Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 12, 2009

Canada's Cynicism

You really do need to read this excerpt from a paper that I found by chance on the Internet. It was an eyeopener for me and explained a lot about why Canada is acting as it is on the border file.

It could have been written today since it is so current. It wasn't. It was written in 2001.

This helps explain the 50 year old Canadian paranoia over the border and why the Ambassador Bridge Company supposedly has to be forced to sell out to the Government.
  • "Historically, Canadian policy has wavered between the desire for closer economic ties with the United States, and the desire to maintain a safe distance from the world’s most powerful country. Three elections – in 1891, 1911 and 1988 – were fought on the issue of free trade with the U.S., and even in relatively peaceful economic times, there is no shortage of concerns about perceived threats to Canadian sovereignty from the United States.

    While this debate is ongoing, the context in which it takes place is changing rapidly. Over the past decade, Canada’s economic ties to the United States have deepened markedly, first under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), later expanded to include Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Elsewhere, economic integration is increasing, both multilaterally under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and regionally through the European Union, the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

    Canada and the United States enjoy one of the closest relationships in the world. Over the years, the United States has been a key ingredient in ensuring Canada’s security and prosperity. Although disagreements and disputes can be found in any relationship, the Canada-U.S. relationship is very secure, as evidenced by the world’s longest undefended border, across which more than $1.5 billion of goods crosses daily.

    Because of the importance of the United States to Canada’s well-being, it is important even in tranquil, prosperous times that Canada pay attention to its relationship with its neighbour to the south. Managing this relationship is becoming more complex, for a number of reasons.

    First, the world-wide trend toward economic integration is redefining sovereignty and the conditions under which nations can be independent, interdependent and prosperous. This trend has led some policy analysts to call for increased integration with the United States.

    Second, guaranteeing access to Canada’s most important market (and the wealthiest country in the world), always an important concern, must be accomplished within the context of a changing United States. The focal point of U.S. power is on the move. Canada has traditionally had a “special relationship” with Washington, founded on the common understanding of leaders and policy-makers who had the same shared experiences of the Great Depression and World War II. However, as the locus of U.S. power shifts from the Northeast to the Southwest, Canada may find it increasingly difficult to be understood by, and plead its case in, Washington.

    Third, a new generation of U.S. leaders, exemplified by President George W. Bush, formerly Governor of Texas, is coming into power, for whom Canada is only one of many countries with which the U.S. deals. The focus of the U.S. will increasingly be on a newly vibrant Mexico under President Vicente Fox.

    Fourth, traditional concerns about overdependence on the U.S. market for Canada’s economic well-being remain. Worries have also been expressed about NAFTA provisions, such as the investor-state investment rules under Chapter 11; critics worry that these rules erode national power to establish environmental and other regulations. Ironically, the framers of Chapter 11 did not foresee this problem with what was supposed to be a tool to protect Canadian and U.S. investments in Mexico. There is the ever-present concern over protection of Canadian culture in the face of the allure of U.S. cultural products, as evidenced by the dispute over “split-run” magazines in the late 1990s.

    Finally, there are the recurring elements that affect any close relationship, related to implementation of the FTA and the NAFTA, and the reality of being a small country located next to the most powerful country in history."

Has anything really changed?

The problem I have is Canada's position. There is the Realpolitik that Canada uses on the one hand but not on the other.

Remember how our leaders were using the war in Afghanistan to curry favour with the new Obama Administration. Body bags for trade concessions and no protectionism.

Why aren't they using the same Realpolitik logic in dealing with the Bridge Company? The Bridge Company should be considered their best partner not their worst enemy! They can use their alliances with the Americans better than Canada ever can, especially after the latest news story about our porous border. Why Canada is not relying on their assistance to deal with the US Government is beyond me.

It is not a public vs. private ownership issue as some would like us to believe. The Government always intended to "turn over" the border crossing to a private operator for up to 99 years, depending on the P3 term!

It is in the interest of both parties to see that the border is open and operating smoothly. It is in both their interests that traffic, especially truck traffic, increases back to the volumes of the past. It is beneficial to both that border impediments are not imposed on exporters and importers so that the Americans' "Dirty Little Secret" does not hurt our economy.

I am sure that Canada knows that the Bridge Company can take and has taken action that it can never do that is beneficial for trade including suing the US Government to open booths to end line-ups in Canada. Which P3 operator would dare do that especially when American Governments are potential clients! What is legally perfectly acceptable for the Bridge Company to do would create a diplomatic war if Canada ever tried it.

Canada knows it is losing the border war. No wonder the last resort is the smear campaign. From what I have heard, it is backfiring badly with those at whom it was supposed to be targeted.

Why is Canada acting this way?

Simple. Money is one reason. And I will talk about that in another BLOG about how P3s are ripping us off.

More importantly, some of the people who were involved back when there was a settlement with the Bridge Company over FIRA are now deeply involved in the strategy against them today. They lost once badly before. They think they will never again have a chance to take over the Bridge. Accordingly, their egos cannot afford a second battering no matter what it may wind up doing to US/Canada relations.

As more and more is discovered, the worse it will become for Canada in the eyes of the Americans. What is truly amazing though to me is that Canadian officials are giving speeches that will allow us to be buried.

For that, you will have to read my next Border BLOG!

It's All Relative

The Windsor Star is pathetic. I am so glad that I cancelled my newspaper subscription.

You have to read this non-answer from the Star's Publisher on the Star's website on "Municipal strike Q&A." I can understand why he is embarrassed. For all the years after the appointment was made, the Star has never disclosed the relationship in a Star story to its readers. Even now the Publisher has difficulty setting out the facts and someone "Tim" has to ask question to get the answer that readers of this BLOG have known for a long time.

  • "John Coleman is The Star's editorial page editor and his wife is Norma Coleman, who is chief of staff in the mayor's office."

Take a look at how this disclosure was made. It is a story in itself

10:34 [Comment From Chris] WINDSOR STAR is against the STRIKERS. I guess it helps that the MAYOR has ties to the WIndsor Star. YOu people are suppose to REPORT the facts. NOT EDDIE's version of these facts!

11:24 [Comment From Rob] I keep hearing about a connection between the editor of the Windsor Star and the mayor's office. (Someone's wife works directly with the mayor?) If this connection exists when was the last time, or first time, that this connection has been aknowledged by the editorial board to the public? I think that such a possible conflict of interest should be disclosed.

11:51 The Windsor Star: Someone asked about Star editorial page editor John Coleman's connection with the mayor's office and here's a response from Star publisher Jim Venney.

11:51 The Windsor Star: The Windsor Star editorial opinions are developed and finalized in the Publisher's Office. They are developed in a group setting by a group usually composed of Publisher Jim Venney, Editor-in-Chief Marty Beneteau, Editorial Page Editor John Coleman and Karen Hall. We believe that even if one member of our group has a bias or conflict, the remainder of the group is in a position to offset that bias. We also believe this method in an organization setting actually results in opinion formation that is far less open to conflict of interest that is more possible in the world of say - individual blogs. In this case the potential for conflict for one member of the group is not a conflict for the overall group. Members of the group are able to adjust (or not adjust) as they see fit given their knowledge of the situation and the people involved.

12:33 The Windsor Star: Subsequent to closing, Tim at 11:53 asked, "So does John Coleman have a connection to the mayor's office? Yes or no?" The answer to the question is yes. John Coleman is The Star's editorial page editor and his wife is Norma Coleman, who is chief of staff in the mayor's office. Please read The Windsor Star comment above to understand how editorial opinions are formulated. "

A good reporter would never have allowed a non-answer like the Publisher's to be given without a followup.

Why did the Star have the need to mention Tim's question "subsequent to closing?" Did someone get mad internally, if anyone? Who was called for an opinion? Who made the decision? I wonder what happened between 11:53 and 12:33 before the next answer came out.

The matter was first raised at 10:34, then at 11:24 with the first answer being given at 11:51.

I wonder if there were Editorial Board meetings to come up with the answers at 11:51 and 12:33 since it took so long to answer. The answer on editorials was very similar to that given in a recent Star Editorial wasn't it but with much more elaboration. I wonder why that was done too:

  • "Windsor Star editorial opinions are too close to the mayor's opinions:

    All Windsor Star editorial opinions are developed and finalized through the Publisher's Office, not the Mayor's Office."

Chris and Doug had the good sense to let the Publisher bury himself with his non-response.

While they are not comparable situations, here is how the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act suggests that conflicts be handled just as a matter of interest:

  • When present at meeting at which matter considered

    5. (1) Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member..,.

    (b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and

    (c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question.

    Where member to leave closed meeting

    (2) Where the meeting referred to in subsection (1) is not open to the public, in addition to complying with the requirements of that subsection, the member shall forthwith leave the meeting or the part of the meeting during which the matter is under consideration.

In passing, there was a poll during the Q&A time period asking people if the City should agree to binding arbitration. My recollection is that people were heavily opposed at first but at 11:07, 53% were in favour. Was that the final number? If so, why didn't the Star show that result?

Take a look at what I BLOGGED before about what Marty Beneteau said about John Coleman on Face-to-Face and you decide if there is a change at the Star:

  • As you know my issue with the Star is their failure to report on the fact that one of its Editors, John Coleman, is married to the Mayor of Windsor's Chief of Staff, Norma Coleman. We learned that not only is Beneteau aware of the possible conflict but so is the Star's publisher, and right from the start.

    Beneteau tried to deflect the issue by saying that John is a man of the highest integrity. Who has doubted that? That's not the issue and it should not be personalized that way at all.

    The issues are the Star's failure to report something that its subscribers should have known about a long time ago, not just a week before the election and its hypocrisy in running the story "Politicians' roles in media decried." The Star had the chance to talk about its situation as it discussed that of others but it chose not to do so.

    The explanation given by Beneteau was very enlightening. You decide for yourself its significance:

    --he gave no reason why the relationship was never reported
    --he gave no explanation why Norma's appointment was made as it was
    --we learned that John Coleman is Gord Henderson's editor, that they work collaboratively together and that they hash out ideas together
    --we also learned that John Coleman does not take part in any discussions when it comes to the Mayor's office and recuses himself from the debate (but what about issues that impact the political position of the Mayor such as the border or the arena or Police Board or the coroner's inquest demand---is John involved?)
    --we learned that Beneteau's Publisher helps him in navigating this
    --we never did learn what John actually is allowed to do in his job and what he cannot do compare what the Star did with that done by the other papers mentioned.

In the past

  • "John Coleman does not take part in any discussions when it comes to the Mayor's office and recuses himself from the debate."

We now learn that:

  • "The Windsor Star editorial opinions are developed and finalized in the Publisher's Office. They are developed in a group setting by a group usually composed of Publisher Jim Venney, Editor-in-Chief Marty Beneteau, Editorial Page Editor John Coleman and Karen Hall. We believe that even if one member of our group has a bias or conflict, the remainder of the group is in a position to offset that bias."

There is no point huffing and puffing over it. The Star decided early on at the highest levels within the Paper what position it was going to take. They did not feel the need to make the disclosure. Its readers did not have to know.

Silly Ontario Press Council. This means nothing:

  • "In the interest of credibility, a column should disclose any possible conflict of interest on the part of the writer. "

You might want to re-read this BLOG I wrote some time ago

Now I understand this Beneteau comment much better:

  • "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change."

Shame on the Star! I finally cancelled my Star subscription to show my disgust and am glad I did.

I am sure that now you can really appreciate the work done by the BLOGGERs in this town!

The Same Or Different

Does Windsor want to be the same as other Communities in Ontario or different.

I guess it all depends.

We have heard that the CUPE workers should not have PRBs for new hires because other cities do not have them. So we want to be the same.

Yet in the Firefighters Arbitration we learned that we want to be different:
  • "But the main focus of Saunders was an association proposal to reduce the average firefighter workweek from 48 hours to 42. The city's 257 firefighters would still work two 24-hour shifts, but the average shift workload annually would be reduced over the entire year to equal 42 hours per week.

    Windsor is the only major Canadian city not to have 42-hour workweeks, but also the only one to retain 24-hour shifts. In other cities, firefighters work a mix of 10-hour day shifts and 14-hour night shifts.

    "The salary for a first-class firefighter is $69,000. The average Ontario firefighter made $78,000 in 2008."

And we have fought to be different too:

  • "Gatineau transit officials are asking federal Transport Minister John Baird to reconsider his decision to impose commercial work/rest driving rules on federally regulated municipal transit drivers, but they aren’t anticipating success.

    Citing safety issues, Baird ended an exemption from the rules on Wednesday and gave the transit companies six months to comply.

    Céline Gauthier, head of public affairs at Société de transport de l'Outaouais, Gatineau's transit company, said "safety has never been a problem,” and that the new restrictions will mean the company has to hire 15 more drivers at a cost of about $1 million per year.

    “We are asking them to reconsider, but the decision has been made, so we don’t have great anticipation that they will,” Gauthier said.

    The transit systems in Ottawa, Gatineau and Windsor are federally regulated because they cross provincial and international borders.

    At the City of Ottawa’s request during last winter’s 53-day transit strike, Baird started a review of the transit companies’ exemptions from commercial rules on maximum shifts and minimum rest periods for drivers.

    City council wanted the changes because councillors thought ending the exemption would save OC Transpo money by limiting overtime, and that the safety of riders and citizens was being put in jeopardy as a result of the exemption — though the city produced no evidence that driver fatigue had contributed to any accidents.

    The striking transit union wanted to preserve the status quo, which permits some drivers to book very long work periods and rack up many hours of overtime along the way.

    Officials at Windsor, Gatineau and the Canadian Urban Transportation Association urged Baird not to make the changes."

Obviously, when it is convenient be the same, otherwise be different.

It's too bad that we did not have the ability to be the same as London and resolve matters with our Unions:

  • "The city of London has struck a tentative deal with its outside workers that would limit wage increases next year to one per cent and avoid labour strife of the sort that has led to a lengthy strike in Windsor, The Free Press has learned...

    While nothing has been said officially by either city hall or the union, sources say the potential deal has been a few months in the works and began when the city’s chief administrative officer, Jeff Fielding, approached Local 107 President Eric Townshend and asked if the union might agree to a contract extension that reflects how battered the local economy has been by a worldwide recession.

    The two side exchanged proposals before settling on the tentative deal that is being voted on today by outside workers."

No Postage Required

Lots of emails coming in, many of them about the strike. Take a look at then and consider some different perspectives.

1) I would just like to make a comment on the post retirement benefits being fought for by the city unions.

When you look at this issue from a broader perspective offering post retirement benefits makes economic sense. We have a universal health system and we have an aging population. We should be looking to expand these benefits to all sectors, not cut them.

I am a nurse who works with seniors everyday and I see first hand the consequences of what is covered and not covered for seniors through OHIP and the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB). Many medications are not covered under ODB including several pain medications and also drugs for many chronic diseases. These drugs are often prohibitively expensive for seniors without coverage and I have seen seniors on fixed incomes forced to choose between paying for the drugs they need to stay healthy and the food they also need to stay healthy as these drugs can cost in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars monthly depending on what you been prescribed.

The government has also delisted physiotherapy and occupational therapy which has a profound impact on the functional health of seniors whose bodies have been damaged from the hard work they have done all their lives. Post retirement benefits allow seniors to access expensive physio and occupational therapy (which generally costs between 45 and 70 $ per session) so they can heal from injuries or surgery and maintain the strength and function that they have.

Seniors who don't have access to the drugs and therapy that they need to keep them healthy wind up needing expensive hospital care for preventable issues or wind up in tax subsidized nursing homes.

I would rather pay a little more for a product or service today so that workers can have access to the medications and treatments they need to keep them healthy in the future than to pay the much larger tax costs involved for nursing home admissions and hospital admissions for seniors we didn't care enough to keep healthy. We have to realize that one way or the other, whether we pay the pied piper municipally or provincially, we will pay for post retirement health care but the prevention offered by the protections of post retirement benefits is far cheaper than paying for the care these people will need if their health conditions get out of control because they can't afford what they need to stay healthy.

Invariably some will argue that we should be saving to take care of ourselves in retirement and I agree that this is something we should all aspire to do but it is not always possible for everybody to save at all or enough. Also, as I joke with my husband, we picked a good time to be poor - anybody who has lost savings and investments during the market crash will tell you it might not be a good idea to rely exclusively on your saving because no matter what you do right, they might not be there when you need them.

Hope you find the perspective interesting.

2) i admire what you do. it is almost enough to make me rue my not
becoming a lawyer. almost.

3) half of social service people and daycares' paycheque comes from the province... not sure about other of the workers in CUPE but i believe that transfer payments cover a HUGE portion of employee payroll for city workers. Much of it is NOT directly out of property taxpayer pockets ... why do you think they
could finalize 2009 budget for the city when they don't even know the outcome of the labour dispute?

4) good work on your recent blog. right on.

5) wondering what can be done about the HUGE profits coming in to Windsor Star
over the internet now ... their traffic must be ENORMOUS! ... since they use traffic figures to sell advertising ... well, we stupid ones, myself included are giving them all that they need on a silver platter with every article they write

6) Thanks for your comments – they keep me going everyday!

CUPE has made Monday June 8th – Cancel The Windsor Star Day. We are all calling to cease our subscription on Monday (not that it will make any difference to them, but it sure will make us CUPE members like we won a small battle.)

Feel free to join us!

7) Just wanted to say keep up the great work on the strike blogs. I love it!

I wish someone would answer the question. How many full time CUPE 543 or 82 workers are there?

The public perception is that 1800 employees are seeking PRB and pensions as well as for new hires. The number 1800 keeps being reported by the media however, if you remove the number of part time, seasonal and temporary employees how many do you actually have that are eligible for for PRB and pensions.

Today in these economic times I do not believe that the Corporation of the City of Windsor, or any other business is going to hire full time personal. Exactly, they are going to continue hiring part time only so the added expenses of benefits will be kept out of the equation. Is the Mayor holding off on going back to the table because the public believes all 1800 are eligible? Is he "selling the farm" if he removes the number of ineligible employees?

8) I would like to see the payroll run for overtime paid out to non union
staff since we have been on strike.

One non union worker was bragging he had 18 thousand overtime since the
strike started. I would love to see the payroll run. It is available
and up to date because the cheque run can not be done until they have
looked at the computer run off. I want to see that. Don't you.

9) RE post retirement benefits.

These benefits were fought hard for many years ago by strikes. They walked the picket line and went without paycheques to secure the future of employees, benefits that these [name of Councillors] enjoy today.

Because the city could not pay the rate that Chryslers or the other 2 were getting they opted to give benefits to the employees. Never did the ordinary city worker make what a big 3 employee made.

10) I think the Windsor Star is despicable for publishing that. Maybe she just doesn't understand the complications of having her and her baby's picture out there. She is young we can forgive her misjudgment BUT NOT THE WINDSOR STAR.

Who in God's name allowed that to be published.

And.... if anything happens to her from who knows maybe some druggy or mentally deranged person then the person that authorized that to go to press should be [dealt with] accordingly.

Why do we all expect more from the Windsor Star... THIS TIME THEY HAVE GONE TO FAR.

11) "It's hard to continue to be out on strike though when your employer uses your money as a taxpayer to fight you."

that's a very good point, isn't it?

the other good advice you offer is to avoid the star's bait. the trouble here though is that no one else seems wont to "ignore the bait" and therefore folk like myself have no choice but to take up proverbial arms and fight some of the more obscene comments back. you know, out of every 18 cupe-bashing comments, one of them at the very least has to present the other point of view.

so its tricky for many to actually follow through, not swallow the bait and observe your advice.

anyway, thanks again. you do this poor community a great service by your punditry.

12) I wonder if the Councillors will take advantage of his [the Mayor's] absence and get us back to work?

13) i read your blog and that is what led me to send my recent email. You are doing a good job.

14) This is such a dirty strike. My very first strike ever. And hopefully my last strike ever. Worst part of it is the public smearing through the media. When you are a public servant (as opposed to a private company employee) media supports City Hall. Impossible to get fair reporting over here... And it is easy to get public support for saying no to "demands of the public servant" when it is taxpayer money you are talking about. Almost a hopeless situation for all of us. Our entire town is suffering and there is NO end in sight.

If you get a chance, watch our CUPE 543 & 82 video about Strike of 2009 called "Hold the Line"

(please share with everyone you know ... inside Windsor and outside Windsor especially ... thanks)

The strike is "all about garbage" in our public's eyes yet of our 1800 employees on the street for 2 months now, only 28 people do the job of garbage collection for the entire city. The rest of us are building inspectors, by-law enforcement, childcare, senior care, clerks, parks & rec - ie, lifeguards & programmers, welfare workers, sewage workers, IT experts, we even have a museum curator out on the street with us.

To address the strike I have a single garbage can at the end of my driveway. No garbage in it to smell or draw rodents or flies. It is weighed down with a couple of bricks inside and the lid has bungee cords so it doesn't blow away. On my garbage can I have a sign. It is my hope that this silent protest will help end this bitter strike. Some of my friends & family have "put one to the curb" with a sign too. One of my cousins (not in Windsor) has honoured me by doing it too and attaching a sign that says, "Waiting for my Cousin's Garbage Collector". Please don't feel that you cannot help because you are far away. Protest can come for anywhere and anyone who cares about anyone or anything. In fact, the farther away from the injustice, the better in my mind. I'll attach a photo so you can laugh at me too. Or you can help me. If you did help me, I would sooooooooooooooo LOVE to see the photo of yours!

15) Hi Ed, enjoyed your blog this week, I'm sorry the strike is going on too long and you'd rather be reporting about other things lol. Anyways, a couple things I wanted to say to you, after just looking at the Windsor Star Website.

They have an article on there now about Jim Wood's family being threatened. I can't help but wonder why they have that pic of his pretty daughter (with a distinctive tatoo) and his adorable baby grandson. When the MAYOR's family was supposedly threatened, I do not RECALL seeing a pic of MICHELLE and his 2 YEAR OLD CHILD. Why publicize the pic of Jim's daughter and grandson? Now anyone going down the street will be able to recognize them.

Could I recognize Michelle and Baby Francis? Hmmm, I think not, its been a while since Michelle's FACE was in the paper. I guess it's a good thing that the Mayor's wife hasn't had her face in the paper lately because we wouldn't want HER to become a target of public rage.

Anyways, just wanted to say keep up with the good reporting, I know this strike is tiresome, but we strikers are tired of it too and just want to get back to work...

I liked that you mentioned the General Manager driving up and down Eddie's street that day. Would be interesting to know how that person found out about it.

Well, I have picketing duty tomorrow, I must go to bed soon.

16) i think you know, but the senior manager of which you speak
(latest blog entry) -- the one with the fast film and
quicker camera -- is [Name deleted].

how that person got out there that quick is anyone's guess?

(i'm beginning to think there's an eddie mole in the top
brass at CUPE ?)

by the bye, not one person at the club alouette meeting
yesterday wanted the strike to drag on. which tells me that
all these vocal anti-unionist bigmouths a) live in their
parent's basements and are clueless dimwits, or
b) they are downright cowards who cannot back
their opinions up with a public voice at a town hall

eddie is now losing his own game. "it isn't a farm,
its the city you were born and raised in".

also, why is it "council's mandate" to crush its employees
union? -- and not to run this city to the very best of their
ability? viz: waitaminute! -- exactly what is council's role
as our government? who asked for this destructive imperative
to be placed before the civic responsibility of representing
your constituents? i did not. did you? who then?

now the push is to find the chinks in the armour. fulvio,
drew, alan and marra. which 3 to make the 6 needed to go to
arbitration. if that is to be the route?

otherwise, "replacement workers" i fear will bring such
severe and extreme civil unrest to this city of roses that
the ford strike of 45 will seem a tickertape parade by
comparison. that's not a threat made by me, that's my
diagnosis of what will happen. it will be very very ugly.

or, all of it could be averted for the price of a
cheeseburger? take your pick citizens.

what gives?

what is wrong with this city?

do keep up the fine work, sir.

17) Loved today’s blog. I knew the details on one of the security people hired from out of town ~ where she’s from, when she arrived, and the fact that the City is paying to put her and others up in a hotel for the duration of the strike...

My husband told me he was listening to 1550 AM News on the way home. Apparently Alan Halberstadt stated he wanted to talk to the Ministry of Labour to see if the Union can go back to work, and then the teams can settle the negotiations afterwards. Then the Mayor was interviewed, and he said angrily that “Halberstadt voted twice against arbitration, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. It would appear that some of the councilors may be jumping ship. Interesting, eh?

I’ll have to e-mail [Name of Councillor] again, and see if I can get him going, especially about paying for retirees. Jr. mentioned that the Mayor was considering replacement staff, and Jr. commented that it would do more harm to employee relations….duhhhh. Anyway, I’ll suggest to [Name of Councillor] that these retirees are replacement staff, and have him wrestle with that.

A few of the veterans showed up today to clean up the memorial area at City Hall for their D-Day celebrations. I thought it was tomorrow, the 6th., but apparently it’s being held on the Sunday. They had asked the Union’s permission to do that, and of course both Locals said yes. However, we thought we would surprise the Vets and our team showed up to help cut and rake the grass and clean up the area ~ with both Unions permission of course. There were 3 gentlemen that showed up to clean up the area, and when we showed up to help them they were just overjoyed. We even had a mobile power washer show up. The place looks great. However, the Star showed up and asked “Did somebody try and cut the grass and you guys showed up to stop them?” Patrick told them we were here to assist the Vets. The A-Team also showed up...

18) both sides are being stupid and i really believe someone will get hurt
before this is over. i wish they would just settle. i fear for everyone's

19) I am writing to you in hopes of someone listening to a plea of a family member of a CUPE striker.

My husband has been a City employee for over 20 years. He has always enjoyed and respected his job. As a family, we have been extremely pleased with the security that this job brings to our household. We have never ever taken his job for granted.

I myself was born and raised in this great city, and I have with great pride boasted of the compassion and warmth that this city beams with. I can completely understand differences of opinions.....that is healthy. What I can't wrap my head around at all is the hate that is tearing this city apart through this strike. It has come down quickly and aggressively. I have to wonder if even when this strike is settled if the wounds will be too severe to be forgotten. I think that in these desperate times of plant closures and bankruptcies that people are feeling the need to band together to somehow feel in control. The problem being they've banded together to "hate" a large group of innocent people.

I have worked at my place of employment for over 25 years....with again great pride. I am known to be a caring, quiet person (who by the way, has never been moved to the point of emailing someone such as yourself). It is amazing how many people feel the need to lash out at me, knowing that I am married to a City employee. This is not acceptable. Normal, easy going people are so agitated by this dilemma, it is, in my opinion spreading these hateful feelings/emotions like a disease in this city. ....And week by week, day by day it is increasing.
I have read the past few blogs you've written regarding this mess....I would love your opinion on what I could do to get someone to listen. I have shed enough tears....I'm getting very angry now.

I think most people would gladly share the expense for post retirement, or completely fund it themselves.....but, at this point it just needs to get done. If binding arbitration is what is needed, so be it, whatever will end this pain that everyone is sharing.

I'm not sure if Mayor Francis wants to break the union or just break the city......but breaking is definitely what's happening. The first to go will be these people's spirits.

Please, I don't know who else to reach out to.....someone needs to help these people that are being made out to be heartless villains.

20) a few retired city workers came down to the line yesterday and they let us know that management has been calling them and asking them to come back to work. [Name of person] has been calling retired staff (union and non union) and asking them to return to work for the duration of the strike. It seems management is burnt out and would like to take vacations. Now the part that sets off a fuse in my brain is that not only are they being asked backed to work, but they are being offered wages that are 2-3 times the regular wage. For example, one individual said she was offered $34/hour. Another said he was offered $58/hour.

21) Eddie's been on AM800 since 9 a.m....He was trying to do damage control. Anybody that's been following the antics being pulled could see/hear it. Honestly, his voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

22) omg!!!

wouldn't it be delightful to have a blog about farmer macfrancis' workers on his farm!

cutting grass, garbage hauling, lifeguarding, possibilities are endless!

"salary $X, photo priceless" under each of the photos ...

hey, already we have a photo of Executive Director Don Sadler with a garbage bag

how about this? ... you can announce that you are beginning a scrapbook on "The MacFrancis Farm" and he could be your very first entry.

if you wanted contrast you could have a photo of a director BESIDE a photo of a worker whose job they are doing (like a garbage man) showing the comparable pay received for the same work ...

23) Hi Ed,

Re: Your thoughts on the Security force for the strike.

This is probably the one “noble” act that all strike-bound companies with even two brain cells colliding do – bring in outside security.

Why? Never pit the local security employees against the local dispute participants. Everybody has to live in their town after a strike is over. You know how small a town Windsor is – it would be a disaster.

Strikes are emotionally charged. Dispassionate security is critical. The only way to achieve balance is to bring in people who have no stake in either side.

The money spent on outside security is, in reality, probably only minimally more than the cost of local security. It’s going to be spent anyway. The City does have a responsibility to protect taxpayer assets (OK – I agree – that’s a whole other blog!).

I’m not defending outside security. We all saw the devastating results of a CAW member being run over by a security van. I’m just stating the thinking behind this issue.

24) Ontario Works recipients are complaining that it is taking too long to receive their cheques. New Applicants are waiting 4 weeks for an application to be taken over the phone. I hear that the management staff is getting burned out. They are tired ~ not used to working so hard. Even they want the CUPE workers back to work.

25) I am a CUPE worker who was referred to your site by a fellow worker. After feeling so suffocated by the poor journalism of the Windsor Star your blog has been like a breath of fresh air. To see a bit of the whole story instead of the half truths published by our local rag brings me a little hope. I know CUPE is not without blame for the current impasse but I think if more people knew what was going on at city hall we would be back at work already.

Curiously, in the online story about "66% of Windsorites being in favour of arbitration," the Windsor Star makes a point of headlining that the poll was commissioned by CUPE but doesn't mention Viewpoints Research Ltd. until the fourth paragraph. Other legitimate news outlets I am familiar with usually name who conducted the poll first then mention who commissioned it. More fine journalism from the Windsor Star.

Anyways, nice work, keep at it. I'll be checking in regularly.

26) [At his Ward meeting] I'll undoubtedly forget some details. The PRB is being touted as a $3.9 million legacy cost. Ken Jr broke the cost down to the lowest form as being represented as a $5 per year cost to the average tax payer. However he also said that CUPE has made that move by offering 50 cents toward the $1.35 an hour it represents to the employee. Lewenza said that there are many ways the funding can be achieved if council had the will to do so, and that there is 30 years over which the funding can occur. He held his fingers a cm apart and said, "We're this close to a solution." But then he said that there are four members of council who will never be part of the solution. That leaves six members who need to be pressured to swing that vote. They need to have their feet held to the fire until they agree to move on with finding the funding formula.

27) It's come to my attention that working members of Parks & Rec have collected, amongst themselves, a total of $10,000 and have purchased gift certificates for distribution to the striking workers, in the form of $100 certs. Now, I don't know if they're going out to all strikers, or just some, but I feel that it is a nice gesture by friends within the dept toward friends on strike.

28) I was looking through the recent e-mails you have received, and I wondered if you ever show any that are not from CUPE supporters, but City supporters - I can't believe you never get any. Obviously you have your opinions, which is perfectly fine, but you are not willing to post anybody elses.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Professional cynics have to give a tip of their hats to the Mayor of Windsor today.

Few do it better than he:

  • "While expressing hope it could lead to an end to the strike by 1,800 municipal workers, now entering its ninth week, CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox questioned the timing of the mayor's surprise announcement on the eve of the Red Bull Air Race weekend, expected to pack the downtown, and a large CUPE rally planned for Friday.

    "It's kinda suspect," said Fox, who represents inside workers..

    Asked what brought about the latest development, Francis said it wasn't anything specific but that he's been hearing from a growing number of constituents "significantly inconvenienced" by the strike.

    "We'll try to do the best we can -- nobody is happy with this situation," he said. Asked about possible perception on the timing of the announcement, the mayor replied: "You know what I think about cynics."

Sure we do.

  • Only a cynic would think that the Mayor knew in advance about Sid Ryan's very thoughtful Guest Column in today's Star

  • Only a cynic would think that Mayor's offer to negotiate was designed to undercut in advance why Ryan said there was a need to arbitrate and grab the headlines from him

  • Only a cynic would doubt that after not negotiating for weeks that the City all of a sudden wants to do so

  • Only a cynic would doubt that that Mayor was serious about negotiating after saying that he would only go back to the table if there was a deal

  • Only a cynic would doubt that the back-channel accomplished anything

  • Only a cynic would think that there was no real offer since Council supposedly knew nothing about it yet

  • Only a cynic would think that the offer to negotiate was designed to undercut the CUPE rally on Friday and the Ryan speech

  • Only a cynic would think that the offer to negotiate was a threat to behave properly for the Red Bull race or else

  • Only a cynic would think that this has to be one of the funniest lines ever "[Francis] also been moved by the financial hardship and emotional toll of the strike on idled city employees.

  • Only a cynic would think that since Eddie's strike has hit the Troronto Star that it was a useful tool for his buddy, the Toronto Mayor's fight with CUPE

  • Only a cynic would doubt that the real reason that there is no negotiating until Tuesday is because "there's "a lot of work to do" and the city's negotiating team needs time to prepare.

  • Only a cynic would wonder how the Mayor could call for negotiations when his Council had no idea what the negotiating team wanted to offer

  • Only a cynic would ask what happens to negotiations if Council turns down completely what the team suggests

  • Only a cynic would wonder why the Mayor did not go to Council first before calling for negotiations

  • Only a cynic would know that this action demonstrates the continued irrelevancy of Council in Windsor.

  • Only a cynic would wonder why the Star forgot to mention the CKLW poll whose results overwhelmingly supported arbitration

  • Only a cynic would think that there is no chance for a settlement with CUPE with the Star continuing to inflame passions with anti-striker stories

  • Only a cynic would think that the Mayor has called for negotiations so he cannot be accued now of bargaining in bad faith

  • Only a cynic would have a good idea now about why polling was being done recently in Windsor

  • Only a cynic would think that Gord Henderson is still writing columns during the week for the Star.

Whew, fortunately for me, I am not a cynic.

Odds and Ends

Here are some thoughts I have had that may interest you.



Weird. Things work fast in the back-channel.

  • "CUPE negotiators are being invited back to the bargaining table next week, Mayor Eddie Francis announced Wednesday."
Yet the day before:
  • "Francis was quick to point out, however, that the public should not get its hopes up too high that there is any easy end in sight for what has become a bitter and protracted labour dispute. And he said there will be no new round of negotiations unless there’s a real chance of a deal.

    “A lot of things have to be considered. If we go back to the table, there has to be a deal … so we’re not in a room and just staring at each other,” he said."

If Eddie has taken up my idea about going to Athens to get that Children's event for 2012, then he has to have a deal done right away or else force it into a total collapse.

Heck, the Councillors might do something silly while he was away and settle the strike.


Mediation of Greenlink

"The focus of the mediator, according to the city, would be to mitigate access road deficiencies through strategic tunnelling with an understanding the cost of doing so be no greater than $200 million more than the parkway's current estimated $1.6-billion construction cost."

In other words, agree to a Greenlink variation ie "strategic tunnelling" as distinct from "non-strategic" tunnelling whatever those terms mean.

Indian Road Homes

"Therefore be it resolved, that Mayor and City Council meet with the Ambassador Bridge Company to discuss acceptable plans for their 75 properties throughout Sandwich Town and clearly define greening plans for the properties to ensure the residents are no longer living near boarded up, abandoned homes and restore the safety, security and aethetic looks of their neighbourhood."

In other words, agree to "discuss" to "green" according to "acceptable plans" but without a City commitment to demolish or to take any action at all.


"THAT City Council does NOT SUPPORT the concept of binding arbitration as a means toresolve the current work stoppage by CUPE Locals 82 and 543 and that City Council supports the concept of a resolution made in the City of Windsor for the City ofWindsor."

In other words....let's talk concepts rather than dealing with the issue and arrive at a solution that is good for the City.

In each case, vague is the order of the day so that no resolution is ever possible if someone chooses not to agree: strategic tunnelling, acceptable plans, resolution made in Windsor.

In each case, it is a pretend desire to deal with an issue for PR purposes.

In each case the City is in control of the terms and conditions and they are imposed on the other side.

In each case, it allows the City to walk away and blame the other side for the failure.

In each case the proposition is one-sided in the City's favour---only look at Greenlink, no commitment re demolition, what is good for the City not the workers.

In each case....well, you get my drift!


I really like how the public seems to have been kept in the dark and only insiders seemed to know what was going on in this case. Sounds familiar:

  • "Alligator Alley ... state must avoid potholes on next drive to privatize

    Plans to privatize Alligator Alley — Interstate 75 between Naples and Fort Lauderdale — are dead, at least for now.

    There were no bidders to take over the highway when the latest round of bids was due the other day.

    Reasons given by officials included the economy, availability of money for an up-front lump-sum payment, a newfound appreciation for the potential for interruption of revenue streams by nature or all three.

    It certainly wasn’t due to any opposition from the Florida Legislature. There was so much public- and private-sector interest in this deal at one time that we suspect we will see the concept come back. When it does, here is the shape it ought to take, based on the mistakes we have all witnessed with round one:

    --Everybody has to know what’s coming. It cannot be announced in tiny legal ads for which only insiders know to look.

    --Key meetings and public briefings have to be held locally, rather than in Orlando, and the public ought to be allowed to speak at all of them.

    --We have to know what it will do to the size of tolls. They are not optional; neither is using Alligator Alley for people serious about getting to the east coast and back.

    --We have to know what’s in it for us. How much money goes to Collier and Broward counties or anyone else?

    --Will those proceeds be in addition to or count against state money those counties already get?

    --Last but not least, what do the people think? Public opinion in the past year has been regarded by bureaucrats as an annoyance rather than a key component. At one moment they would say a decision had yet to be made; at the next moment they would act as if policy were set in stone..."


  • “I reinforced city council’s position that we’re not going to be prepared to go to arbitration and put the decision in somebody’s hands that’s 300, 400, 500 kilometres away.”

I found one in Amherstburg!

Is that close enough for Eddie?


I am so disappointed. There seemed to be so little conversation about the need for a new border crossing in any of the Joint Press Statements or the press reports.

I did see this one in the Free Press [YAWN]:

  • "On the broader issue of border crossings, Napolitano and Van Loan said their governments understand the importance for commerce of the Detroit-Windsor crossings and other entry points on the northern border.

    Both pledged to work toward a balance of enforcing security while not damaging commerce."

Notice for the Americans, security comes first! As their Joint Statement points out:

  • "We are working in partnership to ensure we manage the border in a way that contributes to the well-being of our two countries and recognize that we can enhance our security without compromising trade.

    Together, the United States and Canada create and trade over a billion dollars worth of goods and services each day. We are committed to a collaborative approach to our border—one that enhances our security and public safety while facilitating the trade and travel that connects our two countries."

Clearly "security" is no longer an issue for Canada. Remember some months ago that Minister Van Loan suggested having a "reverse customs" pilot project at the Ambassador Bridge:

  • "He also got a commitment from Napolitano that Washington will look again at the idea of what is called land pre-clearance, he said.

    Under a proposal favoured by Ottawa, American officials would check U.S.-bound trucks on the Canadian side of the border and vice versa, easing trade bottlenecks.

    Van Loan said he suggested a pilot project at the Windsor-Detroit border but nothing was settled."

I guess it was not raised when they met so it cannot be that much of an issue any more. Another reason for a DRIC bridge gone!


  • "Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis made no effort to mask his pride over the Spits' first-ever Memorial Cup title.

    "I used to work with the lawyer who represents the new owners of the team," said Francis. "I received a phone call the night they took over the team and was told that they wanted to meet with me."

    "It was the first time that I had ever met Bob (Boughner) Peter (Dobrich) and Warren (Rychel). They told me that they were going to build a championship team in three years."


First the downtown arena, then the Urban Village, then the Engineering Complex and now the ditch errrr canal. Nothing ever happens. Whatever happened to that RFP that was supposed to be issued how many years ago.

The funniest thing I ever read in the Canal materials was the following from the CITY CENTRE WEST URBAN VILLAGE – REVIEW OF PLANNING RATIONALE:

  • "The Urban Village concept is essentially a framework within which any proposal could be considered. It provides design guidelines to be achieved and goals to be met in the design of the space. It encourages creation of pedestrian zones and great architecture to bring vitality to the area. It is meant to stimulate development by the private sector for the City Centre West lands.

    It is important to realize that the Canal/Marina proposal is not at all in conflict with these guidelines – in fact, it springs forward from them. The Canal/Marina is the Urban Village. It brings to the table a three dimensional form that fully meets the intent and requirements of the Urban Village Guidelines. It provides the infrastructure framework within which the Urban Village can grow."

Remember this:

  • "Farhi...confirmed in a phone interview that he's finalizing plans to tear down the sprawling 43-year-old factory, with demolition beginning as early as October, and is working on longterm development plans for the 60-acre site that could, over the long haul, exceed 500,000 square feet and would benefit from close proximity to the city's WFCU Arena complex.

    "It would complement the great work the city has done. I see mixed use. Commercial. Anything and everything we can build there. We can do whatever. I have to see what we can place next to it (the arena)...

    I can see eventually 60 acres being developed ... the equivalent of an entire downtown...

    Mayor Francis said it's "bittersweet news" that the plant is being demolished. "My first priority would be to have a plant open and people working." But it's better, he agreed, to have redevelopment in the Lauzon/Tecumseh area than a padlocked plant.

    "You want activity. You want action," said Francis. "The entire Lauzon Road corridor is going to come to life again. This just adds to and complements the activity at the WFCU Centre. Shrewd investors are already picking up properties."

The Globe and Mail gave it all away you see and if the Globe says it, then it must be correct:

  • "Many Windsor fans have nothing but praise for the team's new ownership group, which includes former NHLers with Windsor roots, and the team's new $71-million downtown arena, where the Spitfires won the OHL championship earlier this month."

The downtown is dead. Long live the downtown! The shrewd investors must be overjoyed at their good fortune.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Has The State Of The City Come To This

Our Mayoral lion. Our Champion. The person who is our leader, our Saviour.
  • "2009 State of the City Address

    Mayor Francis presented his 2009 State of the City Address at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
Too bad no one told the Chamber members---or the public---that this was the purpose of the luncheon

Polling is no longer necessary when the Mayor in effect admits that he dare not meet with Windsorites unless it is in an absolutely controlled environment with little advance notice. When the usual Mayor's Luncheon speech turns into the State of The City speech. When what before was presented at no cost to listen to now requires a substantial payment.

How far he has fallen in so short a time.

I do not know if Councillors were in attendance since the Star story does not say but who cares anyway. They are irrelelvant.

I guess that our Mayor was afraid to hold it at the Cleary this year. Afraid of the public reaction. Afraid for fear that the CUPE members might picket. Afraid that he would get the same reaction he got at the East End Arena.

He did not have to worry so much for the Chamber session. The CUPE members on strike for about 2 months could not have afforded the $45 for the lunch.

Nor would most Windsorites waste that much money either!

Is it any wonder that the Mayor is so out of touch.

City/CUPE Need Expert Assistance

Ooooooo things are getting very spy-like or secret high diplomatic in the CUPE talks:
  • "Weeks have passed since the last set of formal negotiations broke off in acrimony, but back-channel talks continue between the two sides in the two-month-old city workers strike, Mayor Eddie Francis said Tuesday.

    "The lines of communication remain open," Francis told The Star. He said the city's negotiating team has been holding informal discussions with CUPE leaders."

However, we cannot have any REAL negotiations until the Mayor's terms are met. You see that is how he structures mediation as with Greenlink:

  • "And he said there will be no new round of negotiations unless there's a real chance of a deal.

    A lot of things have to be considered. If we go back to the table, there has to be a deal ... so we're not in a room and just staring at each other," he said."

Like what happened after the stairwell deal that never was. Our Mayor decides you see when there is a chance of a deal, no one else.

I saw this news story and immediately thought why couldn't it work here too to resolve the CITY/CUPE strike.

I am bending over backwards here, dear reader, and giving in too much to Eddie's hissy-fits but he is the Voice of Council especially during media black-outs so I may as well try to humour him.

It would not be binding arbitration so the City would not get upset.

It is similar to mediation in which both sides have been engaged but the subject is limited just as Eddie wanted on the Greenlink mediation with the Province.

It makes terrific sense to me. Even if the person does live more than 4-500 KMs away!

  • Retired judge James Farley appointed to mediate Air Canada pension dispute

    June 04, 2009

    OTTAWA - The federal government is appointing former Ontario Superior Court judge James Farley to mediate Air Canada's pension dispute.

    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Farley will be responsible for devising a sustainable path for the airline's pension plan that is acceptable to Air Canada, its unions and its retiree association.

Just like with Air Canada, there is really only one issue involved----post retirement benefits. Oh I know that there is a Labour Mediator involved but he has not been too successful. He is probably used to dealing with traditional labour issues in normal strike situations. Nothing is ever normal in Windsor matters.

We need someone with a different perspective entirely to help out.

We need someone with a fresh pair of eyes who can see through the clutter and can see straight. No, not someone like this person!

Here are a few of my suggestions:

We'd find out quickly if someone was hiding something! Who could say NO to her. More than that, the DWBIA would be onside too eh Larry!

Heck, both sides are a bunch of clowns the way they have carried on.

He can make all the problems vanish

We'd quickly learn who is telling the truth or not.

No more minor leaguers to resolve this. We need the A-team!

If this is what the whole dispute has become, then he is perfect for the job.

Your suggestions would be most welcome!


Rumour has it that someone is doing some polling in town.

If you have been contacted recently or are contacted, drop me a note about who the polling company was and what the questions were.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Our Mayor is so clever. He knew exactly what we were going to get from the Senior Levels with respect to Infrastructure money. Why he tells us that:
  • "They have done so with exactly what we anticipated."

Surprise, surprise. Administration did their job. They read the Senior Level program rules, applied for the approporiate projects and we received our fair share. No big deal, right. People doing their job competently.

But not in Windsor. We have to have drama and theatre performed by the Mayor and Council with supporting roles by MP Jeff Watson and Transport Canada Minister John Baird as well as Windsor Star stories and Henderson columns. Throw in a Halberstadt temper tantrum and we have just about had it all.

But why? Why did we need all of that fuss? What's the answer? What's the truth?

  • -Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?

    -You don't have to answer that.

    -You want answers?

    -I want the truth!

    -You can't handle the truth...

    --You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me there. We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something.

    You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way.

    Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to.

It reminded me of a column that Gord Henderson wrote back in August, 2004 just after a bunch of us from STOPDRTP met with him because we were so concerned about how Eddie was handling the border file. We now know we were right to be worried:

  • "08-10-2004

    Supporters of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis say people who are growing impatient for action should kick back and enjoy the final three weeks of summer because the municipal universe is unfolding right on schedule...

    What the heck's going on over there at Sleepy Hollow?" demanded one of several readers who were itching to know why there hasn't been an announcement concerning a new arena/multi-use facility. Meanwhile, DRTP foes are working themselves into a lather while awaiting the grand unveiling of "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz's border plan."

In other words, don't seek answers or the truth. You can't handle the truth. Trust Eddie. He needs not explain himself to us mere mortals. Just thank him and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Eddie could hurt himself by patting himself so much on his back:

  • "City council took a risk on my recommendation when it approved an unprecedented level of infrastructure spending in our capital budget," said Mayor Eddie Francis. "But I felt confident the senior levels of government would recognize the needs in this region and come to the table.

    "They have done so with exactly what we anticipated and this will allow our entire capital works budget to proceed as planned," said Francis."

Heck, we poor taxpayers are too dumb. We cannot handle the truth. That is why politicians at all levels have to play and manipulate us. That is why the profession of “Spin Doctors” pays so well.

All we are required to do is to genuflect at their brilliance and keep on voting them in office since they are so much smarter than we could ever be.

Of course we should be happy that money is coming in and that jobs will be created and problems solved. But look at the misery that we have had to go through.

For what?

Why couldn’t we just simply be told the truth?

It's simple. There is an agenda at play that we are not supposed to know about. What it is, well your guess is as good as mine. Take a look at these headings and what took place over the last few months. It is all so confusing, all so contradictory, all so unnecessary:


 Windsor has $360-million worth of "shovel-ready" projects on its wish list and is hoping to hear soon how much federal stimulus money will be headed to the nation's unemployment capital.

"We're waiting with bated breath here," said Mike Palanacki, the city's director of operations.

 “Francis said Monday the $186-million list Windsor submitted…”

 Windsor, which has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, applied for $260 million in federal funds for 22 projects


On May 5,
 “Francis said Monday the $186-million list Windsor submitted probably contains only about $90 million in eligible projects.”

On June 6, we learned

 “More than $133 million in infrastructure projects will go ahead in the city this year, as the provincial and federal governments dropped $90 million in cash on Windsor’s lap.”


What rot!

Remember how we had to add the canal to the list of items or the sky would fall

Not a penny was left. Remember the BS:

 "We don't want to see you leave any dollars behind," Watson said

 “Councillor Jones answers a question about leaving money on the table and says that sometimes that is a good thing.

 Eddie talks about walking away from $96M of federal funding.

 "I've never been so completely, completely perplexed. In the last minute, council left $30 million on the table," said Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr

 Eddie says his approach is to give them all the projects and let the Senior Levels make the decisions. If that is Eddie's approach, then how can there be any funding left unused. Many projects were put forward.


That came out of the mouth of Conservative, way in the back-bencher Jeff Watson:

  • “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.”

Funny, here are the kinds of projects that the Senior Levels wanted:

  • “About the Program

    The ISF complements existing federal infrastructure funding by focusing on short-term objectives for economic stimulus. To further this goal of rapid economic stimulus, the ISF will focus on construction–readiness as important project selection criteria. The full $4 billion will be distributed in fiscal years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Projects will focus largely on the rehabilitation of existing assets such as water, wastewater, public transit, highways, roads, culture, parks, trails and municipal buildings.”


It seems to me that our projects fell within the Governmental Program parameters.

Here is what we wanted:

 The biggest-ticket item is $60 million for a giant underground sewer reservoir basin off Riverside Drive that would end most instances of heavy rainfall mixing with household sewage and then being pumped directly into the Detroit River.
 $30 million to service "employment lands" annexed from Tecumseh, $7 million to complete the Wyandotte Street East extension, $8 million to upgrade Tecumseh Road East between Jefferson and Lauzon and $22 million for Windsor Airport upgrades. While ignoring the canal project, council approved adding a $60-million item for a waterfront underground retention treatment basin to end sewage overflows into the Detroit River,

Here is what we got:
 servicing of lands, upgrades to an operations building and construction of parallel taxiways at Windsor Airport as well as improvements to Jackson Park, the Ganatchio Trail, the city's riverfront plaza, bikeways, wastewater retention ponds, Tecumseh Road East between Jefferson Boulevard and Lauzon Road, Walker Road near Highway 401 and the Wyandotte Street East and Walker Road intersection.


 “He [Francis] said Windsorites should ask their councillors why the canal project was not included on the wish list.”

 Windsor, which has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, applied for $260 million in federal funds for 22 projects ranging from road and sewer projects to land servicing and improvements to the airport.

“We desperately need these projects,” said Francis, noting his city has been devastated by job losses. “They are critical for us to at least have some sort of hope coming out of this, that there will be a local economy to talk about.”

Do you see what I mean? We could have been told the answers early on. We could have been given the truth. It was not this huge mystery.

But of course there is something else going on that we are not supposed to know about. Just wait for the drama this summer. Don't forget that Eddie only has about 1 1/2 years left in his Term.

Just say after me... Thank you Eddie! Because that is all we are entitled to do.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Asleep At The Switch

It should be very interesting if the City/CUPE strike ever ends what the reaction of CUPE members will be to their own Union.

If one takes a look at the history set out in Chris Schnurr's BLOG today, it seems that the Mayor was setting up this confrontation with the Union back in 2005 when the last contract was finalized.

Given the legal technocrat that he is, it should also have been clear that the big issue would be the post retirement benefits since that was of concern to Standard and Poor's and therefore Eddie's very important constituency, out-of-town investors:
  • "But the bond raters warned the city will have to deal with a growing burden posed by rising post-retirement benefits that have left it with a future liability of $170 million.

    “Windsor’s large post-retirement liabilities … are among the highest compared with its peers,” the report said.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said the city will have to find a way to deal with the burden. One way is to stop providing those retirement benefits for new employees, while grandfathering them for current employees."

In passing, it is interesting that the costs for PRBs went from $160.9M in 2004 to $170M in 2005 to $290M as posted by Councillor Halberstadt recently. It is not as bad as that actually but almost $300M is a good number to use to slam a Union. The comparable amounts should include "unamortized net accuarial losses." That amount in 2007 was about $80M.

Whichever figure one wants to look at, why was the contract in 2005 "good for the city" according to the Mayor but today something similar is not. As Schnurr states, was it "politics" as with WUC to create a crisis?

The question that needs to be asked is whether the CUPE Union Executives were asleep! They certainly have been outsmarted from everything from the grass being cut for Art in The Park to failing to require the City to negotiate in good faith to losing public support in a Union town. I can hardly wait for the injunction to be issued to save Red Bull after the busloads of people are brought in from out-of-town the day before the race and there is mass picketing at the site.

Why not make it a snap for the City's lawyers since it is all so predictable what CUPE will do. I would be surprised if the papers have not been drafted already for the Court Order!

Take a look at this from the City's website. It is enough to make a local CUPE member cry as mortgage payments become due:

What are the CUPE Executives doing this week to get negotiations started...working out the bus trip logistics? I doubt that the Moist/Ryan speeches did much to advance things.

I am taking a shot at the CUPE leaders because of the Star story about the Firefighters arbitration. It should be a real eye-opener for CUPE members. Didn't the CUPE executives follow what was going on? Take a look at how it plays out with the CUPE situation:

  • The city is pursuing lavish projects while crying poverty during firefighter negotiations. Compare with [Re the new infrastructure programs]"We can do it all," Francis said after the work was announced last Friday. "We planned for this over the past four or five years."

  • Years of failed negotiations put them in front of an arbitrator. Compare with Councillor Postma's comments about how the City negotiated

  • City administrators are going after retiree benefits of Windsor’s firefighters. Compare with only CUPE new hires today

  • Even though it will be decades before the city sees any financial benefits from eliminating or limiting firefighter retiree benefits, “at some point there has to be a line in the sand” according to the City's lawyer. Compare with today then with only 4 new hires at a time of ecnomic difficulties for Windsor. Is this the time to crush a workforce? It looks like CUPE was right and the $100,000 PRB figure thrown out was a scare tactic by the City!

  • Toronto lawyer hired by the city told the panel---Compare with we do not want people 4-500 KMs away deciding matters for the City through arbitration.

  • Main focus of the City lawyer was the "association proposal to reduce the average firefighter work week from 48 hours to 42...Windsor is the only major Canadian city not to have 42-hour work weeks, but also the only one to retain 24-hour shifts." Clearly Windsor wants to retain its difference. Compare with the City allegation that Windsor is one of the few cities that has PRBs and wants to end the difference and be the same as others.

  • "The salary for a first-class firefighter is $69,000. The average Ontario firefighter made $78,000 in 2008."

Is it too late for the Union? Almost. With some good strategy, they could still change attitudes but not by buying useless billboards! Take a look at my CKLW arbitration BLOG to see what I mean.

Nevertheless, with all of this around, please explain to me how and why this strike has been so badly handled. Why it will be a snap for Senior to take over the Windsor CUPE locals for the CAW after he gets the credit for facilitating the settlement!

CKLW Arbitration Poll

I am sure that you remember this story of the other day:

  • "Cupe poll says majority supports arbitration

    A majority of Windsorites favour binding arbitration to end a nearly two-month strike by city workers, according to a poll commissioned by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

    "It's a two-to-one response in favour of arbitration -- I think that's incredible," said CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox, who represents inside workers.

    Of 258 Windsor residents surveyed, 65.6 per cent agreed that an "independent, neutral arbitrator" should be brought in to decide all outstanding issues."
Naturally since the results did not go his way, Old MacFrancis said:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis discounted the poll results, saying his office has been "flooded by calls" urging the city to hold the line.

    Council has been very clear -- we're not prepared to give away the farm."

Now the Strapon "W" station did one of their polls and the results for going to arbitration are almost exactly the same.

Of course this one will be dismissed because it is not "scientific." Over 3,000 people responded to the poll too.

I am surprised that the Star did not ask the Mayor for his reaction to the request of the Windsor Concerned Citizens Action Committee "to return to the bargaining table or submit to binding arbitration to resolve the eight-week city workers strike."

Oh they probably knew that he would say:


Did Dwight And Eddie Meet

Impossible you say. A secret meeting between those two!

Dwight might be violating the Integrity Act if he did so based on comments he and Sandra made before. Why would he take the chance?

Yet I keep hearing that they did. And not in a car on the way to the airport either.

What could they have talked about? Your guess is as good as mine on this one since the provincial government insider no longer has Gord to whom he can leak information, except for the Saturday column where Gord usually dumps on CUPE and boosts the canal these days.

Here are some thoughts I had that they may have discussed over a bottle of wine or two:
  • Who is running where provincially or federally
  • How much sponsorship money has Eddie raised for Red Bull so the Government does not have to pay out the full $3.2M
  • Be nice and stop slamming the Province and you might get a few dollars like the University or St. Clair who got big chunks of money by being co-operative.
  • Back off the Greenlink rhetoric and the Province might help you look like a partial hero
  • Will you meet with Council and be cross-examined because the Premier won't.

Did Eddie get whatever message was given. Check this out from CKLW:

  • NO JUDICIAL REVIEW 2009-05-29

    Windsor Council will let the DRIC process move forward without a challenge for now. Mayor Eddie Francis says council feels it is the wrong time to launch a judicial review. The Mayor and council want to meet with Cabinet Ministers Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan to discuss things first. Council wants the Greenway Project, DRIC is pushing the Parkway proposal.

This from the guy who had David Estrin make 2 Council apprearances on this and did his own presentation. Remember this presentation Eddie did from Chris Schurr's BLOG. Who could forget it:

This from the guy who has been threatening lawsuits for just under 3 years now:

  • "Mayor threatens lawsuit:
    Windsor Star 09-06-2006

    Mayor Eddie Francis threatened legal action Tuesday if the binational group charged with proposing a new border route plows ahead with a plan that he says will destroy Windsor."

    He does not want to be known as a WEAK-LING. It would be "unconscionable" not to sue. How about all of those kids with brain cancer that Eddie has referred to or with breathing packs.

Did Dwight put the boots to Eddie? As I wrote before:

  • A year of options----Everything that our Mayor does is bluff. Another year of options when the Premier has prejudiced the process and compromised its integrity. Unbelievable!

    ...He has threatened lawsuits so many times that it almost becomes predictable and then he backs off. That has become predictable too...

    “Sadly, given the damning environmental evidence we heard this week, it would be unconscionable for the city to do anything less than fight for the health and safety of its constituents, even if it means seeking a judicial review.”

    A year of options----If Eddie does not act now and using the tools of his profesion, then Henderson can denounce him for acting in an unconscionable manner when matters of health and safety are involved.

    A year of options---- what a sign of weakness..."

Alas, we shall probably never know.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Becky took the cancellation at 7:40 AM. I have never done such a thing before. Today's Editorial after the one on Saturday was so over the top that I had enough.

I am NOT pro-CUPE contrary to what some may think. I am NOT anti-CUPE either. I am just a Windsorite who cannot believe that this City workers strike has gone on for so long.

I am also a Star reader who has had enough of the one-sideness of the only newspaper in town, not only on this issue but on other ones as well.

If CUPE wants to end this strike there is only ONE tactic to use:


The poor Mayor must be feeling the heat. The CKLW talk-in show and now the Editorial fingering Council. It's too bad D-day had to intervene or we might have seen a Henderson attack as well!

Obviously, the Editorial today was to deflect attention from the person who could help end this strike now. It was designed to put the blame on Sid Ryan instead. I could have sympathy for that position except for 2 matters:

  • 1) The stairwell deal that brought the parties back to the bargaining table except there was nothing to negotiate with the City

  • 2) Councillor Postma's comments which have never been refuted:

    "Last week we made the decision to allow our team more freedom to negotiate a contract that is fair to both parties and we also agreed that binding arbitration is not the right path for us. I strongly believe that for the past 7 weeks council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate. We have set parameters for them but have not given them the autonomy required to get a contract. In essence they have been negotiating with themselves...

    I am not sure what the next steps are other than to get back to the table and negotiate the contract. CUPE Local 82 provided a proposal last and the City must respond to it, so the ball is in our court now..."

There is no hope of negotiations unless a couple of Councillors change their position. Councillor Halberstadt should finally be one of them:

  • "Meanwhile, Coun. Alan Halberstadt suggested it might be time to get Queen's Park involved, noting the legislature could vote to order the 1,800 striking city workers back on the job. He said back-to-work votes sent striking Ottawa OC Transpo workers back to their busses and striking city of Toronto workers back to their jobs...

    Francis said the idea is a non-starter."

What interests me is how citizens have been manipulated. "Taking back our Parks!" Yes, not the Ford track grass cutting diversion but cutting the grass for Art in the Park.

How can the Star seriously run a story like this:

  • "A potential confrontation between striking city workers and community members planning to cut grass at a park fizzled Saturday when no one showed up with a lawn mower.

    Mike Morency, who helped organized a group of grass cutters last weekend at Ford Test Track, was hoping to do the same Saturday at Forest Glade Optimist Park..

    He claimed hundreds of people wanted to come, but he sent out a message Saturday morning telling them not to.

    "Our people were scared away by the intimidation of having possibly as many as 1,800 CUPE members here today," he told the media.

    "I was called last night and told the picket captains have been instructed to bring all their pickets here today. That doesn't appear to be the case."

Remember the comment the Mayor made when the CAW rejected their Union's Casino contract. Read this and tell me if you were as disgusted as I:

  • "The employees have demonstrated respect for Art in the Park and our veterans," Francis said, adding that he hopes the same will happen next weekend during the Red Bull Air Race at the downtown waterfront.

    However, Francis said he was concerned about CUPE's plans to bring members and supporters from across the province to a rally in Windsor this Friday.

    "I know our employees recognize the importance of (the Red Bull Air Race) and the fact that Windsor will be on the world stage," Francis said. "But I'm worried about those coming from out of town... this is not their city and they don't have a vested interest in our community. I don't know what they will do."

Worry about our investment opportunity Eddie. Not the people.

It seems that Eddie has difficulty understanding why CUPE Windsor members want to have the big demonstration on Friday and that those coming in from out of town might be more interested in seeing their colleagues back at work than worrying about circuses on world stages. This is their way of showing it.

  • "Contrary to an e-mail that has been circulated to city officials, councillors, local media and residents, Francis said he will not be leaving town.

    "I'm here all week," he said.

What a pity. He is here. So what. There are no negotiations going on.

I have had enough. Cancelling the Star subscription is my small contribution to trying to end what is wrong with this City.

I should have done it before. A long time ago.

PS. I sent a note to Dennis Skulsky as well!