Canada's Plot Against Obama
Sorry but this BLOG is another long read and a detailed one but you may as well understand what is going on in the background re our border crossing and learn how the Canadian Government operates to try to beat the Americans.
All of the actions taken by Canada over the summer in meeting with American legislators, media stories over the past few months and Reports that have come out are designed to soften up the "Canada desk" in the US. It's an all-court press!
The Inaugural was a good excuse too for politicing:
- "[Michael J. Fox] was one of about 200 people at the gleaming embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue, just down the street from the Capitol. Its rooftop terrace, with an up-close view of the iconic building and a panoramic view of the National Mall and other landmarks, is always a hot ticket on the day a new president is sworn into office.
No more so than this year, with one of the most momentous inaugurations in American history playing out on the streets below.
Canadians and Americans mingled over glasses of wine and shrimp, mini-hamburgers and smoked salmon canapes to take in the pageantry, braving icy winds to survey the scene six storeys below as millions of people amassed in front of the Capitol and spilled down the National Mall to witness history...
They had nothing but raves for the Canadian party and the embassy's choice locale...
Outside, on the steps of the embassy, a tailgate party was in full force. The CFL's Grey Cup was on proud display, Mounties chatted and posed for pictures with the party-goers, and a Beavertail booth was attracting a large crowd eager for the Canadian pastry treat."
Really, the Government does not have any choice. After the Conservatives tried so hard to ensure that President Obama would not win the Democratic primary nor be elected, they have to do something if this Country is not going to be hurt by the Americans. I must admit that I am surprised that Ambassador Wilson still has his job after NAFTA-gate. I wonder if he will be around when President Obama and Prime Minister Harper will have their meeting or will he graciously decide to leave his office after the Inaugural Balls.
Canada is in a very difficult position after all. It looks like President Bush could not stomach us and I am not certain that the new President will like us either:
- “With only one day left in his presidency, President Bush's last 24 hours inside the White House will be "mostly private," White House aides told FOXNews.com on Monday.
The president began his day by chatting with a host of foreign leaders, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown of England, President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, President Shimon Peres of Israel, Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan, former President Vicente Fox of Mexico, President Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.”
Can you guess which world leader’s name is conspicuous by its absence? Yup, it is Stevie's! So much for trying to threaten Bush over oil and energy.
However, Canada is never say die. You want to see how propaganda works then just reread my BLOGs on the Kergin Report, the Star Editorial on the Report and the one about Afghanistan and the DRIC bridge. One media story after another reporting on these matters and setting out a framework in advance that Canada will suggest to the United States.
Nothing like repetition in case the Americans are just too dumb to get it or may not have seen it in the media! After all, the NFL Play-offs leading up to Super Bowl were on.
The BLOG I wrote the other day was about the session held that gave rise to the Carleton University Canada-US Project Report: From Correct to Inspired: A Blueprint for Canada-US Engagement.
At least Kergin’s Report’s title was cute. This one was typical academic, pompous and arrogant. "Inspired." Hardly.
To me however, the Report was a fascinating with respect to the border. Oh it discussed an approach to be taken with dealing with the United States with its new President. Very close to what Kergin's Report said. Surprise, surprise. I’ll let you read that for yourself, dear reader. It is almost as interesting to me as Eddie’s harangue at Council the other night to try to justify spending $60,000 for the Greenlink health ad blitz.
The Carleton Report clarified to me that this entire DRIC process is a joke. It is more than a joke; it is a complete farce. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that everything that DRIC did really did not matter as long as it resulted in the Bridge Company Owner selling out. This is nothing more than getting rid of an American owner of the Ambassador Bridge. It is part of a program that was started under John Diefenbaker and continues today, no matter which party is in power.
In this way, the bureaucrats who are pushing the DRIC project can say anything and do anything and they will never be criticized for it. That is why Sean O’Dell can say what he says about traffic volumes and monopolies without fear. It is all part of the half century push that included the Foreign Investment Review Act. When that failed, we now have the International Tunnels and Bridges Act as its replacement.
Let me try and explain more precisely. The Carleton Report included background papers prepared by a number of academics and others of over 200 pages. The Ambassador Bridge was mentioned in this context towards the end on Page 210 of the 220 background pages:
- “Incredibly, the most strategic corridor between our two economies is owned by a small privately owned American family firm. The owner’s shoddy maintenance of the Detroit-Windsor bridge has caused officials on both sides to despair – but not sufficiently to approve or fast-track an alternative crossing, despite fifteen years of pointless squabbling between the six governments involved. The most recent government study has promised to remedy the scandal with a new crossing … within the next fifteen years?”
Such a learned comment. Do you see what I mean about anti-Americanism? Small firm, shoddy upkeep. Oh please! What would he say about the College St bridge closed by the City?
I trust that the Canadian Government does not provide this paragraph to President Obama to show him how much Canadians love him and his country.
This paragraph was written by
- “Robin Sears is a veteran communications, marketing and public affairs advisor. He joined Navigator as a partner in strategic communications in 2004. Since then he has led Navigator client teams in healthcare, financial services and in the film and television industry, amongst others.”
Just in case you forgot,
- “Estrin soon after hired New York traffic expert Sam Schwartz to come up with a bypass plan, followed later by his adding government lobbying and public relations firm Navigator Ltd. -- led by Liberal insider Warren Kinsella. Kinsella -- best known as a former adviser to Prime Minister Jean Chretien -- was officially listed as lobbyist for the city of Windsor between Dec. 20, 2004, and June 23, 2005 -- the same period when the Schwartz plan was laid out to Windsor residents and industry and government leaders."
Here’s something else that you might find amusing. Carleton held a round table discussion involving three Ambassadors representing the two countries. One was Ambassador Kergin who worked for the Ontario Government on the border matter and he wrote the Report with respect to DRIC to which I have referred. Another was former Governor of Michigan and Ambassador to Canada, Jim Blanchard whose firm also worked for DRIC. Uninterested commentators?
The major border background paper was written by Shirley-Ann George and entitled “A New Canada-US Border Vision.” She is Senior Vice-President, Policy, at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Here is what she thought was important as set out in the Executive Summary of her article:
- A New Border-And-Beyond Engagement Strategy: Principles
-Take a bilateral approach to border management.
-Give strategic and resource priority to trusted shippers and travellers.
-Expand the definition of the border to not always be ‘at the border’, including performing
inspections and risk assessments at offsite venues.
-Move the border ‘away from the border’ to our shorelines and foreign ports.
-Achieve regulatory cooperation or mutual recognition on remaining differences between our domestic product and consumer safety regulations.
- Just Do It: Short-Term Recommendations
-Expand participation and deliver measurable benefits in trusted shipper and traveller programs.
-Provide 24/7 access and border services at major crossings.
-Implement a ‘single window’ or portal for entering all border related data required by various government agencies to facilitate importing and exporting reporting requirements.
-Establish a robust and tested border contingency plan.
-Rapidly roll out Enhanced Drivers’ Licenses.
- Green Light Pilot Project
Launch a “Green Light” pilot project at a major port of entry, co-managed by Canada and the United States, to expedite the movement of low-risk goods and people. This pilot project will provide uniform and consistent border planning, facilitating trusted shippers and travellers and coordinating agency resources, linking cross-border infrastructure projects and actually strengthening port (and between port) security, enforcement protocols and incident responses. A successful pilot project would create best practices that could be applied across the Canada-US border."
There was nothing that I saw in her article about adding capacity at the Windsor/Detroit border crossing nor building a $5 billion DRIC project. In fact, the gist of her article was to remove Customs away from the Border. If that is the case, then there is hardly the need for huge plazas.
I wonder why we didn’t hear this from DRIC as an alternative to be considered. Oh I get it now, then there would be no need for a DRIC bridge. Then Canada would have to figure out some other way to take over the Ambassador Bridge.
There was another background paper “A More Open and Secure Border for Trade, Investment and People” by Patrick Grady, a former official in Canada’s Department of Finance and now an economist with globaleconomics.ca. His paper discussed “The Thickening of the Border after September 11.”
To be fair, he did mention
- “the growing number of infrastructural and administrative impediments facing Canadian exporters at the border. These include: bottlenecks in border infrastructure at such key places as the Ambassador and Peace Bridges;”
but he also mentioned:
- “increased security requirements at the border slowing shipments; increased inspection requirements and fees both slowing shipments and making them more expensive; longer border wait times…
It is particularly discouraging that disagreements over jurisdiction prevented an extension of pre-clearance at the Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo, which could have served as a model for other border crossings in reducing bottlenecks…
There have also been increased administrative barriers for personal and business travel. This has resulted in dramatic declines in cross-border travel.”
What he did not say in relation to Shared Border Management is that it was killed because there would have been no excuse not to allow it to take place at the Ambassador Bridge. Remember how the Canadian Government rushed to kill the Tunnel deal between the Bridge Company and Detroit because the Bridge Company was advocating preclearance on the American side.
Here is what he suggested as a solution:
- “Key Measures to Make the Border More Open and Secure
• making the NEXUS and FAST cards really work as intended;
• drivers’ licenses that qualify as WHTI-compliant real IDs;
• adequate border infrastructure with effective pre-clearance;
• substantial reductions in inspections of pre-vetted low-risk shippers;
• pre-clearance for containers originating in Canada under the Container Security Initiative partnership;
• the elimination of inspection fees;
• harmonizing visa requirements;
• enhanced security screening of immigrants from countries with terrorism problems;
• the preparation of a joint contingency plan for keeping the border open in the event of a terrorist attack;
• stepped-up efforts to secure mutual recognition of regulatory standards that cause problems at the border.”
I hardly believe that this is a ringing endorsement to spend $5 billion on a DRIC project.
Why even Mr. Sears did not talk about the need to build a bridge:
- “The goal in a short-time frame should be the designation of export processing zones in each country with modern high-capacity links to air, sea, truck and rail suppliers. The obvious candidates are Halifax and Vancouver as they already have access to most of the required connections. Windsor-Detroit calls out for a similar enterprise, but for the increasing bottleneck it represents for an increasingly fragile Canadian auto sector. To underline the perilous foundation of Canada’s largest high-value added export sector one needs only contemplate one statistic: between 80 and 90 percent of Canadian-built cars are shipped south. If the impressively short-sighted and suicidally parochial politicians facing each other across the Detroit River could be encouraged by an engaged citizenry to consider a horizon somewhat higher than their toes, they would see available land for such a project on either side of the river, short connections to major highways and even an unused tunnel that could be the essential link.”
Accordingly, one ought not to have expected very much to have been said in the main Report about building a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor since it was not identified as a need by the experts in the background papers.
If that is what you thought, are you ever wrong. Remember, we have a 50 year goal in Canada that we have to reach. Accordingly here is what is written, out of the blue:
- “Related to the problem of border administration is border infrastructure. As too many travellers and shippers have experienced, there are major bottlenecks at key border crossings, such as the Ambassador and Peace Bridges crossing the Detroit and Niagara Rivers, and a real need to expand bridge, tunnel, highway, and rail connections between the two countries to ease congestion at key transit points and ensure the smooth flow of trade. The current infrastructure, much of it built in the first half of the last century, is woefully deficient and ill-suited to the needs of the 21st century. While there have been some significant improvements – such as the twinning of the Blue Water Bridge and the new rail tunnel under the St. Clair River – new investments have not kept up with the tripling in trade volumes over the past quarter century. Two solutions in particular will need to be pursued to keep Canada competitive: making investments in border infrastructure an integral part of broader improvements in the overall road and rail networks, and moving as much of commercial border administration as possible away from the border in order to ease congestion.”
These academic geniuses are about as smart as the border bureaucrats. They have no understanding of how the border really works. Look at their "two solutions." If one moves everything away from the border to ease congestion, then there is no need to increase capacity at the border. In effect, the border disappears and the road over the Ambassador Bridge is just a connecting route between Highway 401 and the US Interstate System. It becomes a plain road with the odd stop by Customs to keep everyone honest, similar to what is done in Europe.
The real difficulty for Canada is that this bears no relationship to what the Report says is the REAL border problem:
- "Third, there is a need for some common sense to undo the thickening of both sides of the border and to ease the congestion that currently impedes the success of key, highly integrated sectors of the two economies. The two governments should re-examine the benefits of a perimeter approach to the border and find a better balance between legitimate concerns about security and the need, particularly in a recession, for smooth, unfettered movement of goods and services across the border. The two governments should also take a blowtorch to regulatory differentiation and overlap that serve no useful purpose other than to preserve some government jobs and to perpetuate a preference for differentiation for its own sake....
Re-imagining the border. As Shirley-Ann George and Perrin Beatty make plain, the border has become an instrument to address yesterday’s problems. Perversely, modern technology is being used to frustrate rather than facilitate trade. Rather than relying on preclearance and away-from-the-border audit techniques, the two governments have piled increasingly onerous demands on shippers and travellers. Modernizing the border will require that the two countries manage it together and see it less as a line dividing the two countries and more as a joint responsibility to maintain the security and economic integrity of both Canadians and Americans. Trusted traveller and shipper programs need to be expanded and improved so that they actually reflect trust. It may be time to resurrect the “perimeter” concept and find a better balance between security and economics."
Do you see what I mean? There is no need to spend $5 billion on a DRIC project. A new bridge is not the answer when other steps can be taken much more inexpensively. Even with a DRIC bridge, we would still have the identified problems so what would we have solved?
It is all a joke for Canadian nationalistic reasons only. The take-over desire predates the Moroun family ownership by a decade or more. DRIC is nothing more than a subterfuge to hide Canadian ambitions from the new US President who must issue in the end a Presidential Permit before the DRIC Bridge can be built! His Department of State has refused once already but Canada has to try again with the new incumbent.
It is pretty clear that the Ambassador Bridge Owner is a hindrance to the Governments' plans for Windsor/Detroit and also to sell/lease the Blue Water Bridge and perhaps also the Tunnel. He even impacts the Peace Bridge. His ownership or even his business needs to be eliminated immediately if Canada is to succeed.
There is nothing new in anything that is being said in the Carleton Report. It has been said by business people and government leaders ad nauseum in the past. What is clear is the anti-Americanism.
What an absurd approach by our Government!
The simple reason why nothing is done is because it would help out the border crossings and therefore help out the Ambassador Bridge. It would completely destroy the Governments' position with respect to the phony need to have a DRIC bridge for capacity reasons.
There is no traffic volume to justify a new DRIC bridge. There is no P3 money to finance a P3 DRIC bridge and various steps can be taken to ease congestion at all border crossings, not just here, so that there is no need for a DRIC bridge and the waste of $5 billion.
If you were a bureaucrat whose career depended on getting a new DRIC bridge constructed you would be in the position now of having to do virtually anything in order to get it built. Money doesn't matter because it's not yours but that of taxpayers. You will never be held accountable since by the time it is built you will be a long gone and retired on a civil servant's pension.
That is why Governments can fund programs such as those at Carleton. Academics can issue terrific reports that remarkably support Government positions.
The most disgusting part of all of this as I said the other day is how many bodies will be brought back to Canada in order to get the DRIC bridge built. As the Report states:
- "it is in Canada’s interest to be a credible contributor to their solution rather than an annoying diversion...
Partnering with the United States on global issues may well prove critical to gaining the administration’s attention and, at the same time, may enhance Canadian influence on issues that matter to Canada.
There is no guarantee that the prime minister will succeed in getting sufficient attention from the new president at a time when his desk will be flooded with urgent priorities. Nevertheless, Canada brings some important cards to the table, none more obvious than that of the Canadian contribution in Afghanistan. Obama is committed to strengthening American involvement in what is, in fact, a two-country war – involving the no-man’s land that straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. There are no easy answers, but Canada certainly has earned the right in blood and treasure to influence stronger US leadership and to spur a more substantive, more cohesive