Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, May 15, 2009

Transport Canada Responds

Interesting answers to my email to Mark Butler of Transport Canada.

You will see the question, the answer and my Fisked interpretation. You decide yourself what the answers mean but be very careful. You need to read the nuances in the answers. They do not necessarily mean what you think they mean unless you read them very carefully.

1) Did the responsible Department officials under the Infrastructure funding program look at projects before the deadline of May 1 and in particular, those of the City of Windsor

1 and 2 ) I am not aware of any discussions and as such forwarded your questions to Infrastructure Canada. They have advised that you will need to submit an ATIP request for that information.

Mr. Butler’s job is spokesperson for Transport Canada in the Windsor area relating to the border project and infrastructure. Part of his job is keeping the Department aware of local issues. Moreover, when the Minister comes down here, he would be expected to provide briefing notes on issue likely to be raised.

While obviously, Mr. Butler’s response is very narrow “I am not aware,” one should expect it to be truthful. What it says to me is that he would have been advised of discussions if any took place and he was not. Moreover, one can assume as well that the Minister did not tell him of any discussions that he had about the canal since there probably were not any.

The fact that I am asked to do a Freedom of Information request is nothing more than a stall so that certain people will not be embarrassed because information can be released voluntarily without a formal application.

2) If the answer is yes, which specific Windsor projects were looked at and what comments were made about the projects

As above

3) Does the Government program require Provincial Government involvement

The Government of Canada will be working with our provincial partners on approvals for projects submitted under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund

Don’t you find it interesting that the Mayor and Watson have not talked about the Province approving the canal project! They have a role to play in this as well especially since they are putting up money too.!

As the Minister stated:

“As to due diligence, he said the fact that provinces and municipalities must agree to match federal funding provides “the biggest form of accountability,” ensuring the money is spent on worthy projects.

“It’s not the federal government’s job, it’s not my job to micromanage municipal and provincial projects. We’re a funding partner,” Baird added, noting that provincial governments are accountable to their electorates, legislatures and auditors general for the details.”

4) If so, has the Province submitted projects along with the City of Windsor yet

The Government of Canada will not comment on individual projects until such time as decisions have been made.

But Jeff Watson seems to be doing a lot of talking! How then can it be said:

“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.”

“"We don't want to see you leave any dollars behind," Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval, with only one- third of that borne by the city.”

5) What was the cost of the Walker Road underpass project

The Walker Road grade separation was jointly funded by the Governments of Canada and Ontario. The total cost was approximately $50 million.

And $48M will build Eddie’s canal. Give me a break!

6) Is it the Government's position that what MP Jeff Watson said to Windsor Council as quoted in the Star is correct:
"Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application"

I cannot comment as to a Member of Parliament's statements. I would suggest that you contact Jeff's office at 519-776-4700

Unfortunately, I emailed to Watson, his office read my email but has chosen not to respond. I wonder why! Naw, I know why!

7) Will Minister Baird, since he will be in Windsor today, announce the purchase of Brighton Beach

Somewhat moot now as the speech has been delivered (and again I apologize for the delay in getting back to you). I can say that we are still in negotiations with the City of Windsor and other landowners and will not comment on the discussions until such time as the negotiations are completed.

Poor Eddie. He may lose that deal now too after Baird’s speech and Wake’s comment.

8) Will he confirm that the Government will fund the canal project?

As above