Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Eddie's AMO Trip And Other Activities

Remember the Association of Municipalities of Ontario trip to Ottawa in mid-August. Perhaps it has more significance than we thought. It happened after the CUPE strike ended do not forget and after the near riot at the Caboto Club, the low point in the ex-CAO's 28 year career.

The Star told us on August 18 that:

  • "A contingent of Windsor representatives including Mayor Eddie Francis was busy in Ottawa on Monday promoting the city and the region to municipalities across the province...

    Francis said his main purpose at the AMO conference was to introduce and familiarize attendees to Windsor and its region. The city is slated to be the location of next year's conference."

Well, accurate but narrow.

Whew, thank goodness the CUPE strike was over by then since guess which two people were part of the contingent and able to be in Ottawa: Edgar (aka Eddie) and Helga, our chief negotiator.

At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in June in Whistler BC, you may remember:

  • "As Windsorites suffer through a long and bitter civic strike at home with seemingly no end in sight, the city is paying to have Coun. Percy Hatfield and CAO John Skorobohacz attend the event that begins with a meeting today of big city mayors and concludes Sunday after a thick agenda of workshops, gatherings and speeches by the likes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most opposition leaders.

    As a direct consequence of the FCM meeting, Windsor's city councillors won't be getting their weekly closed-door strike update Monday night because there's no weekly city council meeting.

    "Yes, there is a strike, yes, it's unfortunate ... (but) people are still working, people are still conducting the business of the city," said Mayor Eddie Francis.

    Francis added it was "absolutely" a good thing that Windsor is represented in Whistler...

    Francis said he was scheduled to attend the Whistler meeting but the Red Bull Air Race "and everything else" forced him to remain at home...

    Francis said he asked Hatfield, who is an FCM regional board member, to represent him at the big-city mayor's meeting."
But no one had to represent the Mayor in Ottawa. And "everything else" was no longer an issue. He had other business there too. No, it was not to talk to Stephen about a Cabinet position if he ran federally for the Conservatives.

You may wonder how I know these things. Easy, while Edgar attended AMO business primarily, he also attended another function there. The good part is that the transportation and hotel costs were already paid for:
  • "August 17th, 2009


    On Monday the 17th of August, the Ambassador of Lebanon Mr. Massoud Maalouf hosted a lunch in the embassy in honour of His Worship the Mayor of the city of Windsor Mr. Eddie Francis.

    The guests were prominent members of the Lebanese community in Ottawa and Montreal... Mayor Francis was accompanied by Ms. Helga Ridel, the General Manager of Corporate Services in the city of Windsor."

Terrific timing!

It's a shame that the Star did not report on such an important event especially if we are trying to attract new business here. Seriously, who needs the Undevelopment Commission or the Airport staff and Board and all of their costs when we have Edgar who can do it all and City business too at the same time.

I am certain that Edgar would tell us, if anyone asked, that this was an important reason for him to go there rather than to attend an AMO lunch:
  • "Windsor is lobbying to be part of a new jet passenger service from Canada to the Middle East hub of Beirut, Lebanon, a route that at least three international airlines are interested in flying.

    Windsor Airport handles almost 11,000 annual passengers to Beirut, but those travellers must first fly to other cities to get to their final destination.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said there is interest by Lebanon-based Middle East Airlines in a new Canadian route that would start in Windsor and make a stopover in Montreal, which handles an additional 30,000 annual passengers to Beirut.

    On his trip to Europe last week, Mayor Eddie Francis spent several days in Lebanon, where he met with that country's president and senior officials, including Lebanon's secretary-general of foreign affairs and emigrants."

Apparently,the Mayor "offered the Ambassador the Key of the City of Windsor as a token of friendship and appreciation and as a souvenir before the Ambassador's retirement by the end of this year."

I asked the Clerk's Office what the procedure was for awarding a Key and was told
  • "Thank you for your email of earlier today regarding "Keys to the City".

    There is no official policy on record/file with regards to the awarding of Keys to the City. This is a protocol that is handled directly by the Office of Mayor, and as such, you may wish to contact that office directly in terms of their process and inventory of past recipients."

So I wrote to the Mayor's Office on October 2 and here was their response:


Oh well, you can see the photos here and not in the pages of the newspaper.

Hmmmmm. You know what I wonder...had John told Edgar that he was resigning by then. If so, did Edgar have the chance to talk to Helga about taking the job during the trip? Did they negotiate the terms of her employment contract as they were going or coming back?

I wonder.

And thanks to a reader for the tip!