Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Even More Border Stories

Here are some border stories that you might find of interest


Or maybe it is not so important after all.

In a major speech to the Canadian and Empire Clubs, just a few days before his 2009 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, our Minister of Finance, Spanky, ignored us completely. Here is all he said:
  • "Ontario, like most jurisdictions, has invested in a stimulus package focused on job creation and retention, infrastructure and skills training.

    It was the right thing to do at the time of the Budget and it remains the right thing to do today. For decades, infrastructure in North America and Europe had failed to keep up with growing populations and community needs.

    The evidence of the value of investing in infrastructure is clear. It creates short-term jobs and an immediate boost to local communities.

    It’s much more than bridges and roads – as important as they are – it’s also about schools, colleges and universities.

    It’s about hospitals and long-term care facilities. It’s about water and electricity. And, of course, it’s about roads too. If you drive down the QEW, or up the 404, you’ll see those dollars at work today.

    In the long term infrastructure investments help position the province for sustained economic growth."

In other words, he is saying that the Province cannot afford to pay for a 25 year DRIC P3 multi-billion dollar Mega-Project run amuk road. Has anyone told the short-listed candidates about this yet?

Upgraded E C Row and cheap solution DRIC road anyone? We are back to 2002 all over again.


Other than the Canadian Government of course who claimed, until the truth came out, that they did not want to hurt the Bridge Company.

Nice to see I was quoted in a Crain's Detroit BLOG where the clip I made of the WJR Granholm interview was noted

I am glad that the reporter picked up on this point:

  • "Granholm’s comments also are interesting because they explicitly say that Canada is the obstacle to Moroun’s second span, something that he’s been saying for years and the Canadians have been wishy-washy about. The project still needs U.S. and Canadian permitting approvals, but depending on who you ask, either the bridge company or the Canadians are foot-dragging about it — something that stands a good chance of being resolved in a courtroom."


Another Crains story of interest:

  • "Sen. Cropsey says Legislature likely to scuttle DRIC project

    The leading legislative opponent of a proposed $3 billion Detroit River bridge says he has enough votes in the Michigan Legislature to kill the project.

    Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, said support for the Detroit River International Crossing study has dwindled in recent months as Michigan's budget crisis snowballed.

    “The Legislature is very skeptical,” he said. “It's mainly because the budget situation is so dire, and people are asking, "Why are they building a bridge?' “

    Cropsey's position as vice chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on transportation gives him influence over DRIC's fate...

    A significant downturn in car and truck traffic between Detroit and Windsor since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has fueled criticism of the project..."


The US Feds could always pay all of the DRIC costs.

You know the US Governemnt, headed by President Obama who:

  • knows the song "Troubled Bridge over waters" which Stephen refused to play at the NAC in Ottawa choosing instead a Beatles song to beg for a "little help from my friends"
  • was supposed to be the victim of NAFTA-gate
  • almost was end-run by a deal Canada tried to pressure President Bush into making over the bridge
  • had to put up with Ambassador Wilson
  • has done nothing re Canada's concerns over protectionism
  • has a Homeland Security Secretary still around, never mind the harsh Canadian criticism of her, sending drones and soon boats near Canada
  • has had to endure threats of energy cut-offs by Canada
  • did not give Stephen a meeting for even only 15 minutes during the Three Amigos Summit and only gave him a few minutes of face-time when the PM came to DC to endrun him again with Congressional leaders.


I am sure you may have seen this story:


    The tony Toronto enclave Rosedale is abuzz this week with talk of a love match between well-known financial journalist Diane Francis -she writes a column in the National Post - and building baron John Beck.

    Mr. Beck is CEO and chairman of Aecon Group, which is the largest publicly traded construction and infrastructure company in Canada, and chairman of Ontario Power Authority and Canadian Highways Infrastructure Corp.

    It's a true business love story: The two met at a dinner attended by 700 of the Fraser Institute, where Mr. Beck sat down in the only available empty chair, right beside Ms. Francis.

    That was in late September. Now, the word is a marriage as soon as this month is in the works.

    Friends say the fast track to nuptials reflects the love-at-first-sight happiness of the pair.

    We asked the long-time journalist about the news. "I don't want to comment," she told us. "It's my personal life."

They were married early in the year. Of course a great deal is missing from the story that I now can reveal to you. What could they have possibly talked about that got them in the mood so quickly? The answer is simple: Windsor!

As you recall, Ms Francis was one of the speakers at Edgar's "'Looking Forward: Windsor’s Future in a Changing World' session in 2007 that was cancelled in the last minute the first time around. Glen Murray, "a partner at Navigator Limited" a firm that provided advice to the City during the border issue was the other speaker. It was held a few months later.

As for Mr. Beck, his company was one of the short-listed candidates to build the DRIC Road as part of the Rose City Parkway Group.

I bet they had a terrific time talking about:

  • "our [Windsor's] strengths and weaknesses and suggest how to secure a stronger presence in the national and global economies."

Whew, thank goodness though that they married before the CUPE strike and not in Windsor. You know about the problems at the Marriage Licence Bureau!


I saw this story in Crains and it was eerily familair to DRTP's losing battle over the truck expressway that OMERS/Borealis/CP fought:

  • Environmental assessment work will begin later this year on a new $400 million freight rail tunnel that will be constructed underneath the Detroit River, the venture's backers [That was said about the truck expressway]
  • An announcement about the project, which is expected to start construction in two years [Just like DRTP was always "expected"]
  • OMERS will finance most of the work [With DRTP, Government money was needed. Moreover other pension funds' money was needed although that was never made public too often. Nobrega did say in 2006 though "We invested $175 million in the Detroit River Tunnel Project, a rail tunnel between Windsor and Detroit. CP Rail, one of Canada’s two continental railroads, is our partner. We are committed to investing another $300 million of equity to significantly expand this corridor to create a one-billion-dollar trade gateway asset]
  • “We can't put a shovel in the ground until we have the (environmental assessment),” Nobrega said. [DRTP could not do that either]
  • Nobrega declined to discuss details about the project's financing, but did say the process is in place to secure all of the money [We never did find out who the penson funds were that were to finance DRTP. Glad to know the "process" is in place ie their new office in London perhaps]
  • The partnership reportedly has spent nearly $100 million on engineering since 2000, when it first floated the tunnel idea, and it acquired about 20 acres of needed land from Detroit in 2007. It said that year it hoped to secure about 25 percent of the project's capital costs from the U.S. federal government while financing the remainder itself. [Hmmm I thought they wanted no US Government "grants" for DRTP, only Canadian Government money. Perhaps that means just loans.]
  • No details have been released on the new tunnel project, which Nobrega said would be constructed parallel to the current rail tunnel. [Did DRTP ever show final engineering drawings for the truck expressway?]
  • The Windsor Star reported, via unnamed sources, that a construction permit for the new tunnel already has been issued on the U.S. side. [Gee, the problem side has always been Canada and Windsor in particular. Ahhh for the good old days of STOPDRTP]
  • Backers of the new tunnel say it's needed because metro Detroit is losing out on economic investment [DRTP's JOBS TUNNEL played that card too for the truck expressway and lost on that too]

Too bad that the reporter did not ask about the Michigan Central Depot problem that I Blogged about: May 21, 2009. "DRTP And The Michigan Central Depot."