Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, May 15, 2009

Border Blunder (Part 3)



It is Truth And Consequences time. It is clear to me that no one on Baird's Ministerial staff has thought through what the impact of the Government's actions will be not only in Canada but in the US as well.

They might even find that the attempted demonization of Matty Moroun may backfire as well. You see, most people already think that he has won and are tired of the stalling! The reality of the Ambassador Gateway project has a way of changing people's minds in his favour! Even on the US side, a so-called planned big protest against him this last weekend only brought out a handful of people as the Detroit press reported!

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Parliament should have a terrific time of it, accusing the Government of not telling the truth after the Minister's speech and Dave Wake interview. I even think that the American's Canada desk in Washington might finally understand what is going on but I expect that they have an inkling of it already. After all, isn't that why Canada is now being placed in parity with the Mexican border.

I will deal with the Ambassador Bridge border lawsuit in another BLOG but the allegations made by the Bridge Company if true are so serious and devastating that they should give IGGY a tremendous opportunity to attack how Harper is dealing with our closest neighbour and biggest trading partner. Where Harper is single-handedly antagonizing the Americans to our detriment, given his great relationship with Obama colleagues, Iggy alone can save Canada from economic destruction! No wonder the smear ads by the Conservatives against him already!

A border is a border is a border in US Homeland Security eyes these days. And there is no doubt after the standoffish Obama/Harper meeting that NAFTA-gate has not been forgotten.

Unfortunately, Baird is responsible for his Department and whatever they have done. Under our system, as Minister he takes the hit even if he is "innocent." And it will be bad for him! Let me count the ways:

BIAS

Didn’t anyone warn Baird that he has to pretend to be fair or else judicial review can mean that the process may need to start over! He cannot mouth off and say what the result of the EA should be in advance. Who does he think he is---Flaherty and Duncan on P3s or Duncan, Pupatello and McGuinty on border roads!

Why his newest and bestest buddy has paid huge amounts of taxpayer money for Estrin to give the Bridge Company a case for judicial review on a silver platter too. Baird's remarks the icing on the cake!

I would think that the Bridge Company has a very easy argument about bias or even a reasonable apprehension of bias. As the Supreme Court of Canada has said:
  • “A reasonable apprehension of bias arises where there exists a reasonable probability that the judge might not act in an entirely impartial manner.”

As Dan Stamper has pointed out:

  • “The same bureaucrats in charge of the DRIC process are the people responsible for approvals of the Ambassador Bridge project. This creates a group of bureaucrats as a competitor of the Ambassador Bridge at the government-owned Sarnia-Port Huron bridge, and creates a direct conflict since they are judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to the Ambassador Bridge projects."

How can they possibly get a fair hearing considering what various Ministers have said with Baird being the latest?

It brought back memories of Ministers Cannon and Cansfield and the Schwartz Report image of 4-lane Huron Church Road and Dave Wake’s DRIC road position. It is not a surprise when Baird said

  • “We've got to reduce (truck) congestion in Windsor and Huron Church Road and do things better," Baird said."

If this is "better," then he needs "better" advisors!

WAS PARLIAMENT DECEIVED

Baird is now very clear that the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project will not move forward.

How then can an 80 year old bridge be rehabilitated properly? Simple, it cannot be done easily and in a timely fashion. It is also more expensive but who cares. It comes out of the Bridge Company's pockets.

Keeping on closing down lanes is expensive and disruptive of traffic. Perhaps nothing will happen until the new bridge is built and then traffic can be directed there while the Ambassador Bridge is fixed up. What a way to train truck drivers and passenger cars on how to find the new bridge.

But it is more than that. As a 4-lane bridge it is also less competitive for FAST and NEXUS vehicles too.

This action, especially with the road system, is designed to keep the profitable truck traffic away from the border. Even the Minister has said about low traffic volumes now:

He is admitting that there is not enough traffic, not enough for about 20 years! I can guess now what the investment grade traffic surveys say and why they are kept hidden.

What that means is that an extra crossing without sufficient volumes will cannibalize the other ones as DRIC has already admitted saying the new Bridge will take traffic from the other crossings in Detroit and Sarnia.

In Windsor/Detroit

  • “A proposed DRIC crossing could carry as much as 80 percent of the truck traffic handled by the two bridges and about 60 percent of all traffic, depending on the alternative.”

Will the other crossings be subsidized? It is now abundantly clear that the Government ones will be since the Government taxpayer purse is bottomless but not the private enterprise one. Let IT go bankrupt and then take it over. What a change from what the Senate was told:

  • “Ms. Marcoux: The intent of this bill is not to put anyone out of business, regardless of who owns the bridge.’.

    The Ambassador Bridge is very important to the economy of our country, and it is important for trade between the United States and Canada. No one has any intention to hurt the Ambassador Bridge…

    It is not the intent of the government to penalize. If we were to penalize or drive the business away from the Ambassador Bridge today, we would create problems with respect to other bridges. Why would we want to do that?

    It serves a purpose, and it is an important purpose. The government is giving itself that tool to be able to intervene in case a problem arises and there is a need to intervene. Right now, it has absolutely no tools or power to do so.

    Senator Phalen: I understand that. I have no problem with oversight. I have no problem with that at all. I think the government should have it. That is not my issue.

    Is there anything in this bill that guarantees traffic? If the volume of traffic on the Ambassador Bridge last year was so many cars, is there anything in this bill that would guarantee that? If you build another bridge, do you reduce the amount of traffic? Will everyone lose?

    Ms. Marcoux: Market forces are what will make these bridges survive, period.

    There is a need to have an additional crossing. It has been recognized by everyone involved in these files. The crossings that are in existence, including the new one, will survive by market forces. We do not have any intention to intervene in that process, other than if there is an emergency or it is necessary.

It would be clearly necessary for the Government to step in and protect its new bridge and other ones won’t it! But not the old and out-of-date private bridge.

IGNORE THE SENATE

Since the PM wants to change fundamentally its nature, there is no need to take it seriously. Pack the Senate with people who agree in advance to support the PM's point of view and then introduce legislation to change it.

No need to worry what you tell them and who cares what they say. Remember in their Observations to the passing of Bill C-3, the Senate said:

  • “In response to questions about this concern, federal officials unequivocally stated that the Minister of Transport would divert traffic only to avoid congestion. To quote one official, “redirecting traffic would only be used where there is a need to allow free movement of goods and people.” Your Committee supports the Minister of Transport’s use of this provision to alleviate traffic problems if and when required, but not to interfere otherwise.”

Sure, build a DRIC road that will take away most of the Bridge Company traffic! Is that “redirecting” and “diverting?”

  • “On the question of the federal government’s potential involvement in future international crossing projects, your Committee heard suggestions that the provisions in the bill that allow the Minister of Transport to recommend to the Governor in Council whether or not to approve a project would lead to a substantial conflict of interest for the Minister…Therefore, given the autonomous ownership and operational arrangements established for existing federal structures, your Committee is confident that the Minister of Transport will not be in a position of conflict of interest in the future. However, the Minister of Transport should be particularly sensitive to any situation where the federal government is in a situation where there is an appearance of conflict, especially when the interests of a private enterprise are at stake.”

After Minister Baird’s Windsor comments, he has some explaining to do! However, given that he has trouble with Commons committees and appearing as the National Post outlined, I doubt that he will take the Liberal Senate Observations too seriously.

DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES

Let’s see now how the Governments operate to help out competitors of the Bridge Company, public and private. You will understand then how easy it would be to subsidize its competitors too:

  •  A half a billion dollars and more for the plaza for the public bridges in Port Huron/Sarnia

  •  Money for the Buffalo/Fort Erie/Niagara area bridges

  •  Preventing the Bridge Company from doing a Tunnel deal in Detroit and offering money to the City but not enough unfortunately for Eddie

  •  $20M for Tunnel Plaza improvements

  •  Money for the truck ferry

It gets even better now too:

  • “John Baird, Canada's Transport and Infrastructure Minister, announced today that as a result of collaboration by the governments of Canada and the United States, as well as Canadian Pacific (CP), rail cargo security at North America's busiest commercial border crossing has been further enhanced by a joint investment of $8 million to secure a 7.5-km stretch of the CP rail corridor.”

And CP/OMERS are not ashamed to ask for money either. I assume that OMERS needs some big infrastrucutre projects if it is to be a Superfund:

  • “The Canadian Pacific Railway is seeking funding from the federal government to build a new tunnel under the Detroit River that can accommodate taller trains, a senior company official said Wednesday.

    The $400-million border-crossing tunnel would run parallel to the current one, Christopher Jones, CP Rail's manager of infrastructure, told the Hub '09 International Multimodal Conference in Windsor.

    "We need government support through the (Ontario-Quebec Continental) Gateway initiative to make it happen," he said.”

While Baird can say it is not high on his priority list, we’ll see about it tomorrow:

  • “CP is in discussions with the government over how much it might contribute to build the proposed new tunnel, Jones said. CP was told the earliest funds will be granted through the gateway initiative is 2010, he said.”

Gee, 2010 is only 7 months away!

DESTROYING OUR US RELATIONSHIP

I have spoken already about Ambassador Wilson’s ridiculous strategy about how to deal with the US. Now Minister Baird completely destroys our relationship.

MDOT’s spokesperson states:

  • “We need to be competitive against other border crossings. Right now, we need a modern, fully functioning Ambassador Bridge. We need a DRIC bridge ... all that to be in place when the economy recovers."

Baird is telling Michigan that they cannot have that kind of an Ambassador Bridge, only what Canada wants and where.

Canada’s position re the impact of a bridge in Canada means that the US will be hurt more than Canada. After all, a bridge at the Ambassador Bridge site would hurt neither country. One of the underlying principles of the DRIC project is that neither Country should bear an unfair burden as a result of the construction of the international crossing. In practice however, the overwhelming burden has been placed on United States and in the Delray community in Southwest Detroit in particular which will be wiped out.

Canada’s actions are designed to cost the US hundreds of millions of dollars right after after they built the Ambassador Gateway project which cost a quarter of a billion dollars. After all, it was designed to accommodate a second bridge.

Why would the Americans go along with it and build a new plaza and bridge a mile or so away unless they had some undrstanding that a P3 firm would finance most of it anyway. A firm I am sure that will finance the Canadian side and the ultra-expensive DRIC road.

No one would do so without a guarantee and I am sure that Canada would supply one. And then when the new DRIC Bridge goes broke and Canada is forced to take it over under its guarantee, guess who is in control of the most important border crossing in North America!

No one would be any wiser. There would be no outrage or complaints of a foreign country taking over an important access road into the US since it was a mere “financial” issue caused by the world-wide economic crisis. Why it almost sounds like what could happen at the Tunnel too if Windsor had taken it over and defaulted so that Infrastructure Ontario would have had to be the border operator. The US was not concerned about that. A nice test for the bridge.

How convenient. No one would think that it was part of Canada’s Corridors and Gateways policy. No one except the Americans who are responsible for:

  • US. begins beefing up Canadian border security

    High above the rugged border, an unmanned Predator B drone equipped with night-vision cameras and cloud-piercing radar scanned the landscape for signs of smugglers, illegal immigrants or terrorists.

    Armed agents checked the identification of border crossers while radiation sensors and other devices monitored vehicles entering by road. Soon, a new network of telescopic and infrared video cameras mounted atop 80-foot-tall metal towers will rise above critical locations.

    The beefed-up border security is not taking place along America's chaotic southern border - riven by drug smuggling, gun running and illegal immigration - but, rather, its traditionally boring northern boundary with Canada.

    The changes have jarred communities along the 3,987-mile border - the longest undefended border in the world.”

No wonder the orchestrated smear campaign against Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano!

Now you will understand how awful Baird's and Wake's actions are. Actually, if Daryl Newcombe of Eh-Channel had not done the interviews, we might not have been the wiser.

Canada's actions are fraught with danger since we are taking on the Americans and even acting in an unacceptable manner with our own institutions of governmental responsibility.

I wish I knew what was really going on. There is no doubt that Baird's actions were deliberate and approved at the highest levels. This is a micro-managed Government after all.

However, I expect the whole truth is not yet out. We still have to get confirmation that the DRIC bridge is not going to be built. Ever! Rather, another bridge will really be built beside the Ambassador Bridge. There are lots of ways that can be explained away, the unfair destruction of Delray being the most obvious.

So what is this all about? Not too hard to understand. It is a continuation of the terrorize the Bridge Company because they will think we are really going to build the DRIC Bridge campaign. However, is it more than that, a new plan designed to provoke a lawsuit from the Bridge Ccompany to demonize them further so that punitive Government action can be taken.

That sounds about right. A two-country co-ordinated attack on a private enterprise company. What the heck, if Governments can take over banks and insurance companies using trillions of dollars of taxpayer money and force auto companies into bankruptcy with the resulting loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in plants and dealerships, what is a mere bridge company!

Ambassador Bridge Lawsuit

Naturally, on the BLOGMeister's website.

Read it all for yourself so you will understand the issues. My comments come next week.



http://www.scribd.com/doc/15448413/NEPAsuit

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

Thursday, May 14, 2009

BREAKINGBLOGNEWS: Did Baird Make Them Do It


What a sad day but hardly unexpected after Transport Minister John Baird's Windsor performance. Check out the Press Release below setting out the lawsuit over
  • "Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and James Steele, the Michigan Administrator of the FHWA, for failing to follow the federal government's required decision making process and violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the Department of Transportation Act and other laws when the decision was made to arbitrarily and capriciously approve the Detroit River International Crossing."

There is no doubt in my mind but that the unexpected outburst by Transport Minister Baird in Windsor last week after the refusal by the Governments to deal fairly with the Ambassador Bridge Company was the straw that broke the camel's back.

What the consequences for the border file are I do not know yet. All I know is that here is another twist to this most unfortunate file that should never have gone on this long.

Let me pose the question to you, dear reader, so you can put this into a context.

What would you do if the spokesperson for Transport Canada, the party responsible for being the judge, jury and executioner on your project and your competitor, signalled a drastic change in position:

  • "Canadian federal authorities remain adamantly opposed to Moroun.

    "We believe that the new crossing should be subject to public oversight, and that would mean, in effect, a publicly owned bridge," said Mark Butler, a spokesman for the federal agency Transport Canada, on Thursday."

What would you do if the Transport Minister changed his Department's position as expressed to Parliament out of the blue and may have biased your EA process. As the Star Editorial stated:

  • "He also left no doubt about how he viewed the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal.

    "I don't think it works for the community's best interests or environmentally," he told reporters."

How would you like to read:

  • "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."

Nothing is ever simple. At the least, we will start to learn the truth as people are put under oath.

  • Leading Southwest Detroit Community Organizations and Detroit International Bridge Company Unite to Sue U.S. Department of Transportation Over Flawed Decision Making Process

    Environmental Justice and National Environmental Policy Act Violated


    Injunction Sought Against Unnecessary New Detroit International Bridge Crossing



    WARREN, Mich., May 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED), Citizens with Challenges, the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO), MANA de Metro Detroit, the Mexican Patriotic Committee of Detroit, Detroiters for Progress and the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC), owners of the Ambassador Bridge, today sued the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and James Steele, the Michigan Administrator of the FHWA, for failing to follow the federal government's required decision making process and violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the Department of Transportation Act and other laws when the decision was made to arbitrarily and capriciously approve the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), a new bridge to connect Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. In reaching the flawed decision, defendants purposely relied on erroneous traffic data, failed to examine alternative crossing locations and neglected to address environmental justice issues related to the new bridge's effect on the low-income, minority Delray neighborhood of Southwest Detroit. The litigation was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

    If built, this new bridge, costing $3 billion in taxpayer dollars, will inflict disproportionately high and adverse harm on the predominantly-minority residents of the Delray neighborhood of Southwest Detroit, waste $250 million of public funding already spent to directly connect the Ambassador Bridge to three interstate highways in Detroit even before that project is complete, and divert a significant majority of existing traffic away from the Ambassador Bridge, a Detroit landmark, to this new and unnecessary bridge. Plaintiffs are suing for injunctive and other relief.

    Defendants' decision for approving the Detroit River International Crossing bridge was based on outdated traffic projections that projected an increase in traffic between the Detroit-Windsor corridor through 2035. The widely-known reality, however, is that traffic has been decreasing since 1999 and by the end of 2008, actual truck traffic on the Ambassador Bridge was more than 33 percent lower and passenger traffic was 53 percent lower than the DRIC study projected. The DRIC is a taxpayer proposal sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

    "Throughout this process, the federal government deliberately failed to seriously consider alternative locations for the DRIC bridge," said Carmen Munoz of the Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development. "Other locations were quickly dismissed once wealthy, politically active residents organized against development in their communities. Lacking the same political clout and money, Delray residents and business owners have been ignored and by default, Delray was selected for the DRIC bridge. Why would I want my taxpayer dollars spent on the DRIC bridge, which traffic projections show is unnecessary, when the owners of the Ambassador Bridge are going to be spending their own money to build a replacement span and improve their own crossing?"

    "The environmental review of the DRIC was intentionally rushed. Not enough time was spent studying and sharing with the public the full effects of the project on the environment and the Delray community," said Honorable Otis Mathis, member of the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education and director of Citizens with Challenges. "What we now know is that the DRIC would destroy a largely minority, low-income neighborhood and force the displacement of more than 400 homes, 43 businesses and numerous non-profit organizations and churches. Additionally, I have concerns about the air quality impact the DRIC would have on the students and staff at Southwest High School, which would be located below one of the bridge's traffic ramps.

    "Before the project was approved, I went to community meetings where officials working on the DRIC promised us new homes and recreation areas, which sounded great to us," said Gloria Rocha of the Mexican Patriotic Committee of Detroit. "Once the project was approved, however, we didn't see them anymore and worse, we haven't seen a single move made to build the homes and parks that were promised. It appears we were deceived in the process and Delray residents, who will see their community destroyed, are going to suffer as a result," Rocha said.

    "If I had known then what I know now, I would have fought harder when in office to stop any plans for building the DRIC," said Belda Garza, former member of the Michigan State Legislature and representative of MANA de Metro Detroit. "The DRIC bridge would be a waste of taxpayer dollars which are desperately needed for other worthy public works and community development projects."

    "The state's approval process for this unnecessary multi-billion dollar taxpayer project has been a sham from the beginning. Information that did not support the Highway Administration's goal was systematically ignored or dismissed. The result is that the DRIC bridge, if built, would needlessly destroy the Delray community," said Dan Stamper, president of the Ambassador Bridge. "All evidence shows that the DRIC bridge is unnecessary and a massive waste of taxpayer money. Moreover, it would destroy the value of the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project -- a privately financed project -- before it even opens. Existing crossings, including the Ambassador Bridge, have sufficient capacity to handle traffic volumes for the foreseeable future," Stamper said.

    Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED)

    Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, Inc. (LA SED) is the oldest nonprofit organization serving the Latino community in Southwest Detroit. Since 1969, LA SED has provided leadership through the development of programs addressing issues that affect the ethnic groups living in our community. www.lasedinc.org

    Citizens with Challenges

    Citizens with Challenges is a non-profit community organization dedicated to creating new leadership through education, social and physical development.

    Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO)

    DABO, the Detroit Federation of Black Organizations, is a federation of over 130 black, and non-black organizations whose primary purpose and mission is to empower, equip and to serve the organizations. www.dabodetroit.com

    MANA de Metro Detroit

    MANA de Metro Detroit is the local chapter of MANA, a National Latina Organization, dedicated to empowering Latinas through leadership development, community service and advocacy. www.hermana.org

    Mexican Patriotic Committee of Detroit

    Established in the 1900s by a group of Mexican immigrants in Southwest Detroit, the Mexican Patriotic Committee of Detroit promotes, educates and preserves the Mexican culture and provides support to its youth through performances, festivals, exhibitions and educational services.

    Detroiters for Progress

    Specifically founded to address the issues surrounding construction of a new border crossing in Southwest Detroit, Detroiters for Progress gives a voice to those residents of the Delray and Southwest Detroit communities who have been left out of the Detroit River International Crossing.

    Detroit International Bridge Company

    The Detroit International Bridge Company owns the Ambassador Bridge, which stands as an international symbol and link between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. The Ambassador Bridge is the nation's number one border crossing, handling 26 percent of trade between the US and Canada. Built in 1929 by private funds, the Ambassador Bridge was established with unique obligations and rights to meet the needs of commerce and trade by Canada, Great Britain and the United States. The Detroit International Bridge Company believes in the development and wellness of the local community and continues to support a variety of local organizations, charities and universities. www.ambassadorbridge.com

Canada Got It All A**backwards



Stephen, you just have to shake things up in Ottawa or you will lose that nice house in Ottawa, the limo and the Government jets too.

  • “Canada's opposition Liberals maintained their narrow lead over the ruling Conservatives in an opinion poll released on Saturday, though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is still seen as the best leader for the country.”

It is not enough to be popular. That can change. And those attack ads against IGGY----are you that afraid of him? You have just made him a serious candidate to be PM. You gave him the credibility he never had. Listen to me, you need new advisors Stephen. As you will read, not only you but some of your Ministers as well.

I suspect that Iggy’s people are reading this BLOGsite for tips on the border file and how to deal with Eddie. I am disappointed that the Conservatives are not and suggest that they better do so soon. If they are, then they seem to have a severe understanding disability.

As an example of a Department that needs a stirring up, take Transport Canada. Please.


What a mess they are making of the border file. They are doing it all wrong. Whether it is the bureaucrats or the Minister’s staff I do not know. But Stephen, you better tell Minister Baird to clean house, pronto. With him and Jeff Watson and their newest, bestest buddy Mayor Eddie Francis, you are cruising on our proposed $48M and counting canal for a bruising!

I am telling you, Iggy is sharpening his blade over this scandal as are Brian and Joe. The only question I have is who will embarrass you first!

Take a look at this story and you will understand exactly where I am coming from:

  • Town battles U.S. protectionism

    Other municipalities may join Halton Hills in refusing to sign contracts with U.S. companies

    OTTAWA -- An Ontario town -- population 58,000 -- is vying to be the mouse that roared in the battle against big bad U.S. protectionism.

    Upset that one of its biggest manufacturers is being shut out of municipal infrastructure projects in the U.S. under Buy American legislation, the Town of Halton Hills is taking matters into its own hands.

    Town council has unanimously passed a resolution that would have the Toronto-area municipality discriminate against any country that discriminates against Canada…

    Buy American clauses in President Barack Obama's $800-billion US stimulus package have raised the ire of international government that accuse the administration of preaching free trade but practising stealth protectionism.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper believed he had exacted a concession from the U.S. administration in February when Obama pledged to honour international trade obligations, in the application of Buy American provisions.

    But Canadian firms and observers say the U.S. is getting around the letter of the law by filtering billions of federal dollars, which are subject to NAFTA through municipalities, which are not.

    The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters says there are seven bills before Congress with protectionist provisions…

    Hayward said the Conservative government is only now awakening to the seriousness of the problem. Not only is do the provisions hurt current Canadian manufacturers, he said, they will discourage foreign investors from locating plants in Canada that would also serve the U.S. market.”

This is hardly new. It's the real reason for the 50 year Government policy trying to take over the Ambassador Bridge. Control the corridors and gateways into the US for our goods and those from foreign countries shipped via Canadian ports.

This is revelation is merely a variation of Senator Colin Kenny’s “Dirty Little Secret” where the Americans say one thing but do another in their own interest:

  • “American leaders are very good at saying the right things in public…

    But there is a dirty little secret behind some U.S. politicians’ lack of interest in rushing to make Canada-U.S. land border crossings more secure, and it is this:

    Border uncertainty serves the interest of certain businesses and some local politicians in Michigan by making Canada a less attractive place to invest capital.”

    If industry perceives the border crossings at Windsor-Detroit to be unreliable, then in time Canada will see negative impacts such as less investment, and even disinvestment…

    But to some American communities that would like to see investment in Canada move south of the border, this may amount to patriotic talk that disguises where they would actually like to walk.”

The Transport Minister and Dave Wake certainly did not help the case with them saying that the Ambassador Bridge would be stopped cold and the DRIC bridge postponed which means no Highway 401 connection to the border in our lifetime. That kills the border and makes it so easy for the Americans. PM, I heard the ads for investing in Michigan while driving in my car!

What were the geniuses of Transport and DRIC thinking? Have they no brains? They are killing our economy out of their own mouths. They seem to be working for American states to send business southward. Who were the ones who convinced you that a pricey Canadian dollar was good also?

Oh sorry, I forgot. The bureaucrats have the answer. They got you, PM, to hire two former American political appointees:

  • “The Canadian government paid George W. Bush's former press secretary $24,500 to help communicate with Americans before this month's G20 summit.

    Ari Fleischer was paid to help promote the strength of Canada's banks, its positions on trade and the economy, and to set up interviews with U.S. media.

    Canada's Prime Minster, Stephen Harper, hired both Fleischer and Bill Clinton's ex-spokesman Mike McCurry to help spread message about Canada in the United States, reports the Canadian Press.”

Now that really helped! You got a bunch of interviews for $50,000.

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen. Get a grip, man. That was a waste of money! You need a “vested” interest in the border file, someone whose interests match yours to help you out with the Americans. You cannot do it alone. You need a fighter. Of course you know who I mean: Matty Moroun.

Instead of vilifying the man through smears in the US and trying to put him out of business, you ought to be working with him. For heaven’s sake PM, all of the negative things you say about him are exactly what helps out Canada! The attacks are: a**backwards!

Seriously, he has made the border work here to make our crossing #1 without Canada’s help and in spite of you not doing what Canada promised eg build a BIF road to his bridge to make traffic flow more smoothly. He has been able to overcome your roadblocks and still some in Ottawa think you can beat him. Heck, you are really beating yourself!

Don't you get it...notwithstanding the opposition by your Government, the Province, Eddie, some of your American buddies, the Windsor Star and some of their writers and some other US media, notwithstanding the lies, deception and the mis- and dis-information, notwithstanding Bill C-3 and the Interim Control and Demolition by-laws and Sandwich Heritage designation, most people in Windsor expect him to build his bridge and are tired of Transport Canada blocking it. Transport helped create Citizens for Jobs Now!

So he wants to make a few dollars in tolls. It is “user pay” so what’s the big deal. People can go elsewhere. People are prepared to pay more to get through the border more quickly. After all, there is the Tunnel as competition for cars and certain trucks and the Blue Water Bridge for trucks as even they admit. Why don’t users go where it is cheaper---because they do not want to spend a horrific amount of time waiting to save a few pennies. That keeps the economy moving PM and tourists coming, exactly what you want.

With the money he makes, HE maintains his own bridge without the need for Government cash. His profits have allowed him to enlarge the plaza, build new Customs booths which your colleague will not staff with CBSA officers and to build an Enhancement Project bridge without taxpayer money. Look at what the Transport Minister’s bridges have done according to the Auditor General:

  • “We found a significant deficiency in the Corporation’s ability to maintain and repair existing bridges and facilities, given the status of current funding. Significant capital investments are needed at several bridges in the Montréal area and at international bridges. FBCL estimates costs to maintain and repair existing bridges and facilities at $615 million over the next five years. FBCL estimates that it will lack about $371 million in revenues to cover these costs and other operating expenses over the next five years. Because FBCL and its subsidiaries do not have borrowing authority, federal funding will be needed for the repairs. If the repair programs do not proceed in a timely manner, the ability to safeguard the bridges and maintain current levels of service could be compromised and could increase the safety risk.”

He likes to sue people to get his way. That helps you out, PM. You do not need another softwood lumber case. Let him go to court with you as his invisible partner.

So he sues. That is why HE was not afraid to sue the US Government to get Customs booths built to end the border backups in Windsor. Please do not tell me that you would have done that. We both know better. You would not dare create an international incident while he can do it as a “private citizen.” If Ambassador Wilson was your representative to get the booths built, we would still have miles of truck backups here and you know it.

You cannot contribute to politicians’ campaigns but he can and does. Oh my what a crime to do what the law allows. If that helps facilitate trade then what do you care? The best you have going for you in DC is the Ambassador and NAFTA-gate. Who will the US President take more seriously?

Your interest in keeping traffic going across the border is exactly his. That is the point of the news article I posted above. He wants cars and trucks crossing his bridge, as many as possible. Your motivation may be the economic well-being of Canada and his may be the economic well-being of his Company but you both want an efficient and smooth-flowing border. Why then are you arguing and fighting? I just do not understand it any more Stephen.

YOU ARE ON THE SAME SIDE!

If he can use whatever poltiical influence he has and use his friends to pressure Washington and Lansing to keep the bridge open to Canadian trade as he has done in the past, then you ought to be applauding him and having the G-G offer him the Order of Canada or an honourary citizenship or something.

Look PM, I can only say this so many times to help you out. If you won't listen then I know Iggy will. Airplane terminals are so tiresome.

PS. Stephen, your people may think I am kidding and will ignore me again. Read this article printed in the Windsor Star today. It explains what I have been saying is correct:

  • "Emerson's new border push

    Some Canada-U.S. border impediments, Emerson says, are 'blatantly protectionist.'

    By Barbara Yaffe, Canwest News Service

    Influential former federal minister and leading business executive David Emerson is calling on Canada to lead a new charge on continental integration. He calls his idea Project North America.

    Says Emerson: "I think the process of integration has to begin with the two leaders, perhaps three," outlining a joint vision for closer collaboration.

    "Probably from there to a high level emissaries model to put meat on the bones."

    Canada's former international trade and foreign affairs minister in the Harper government is among a rising tide of voices in recent months expressing concern about a thickening border and growing protectionism in the U.S., despite the smiling face of Barack Obama.

    But even as Emerson is urging greater co-ordination between Canada and the U.S., and secondarily Mexico, the trend line is going in the opposite direction."

Your former Cabinet colleague and former Liberal as well has made it clear that both major Canadian political parties understand and are working together to ensure that Canada has access to the US. It is "non-partisan."

Both parties think that the symbolic key is the Ambassador Bridge and that is why both parties introduced legislation to try to force the Bridge Company owner to sell out. It was your third Bill introduced into Parliamant, Bill C-3, after all!

Oh my, both parties failed to understand that it was the wrong strategy. They should have been working with him, not against him.

It is clear that the Ambassador Bridge is part of Canada's need to gain entry into the US. Instead of working with Moroun, the border fiasco is soon going to become a flashpoint in the deterioration of our relationship with the US. Can you say "softwood lumber."

Stephen, you are getting the wrong strategic advice. Ask who in Government feels the need to be "vindicated" personally on dealings with the Bridge Company and why. You will understand better then and will be able to develop the proper strategy!

I am around. My phone number is in the book if you need some help.

Congratulations to Susan Whelan On Her Important New Job


Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario appoints a new CEO

TORONTO, May 12 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division is pleased to announce the appointment of the Honourable Susan Whelan as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario effective June 1, 2009.

"We are thrilled to have Susan Whelan join the Canadian Cancer Society as our new leader," says Marion Kirsh, Chair, Ontario Division Board of Directors. "Her passion for our mission and her long standing commitment to public service and community leadership will continue to drive us towards our vision of creating a world where no Canadian fears cancer."

Susan Whelan takes over from Peter Goodhand, who became national President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society on May 4, 2009.

"I'm truly excited about joining the Society and look forward to the privilege of leading the organization in its mission to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer," says Susan Whelan. "As a firm and passionate believer in the importance of research, I'm particularly excited about championing for progress in cancer research."

Susan brings with her more than 20 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Outside of her formal legal training and success in commercial, environmental and administrative law, Susan held public office for more than a decade as the federal Member of Parliament (MP) for Essex. In 2002, Susan was appointed as Canada's Minister for International Cooperation where she oversaw a budget of $2.4 billion annually. As part of her responsibilities as Minister, she managed the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), leading the organization through a process that resulted in the adoption of a new strategic plan for the agency. She re-directed the agency's focus to support private sector development and sustainable agriculture initiatives in less-developed countries and helped implement Canada's assistance plan for Africa.

During her terms as MP, Susan also held a number of key parliamentary roles, such as Chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. As chair, she led a comprehensive study on the Canadian research sector, with a focus on opportunities for strengthening innovation capacity, competitiveness and productivity. Her leadership resulted in increased funding for Canadian research. Most recently, Susan has run a private law practice where she provided strategic legal advice to international clients on local, provincial and national government issues as well as serving as a sessional lecturer at the University of Windsor.

Susan Whelan has been an avid supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society for a number of years, as well as holding a number of senior volunteer positions in other local foundations and charities. Her passion for the Society's mission and values is also motivated by the fact that she has been personally touched by cancer through experiencing her parents and a close relative battle the disease.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

Hopelessly Lost


That is what the Governments in the border file might be.

But not you if you take my advice.

My wife won a Global Star GPS Locator in a contest but we have no use for it.


Spot is a satellite messenger service that
  • "acquires your location from the GPS network and routes it along with the HELP message through the SPOT satellite network every five minutes for one hour or until cancelled. Your contacts will receive an SMS text message including coordinates, or an email with a link to Google Maps™ showing your location."

For skiers, hunters, fishermen, hikers, "lone workers" and those who might be out of cell phone range, this is a terrific safety tool. For more information, please check out their website: http://www.findmespot.ca/en/

If you are interested in the device, please drop me a line at windsorcityblog@yahoo.ca

Note that you have to subscribe to their satellite service as well as buy the device.

Last Chance To Complete The Survey

Do not forget to complete the survey. It will be closing May 14 at noon. Make sure that you forward it to your family, friends and colleagues as well!

Go to: http://www.esurveyspro.com/Survey.aspx?id=50dd135b-05f4-472d-9539-d8d741030152

Sean, Come To My Office NOW



Can you imagine what Sean O'Dell would think if his Minister, John Baird, called him in for a meeting with a tone like that.

I have lots of new readers after running the Halberstadt Eh-Channel clip where he slams the Mayor for arrogance. He became overnight Windsor's answer to Susan Boyle because of that clip!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh86yeFuFeY&feature=related

You may not know who Sean O'Dell is. He is Executive Director, Windsor Gateway Project who made this remark even though traffic is crashing lower every month:
  • "Moroun will lose some traffic, but there's more than enough business to go around."

The Minister has to be furious. He was made to look like a fool in Windsor when he said:

If what he said is true, then why won't Transport Canada provide me with a copy of their investment grade traffic studies, one in 2008 and one in 2009? The obvious answer is that they do NOT dare do so!

Now I really want to help the Minister not get into a dispute with him. So here is an article that he might find of interest.

  • U.S.-Canada Trade Falls
    Large broker reports deep losses; border crossings see less traffic


    OTTAWA — Canada’s largest customs broker, with 2,500 employees located across Canada and the United States, on Tuesday reported deep losses and stopped distributing dividends, mainly because of falling trade between the two countries.

    The announcement by Livingston International Income Fund followed a pattern also recorded Tuesday by Statistics Canada, the national statistical agency, showing a significant fall in exports and imports between the U.S. and Canada in March and during the first quarter this year. These are seen as well in cross-border commercial traffic recorded in both periods by operators of four of the six biggest U.S.-Canada border crossings.

    Livingston International, headquartered in Toronto, announced revenue and interest income of $51 million, a 26 percent drop from the $70 million earned in the first quarter last year.

    Livingston recorded a net loss of $15 million for the quarter, compared with a net gain of $7.1 million in the 2008 period. Livingston is a customs broker/forwarder/transportation and logistics provider.

    The company said its problem was that "the key factors that drive our business, economic activity and the level of international trade, have declined." It cut off paying distributions to unitholders and secured, only the day before, extensions on its debts to creditors at higher interest rates.

    Tuesday morning, Statistics Canada reported that Canadian exports to the United States decreased 4.1 percent in March while imports decreased 4.7 percent. Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S. remained at $3.1 billion in March, as it was in February. Canada’s volume of imports and exports with the rest of the world declined in March, imports more than exports.

    Five days ago, the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing, one of the busiest in the world, the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, recorded a 30.2 percent drop in truck traffic across it for the first four months of the year — 720,862 goods-carrying vehicles versus 1,033,047 vehicles in the 2008 period. April traffic was down 29 percent from April of last year.

    The report by the Public Border Operators Association, on Ontario border crossings with New York and Michigan, covers four of the six busiest U.S.-Canada border crossings. The second busiest, the Blue Water Bridge, was down 24.15 percent for the first four months versus the 2008 period, and the two others were down 17.4 percent and 21.4 percent.

2015 for a new DRIC bridge to be completed. They will be lucky if it can be started by 2025 or so when MDOT thought a new bridge might be needed.

As I said before, their 2013 "goal" has to be viewed with suspicion. Should that date now be considered as nothing more than a cruel joke on the public by an insensitive Government designed as a ploy to prevent the demand for the Enhancement Project bridge to be built!

Someone in Parliament needs to ask the question if this is how Government is supposed to operate in our Canadian Democratic society.

As L. Ian MacDonald wrote in The Gazette about Kevin Lynch leaving as Head of the Privy Council, something that applies with the big Windsor surprise:

  • "But the way the announcement was packaged, and the timing of it, was profoundly troubling... Yet it's typical of the manner in which this PMO operates - it doesn't have a sense of occasion, and it doesn't have any class."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Border Blunder (Part 2)


Why did Minister Baird make the shocking comments he made and why now?

Why did he say that the Ambassador Bridge was not going to be allowed to be built and why did Dave Wake confirm that the DRIC bridge construction would be delayed? You don't really believe that Wake would say this on his own do you? That means for this region that there is no need for the DRIC road to be built now. And no jobs! Except for Eddie's canal and the "unprecedented investments" in municipal infrastructure designed to get him and his Councillor boot-lickers re-elected.

The truth has been there for other Ministers to state but none have done so. Was Baird so aghast at the Governmental duplicity that he is really protecting himself from criticism if he is the Minister responsible when the Auditor General does her report on this file? She just issued a damning report on federal bridges that report to his Department. Oh you barely saw mention of that in the Star!

Or is there a greater need to save the careers of many in Ottawa who are part of the 50 year Canadian Government program to take over the bridge for Canadian purposes? Did someone finally realize that Canada may never ever be able to do so if they are beaten by the Bridge Company again as they were in the FIRA litigation?

Is what Baird is doing nothing more that the result of sheer desperation that all is lost? After all, Prime Minister Harper has discussed the topic with both Presidents Bush and Obama and got nowhere. Is the new mandate from on high, since Baird would not dare act like this on his own, to do what needs to be done regardless of the consequences?

Is it "Now or Never" time? Can that be the simple explanation?

In the Schreiber/Mulroney inquiry news story recently, I read this strange comment:
  • “On Thursday, Oliphant pressed Schreiber on the issue, asking what Thyssen got for its $6.5 million. “Were you aware the understanding in principle was a meaningless document in terms of any obligation on the part of the government of Canada?” he asked…

    “I learned from Mr. Mulroney I shouldn’t care too much about this,” Schreiber said. “I had his word the project is going to happen, so what would I care what the bureaucrats did?”

    He said Thyssen officials also believed it would go ahead because they heard the same thing from the late Frank Moores and other lobbyists close to Mulroney.

    Testimony at the inquiry has shown key bureaucrats were opposed to the proposal, and that Perrin Beatty, the defence minister at the time, successfully insisted the “understanding in principle” be watered down to ensure it committed the government to nothing.”

Isn’t that the border file too? Pretend it means something but water it down so it means nothing! We believed it would go forward and be finished in 2013. If they said 2015 early on, then the demand for building the Enhancement Project bridge would have been overwhelming. Now it is ok to stall because 2013 was just a "goal."

Instead, for years, as we now know, there was no binding commitment to do anything. Remember as an example, the BIF $300M for the interim road to the border. Nothing was spent on it. We should have been the wiser. It was a phony offer since nothing was going to be done that might jeopardize DRIC.

How many times have we heard, as we did in Minister’s Baird’s speech again, that our crossing is important. Right Minister, so important that it has been delayed for 2 years out of the blue and the competitive project that is ready to go may never be built.

But that does not answer why the Minister spoke out now.

He had to do so and he had to pretend to be tough on the Bridge Company because every other excuse for trying to beat the Bridge Company has failed miserably. In other words, he had to say to the Americans that the bridge is going where Canada says it is going and hope and pray that it will work out that way. Or rather that Matty Moroun will really get scared now and sell out!

Given the failure of his Department to provide me with the investment grade surveys, I would suspect, notwithstanding Sean O’Dell’s claims, that the Government knows that traffic will be down for a long time. Even MDOT has said there is no need for a bridge until perhaps 2025 but that does not fit within Canada's timetable.

In addition, I doubt whether the P3 money is flowing in so that the project cannot be financed with all of the other calls on the Governments these days.

Security and redundancy can hardly be used as justification when the Government has backed off doing anything for 2 more years.

There is nothing else left to use as the excuse to build a DRIC bridge and what the Bridge Company wants to do is similar to what the Peace Bridge people are arguing now so how can they be legitimately stopped?

Baird’s colleague Ambassador Wilson still thought he might have a border role (why he has still not left office is beyond me, with mistake after mistake) and was Peter Van Loan making a play for his CBSA group to take charge of the border file when he talked about reverse customs in Windsor as a test? In-fighting at its finest in this incredible Conservative regime. Baird needs to act to protect his Department's role too.

So what choice did the Minister have but to slam the Bridge Company and tell the Americans that it was Canada’s way or no highway or bridge!

But it is the sheer arrogance of it all that I find so astounding. No apologies whatsoever for the phony stories over the past 7 years. No regrets for wasting $60m of taxpayer money. No sorries for stressing people and families worried over their homes and health. No consideration for people who were counting on getting some of those highly publicized, high paying infrastructure jobs.

Instead a denunciation of the people of the Bridge Company who facilitated trade by making the Bridge the #1 crossing and who solved border back-up problems after 9/11.

Baird made it clear that the power of the Government would now be used to wipe out the Bridge Company’s business.

Who dreamed up this stupidity? It does not matter. While he was at least honest, it is on Baird’s head now when this strategy falls apart. The others lucked out and won’t have to take the fall.

The poor Minister. He needs to scold his staff severely. If only he had contacted me, even informally, and he had ways to do so that were relatively obvious, he would have learned before he put his foot in his mouth how to solve the problem.

Minister Baird will learn that, in the end, it is so much easier giving out infrastructure goodies than being involved in this file that is a career ender.

Unfortunately, there are severe consequences to what will happen after the Minister's speech and the Dave Wake interview. He will have to learn the hard way now.

Did anyone think them through or was this just going to be another let's scare the Bridge Company into selling action.

To understand what will happen, and how bad this will be for the Government and for Canada, well you are just going to have to read the next chapter, dear reader.

Fill In The Survey

Do not forget to complete the survey. It will be closing soon. Make sure that you forward it to your family, friends and colleagues as well!

Go to: http://www.esurveyspro.com/Survey.aspx?id=50dd135b-05f4-472d-9539-d8d741030152

Will GM Move To Canderel


Not a chance even though the rent at Canderel is dirt cheap, it probably has enough space for the few GM employees remaining and it has a great location. Hmmm I wonder if they can add extra stories to the building if times get better.

However the subject line did get you to read about other interesting stories.


GOOD NEWS FOR THE SYMPHONY

If they only had money! Otherwise the Maestro may leave us for another spot as I BLOGGED before.

Perhaps Sandra and Dwight and Windsor's newest, bestest buddy, Jeff Watson, can find a bunch of infrastructure money for us. I am sure Jeff's powerful position in the Conservative caucus allows him to make a few calls to his Ottawa friends to get that done right away. Don't we just have mere hours and days to spare to get this new request in!
  • Windsor Armouries Concert Hall: "A Golden Opportunity"

    Needs Assessment for Feasibility Study Has Positive Results

    The overall concept of converting the Windsor Armouries into a cultural venue is a good idea", concludes Webb Management Services. "It can potentially provide the region with a high-quality performance venue at a fraction of the cost of building a new hall. In addition, the adaptive re-use of the Windsor Armouries is fundamentally a preservation project - a way to preserve a building that is historically and culturally significant".

    The physical assessment of the building received glowing remarks. Webb Management comments, "The existing geometry and materials offer what could be described as a golden opportunity for great acoustics...the Windsor Armouries building is well suited for the proposed purpose"

But wait---"The cost of renovation is estimated to be $28.3M." That is a trifling amount for our Mayor, mere lunch money considering that he will be spending almost $650M. It should be a no-brainer for Eddie to fit this project in too.

ILLEGAL PARKING

Which Member of Council will have to spend some of his/her big bucks because he/she received a parking ticket at City Hall for parking the wrong way.

I will buy a CUPE member a coffee if he/she sends me a photo taken from his/her cell phone showing the police officer tagging the car!

WEARING A "W" AT CKLW


video

"There's a hole in my bucket, dear Lisa, dear Lisa"

When you listen to this clip from the CKLW Morning lob show with Eddie Francis, this is the first thing that came to my mind after Lisa talked about the hole in her roof. I thought she might go on to say however:

"Then fix it, dear Eddie, dear Eddie, then fix it."

After all he makes "big bucks" in his words.

Not a peep from the hosts about the canal fiasco as the cause for complaints. But then again, Eddie might blamed and be forced to apologize. I wonder if he would have stormed out of the studio.

MORE CKLW CHANGES

I am still waiting for Melanie to ask me what is behind Door #3.

Here is what I learned about a change in CKLW's City Hall reporting crew.

  • Patty Handysides' shift has changed but she knew several weeks ago that it was changing. It has to do with a change in CKLW's newsroom operations. Peter Langille is taking over the City Hall coverage for AM800.

KEY TO THE CITY

I heard that the Mayor got loudly booed after the last hockey game when his named was mentioned. Oh well, with his big bucks, he can take the heat.

I wonder with the successful season and the big attendance how much money the Spitfires made on their Arena deal with the City. We know that

  • "It was projected that the city would get $1.5 million from WFCU operations in 2009. The new projection is $705,131 -- almost $800,000 less than anticipated."

If you remember the analysis of the Spitfires' deal, they were in line to make more than a few $$$. I wonder if Eddie will let us audit this deal as he was prepared to let us audit the savings from the City strike.

Naw, I don't think so! I wonder if it was not the key to the City that they received but one to a different location.

DO THE FEDS REALLY WANT SEXY PROJECTS

Here is an interesting story

  • "Baird promises speediest handout of infrastructure cash in modern times
    There have been suggestions that last week's sudden departure of top bureaucrat Kevin Lynch was the result of a clash between Conservative politicians and public servants, who are purportedly worried about the government's rush to throw money at infrastructure projects without doing due diligence.

    But Baird said bureaucrats are making an "unprecedented effort" to cut red tape and are doing "phenomenal work" to speed up the process...

    The Ontario applications, which poured in over a two-week period ending May 1, are seeking funding for all manner of municipal infrastructure projects, including road improvements, municipal building upgrades, public transit and water-and waste-management systems.

    Officials are poring over the applications, looking initially for straightforward projects - such as water main replacements - which are ready to go immediately and can be wound up by March 31, 2011.

    More complicated projects, such as those that require environmental assessments, will be saved for more critical evaluation later."

Perhaps Iggy could start acting as the Leader of the Opposition already and ask a few questions about how Jeff Watson could make the comments he did about the canal project. We have not had a good scandal for a few months now.

THEY MUST BE LAUGHING OVER THIS TOO

Writing only one column a week will be hard on Gord. People will actually have the time to read his column and think about what he says before the next one comes out.

Take this comment for instance:

  • "The power brokers in the nation's capital must have been rolling in the aisles when they learned that the lead clowns in Canada's most economically troubled city had, in a monumental hissy fit, turned thumbs down on a $32-million federal contribution for downtown revitalization...

    Cooke, who brought Windsor a host of goodies, including a casino and an art gallery, while serving in the Bob Rae government, conceded it's a new one on him to see Windsor, which has historically bitched about being shortchanged, decline to ask for money that's there for the taking. "I can't remember Windsor ever turning down money.

    "The politics of this," said Cooke, "have clearly overtaken an honest assessment of the merits of the project. So let's wipe the slate and do it right."

I wonder what language Gord will use to describe how they are reacting to the turning down of billions of dollars from private enterprise and the Senior Levels on the border file!

CANAL BUSINESS CASE

If the canal idea is so good, then why hasn't our riverfront developer, Mr. Farhi started his condominium project already? I don't think he actually owns the land yet does he?

I would trust his viewpoint about our market condition a lot more than some politician who is not risking his money.

You remember the headline the other day too

  • "Roof falls in on housing starts"

WINDSOR'S GREAT PR

Thanks to our Mayor's many recent media appearances, when people think of disadvantaged cities in Canada, guess which one they think of first. Here is a story out of Fredericton:

  • "He said there's a dichotomy between the worst-case scenarios people are learning about in the media and what people in this region are seeing and experiencing.

    "The people I talk to would for the most part be confused. They're confused by what they see on the street and hear on the news. Their personal experience doesn't match what they're hearing on the news," Clark said,

    They're not experiencing job losses like in Windsor, Ont., he said."

Good to know we are synonymous for something. And we did it without a Mayor's PR Department or spending thousands of dollars on glossy magazines!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BREAKINGBLOGNEWS: Auditor General Says Federal Bridges Are Deficient

And someone truly believes that the Feds should have responsibility for a new crossing in Windsor/Detroit. You cannot do so after reading this.

Perhaps the Auditor General should have suggested that the Government people be taught how to operate a bridge by the Ambassador Bridge Company. They seem to know what they are doing.

Now when is she going to audit DRIC and how Transport Canada has handled the border file and the waste of money! Minister Baird should be ashamed he made the speech he did in Windsor. His staff let him down, again!

Note the highlighted sections. It will make you cringe to think of what they would do here. Sean O'Dell needs to read the truck traffic section too.

The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited

What we examined

Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL or the Corporation) is a Crown corporation responsible for three important bridges and other infrastructure in the Montréal area. It is also responsible for three international bridges in Ontario. These assets are operated by its three subsidiary corporations: Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, in Montréal; Seaway International Bridge Corporation, Ltd. in Cornwall; and St. Mary’s River Bridge Company in Sault Ste. Marie, and by two US bridge operators.

Federal Bridge Corporation Limited is responsible for ensuring that the bridges and structures in its care and control are safe and efficient for users. FBCL and its subsidiaries employ more than 150 people. The Corporation reports to Parliament through the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

We examined whether Federal Bridge Corporation Limited and its subsidiaries have systems and practices in place to provide the Corporation with reasonable assurance that assets are safeguarded and controlled, resources are managed economically and efficiently, and operations are carried out effectively. Our detailed examination work in both the parent corporation and the subsidiaries focused on the areas of corporate governance, bridge management, corporate risk management, strategic planning, performance measurement and reporting, consultations with First Nations, contracting, and environmental management.

Why it’s important

Federal Bridge Corporation Limited and its subsidiaries own and manage some of the most important and strategic fixed-link crossings in Canada. Each year, about 134 million vehicles and about $67 billion worth of merchandise cross its bridges, making them among the busiest in North America. These structures play a vital role in connecting Canada’s transportation and economic network with the world.

Recent tragic events in North America involving aging bridge structures have focused public attention on bridge safety. Federal Bridge Corporation Limited and its subsidiaries face the significant challenges of strains on its own aging structures, the introduction of new safety and security requirements for bridges and international crossings, and the impact of declining commercial traffic volumes on bridge revenues.

What we found

We identified two significant deficiencies in the systems and practices we examined.

Unresolved funding requirements and a threat to financial sustainability.

We found a significant deficiency in the Corporation’s ability to maintain and repair existing bridges and facilities, given the status of current funding. Significant capital investments are needed at several bridges in the Montréal area and at international bridges. FBCL estimates costs to maintain and repair existing bridges and facilities at $615 million over the next five years. FBCL estimates that it will lack about $371million in revenues to cover these costs and other operating expenses over the next five years. Because FBCL and its subsidiaries do not have borrowing authority, federal funding will be needed for the repairs. If the repair programs do not proceed in a timely manner, the ability to safeguard the bridges and maintain current levels of service could be compromised and could increase the safety risk. At the same time, the Corporation foresees a threat to its financial sustainability as a result of decreased truck traffic and toll revenues at the international bridges. FBCL needs to work with the government to resolve these funding requirements and find additional revenue sources in order to remain financially self-sustaining in the long term.

Insufficient oversight by the parent Board.

We found a significant deficiency in the area of corporate governance, in that the parent corporation’s Board has not exercised its oversight role with respect to the affairs of FBCL and its subsidiaries. The Board of FBCL has not obtained from management of both the parent and the subsidiaries all the information it needs on a timely and regular basis to carry out effective oversight. The small size of the parent corporation’s Board—only four members—makes it difficult to have the appropriate mix of skills and experience needed to properly oversee the wide-ranging affairs of FBCL and its subsidiaries. In addition, FBCL was without a permanent chief executive officer for more than a year.

In other systems and practices we examined, we found no significant deficiencies but noted another area that needs improvement.

While key elements of a bridge management system are in place, and inspection practices are industry-accepted, Federal Bridge Corporation Limited needs to develop a corporate-wide long-term maintenance plan for dealing proactively with the aging of bridges and other facilities across the Corporation. It also needs to take a broader approach to risk management that considers all significant risks to all the structures operated by its subsidiaries and bridge operators.

Federal Bridge Corporation Limited and its Board have responded. The Corporation and the Board agree with our recommendations. Their responses follow each recommendation in the report.

Have Three Become Five. OR More


Will the canal fiasco be Eddie's undoing the way DRTP was for ex-Mayor Mike Hurst.

We'll know soon enough.

The "Three" are the Three Blind Mice whom Henderson named after Councillors Halberstadt, Dilkens and Marra dared defy our Mayor and
  • "sided with an infuriated bridge company in opposing the passing of interim control and demolition control bylaws designed to halt the bulldozers in historic Olde Sandwich while imaginative plans for the community are moving forward."
This has nothing to do with the border file but rather Councillors tired of being treated as irrelevant by a Mayor who is running roughshod over Democracy in this City.

Here is what Councillor Jones said the other day:
  • "Council has yet to begin debate on the canal district proposal, but Coun. Ron Jones said he's already heard enough to know he won't be supporting it.

    "It's not going to fly ... it's a pipe dream," said Jones. His Ward 2 would host the marina-canal development, a multimillion-dollar plan a study group and consultants have identified as the Windsor downtown's way out of economic decline.

    He's angry at how Mayor Eddie Francis has handled the file since the concept was first unveiled last summer, and he dismisses the privately funded "nice, glossy report" handed councillors Monday night.

    "It's my ward -- I haven't been consulted. I'm just tired of it," said Jones."

He and his Wardmate had said previously:

  • "Councillors Ron Jones and Caroline Postma, whose Ward 2 would host the marina-canal, have said they won't vote on the proposal until they and their constituents have had an opportunity to see it."

Now Councillor Postma has written in her Blog "Shame on You Gord Henderson"
http://myward2.blogspot.com/2009/05/shame-on-you-gord-henderson.html

  • "Council applied for over $180 million in projects that are sorely needed like sewers, retention ponds that will help stop flooding basements, much needed airport upgrades to support the business expanding for a perishable goods center, major intersection improvements and long awaited city center street-scape. If the Feds will not fund these projects because they don’t have a “Wow” factor, then there is a fundamental problem with their system. Is council supposed to ignore the major capital expenditures we have on the books to improve the quality of life for residents because MP Jeff Watson and his government say roads and sewers are not “pie in the sky” projects...

    Lesson to be learned –opinion columnists don’t have to report objectively, especially if your viewpoint is different from that of their favourite politician!"

Perhaps the two Councillors are tired of being blamed for Eddie's failures since he has to point the finger at someone else. Always. Even when he supposedly apologizes, he really does not do it.

Here is an example of how Eddie operates after Councillors chastised him for not giving them information on the canal deal but giving it to the Feds 6 weeks before and not telling them anything:

  • "Francis questions why the same councillors who were so determined to see every detail in advance of the marina-canal project before submitting an application for stimulus funding had no such problems in approving $22 million in airport upgrades and $60 million for an underground stormwater basin without similar information."

I heard from outraged inside moles after that remark who were disgusted that Francis made Counillors look like fools. More importantly, it was pointed out that Eddie also demonstrated his contempt for Councillors again by admitting, if what he said was true, that he had hid information from them for another $82M worth of projects!

OK dear reader, time for you to fill in this survey. Who will be number 6
http://www.esurveyspro.com/Survey.aspx?id=50dd135b-05f4-472d-9539-d8d741030152

Citizens For Jobs Now Coverage


Wow, terrific Star coverage for a mere office opening. Front page news!

Can you imagine what will happen when they start organizing citizens, setting up citizens meetings to talk about jobs and holding press conferences demanding that politicians get off their rear ends and deliver the billions of dollars of infrastructure money that has been promised to Windsor for years.

As a STOPDRTP alumnus, it will be a pleasure to watch and observe as the torch is passed to another citizens grassroots movement that WILL make our City better.