Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Will Eddie And Watson's Canal Sink The Government

Will the Councillors please finally make some waves in Eddie's Canal Vision and kill it before it becomes another cause celebre for this City and gives us another black eye! Can't you just smell government scandal coming.

Thanks to Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG, here is a letter sent to Minister Baird who is in town today by NDP MPs Masse and Comartin. I hope that the traditional media seek out the truth on this one! The whole epidose stinks like a stagnant body of water!

A provincial government insider speculated to me that Eddie's close relationship with the Conservatives and the love-in with Watson must mean that Eddie may be/has been offered a Cabinet position if the Conservatives win the next election and he is onboard.

If that is the case, that idea has to be dead by the time the facts come out on the canal show Watson/Eddie farce last Friday. It has the potential to be another scandal along the lines of the Gun Registry/HRDC/Abscam by the time it is done.

Watson's career has to be just about deadmeat too since he may have embarrassed the Government. He has not yet answered the email I sent him re records on the canal deal:
  • "Please provide me forthwith with copies of all records exchanged amongst you, the City of Windsor, the Mayor's Office and the relevant Ontario and Canadian Government Departments in relation to the Government's infrastructure program over the last three months. I would appreciate receipt especially of all records from Minister Baird's office and that of the Prime Minister and from those who provided you the information so that the Star could quote:

    ---"Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application"

    ---"He said his reason for wanting to meet with the local politicians Friday was to point out that more than half of a preliminary list of Windsor projects submitted Wednesday -- $96 million of a $182 million total -- were "questionable" in terms of meeting Ottawa's funding approval criteria"

    ---Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval."

    I assume that you will provide these documents voluntarily and immediately. As you are aware, I can obtain these records through an Access To Information request through the various Government Departments and by a Windsor MFOI application by requesting the records that were sent to you.

    Will you please advise when I may see these materials.

    I intend to BLOG this email to you and your response. "

Add to this the column by Anne Jarvis in the Star today---has she finally figured out Eddie too--and by Chris Vander Doelen yesterday and things are NOT looking good. Here are some nice juicy quotes from the columnists who were supposed to be on opposite sides but who now seem to be singing from the same songbook:

  • It appears the scheme Mayor Eddie Francis and friends cooked up to build a $48-million marina and canal through downtown Windsor is pretty much dead in the water.

    Even as you read this, the politicos down at city hall are desperately working the heart attack paddles, trying to rouse the project from its emergency room gurney.

    Let's hope this dumb idea stays deader than the ash trees in my yard. It's about time Windsor taxpayers managed to dodge one of the "development" bullets a succession of mayors and councils has aimed at their hearts over the past few decades.

  • Windsor taxpayers probably haven't finished paying for the last great scheme yet -- the Canderel building.

    Not if you count the expropriation mess, legal fees, lost tax assessment, management time, and the opportunity costs.

    The half-empty tower (Windsor's future city hall, I've always predicted) now sits more than half empty, an expensive reminder of the city's shortcomings when it tries to play developer with public money.

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, who is driving the idea, got the feasibility study and business plan six weeks ago. So why didn't he give it to council? I asked him that question for an hour, and I still don't know.

  • He didn't give the canal reports to council, he said, because he was waiting for a planning report showing past ideas to revitalize the area. Huh? The nuts and bolts are in the feasibility study and business plan.

    The missing planning report didn't stop him from giving draft copies of the other documents to Watson and federal bureaucrats six weeks ago.

    Besides, he told me glibly, "You don't need a report, an engineering document, to know it's a great idea."

  • Frankly, I was stunned. I like the idea of a canal, but I expect a modicum of due diligence if you're going to spend $15 million of my taxes and dig up my downtown. Don't need the reports? Tell that to Windsor Family Credit Union and other organizations which anted up thousands of dollars to pay for these studies. Tell that to Cooke and the consultants, who spent months on them.

  • But Francis said Windsor doesn't have any other eligible projects. The city submitted a list of proposals worth $186 million, but probably only $90 million of them are eligible. So we can't come up with enough ways to spend $100 million. Most people would be incredulous...
    It's no way to run a city, all right. "

In the end though, it will be the Masse and Comartin letter that will cause the facts to come out and the scandal to emerge perhaps depending on the answers. They also smashed Francis but not by name. Have they had enough of him too:

  • Political interference---the involvement of individual members of parliament interfering in the determination of federal spending.

  • No money for crucial projects, just for VISIONS---projects submitted would not meet the criteria of the federal spending program even though they are for essential infrastructure needs taken from the capital budget the city had in place

  • Virtual guarantee---Mr. Watson made a claim that the federal government would guarantee funding for a project, the so-called marina-canal, which had not been vetted by the public or city council instead of the needed infrastructure proposals

  • Pork politics---insinuation that infrastructure decisions are not being made by professionals at the department using clear and objective standards but rather by individual members of parliament in the government's caucus

  • Buying votes for the next election country-wide---Is this episode to be repeated in communities across the country?

If Masse and Comartin really mean it, they will be writing to the Auditor General as well demanding a forensic audit!

Another fine mess at a time when Windsor needs jobs badly. Can we tolerate this Mayor any longer.