Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, September 04, 2009

The #1 Election Issue: The Ambassador Bridge

Am I right on this? The proof will be in the pudding.

Michael Ignatieff just made the Ambassador Bridge the key issue in the election campaign believe it or not. It will be interesting to see how the Conservatives react because it brings the credibility of Stephen Harper as a leader right to the front.

All this talk about an election. It ain't necessarily so.

Has everyone forgotten the Opposition alliance that almost brought the Conservatives down. There is no reason that a defeat of the Government automatically means a new election. The Governor-General could ask IGGY to form a Government with the support of the Oposition parties as could have happened before.

But let us assume that there will be an election. How does the Ambassador Bridge fit into it?

I read this comment by IGGY in a CTV news article:
  • "Ignatieff said a Liberal government under his leadership would re-focus the government's stimulus spending to promote exports and open border crossings."

I had no idea what it meant.

Then by a fluke, I was up early watching TV and saw a press conference of his. The language he used was very similar to something he said a few weeks earlier that was very clear:

  • "Politics Liberal leader says Ottawa's spending to help the economy doesn't appear to be focused

    SAINT JOHN - If the Liberals were leading the country, stimulus money would be spent in a more focused way, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told a Saint John Board of Trade luncheon on Thursday.

    "It means Atlantic Gateway, Pacific Gateway and border crossings in between because that is what we have to enhance to become more productive and more competitive," he said.

    Canada has a $50-billion deficit, the worst unemployment in years and energy projects are on pause, including the proposed second refinery for Saint John because of energy prices, Ignatieff said.

    "We've got stimulus spending because the Liberals forced the government to get into stimulus spending," he said.

    However, the spending by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government doesn't appear to be focused, Ignatieff said, quoting Winston Churchill, who was once asked what he thought of the dessert he was served.

    "This pudding lacks a theme," Churchill is reported to have said.

    Those same words could be applied to the way stimulus money is being spent, Ignatieff said.

    "If you have a $50-billion deficit at least you want to get something from it that increases the productivity and competitiveness of our economy long term," he said."

You cannot demand an election by a vote of non-confidence without a reason. Right now, what is Iggy's issue other than he wants to be PM instead of Stephen. So he has to find one. And the best one is the waste of billions of infrastructure dollars without any return on the money.

Iggy was asked by a reporter how he could attack Harper for spending money yet also advocate spending money. His answer was along these pudding lines from one of his speeches:

  • "Second, we demanded straight answers about job creation and infrastructure stimulus.

    Rather than answer, Stephen Harper spent the summer trying to hide his failure to create jobs—re-announcing projects that should have been underway months ago.

    In fact, only two hundred of the twelve hundred infrastructure projects that the Conservatives announced in Ontario have actually received the funding they were promised. Only Stephen Harper could count that as being 80% underway.

The Liberal theme will be yes, we will spend infrastructure money but unlike the Conservatives we will spend it in a focused manner to create jobs now by increasing "the productivity and competitiveness of our economy long term."

A symbol of that inaction by the Government and lack of planning for the future will be our border crossing. The Conservatives took it over from the Liberals years ago it will be said but what have they done in all of their years in power will be the cry! Nothing, Nada, Zilch will be the answer.

Remember how I criticized Dwight the other day and suggested a course of action for him. I was serious:

  • "Why would Dwight Duncan mouth off about the DRIC bridge, something of which the Provincial Government has NO jurisdictional authority and something about which the Feds told the Province earlier to buzz off?

    If Dwight wanted to say something, he should have acted as a good Liberal. He supported IGGY didn't he. He should have attacked Harper for failing on the border as evidenced by the fact that he was snubbed by President Obama. He should have condemned Harper for failing as well in not being able to get the President to end protectionism against Provincial companies who are desperate for business.

    If he really had big kahoonas, he should have demanded as our local MPP that the Feds and Province build the DRIC road to the Ambassador Bridge to prevent 20 years of litigation and tell the Feds to work on a resolution with the Bridge Company already! We need the jobs now."

Ignatieff is not dumb. He knows enough Obama Adminsitration people as friends. He knows that they would prefer to deal with him rather than Harper as PM. He knows they are NOT going to let Canada wipe out the Bridge Company so Canada can control the border crossings. He knows that the Americans are looking south and ignoring Canada. He knows all about NAFTA-gate.

His smartest move is to use the Ambassador Bridge as a symbol of Harper neglect of the border, our economy and our long-term. To do so, he needs to work out a solution that he and Matty Moroun can live with ASAP.

Interestingly, the Liberal Seantors understood very well what the Government was doing in their hearings on Bill C-3 and did not like it as was made clear in the Senate Observations. No wonder Harper wants to get rid of the Senate!

Iggy can use their comments to show the Government's poor excuse for border management over the years and the complete change in the Government's position on how to deal with the Bridge Company that forced litigation.

What does this mean for Stephen Harper who is THE person in charge of the Central Canada border crossings. He too needs to do a deal with Moroun now in a way that makes sense from the perspective of both sides. He cannot afford to be the PM responsible for decades of litigation over the crossing AND a bad relationship with the US.

There is so much involved in the border file that is ugly and will be shocking once it comes out. Perhaps I will not have to wait for cross-examinations in border litigation to hear the truth. One never knows how the border file will play itself out now that IGGY has out it front and centre.

Perhaps now the National media will wake up to a national tragedy that we in Windsor have been living for years.

PS. Will Stephen read my BLOG and finally decide to make peace with Matty here? He is taking IGGY on respecting the other border crossings:

  • "Harper, continuing a week of spending announcements, cast himself as the only leader who cares a whit about the economy.

    He announced new money for border crossings and bridges in the Sarnia and Niagara regions, insisting the bricks-and-mortar spending was more than just short-term job creation projects.

    "It is more fundamentally about where we are headed as a country," Harper said. Upgraded infrastructure will "lay the groundwork for Canada's long-term future economic prosperity," he said, adding an election now could derail a fragile recovery."