cheques come from the Convention and Visitors' Bureau rather than from City Hall directly.

It's just like WUC levy increases. They aren't tax increases but you will have to pay for them out of your pocket.

Dinner prices in Detroit must have gone up, skyrocketed in fact, even with the higher Canadian dollar. In January, 2006 for example,
  • "Ed Agnew, Inter-Governmental Grants and Special Projects Co-ordinator, Strategic Services appears before and is available for questions regarding the last minute request to participate in the 2006 North American International Auto Show’s Automotive Dinner to be held on January 18, 2006, where four local restaurants will be featured and will be attended by approximately 2000 representatives of the auto industry, and states that it would cost the City $12,500 in U.S. funds to participate, which would be a step forward in developing our Windsor/Detroit area as one economic unit for our mutual benefit."

Council agreed

  • "That the City of Windsor PARTICIPATE as an associate sponsor for the 2006 North American International Auto Show - Automotive Industry Dinner to be held on January 18, 2006 at a cost of $12,500 in U.S. funds to BE CHARGED to the budget stabilization reserve fund."

The 2008 payment almost slipped by unnoticed but for Councillor Halberstadt asking the question. Is Roger Penske involved in this event as well?


Wow, Eddie at Council sure made it attractive to come downtown didn't he. I just can't wait for people to flock downtown now after he said:

  • "There will be another murder. There will be another gunshot in our downtown... it is going to happen."
Wasn't it nice of the Star to drop the word "murder" from their news story? They saved him since it would have been embarrassing if it was in print forever. If there is such a violent crime again in the downtown no matter when, it is NOT Eddie's fault since he warned us didn't he. We cannot blame him. I told you that the psychic is now a consultant to the Mayor!

I'll bet the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Casino will be thrilled to put that statement on their brochures as a positive statement about coming to Windsor. Their competition surely will. That should bring us some very big groups don't you think. And yet, the Mayor had the nerve to tell us to be careful what we're saying if we want to bring conventions downtown. Such hypocrisy and such arrogance make me sick.

Aren't the Councillor-children tired of being scolded by their Kindergarten teacher, the Mayor. Another Eddie lecture after the vote was taken. I don't see anything in the Procedural Bylaw that allows him to take centre stage and to mouth off after a vote is taken. But it's easier then isn't it, nobody can tell him that he's wrong to his face because the debate is over. If anyone tried, he would merely rule him/her out of order. Why does he do this, and he's done it on a number of occasions. We know how well it he takes criticism. NOT. Just ask the pesky environmentalist.

Why he didn't speak before I don't know... he was clearly opposed to the Motion. However since he did not vote, he has it both ways doesn't he? If the three a.m. closing works, he did not vote against it. If it does not work, all he has to do is point to what he said at Council. Of course no one will remember what he said exactly.

He's getting bolder now. Not only is he scolding Councillors but is also scolding the Downtown Business Association and the public as well. What's the matter with everyone, haven't they bought into his vision yet?

Now when the Mayor tells us that something doesn't happen quickly, it's probably true. But it also means he can't be judged on performance or results. You can tell him he's doing nothing downtown because the vacancy rate downtown is huge and retail is nonexistent. That doesn't bother him one bit. You see we just don't understand. It's all part of his overall scheme to bring in people downtown so the retailers can prosper. You know the funky bus terminal, the St. Clair students and the Engineering Complex. I think he forgot about the Keg restaurant which used to be the basis of his revitalization of the downtown. It's all part of his Plan.

Just give it time. Just like with stalling on the Border road. Eddie will be proven right in the end oh ye of little faith.

The reality is that Eddie has to shut everybody up. He has to keep them quiet and get them to agree that this is a long-term problem. He has to do this so that he can build up his resume to become the next Attorney General in the John Tory Government if the Progressive Conservatives ever get elected.

Who dreamt up the line "Guns, Drugs and Gangs." It plays so well in the media and captures all of the buzzwords that scare us. Clearly it was the Eminence Greasie who is manoeuvering Eddie for his next job. I lost count how many times Eddie used that expression at Council. However I am glad that Councillor Postma picked it up in her talk. She is on the team all right.

Thank goodness for the Ward 2 Councillor. She gave us a lesson in the subculture that she knows so well it seems. I sure would not open up a restaurant downtown after listening to her. I would not want to be run out because my windows were broken by those after-hours people. Her words help create an investor reality that will scare them off whether she understands that or not.

She at least kept the same theme as the Mayor telling us that a wrong look means that something will happen. IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

Eddie is right about one thing however. After listening to his comments I know that the problems will not be solved quickly in the downtown. With no urban village, the downtown being shifted towards the Casino area, the arena in the East End, a faltering economy in Windsor, talk of murder that is going to happen again, Judith Veresuk who is going to Vancouver with her husband and leaving the job as executive director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association is probably the smartest person around.

Why Brister Cannot Be Mayor

I could have replaced "not" with "never" but chose not to do so for reasons you will discover. But first...

Trust me, politics is a very cruel and nasty business. It has to be when no matter what kind of a job you do a fickle electorate can vote you in or out of office at its whim.

At the municipal level though, one should not expect such kind of behaviour given the much more personal interaction amongst a relatively few number of people who sit on Council together. Of course, there are going to be strong feelings, differences of opinion and there will be clashes since municipal politics is viewed as a first step in starting a political career to become a "Senior" politician. Many people who are politicians have egos as well as big as the great outdoors so when two egos clash you're going to see fireworks.

All of this is an introduction to what I see as the meanness and pettiness of certain insiders in Windsor municipal politics. I will NOT explain what I mean because it is very personal to a particular person in City politics so you're going to have to trust me on this, dear reader. They know exactly what I mean. There was no need for them to act as they have at this time. May Nemesis apply to them!

Eddie's trial balloon about running for a third term ended as a lead balloon. The reaction of the electorate and the bitterness expressed have ended any hopes of the Mayor running for a third term. Such an idea was dismissed out of hand by Henderson after the brouhaha that has hurt Eddie's future:

  • "Now that the dust is settling from the kerfuffle over Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis's musings about staying on for a third term."

A mere kerfuffle....hardly! Gord's column on Saturday re the Mayoral race will merely solidify Eddie as a lame duck Mayor for the next three years and tells us that Council will be a shambles for that time unless a new leader emerges from amongst the pack. It demonstrates more clearly than anything else that Eddie has been unable to act as a leader to his Councillors. It demonstrates why the City has been on hold since he has become Mayor. Another notch for the Sheriff!

The Sheriff also ended the chance of the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget to become Mayor before he even started by putting out in public what a number of insiders have told me privately: Brister wants to be the next Mayor of Windsor.

The corpse of Eddie as a third term Mayor was barely in the ground when there was Councillor Brister...running to Gord for an interview, desperate to get him on-side for his Mayoral run. What a pathetic display but typical for the Councillor who loves to hear the sound of his own voice and who craves publicity desperately! Just watch him on Cogeco at Council meetings when the spot-light is turned on him. I know those characteristics well from my days working with the Councillor when he was the STOPDRTP Chair and made public appearances on behalf of the group.

Can Eddie be trusted now after vowing that he will be a two-term Mayor and then holding the door open for a third term? That question was circulating after the Thursday Henderson front-page story. Gord was generous to Brister in saying

  • "Brister told me in his rookie term that he had no interest in the top job. And he's still circumspect about his intentions. But what I'm hearing, from people close to him, is that if Francis does pack it in to go make some serious money, Brister will not stand idly by and let Marra claim this (dubious) prize without a fight."

Here is what Brister really said:

  • "BALONEY -- Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister, who topped the polls in the last election, wants it known that there's no truth to the "blogaloney" rumours that have him challenging Francis for mayor in 2006.

    In fact, said Brister, he has zero interest in becoming mayor. "Write that rumour off forever. It's not something I ever want to do and it's just never going to happen."

Shouldn't one now ask the same question about Brister? Can he be trusted to keep his word...."never" and "forever" appear to be short time period words in Brister's world or is that called political expediency! Sure people are entitled to change their minds. Howver, it was not necessary for Brister to say what he did. He did not have to say something so definitive and then expect people to forgive him. Or to forget.

Why is Dave disrupting Council by starting his campaign for mayor now and doing it publicly. Isn't he doing what Eddie objected to:

  • "There's plenty of time for them to crank it up," said Francis, but right now council needs to stay focused on job-related issues. "I'm begging you as a council to be leaders for this community," he pleaded. "Park the campaigns to the sidelines right now. We should look at everything we do from the perspective of attracting more jobs to this community."

Didn't I tell you that Councillor Brister would be in mourning since his name wasn't mentioned in the Henderson column about who was running for Mayor:

  • "political grandstanding by a few councillors (think Bill Marra and Al Halberstadt, for starters) who are itching to become mayor."

He had to rectify that immediately. I guess that Councillor Brister wants to be a grandstander too.

It is so kind of Councillor Brister to save us from Bill Marra. And why is it that Dave so opposed to Marra....what are the reasons? We should demand that Brister tell us immediately. After all, if it is this bad, should Bill even be on Council in the first place? It must be horrific and Brister is now obliged to tell us why. Brister has to put up or shut up and apologize to Councillor Marra and in public immediately.

Mind you, this is all very strange to me given Brister's view of Marra in the past. If Dave wants to know what this means, he should ask Eddie what Eddie found out about Dave during the first mayoral campaign!

Things change quickly in Windsor and especially in Ward 1 politics it seems. Just the other day, Dilkens was a hero on the Dougall Ave matter who

  • "scored huge points with his South Windsor constituents."

An envious Brister who was invisible on the matter now paints Councillor Dilkens as an enemy. Imagine, asking as Drew did for openness and transparency or fighting for your constituents makes one a foe, an "outsider." That is certainly a warped view of the political world as far as I'm concerned. Here is what the consensus building Councillor Brister said about Drew and his colleagues one quarter of the way through their term 4-year term:

  • "it's insiders and outsiders, with Marra...the apparent leader of an undeclared opposition that includes Al Halberstadt in Ward 3, Drew Dilkens in Ward 1 and Ward 5's Percy Hatfield.

    I would call it the 'take down the mayor' clique versus those who want to move the city forward," said Brister.

    "But they can do whatever they like so long as we have a majority to move the city forward."

I would think that if the Governor's Hubby or Dr. Phil get a contract from Eddie to solve the dysfunction problem at Council, they can think Councillor Brister for it, given this outburst.

Imagine the fun for the next three years and the dysfunction to be caused by stupid remarks such as this. It's just another add-on to the list of Bristerisms. I am sure that Councillor Hatfield will be thrilled with that characterization. As for Dave's Ward-mate, Councillor Dilkens, he probably read about Dave's remarks when he was in Paris last week...Paris, France, not Paris, Ontario.

You can see the green eyes of jealousy coming out from Council Brister. You see Drew is spending his own money to obtain his doctorate in business administration. The seminar in Paris has to do with advanced corporate finance. The skills that he is learing and the contacts he will make internationally will certainly benefit the City . As for Dave, what are his financial credentials in money matters? What was his job in the private sector before he was elected to Council? How far up on the mangement totem pole was the Councillor with his former employer?

Dave knows in any side-by-side comparison with his Wardmate, he would lose. Even on the border file, Brister is losing badly. He lost out on the trucks on Dougall issue as Drew captured his constituents' imagination. Brister is afraid to talk to the private enterprise proponents on the border crossing while Drew

  • "said he'll talk to anyone, including high-profile bridge company and DRTP representatives, "but that doesn't mean they're running me in any way, shape or form. I'm an independent thinker but I try to get as many inputs as I can."

How many times do I have to keep telling Councillor Brister that he is being set up by the Sheriff on the arena file and that when it goes over budget his career is over. I can just picture Gord in my mind laughing hysterically as he typed this for his Saturday column:

  • "He [Brister] said the WFCU Arena complex is a classic example. He sees it as a wonderful story for Windsor, ending decades of dithering, and yet the critics keep bellyaching that it doesn't belong in the ugly, godforsaken east end and, worse, will go tens of millions of dollars over budget.

    Brister, who has put his credibility on the line as council's arena watchdog, insists it's on time and on budget, no matter what the critics say, and if it weren't, he would be the one screaming loudest.

I also wonder if the Councillor noticed this line from Henderson's column which could cause him great distress:

  • "Yeah. This could be fun. A classic showdown to kick off the next decade. I almost wish I could be around to enjoy it."

Is this a retirement line and sooner than most thought. There would go Brister's champion in his mind anyway. To whom could he run now for publicity?

I just read the Budget for the arena on the Council Communications Package. I have a challenge for the Councillor to answer some question about the arena. Let's see if he has the guts to answer them. Oh, and here is another news tip for the media:

We know that the arena will have 31 private boxes. Did the Port Huron arena have provision for so many private boxes? If it did not, who is paying to have those boxes constructed in our arena and how much is it costing? Private boxes have to be fitted up... who is paying for those costs and how much are they? Where are all of these costs set out in the budget for the arena? Alternatively, are these costs in fact being charged to the City and if so to which Department? Where are those costs in the budget of that Department? Are those costs going to be considered to be part of the $64.9 million cost of the arena? Or has the arena cost just sky-rocketed?

That's something for the traditional media to ask. It might make a nice news story for them since the Councillor I am sure will never answer me directly. I will be interested in hearing what the Councillor has to say as will taxpayers.

I expect that Councillor Brister might pass the buck to Don Sadler to answer. No matter as long as the questions are answered promptly.

Oh and if the Councillor believes that he is getting brownie marks for his great stewardship of the project from taxpayers check out this Star story "City arena may cost less than expected." Brister ought to read this Windsor Star Forum and be sadly disappointed at what taxpayers are saying:

I spoke with a reader of mine the other day and he compared me and some of the other Bloggers in town with Dave Letterman and Jay Leno. He said that we are like them since we go through the media and prepare our monologues everyday to post on our Blogsites. He said that we don't need to have writers because talking about what our Mayor and Council are not doing is enough of a joke.

Here's the problem that Premier McGuinty created for us. Unlike Ottawa or Queens Park where Government can be tossed out by a vote of non-confidence and where there is an effective opposition and a media who is prepared to question what goes on, in a municipal government the term for the politicians is fixed now at four years. An extra year was added on by the Premier. How can we get rid of a Mayor or Councillor who is clearly not doing his/her job and being disruptive? There is no way now.

This fact is extremely dangerous since municipal government is not just putting up stop signs and filling potholes. Big money is at stake that can bankrupt a city if it is not handled properly. Look at Windsor:

  • [gulp] the arena at $65M and counting
  • over $800 million for watermain replacement
  • millions needed for road improvements and in particular for E C Row
  • an electric utility that might be worth up to a quarter of $1 billion if the London model is appropriate
  • a Tunnel deal where the City is to spend US $75 million
  • Tunnel Plaza Improvements that will cost more than $30 million
  • a border solution that will wind up costing the City something even if it is just cutting the grass on Greenlink
  • money for the airport and the cost of creating "shovel ready" land for developers on thousands of acres on the land around the airport.
I'm sure that you see what I'm getting at. It is not your father's City Council anymore. In passing, just looking at the above list, thank goodness we have someone like Councillor Dilkens who is prepared to become educated in corporate finance to help us out since he'll have the qualifications to understand the complex financial matters in which the City will be involved.
I think it is time for Bloggers and organizations such as WeACT across the Province to join together and demand change from the Premier. What change would I suggest... the right to recall be included in the Municipal Act. I'll talk about this in another BLOG but I thought I would just drop a hint right now about the concept to get you thinking about it.

Brister for Mayor....hardly. As for the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget, if he keeps going the way he's going, he's going to make it so easy for Charlie and Joyce to come back in three years time!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Did Eddie And David Forget About The Senators

This is a really long BLOG today since I am attaching hearings from the Senate for your reading pleasure. Print it out and take it home to read after dinner. You will see why we NEED the Senate in Canada. The Senators know what they are doing. If you actually get through all of this, you will see what I mean.

I must be a bit touchy these days but I am so tired of the Star's Mr. Battagello's smarmy remarks about the Bridge Company.

  • "Bridge company president Dan Stamper was said to be in meetings Wednesday and could not be reached."
Does the world revolve around the famous Windsor Star reporter? Does everything have to stop just because Dave Battagello makes a phone call? Why couldn't Dave simply write that Stamper was in a meeting and could not be reached.

"Was said to be.." oh that makes Stamper look guilty of something doesn't it. He probably was not in a meeting but terrified to talk to Dave. Imagine, he did not respond immediately to David. He must have something to hide. I just wish that Battagello would just write the facts and stop editorializing in his news stories.

I was amused by his story "Ont. failing Windsor on bridge plan, lawyer says." It looks like the legal beagle, dynamic duo of Francis and Estrin are trying again to tell us what the Federal Government can and cannot do on the border file.

Perhaps they should contact Brian Masse and ask him what the Act says because he took credit for its passing. If there is a problem, then go blame Brian since he was supposed to introduce the City's amendments to Bill C-3 in the House of Commons. Of course, as you will recall when I posted part of the Hearings, Brian was singularly unsuccessful in doing very much that was meaningful to what City wanted.

Councillor Jones asked a question at Council on Monday about what laws apply to international crossings and especially about Bill C-3. This might help him understand how little power the City really has from the Senate's perspective at least. Blame him for the length of this BLOG!

Here are excerpts from the Senate hearings where Eddie and David made their pitch to get amendments to the statute to try to reduce the powers of the Federal Government.

Read for yourself how unsuccessful they were in convincing Senators of their position. There was no way that the Senate would allow some little municipality to undercut the Federal Government's position on the border. Senator Eyton in particular was quite dismissive of the stand that the Mayor was taking.

I must admit I don't understand what Eddie and David are saying now given the scope of the Act as they themselves admitted. It'll be hard for them to argue against themselves. It makes good copy though.

Here's the problem I'm afraid that Eddie has. He must think that the world revolves around him too.

He is not dealing with the Councillors. He is not dealing with Windsor businesses that depend on Administration granting permission for them to do certain things. He's not dealing with citizens who are not getting the full story from City Hall. He is not dealing with the County. He cannot hide behind the Procedural By-law. In other words, he is not dealing with people whom he thinks he can push around just because he is Eddie Francis, the Mayor of Windsor.

Unfortunately for him, he is dealing with the Bridge Company which is not afraid of him. They do understand what their legal position is and are prepared to assert it and to defend it. Just because Eddie says something is so does not make it so as far as they are concerned.

Here's the excerpt... Enjoy.

OTTAWA, Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was referred Bill C-3, respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another act, met this day at 12 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

The Chairman: Good morning. We are pleased to have as witnesses today the mayor of the City of Windsor, His Worship Eddie Francis, and his legal counsel, Mr. David Estrin. Welcome to our committee. Please proceed with your presentation.

Mr. Francis: Thank you for taking the time to hear from us. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss a very important issue to the City of Windsor as it relates to Bill C-3.

First, the issue as it relates to Bill C-3 from the City of Windsor's perspective deals with two provisions in the bill. Specifically, the provision of Bill C-3 in the interpretation section provides:

“international bridge or tunnel” means a bridge or tunnel, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel."

The underlying issue is what the intended meaning is behind the phrase "the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel." It is our respectful submission that some limitations must be placed on these words.

The term "approaches" cannot be interpreted to mean any roadway that leads to an international bridge or tunnel, no matter how far away it may be. I will walk you through that with our PowerPoint presentation. To elaborate on the point, it may be useful to look at Windsor's border and consider it in its historical context.

The second issue I will deal is the obligation of the minister to consult with the local municipality.

As I stated in my introduction, one of our concerns is with the interpretation provision of Bill C-3.

Clause 5 of Bill C-3 allows the federal Parliament to use the federal declaratory power in section 92(10)(c) to declare international bridges to be works for the general advantage of Canada.

The minister appeared before this committee on November 8, 2006. Senator Phalen asked him:

I received correspondence from the City of Windsor, dated September 19, in which they outline their concerns that this legislation ignores the municipality in the decision-making process, even though the municipality will be directly impacted by any changes.

Can you or have you addressed any of the concerns of the municipalities?

The minister’s response to the senator's question was:
At the outset I will indicate to you that of course this is federal jurisdiction...

In our submission, Bill C-3 and the provisions that are being tabled whereby the minister will be provided the ability, as well as, through the operative clauses of the bill, the declaratory powers expanded so as to include approaches and facilities, are inconsistent with the case laws and inconsistent with the historical precedents of Parliament.

As a result, a narrow meaning must be applied to that interpretive phrase. The approaches and facilities relating to the bridge or tunnel must be specifically defined and cannot be broad. Otherwise, and as it currently reads, it would be an unlimited application of a declaratory power, which is inconsistent with the precedents as well as with our understanding of the federal state.

Unfettered use of the power could lead to a gutting of the provincial and municipal authority as it relates to local roads in our cities, towns and provinces. That is why past acts have included the provision that municipal consent be sought when talking about construction of facilities.

We do support this bill. There are a number of good elements in it. I have raised one concern we have with regard to the definition of "approach records and facilities."

The second issue I wish to bring to your attention which requires amendment is the assurance that there is consultation with the City of Windsor. It is particularly important that the historic rights of the city be maintained given the private interests at play with regard to the construction of new facilities.

On November 8, the Honourable Minister of Transport stated the following:
The government has closely demonstrated its willingness to consider stakeholder input, and the House of Commons amended the bill during third reading in response to concerns raised by a municipal government.

The issue dealt with the federal government obtaining municipal input into the decision-making process for construction, alteration or change of ownership in an international bridge or tunnel.

This bill as amended includes provisions for the Minister of Transport to consult with other levels of government or individuals who may have direct interest in the matter.

While the city appreciates the minister's understanding that there is a need to consult with municipalities, the amendment as currently written does not reflect this need. Specifically, paragraph 15(2) stipulates that the minister should consult the local authorities or any interested party only if, according to the circumstances, he finds it necessary to do so.

In closing, I wish to turn your attention to our written submissions. We are seeking two amendments. On page 5 of our written submissions we set out the amendments we are requesting to the bill. We wish to have clause 2 amended to amend the definition of "international bridge or tunnel" to clarify that approaches and facilities are those in the immediate area of the crossing, so as to avoid constitutional overreaching. We have provided language in that regard.

The second amendment we are seeking is to clause 8(4). This is to preserve the historical context of the legislation and to preserve the rights and role of municipalities as they relate to roads and traffic crossing through the different jurisdictions.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

One of the main objectives of Bill C-3 is to confirm the federal government's responsibility for international bridges and tunnels. Under our Constitution, undertakings that connect one province with another or extend beyond the limits of a province fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government.

In paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 of the document you submitted to us you say that the federal government lacks the constitutional jurisdiction to authorize how the facility will be integrated into local planning.

Bridges and tunnels are works for the purpose of the Constitution Act, 1867. Section 91(29) and 92(10) grant the federal Parliament jurisdiction over such works. As well, clause 5 of Bill C-3 makes it clear that all international bridges and tunnels are works for the general advantage of Canada.

The footnote on page 2 of your document lists court decisions in support of your argument. For instance, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the United Transportation Union decision, found that the Central Western Railway was not under federal jurisdiction. The facts in the United Transportation Union case were very different from the question of international bridges and tunnels.

If Bill C-3 is adopted as is, will the City of Windsor consider making a court challenge on constitutional grounds?

Mr. Francis: Thank you for the question. The position of the City of Windsor is consistent with case law as well as legislation. On your earlier question with regard to facilities, it is not us challenging the authority of the federal government to have oversight over the crossing and even the plaza locations. Our area of concerns is the broad approach that has been given to the approach roads. There is no strict definition given of where they end and where they begin, and where the jurisdiction is. There is a significant amount of case law that underlies that premise.

I am not challenging the declaratory power under the Constitution that allows the federal government to take charge over international traffic. Our concern, as this photogrpah depicts, is the local roads. What limitation will be applied to the ability of the federal government to define how many kilometres of the roads are part of the facility?

The case law and our own precedents clearly show that those are of a provincial nature. Those are thing to which the declaratory power will not be able to be applied, in our humble submission. We recognize that that may be the reason the government in 1921 chose to include specific language to prevent conflict between the use of the declaratory powers and intrusion into provincial or municipal jurisdictions.

Our issue is with the approach roads. Is the City of Windsor prepared? We want to work with the government and will continue to do so, but issues of local concern will be raised in the proper forum. This is not only an issue for Windsor; this will affect cities across the country.

The Chairman: You mentioned "the proper forum." What is the proper forum? Is it a court challenge?

Mr. Francis: I hope it would not have to go that far, but if constitutional issues must be raised, we will exhaust those options.

Senator Tkachuk: To ensure that I am clear on the status quo, if the Government of Canada wished to do something, what would the process be? Since that the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel is half owned by yourself, obviously nothing would happen without the city being involved. That is not an issue. However, the Ambassador Bridge, which is operated by the Canadian Transit Company is an issue.

Mr. Francis: Based on our submission today it is not an issue. Our issue is the language in Bill C-3. Without strict definitions applied to the language, especially the interpretive provision, our issue is with the local roads that run through our city to any crossing, not only today but in the future. Historically Parliament has recognized that local roads fall under provincial jurisdiction and municipal authority.

Senator Tkachuk: Let us say that in the absence of this bill the government decided to change traffic routes. What is the current process for that? What would they have to do? Would they not have to consult with the City of Windsor? Do they not need your permission to do anything?

Mr. Francis: Status quo, they would.

Senator Tkachuk: Why is that?

Mr. Francis: Because former legislation has established that precedent. That is one issue. The second issue is that the status quo would allow them to do that because, under the separation of responsibilities provincially, that falls under the jurisdiction of the province.

Senator Tkachuk: They would have to deal with the province on all those issues?

Mr. Francis: Status quo. This bill would provide them the opportunity, because of its broad definitions, to sidestep that type consultation.

Senator Tkachuk: Even the provincial jurisdiction?

Mr. Francis: In our respectful submission, yes.

Senator Tkachuk: If this bill were passed without your amendments, what do you think would happen?

Mr. Francis: If it were passed without our amendments, it would allow the minister of the day, at his or her discretion, to declare, for the general works and undertakings of Canada, that a particular approach road 10, 20 or 50 kilometres from the border was a necessary part of the facility and could declare for use by international traffic, without input from the municipality, and it would be binding on the province.

Senator Tkachuk: You do not think that, under the bill as it currently, the minister would deem this an important thing to consult you on, considering it is an approach road going through the City of Windsor?

Mr. Francis: I would hope that it would be of such critical importance that we would not be here today asking for the amendment to ensure that its continuity is enshrined in legislation.

It is surprising to me that the language in this bill leaves it to the discretion of the minister to consult, if the circumstances so allow them, with local municipalities. However, when it comes to tolls and to private operator, it says "shall consult." There is no discretion. There is a stark contrast there. When it comes to cities, it is at their discretion, but when it comes to the private sector they must consult.

We are only asking to have continued that which has been recognized in legislation since the early 1920s and to ensure that that the municipalities, which have jurisdiction for roads and for the local communities, are consulted not at the discretion of the minister but mandatorily.

Senator Tkachuk: Is the fear that, under the current bill, the minister would not see it necessary to consult or that you do not find the provision sufficiently explicit?

The only reason that provision is there is if it affected the city of Windsor; otherwise, why would it be there? I do not know why you would worry that the minister would not consult. How can he go about doing something without you being involved in it in the city of Windsor?

Mr. Francis: The way Bill C-3 is drafted will provide him or her the ability to do that.

Senator Tkachuk: They can expropriate property?

Mr. Francis: Yes. They will declare it as a general work undertaken for the Government of Canada and they can expropriate property. Right now, status quo, they not only have to consult with the city but they need to seek the agreement of the city as it relates to our municipal bylaws and other jurisdictions.

Senator Tkachuk: So I make it clear, they can expropriate property anyway, correct? For any reason, any city.

Mr. Francis: Yes.

Senator Tkachuk: Do they?

David Estrin, Legal Counsel, City of Windsor: The special parliamentary legislation that created the facilities that now exist in Windsor specifically says what those undertakings can do. They approved a specific bridge and a specific tunnel and, by reference, incorporated the expropriation provisions of federal legislation for those purposes. As things are today, without Bill C-3 there is no authority to do any other bridge or tunnel. Without Bill C-3, there would have to be another act of Parliament.

Senator Tkachuk: That is right.

Mr. Estrin: With Bill C-3, it is meant to facilitate changes to bridges and tunnels. As the mayor said -- and I think you are also getting at this -- if a tunnel or a bridge were authorized under the new legislation, the powers of expropriation would come to it under this bill. You come back to the question of the definition: What are the approaches and the things that are necessary to go with the bridge and tunnel? The city does not quarrel with the bridges or tunnels, it is the definition found in clause 2 of the proposed bill. If you look up the term "international bridges and tunnels”on page five of the written submission, you will see” International Bridge or tunnel means a bridge or tunnel and includes approaches and facilities." It is the concern that "approaches and facilities" is very vague. That is why we are suggesting that it is in the interest of this bill constitutionally, as well as in the interest of municipalities like the see city of Windsor, that you say what you mean. That is, that these are approaches and facilities directly related to the bridge or tunnel and are in the immediate vicinity thereof but excluding local or provincial roads. That would help keep the Constitution respected and ensure that the consultation was had.

The Chairman: Did you appear of the House of Commons committee to submit amendments?

Mr. Francis: We provided written submissions.

Senator Phalen: When I raised the questions last week about your legislation, the bills that you quoted, 1927 and 1921, witnesses before us indicated to me that they spoke to you about your concerns. I then asked them, kind of jokingly, "Were you happy?" The answer I got was that, "Additional consultations were added to this bill at the request of the city of Windsor in two or three different clauses to give another advice to Windsor in the consultation process. I do not know if they are happy, but I would argue we have accommodated the request very well." What were the accommodations?

Mr. Francis: I have not spoken with the minister, but I believe when it came to the House they inserted the provision that "at the discretion of the minister, they shall consult."

Mr. Estrin: May consult.

Mr. Francis: Yes, "may consult."

Senator Phalen: That leads me to another part of a question. He said in answer to the same question that, "The concern in Windsor, as you spell it out in their letter, they would like to have -- pause -- I do not want to call it a veto power -- pause -- a right to approve construction and operation. The way the government addressed that concern was through amendments that were made in the House committee to have the minister consult with the municipalities that are implicated through the construction operation."

It appears to me that you are saying that "consult" is not a strong enough word. Is that correct? Are you saying that "consult" should be "shall"?

Mr. Francis: Yes, it should be "shall". "Shall consult; shall not be at the discretion."

Senator Phalen: Is that what you are saying?

Mr. Francis: That is part of it. We are seeking to maintain what has been provided not only to the city of Windsor but also to municipalities across this country. Specifically in the city of Windsor's case, it was recognized in 1921 -- and subsequently in 1928 in every other act -- that municipal authority and municipal approvals would need to be satisfied as it deals with issues of a local nature. It is our submission that Bill C-3 has failed, in its definition and interpretive provision, to specifically identify what is meant by "approach roads." That broad definition violates constitutionally what otherwise would be afforded to the municipality.

Senator Phalen: If they are forced by legislation, and if the clause says "they shall consult," that does not mean you will get satisfaction; it only means that they have to talk to you.

Mr. Francis: That is right.

Senator Eyton: To me, the bridges and tunnels that are the subject of the act are clearly vital national works. They have an importance much beyond the City of Windsor, and they have a terrific importance for southern Ontario. I think something like 25 per cent of the goods traded between Canada and the U.S. go over the single bridge, the Ambassador Bridge. It is clearly a national work. That says to me it is clearly federal jurisdiction. It is clearly a federal responsibility to bring in Bill C-3. In fact, I fail to understand why it was not brought in many years ago. In particular, it seems to me in the circumstances, the federal government has paramountcy. It can consult or not. Obviously, consulting is a good thing; it is better to coordinate if it can, but essentially it should have the last word.

I have looked at the definition. In your submission, you refer to the 1921 act, and it is interesting that, even then, when it was relatively less sophisticated, the provision read

The Company shall not construct or operate, any of the works mentioned in section eight of the Act along any highway, street or other public place …
-- and I emphasize "or other public place" –…without first obtaining the consent, expressed by by-law, of the municipality having jurisdiction over such highway, street or other public place, and upon terms to be agreed upon with such municipality...

Then it adds:
…and failing such consent then upon such terms as are fixed by the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada.

Even back in 1921 there is a provision saying, "We will try to work it out but essentially, if there is a disagreement or dispute, then it will go to a federal body, that is, the Railway Commissioners for Canada.

The point was made then, but if you accept my argument that paramountcy matters, then the federal government was saying, "We would like to work with you if we can, but if we cannot, there is a final opinion that goes to a federal authority."

The definition in Bill C-3 of "international bridge or tunnel”
…means a bridge or tunnel, or any part of, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada…

It then goes on to read:
…and includes the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel."
That is a much narrower definition than that in the 1921 act, where it just said "or other public places," without any definition. Under Bill C-3 there has to be a direct relationship.

Mr. Francis: Thank you for those points. On your last point, the difference between Bill C-3 and the interpretive provision you read in 1921 is that there was no discretion given to the minister. There was no declaratory power given. It was that you must sit down and you must talk.

Senator Eyton: I was focused on the definition of bridges and tunnels. We can get on to the approval section.

Mr. Francis: However, there was a mechanism in place that would not give him or her sweeping declaratory powers to come in and designate approach roads. The bridge and facilities were defined as bridges and facilities. This piece you just referenced --
… “international bridge or tunnel” means a bridge or tunnel, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes approaches and facilities…

-- we submit that that is a broad category. That is sweeping.

Senator Eyton: It says bridges and tunnels "related to."

Mr. Francis: It includes “the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel.”

Senator Eyton: It reads "related to." In the previous legislation, it simply said "or other public place."

Mr. Estrin: Senator, I think the reason that it was not a concern then is because it was a specific bridge or a specific tunnel, as opposed to legislation that allowed anything to be built anywhere in Canada, as this legislation does, without really any consultation.

Senator Eyton: I hear you. I do not necessarily agree, but I hear you. Then I will go on to your own suggestion on definition of bridge and tunnel under your submission.

You try to be more particular. You say "directly related," which I guess is more focused and precise, "to the bridge or tunnel." You then go on to say, "and in the immediate vicinity thereof," again narrowing it down a little bit, and then you go on to say, "but excludes local or provincial roads."

By any stretch of the imagination, it seems to me that guts the entire definition of bridges and tunnels. In fact, it allows therefore the municipalities or the provinces to assert that their roads have to be excluded from the act.
It seems to me it makes the definition of an international bridge or tunnel meaningless with that last tag, not necessarily with "directly related" or not even "in the immediate vicinity." Those seem to be sensible suggestions, but it seems to me that the last guts it.

Mr. Francis: We provide that to illustrate what we are asking for. There needs to be some limitation placed on those words. There needs to be a limitation placed on the word "approaches." Our submission is that the interpretive provision that references "approaches" cannot be interpreted as "any roadway." We are saying that there needs to be some restrictions put in place.

I agree with you, in terms of the jurisdiction that the federal government has over general works for the advantage of Canada -- the bridge, the plaza, the facility, and the immediate area -- but the issue for us is defining what "approach roads" means. Clearly, a 20 kilometre road removed from the facility does not fall within the federal jurisdiction.

Senator Eyton: What you have submitted is overreaching by a good deal.

Mr. Francis: We provided as an example to illustrate the point that some restrictions need to be put on that operative provision.

Senator Eyton: I go on to your next submission, which was the addition of section 8(4). Again, I would make the same comment. There may be some legitimate concern about the consulting requirement built into Bill C-3. That is fair enough, but enacting anything like your suggestion would in fact gut the entire bill. Again, it is overreaching. Would you make the same response?

Mr. Francis: We are trying to provide language that would be consistent with the previous acts that have established the crossings in the area, understanding that the challenges that this bill will take the authority from the legislator and will put the authority in one minister. We are trying to put the protections in place that were protections that we otherwise could have been afforded through legislation through special acts.

I do not know if Mr. Estrin has anything to add.

Senator Eyton: I do not want to go through it in detail, but there is the notion that the federal government in that circumstance would be subject to arbitration or to many other tests that you have included in here.

Mr. Francis: You earlier referenced the 1921 act, and there was a mechanism whereby, if the municipality and the federal government could not agree, there would be some third party that would provide an opinion. That same body is no longer in existence.

Senator Eyton: That third party was a federal body.

Mr. Francis: At least, it is a body. We are trying to suggest some mechanism be put in place so if there is a dispute, there is a mechanism that will allow for a resolution of that dispute by someone independent, whether it is federal or not, a body there that would actually hear the dispute and then provide a decision. Our position is that if that body were still around, we would have suggested that earlier body be the dispute resolution mechanism, but our language is just to provide some dispute resolution mechanism.

Senator Eyton: I can see where you could make some smaller amendments to Bill C-3 and make more precise the definition of international bridge or tunnel so that it answers at least part of your concern. I can see where you might want to change the consulting provisions that are now I think mostly in section 7 (1.1), to make that a little more mandatory and more direct. It is a very subtle nuanced kind of approval.
With respect to both your submissions, they reach way too far, and, in my view, are not workable.

Mr. Francis: I appreciate that, senator. That is the purpose of our visit here this afternoon. Any assistance that we could gain by making those amendments to deal with those issues, whatever that specific wording may be, so long as the principles or the concerns that we have raised have been dealt with, would be greatly appreciated.

The Chairman: Mr. Mayor, we were pleased to accommodate you and hear from you today. Unfortunately, you could not do it in the House of Commons but we are quite pleased to have had your presence here. Feel free to send us any other information you think necessary to our work. We will be studying this bill very closely and seriously. We thank you again for your presence, and Mr. Estrin, to our committee.

The committee adjourned.