Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Did Windsor Make Ranger Leave

Hi Ho Silver....away! After 35 years of service, Deputy Minister Louis Ranger retired.

Except for readers of this BLOG, few in Windsor will know who he is. Yet he has played a very important role in the files that impact our City the most. He retired from Transport Canada:
  • "The Prime Minister took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Louis Ranger , who is retiring after a very distinguished career in the Public Service, for his strong leadership and the many significant contributions he has made to Canada and Canadians over his 35-year career. In particular, the Prime Minister thanked Mr. Ranger for his exceptional work on the infrastructure stimulus program. The Prime Minister extended to Mr. Ranger his best wishes for great success in his future endeavours."

Without knowing exactly what his role was, he has to be one of the key people on the border file given his long stay in a senior position at Transport. He was there through a number of Prime Ministers. What is truly remarkable is that no matter which party was involved, they all learned quickly how to oppose the Ambassador Bridge Company! Bill C-3 (note the number showing its importance) was effectively a Liberal piece of legisaltion that the Conservatives adopted as their own. Now that took real mandarin skill

  • "Unlike most deputy ministers who spend a couple years in a job before moving to the next, Ranger spent his entire career dealing with transportation and public-infrastructure issues and knows the department -- which he joined in 1981 -- inside out."

His replacement is from Agriculture and Agri-Food. It seems fitting since the file needs someone who knows how to handle the BS!

Read this excerpt from a Toronto Star article:

  • "Trouble at Transport: Clashes over spending

    Bruce Campion-Smith, OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF

    OTTAWA – In the lobby of the towering Place de Ville headquarters of Transport Canada, department employees are paying tribute to their departing boss, veteran bureaucrat Louis Ranger.

    "For your passion, your dedication and your leadership, thank you! Best wishes for a well-deserved retirement," reads a sign set next to the elevators.

    But behind the happy words, is a department in turmoil, sparked in part by Ranger's retirement as a respected deputy minister.

    Ranger was a by-the-book bureaucrat who fell victim to political impatience and a Conservative government frustrated with the pace of infrastructure spending, observers say. Unwilling to bend the rules, Ranger is retiring this month, leaving behind unhappy colleagues upset at being "bullied" and "pushed" by the Conservatives on the infrastructure file, they say.

    Transport Canada employees – former and current – and observers familiar with the department paint a picture of bureaucrats struggling to balance demands for accelerated spending while trying to live within the Conservatives' accountability rules. Ultimately, it was a struggle that pitted Ranger, a 35-year bureaucrat, against Transport Minister John Baird.

    "He works by the book. He's memorized the book and you've got a guy (Baird) who wants to rewrite it on a daily basis, so you could see where there would be a clash," said one source."

What's the Windsor connection: the canal. Can it really be that it would meet the Government infrastructure stimulus rules for projects yet both MP Jeff Watson and the Transport Minister himself seemed to be supportive of it.

  • "Canal can get federal cash
    Not too late, minister says

    The deadline has passed, but Windsor still has an opportunity to receive federal funding for a $48-million downtown canal project, Canada's transportation and infrastructure minster said Wednesday.

    City council declined on Friday to place the canal on a list of federal stimulus projects, missing a May 1 deadline.

    But John Baird suggested Wednesday the project could be included when Ottawa reveals its infrastructure allocation to the city.

    "The deadline was Friday, but we hope to come forward in short order on further economic stimulus for Windsor which badly needs it," said the minister, in Windsor for a border transportation conference at Caesars Windsor.”

Why would Ranger at the end of his career take a hit for a mere politician if the Auditor General undertook a report and it was critical:

  • "Canada’s best-known spending watchdog laid out her expectations for the management of stimulus money in a recent letter to Treasury Board Secretary Wayne Wouters as her office prepares for a sweeping and unprecedented audit into the expected spending frenzy of the next two years.”

And then there is the border file itself. Tranport created a wonderful fiction about how important the Ambassador Bridge was and that the Government was taking no actions to hurt them. Then the Minister opened his mouth:

  • "Minister links new bridge, jobs
    Rival proposal for twin span dismissed

    Federal Transportation minister John Baird said Wednesday his government is committed to building a downriver bridge in Windsor and dismissed the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal…

    Asked about the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal, Baird responded: "I don't think it works for the community's best interests or environmentally."

After 35 years, who needs the misery. The pension is a good one and I am sure there are lots of consulting and teaching positions around. Why it would not surprise me to see him go to Carleton University in Ottawa. In case you are wondering why there, Herb Gray, another border figure from the past, is the Chancellor there. Moreover, Herb was a member of the group chaired by Louis that authored Canada's Ultra-Secret Playbook about how to bamboozle the Americans:

  • "Advancing Canadian Interests in the United States: A Practical Guide for Canadian Public Officials."

He may be gone from Transport but will not be forgotten. I would expect that we will hear from Mr. Ranger again and will get to know much more about him and his work.