Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, August 07, 2009

Questions, Questions, Questions

Who will provide the answers and when


Will we ever see a statement about how much the WEDC received in revenue and from whom and how much it spent? In particular, how much was spent in domestic and foreign travel and by whom over the last several years. What concrete results were achieved by the travel?

I would have thought this information should be readily available by now for the new Board and to the public. After all, there is nothing to hide is there. We do not need a forensic accounting do we.

Speaking of the Board how does Eddie get to sit on it given the Council Resolution saying he can only be a member for a few months. Was something passed in camera to change that?

And by the way, don't you find it surprising that his appointment was not made publicly? I heard he initially wanted a private person on the Board but when Bill Marra's name was put forward, since there was a view expressed that a City politician should be a Board member, Eddie put his name forward too. Eddie won 6-5 in the vote. Given the closeness, who voted for and against?

Will Eddie now receive a Board fee if he is a permanent Board member?

Given his run for federal office if he should be nominated, should Warden Santos resign from the Baord?


Gee, how long does it take for the internal report and for the Integrity Commissioner's report on the infamous leak during the strike to be released? Earl Basse received the complaint in mid-June!

If he has reported already, when did he do so and where is the Report for the public to review? If it was management, could this be considered proof of bad faith negotiating that prolonged the strike to the financial detriment of CUPE workers?

I am pretty sure I can guess who leaked it from a Star photo I saw but I would like official confirmation.

And by the way, has anyone ever asked how Councillor Marra's "New Beginnings" program made it into Eddie's Back To Work Protocol and why? Bill was not told about it in advance it seems from his email especially since Bill claimed it was irrelevant to the strike.


Clearly they have to be. It is not too early to be thinking about possible runs for federal seats and re-elections as Mayor and as MPP.

With the sale of Brighton Beach and the DRIC Road supposedly moving forward, Greenlink has to be put to death or rather, some great compromise has to be reached so Eddie can save face!

Will Bill Marra's ambition to be Mayor be sacrificed again in the name of power politics?


I ask this because:
  • "Current managing director of the visitors bureau, Gordon Orr, a 14-year city employee, has been at the helm since February 2003. He has decided to remain a city employee and not apply for the tourism top job. He expects to be reassigned to a new position within a few months after overseeing the transition of a new CEO."

I wonder if he will join the CAO's Group. Councillor Halberstadt in his BLOG recently wrote:

  • "With all of the talk about scaling back the municipal workforce in the wake of the CUPE strike, I cannot resist dusting off a blog I posted about a month before the walkout. Before reading it again, you should be advised that all of these new positions (up to seven) to serve out of the CAO's office will be non-union personnel...

    I have a hard time believing that the mayor and upper administration will have the gonads to go ahead and actually hire these individuals."

He was referring to this:

  • "Windsor property taxpayers can be forgiven for shaking their heads in disbelief when they learn that City Council has earmarked $570,000 to hire a battery of new full-time equivalent positions under the auspices of the CAO's office.

    It remains unclear how many FTE positions will be created in CAO John Socorobohacz's office in the midst of a job-loss tsunami cresting across the rest of the community, but it could be up to seven...

    The concept of a Corporate Communications Office has been a political footbal for two years...

    The cynical view is that this office will be populated by spin doctors spewing propaganda.

    One passage in the Service Delivery Review charter on this project indicates the latter might be the case, at least in part. It enunciates that one of the roles of the office will be "damage control."

Gord is a good Communicator after all. He and the Mayor's wife, Michelle Prince, do Movie Reviews on CKLW as just one example.


There goes Councillor Hatfiled grandstanding again, this time for a real grandstand:

  • "With Amanda's success and Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis lobbying to host the International Children's Games, the idea of building a 50-metre pool here has been raised again. The city and county could lobby governments for money for a pool for the region, on the edge of South Windsor, minutes from Tecumseh, Essex and LaSalle, says city Coun. Percy Hatfield."

For sure, keep it away from downtown. We cannot have people attracted to the West End Super anchor site can we, say tied in with an Aquarium!

Instead of trying to save a buck by removing PRBs from newly elected Councillors (but NOT from himself and his colleagues), he should be advocating building a series of Geodesic Domes over the canal, part of which could be used for a pool!

I am certain that Minister Baird and MP Jeff Watson could find the money for that too especially if they are trying to save Jeff from being defeated by Warden Nelson Santos in the next Federal election. They found $34M for Eddie already. What's a few bucks more?


Some one seems to know the result in advance. I guess the answer must be no one since it looks like Nelson will be acclaimed:

  • "Nelson Santos Nomination Meeting will be Friday August 14th around 7-7:30 PM possibly at the [name of location] in Kingsville - not confirmed yet. They're asking for the President, Executives & family, friends of the [Name of riding] Fed. And Prov. ridings to be invited. They will be sending the invitations later."


Just imagine how active people would be in local politics then. The threat of recall itself would keep politicians on the straight and narrow.

Just look at the Ward Boundary Review fiasco where a Petition of only a few hundred Windsorites has scared the heck out of our Council:

  • "This is obviously a difficult issue for some members of council to deal with because reshaping the city electoral map could not only increase workload, but could also make re-election more difficult.

    That's likely part of the reason councillors were unable to come to an agreement on a revised ward system a month ago.

    They looked at everything from 10 wards to 8 wards and two fewer councillors. After a dozen failed motions and a three-hour debate, council essentially gave up.

    But public pressure resulted in a motion to reconsider a new ward system, and that will lead to a discussion -- and hopefully a decision -- Monday."


I doubt it. It destroys the DRIC bridge project since it says that spending billions cannot be justified since traffic has dropped so much.

The distortion of facts on the reporting of their Report has bothered me. I cannot believe how sloppy the media is by continuing to report something that is factually wrong.

I suspect thought that I know who has caused the sloppiness and why ie not disclosing to reporters a key section of the report.

I saw that Jim Lyons of the Windsor Construction Association gave an interview recently on the border file and sent him this note with a copy to his Board:

  • "Jim,

    I saw the comments in the Daily Commercial News. "Windsor, Ontario awaits crossing jobs boom"

    I do not know if you told the publication about or if they had the information themselves already about the Brookings Report. That report in fact said that the Ambassador Bridge's new bridge would be built first and questioned the need for spending billions on a DRIC bridge since traffic has decreased so much. In other words, the story's comment was completely incorrect. It is the need for the DRIC bridge that is being questioned

    In addition, the proposed DRIC road can be routed directly to the Ambassador Bridge to avoid "current-access thoroughfares" and access to the Ambassador Bridge accordingly would NOT need any "careful planning regarding traffic access through Windsor."

    Please help to stop the spread of disinformation to members of the Construction industry. As you know, the consequences can be serious for them if they do not know the facts."


You better believe it.

I have no intention of making a comment about the dispute between the Bridge Company and Councillor Jones since the Star story does not set out the specific matters in issue although it has to do with the homes on Indian Road.

I expect that not only will

  • "The Ambassador Bridge company [fire] a warning shot across the bow... threatening legal action if [anyone] persists in spreading what the company alleges is misinformation about its practices and intentions regarding [the border file]"

but will actually start suing regardless where the Party is located and regardless who the Party is.

It will be interesting to see if someone will have the nerve to test them now.


Remember how they gushed over Eddie and his brilliant plans to handle garbage during our strike? They accepted at face value about the 75-80% of garbage that he said was being dealt with.

Why then are they not reporting this:

  • "Trash pickup still behind, but no OT

    City officials are holding firm to a pledge not to pay overtime following the 15-week municipal strike, although trash collection is still running about two days behind.

    “Council has determined that the best way to proceed is to get garbage collection back on track, but not to pay out any strike related overtime to accomplish that goal,” Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister said Thursday evening.

    “A number of councillors, myself included, heard from residents throughout the strike who said, do not pay overtime to complete the work that wasn’t done during the strike.”

Wait, if there is garbage still not picked up, do not blame Eddie:


Wait, we cannot blame the Mayor and Council or even the Councillor. You see, Eddie's plan worked completely. It is just that Windsorites are so wasteful and so not concerend with the environment that we have produced tons of new garbage since the strike is over and that has caused the problem. Accordingly,


More Stories

Here are some items that intrigued me:


To be quite honest about it, why did Anne Jarvis of the Star interview him?

I do not remember him being a major force of reason during the strike. Frankly, who cares what he has to say! Is someone trying to rehabilitate him aready after the canal mess so that he can be credible as a Mayoral candidate to split the vote if Eddie runs again or to provide an alternative to Bill Marra.

He was even mentioned in a Star Editorial too

Yes, I am talking about Dave Cooke
  • "Said former Windsor MPP Dave Cooke: "Both sides have to keep in mind that this has been heartfelt on both sides. There have been mistakes made on both sides."

    But, he said, "for the sake of the city, for the sake of the individuals, we have to move on. We really have to..."

    That's the bigger question, says Cooke: how to rebuild the tattered relationship. You can't have successful public policy if morale is in the toilet.

    Council will have to take a good, long look at what went wrong, too, said Cooke.

    Clearly, he said, there were major problems in the way the city handled the dispute.

    "I can't really recall a situation where it has been that chaotic," he said, citing individual members of council writing on blogs and calling meetings, disrupting negotiations and exacerbating the tension.

    This dispute might have eclipsed the 99-day Ford strike of 1945, but unlike that historic event, this one will be remembered for how not to handle a labour dispute.

    Councillors will have to come to grips with the mistakes they made and learn from them, said Cooke.

    "If they can't do this," he said, "then they don't deserve to be there."

I liked Anne's last line especially:

  • "Keep your eye on the prize."

It looks like the Star and Dave sure are!


Sources claim that we should expect an announcement from Warden Nelson Santos within the next few weeks that he will be seeking the Liberal nomination to run against incumbent MP Jeff Watson.

It is expected that 4 or 5 County Mayors will endorse him almost immediately. I wonder if Eddie will send him a letter as he did for Sandra. Or will Eddie continue to support his newest, bestest A+ buddy, Jeff.


Wait a minute here. I don't get this. The Mayor told the Toronto Star:

  • "75 per cent of Windsor's refuse is making its way to private dumps or three city-operated drop sites. "It all depends what happens with the trash," he warned.

That sounded very exact to me. But now we hear in the Star:

  • "Leave it at the curb," said Colleen Labutte, supervisor of environmental services for the city.

    Mayor Eddie Francis and council have decided there will be no overtime paid to catch up on any of the city's waste pickup, grass-cutting or other services. Collection workers will simply pick up where they left off at the end of each eight-hour shift.

    How far behind collection could end up each day for the next few weeks remains uncertain because it's not known how much garbage or recycling homeowners have stashed away during the 101-day strike by outside city workers."


Could this be the real reason that CUPE had so much trouble in this strike? Our Mayor claimed:

  • "No question Mother Nature's been on our side," said Francis."

He better watch it however


Good to see the MEPCO letter dealing with OMERS contributions dated July 7 but scanned on July 24 made the Council Communications package.

The letter suggests that that a comprehensive funding strategy is needed since there will be fewer enrolled members, more retirees and a $6B actuarial deficit in the Plan.

My own view is that CUPE Windsor and the City should consider setting up a joint Committee immediately to determine whether they should remain in OMERS or look for an alternative. After all, someone has to pay for that deficit.

My own view, as I have expressed before, is to pull out since that may well be in the best interest of everyone, employees and taxpayers.


Since the Mayor's Motion failed, Councillors are alright Jack unless Councillor Hatfield's grandstanding gesture works out. No one else is:
  • "Since a 1950 bylaw was put in place, the city has provided lifetime coverage for employees, spouses and dependents...

    That has ended for new hires...

    Francis and administrators indicated Friday they will seek the same concession with the city's fire, police, Transit Windsor and Huron Lodge unionized employees during upcoming contract talks."

Did you notice that Eddie did NOT mention Councillors.


Oh it is not going to be a toll road according to the Ontario Government. However, what will the P3 partner earn over the term of its concession for financing the construction of the DRIC Road that will be funded by taxpayers now not users?

An interesting story out of Australia about Macquarie Infrastructure Group and its adventures in US toll roads. They do not have to worry about the number of users as tolls are allowed to rise to generate profits. Oh my aching pocketbook:

  • "the number of transactions on the Indiana Toll Road decreased 9.5 percent in Fiscal Year 2009 compared to the previous year while total traffic dropped 6.4 percent. Unless it sells its ownership interest in the road, Macquarie will collect tolls until the year 2081.

    The situation is the same in other parts of the country where Macquarie runs the roads. Traffic dropped 5.1 percent on the Dulles Greenway in Virginia where Macquarie’s ownership lasts until the year 2056. Traffic dropped only 1.9 percent on the Skyway in Chicago, Illinois where Macquarie will collect tolls until the year 2104

    Fewer people driving on the tolls roads, however, does not mean any loss in revenue. To the contrary, thanks to toll hikes, Macquarie’s US toll roads saw profit grow between 2.9 and 11.6 percent. This is so because the states that signed deals with the Australian company ensured that no matter how bad the economic conditions might be, Macquarie would enjoy an increase in the amount of tolls greater than the rate of inflation. In Chicago, for example, the toll will eventually rise to $21 to take a one-way trip that lasts less than eight miles."

I am not sure what this financial gobbledygook means but it is not good I would bet for those who want to invest a lot of money in infrastructure unless great care is taken.

  • "it is Macquarie’s complex and highly leveraged debt structure that has raised questions about long-term viability... MIG wrote down its asset value by 28 percent, from $7.1 billion to $5.1 billion. This comes on top of the 25 percent write down last year leaving MIG worth A$3.5 billion less than it was worth in June 2008.

    “The anticipated portfolio valuation has been primarily affected by lower forecast traffic volumes, changes to asset discount rates, and the impact of movements in foreign exchange rates,” MIG said in a June 30, 2009 release. “However a continuation of higher assumed financing costs, and changes to interest rates and inflation rates across the portfolio have also contributed to this reduction.”


If not, it is too late now.

Unlike the Undevelopment Commission, forget about delays in filling senior positions for an eternity. Who needs headhunters especially from BC. Get the letter of request out on the 24th and expect interested candidates to have their CVs in by month end. Wow, that is working fast.
  • Friday, July 24, 2009

    Dear Tourism Stakeholder,

    In our continuing effort to move forward as we transition into a new tourism entity we're looking for a Chief Executive Officer to lead Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island!

    Chief Executive Officer
    Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island...

    The Board of Directors, involving industry and municipal representatives, is seeking the services of an energetic, experienced and innovative tourism marketing professional. Supported by a staff of eight marketing, product development and research specialists, this organizational leader will champion tourism marketing and development in the Windsor Essex Pelee Island region while working directly with a diverse group of industry operators, community organizations, municipalities and other stakeholders.

    The Chief Executive Officer will have ten years of relevant marketing leadership experience: outstanding communication and organizational skills; and the ability to motivate volunteers, staff and the community to achieve the potential of this industry. This leader will have a comprehensive and evident understanding of marketing and communication techniques and strategies, the capacity to forge successful partnerships and build consensus amongst diverse constituents and interests, and is committed to the achievement of measureable results.

    For a complete job description, please go to If you are interested in this position, please submit your resume and application by July 31...

    Last day to submit resumes is Friday, July 31, 2009.

    Thank you for your support!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Twists And Turns In The CUPE Strike Aftermath

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. It just gets messier the more that I look at what happened during the CUPE strike. And that is so just based on public data.

CUPE may have been the victim after all and NOT responsible for the 15 week strike. Imagine that astounding turn of events!

Oh Lord, did the Mayor get outside advice again or did he make another unilateral decision without Council agreement that can now backfire on Taxpayers, like the Protocol fiasco, to the tune of $20M and more? Or were Councillors aware too so they can be part of the fun!

What may be the most bizarre circumstance of all of this is that Catherine Swift President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business may turn out to be CUPE Windsor's "Woman of the Year" as she testifies on their behalf in their back wages claim against the City of Windsor if that ever gets going depending on what legal counsel advises.

In any event, the City's seemingly well-constructed strike planning may be falling apart as more facts come out.

Let me explain.

In going through my database, I saw this item in mini-Gord's column:
  • "CUPE's about-face

    By Chris Vander Doelen, June 2, 2009

    Embroiled in their seventh week of a disastrous strike against the City of Windsor, the union is now pleading for binding arbitration as the only way to "settle" the dispute.

    Why the opposite stance in the two strikes? CUPE felt it was winning the strike against York U when Moist denounced arbitration as an unprincipled attack on the sacred process of collective bargaining.

    In Windsor, the union is losing. It's facing an unprecedented backlash from the public in a town they had hoped was still dominated by its organized labour groups."

That "seventh week" comment immediately rang off an alarm bell in my mind. It seemed that the Union was NOT losing because of public backlash as the myth-spinners were weaving but because of something else revealed by Councillor MOM and, in effect, confirmed by Junior's Mayoral rift although he has not yet had the guts to speak out to tell us what caused it:

  • "Basically council has been split on the strike issues and we have requested recorded votes on all motions (consistent votes at 7-4). Last week was rare with a unanimous motion not to go to binding arbitration and to reaffirm faith in our bargaining team.

    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.

    Binding Arbitration means a third party comes in and decides what the contract will be. The City is worried that if we go to arbitration we will lose...

    I will only speak for myself when I tell you that all I ever wanted was to treat our staff with respect, negotiate a fair contract and keep them working. I never thought we would end up in a 7- week (going on week 8) battle over post retirement benefits or wage increases. I naively thought we could reach a middle ground early and get everyone back to work."

It is a damning indictment against the City. I am sure that you saw the 7 week comments by Councillor MOM and the reason for not going to arbitration: losing. Nothing else.

So if you were the CUPE Presidents and saw that the City was NOT negotiating at all, what other choice would one have in that poisoned atmosphere other than to ask for arbitration, probably by having the Province intervene. But of course it did not since the City did not ask for it as Dwight Duncan told us. (Poor Dwight when the role of the Province is finally revealed!).

During the many weeks that CUPE was requesting arbitration, what excuses were given by our Mayor and by members of the Press to oppose it and were they valid ones. Read on and you decide. Note I did a bit of fisking :

  • "It is my opinion not to leave this in the hands of a third party that's 400 or 500 kilometres away," Francis said Saturday night. "It is the responsibility of the parties to reach an agreement. The city of Windsor is prepared to sit down and reach an agreement." [Ah, the old Buy Foreign ruse except when it comes to the City hiring consultants who live that far away and more. Agreements cannot be reached if one side does NOT negotiate]

  • On the union's suggestion for third-party arbitration, Francis compared it to playing Russian roulette.

    "If we take this issue and give it to a third party, we have to live with that decision forever. We're not prepared to do that." [Forever is only to the next contract. Why is it a near-death experience if the City has a strong case. If the case is not good, then as a Windsor lawyer has said---"We weren't successful, but I would suggest to you it was worth a try."]

  • "Binding arbitration means throwing in towel" Gord Henderson

    The big pitch from CUPE this week is that they want the dispute sent to binding arbitration for an "impartial third-party decision." That's a laugher. In this province binding arbitration typically means some tweedy, left-leaning university prof who has never worked in the real world winds up giving the union, impartially, exactly what it wants, regardless of the municipality's financial status. [Oooops, Gord not right]

  • Caving in to demands by Lewenza [Senior] and CUPE to end the impasse by agreeing to third party arbitration would represent a cowardly and expedient "political copout," said Francis.

    "I have a tremendous amount of respect for the collective bargaining process and that's why I indicated to them that I'm not prepared -- and city council is not prepared -- to abrogate our responsibility and turn over the collective bargaining process to a third party that lives 400 to 500 kilometres away," said Francis. [Except Councillor MOM said there was no negotiating so where is the respect for the process]

  • Mayor Eddie Francis said council was unanimous in a closed-door vote last week to reject having an outside arbitrator decide what workers should get.

    The same vote still sailed through Monday night, but this time on a vote of 8-3.

    "A solid majority ... says negotiate at the table," said Francis. "It would be politically expedient, it would be a political copout, to put it in a third-party's hand." [For a lawyer to say such a thing about a "Judge" is incredible]

  • [Mini-Gord] Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday the city is opposed to arbitration because the process almost never serves the interests of taxpayers.

    "The history of arbitrators is one of giving away the farm -- they're known to give away the farm," Francis said. "Rarely are municipalities ever successful in arbitration."

    True, arbitration could easily end the strike.

    But it wouldn't settle or solve the main issue facing Windsor, which is balancing the budget without raising taxes in a climate of collapsing tax revenues." [Oooops again not correct mini-Gord. Could it be that they lose because their case is bad and it is a try-on?]

  • Francis said he and council are not prepared "to surrender our decision-making" and that CUPE should be more interested in negotiating a settlement rather than focusing on a public relations campaign.

    "The only ones I'm confident in protecting the city's interests and the taxpayers' interest is the team we have at the negotiating table," he said. [Hmmmm.. re-read Councillor MOM's comment re the negotitating team]

  • Francis said the idea is a non-starter. He said back-to-work orders usually require the parties to go to binding arbitration and that process would be "giving away the farm" for the city. [The end-result was that CUPE won. EI-EI-YES]

  • [Editorial] He [Ryan] knows binding arbitration is a tool for settling disputes with those who cannot strike because they deliver essential services -- police, firefighters, nurses. That is not the case here. [Completely wrong as Ms Swift and Provincial legislation demonstrate]

  • CUPE has been urging binding third-party arbitration, but the mayor said council will not accept putting an outsider in charge of a new contract. [The City can choose the arbitrator. It is not a unilateral decision by the Union. We will find out eventually why the Mayor was so afraid of someone else making that decision.]

  • You know, we haven't even discussed that. The legislature is not scheduled to be back for awhile," he said Tuesday.

    Duncan, Ontario's minister of finance and revenue, said it's clear that the city doesn't support binding arbitration, which local CUPE leaders Jean Fox and Jim Wood have been urging.

    The strike, which has been going on since April 15 and involves inside and outside city workers, was followed by a city strike in Toronto last week.

    Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said last week the legislature won't end the strike in Toronto and that it's better if both sides have the opportunity to talk.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said he supports Duncan's statement.

    "I think ... it's probably the right decision given the fact that to do anything otherwise would really short-circuit the collective bargaining process," he said, adding that, if strikers were forced back to work, it would set a bad example for any future strikes. "People would ... hold out until the legislature steps in." [Poor Dalton and Dwight....Their role may come out too. It looks like they cared only for the City Government, not its workers or citizens. Someone may have read the polls incorrrectly. Not negotiating sets a bad example too]

  • [Star Editorial] The individual arbitrator is supposed to be neutral. But the best evidence provided so far suggests that this approach will result in a settlement that the city doesn't want. [Whose evidence is that?]

According to the Mayor and the Star, everything was stacked up against the City. Our Mayor had to have the responsibility to make the deal through the collective bargaininging process or else the City would be sold out by some leftist, "foreign" arbitrator who would give CUPE everything.


Nope....WRONG. And here is where Catherine comes in from her July 17 Press Release that CUPE members should now be applauding since it rips to shreds the anti-arbitration argument:

  • "As you Chair a special meeting of Council to address this latest development, I urge you to continue to stand up to the selfish demands of the union by calling on Premier McGuinty to legislate the striking civil servants back-to-work.

    Before the naysayers try to dissuade you from taking this stronger position, citing arbitration as a more costly option, the province can and does set parameters around arbitrated settlements, including the "ability of the employer to pay."

    In legislating an end to the recent strike at York University, the province put in place the following criteria for the arbitrator to follow:

    In making an award, the mediator-arbitrator shall take into consideration all factors that he or she considers relevant, including the following criteria:

    1. The employer's ability to pay in light of its fiscal situation;
    2. The extent to which services may have to be reduced, in light of the award, if current funding and taxation levels are not increased;
    3. The economic situation in Ontario and in the Greater Toronto Area;
    4. A comparison, as between the employees and comparable employees in the public and private sectors, of the nature of the work performed and of the terms and conditions of employment;
    5. The employer's ability to attract and retain qualified employees.

That language is taken right from Section 15 (2) of the York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act, 2009.

It's too bad that Catherine ignored the City of Toronto Labour Disputes Resolution Act, 2002 that Chris Schnurr pointed out in his BLOG.

It says specifically in very similar language:

  • 11. (1) The employer and the listed bargaining agent or agents that represent employees in a bargaining unit for which no new collective agreement has been executed may, by unanimous agreement, appoint one person as a mediator-arbitrator for the purposes of this Act.

    (2) If no appointment is made under subsection (1) within five days of this Act receiving Royal Assent, the Minister shall forthwith appoint one person as a mediator-arbitrator for the purposes of this Act and notify the parties of the name and address of the person appointed.

    13. (1) The mediator-arbitrator shall hold meetings with the parties to discuss the disputes relating to each bargaining unit for which no new collective agreement has been executed.

    (3) In the meetings held under subsection (1), the mediator-arbitrator shall try to assist the parties to settle any matter that he or she considers necessary to conclude a new collective agreement with respect to the bargaining unit.

    14. (1) Immediately on receiving the notice under subsection 13 (4), the parties shall be deemed to have referred to the mediator-arbitrator, with respect to each bargaining unit for which no new collective agreement has been executed, all matters remaining in dispute that may be provided for in that collective agreement

    (7) If the parties execute a new collective agreement with respect to the employees in a bargaining unit to which this section applies, they shall notify the mediator-arbitrator of the fact and the arbitration proceeding with respect to that bargaining unit is thereby terminated.

    17. (1) An award by the mediator-arbitrator under this Act with respect to the employees in a bargaining unit represented by a listed bargaining agent shall address all the matters that he or she considers necessary to conclude a new collective agreement with respect to those employees.


    (2) In making an award, the mediator-arbitrator shall take into consideration all factors that he or she considers relevant, including the following criteria:

    1. The employer’s ability to pay in light of its fiscal situation.

    2. The extent to which services may have to be reduced, in light of the award, if current taxation levels are not increased.

    3. The economic situation in Ontario and in the City of Toronto.

    4. A comparison, as between the employees and comparable employees in the public and private sectors, of the nature of the work performed and of the terms and conditions of employment.

    5. The employer’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees.

    6. The purposes of the Public Sector Dispute Resolution Act, 1997. (Section 1.3 of that Act says one of its purposes is: 3. To encourage best practices that ensure the delivery of quality and effective public services that are affordable for taxpayers.

I do not know about you, dear reader, but I have difficulty understanding why arbitration was so bad. There was still the opportunity even during the process to arrive at a collective agreement by bargaining and in fact that was encouraged. Specifically, the Legisaltion required the City's financial position to be considered. A "local" arbitrator could have been retained by agreement as well.

Now I am sure that George King as an experienced labour lawyer would have pointed out all of this to our Mayor and presumably he or the Mayor would have informed Council. I am sure they did since Councillor MOM only gave ONE reason why the City was afraid to arbitrate.

Interestingly, here is what CUPE was looking for as reported by the Star on May 25:

  • "According to Francis, Local 82's last proposal was a four-year deal that included a $2,000 upfront payment; wage increases of 2.5 per cent, 2.5 per cent and three per cent in successive years; a demand that the city match union contributions to create a post- retirement benefits fund for new hires; and guaranteed job security for life, a demand the union denies making. "

Take a look at the final deal....pretty close to it wasn't it! It probably all would have been worked out if there was proper negotiating, not the kind described by Councillor MOM. How do I know that? When the Mayor stayed out of it after the Protocol fiasco, an agreement was reached in about a week.

I don't get it. 7 weeks of non-negotiating, a poisoned relationship, a reasonable call for arbitration by the Union, the Mayor giving reasons for not arbitrating that to me do not hold water, legislation that can protect the City's interests, a Provincial Government looking at only one side of the equation and then a final contract very similar to what was proposed by CUPE before.

If someone asked me what I would think, my answer would be an easy one:


CUPE and its members ought to have the same answer too. After all, it is only $300K per day they lost for 15 weeks. And for what?

Taxpayers who suffered through 15 weeks of inconvenience to perhaps get a $50 rebate cheque may also want some answers too.

More Quickies

Some items of interest you may have missed


Remember this CP story:

  • "Talks continued late into the night in an effort to end the now 15-week old strike by municipal workers in Windsor, Ont.

    But neither the city nor CUPE is commenting on the status of the negotiations. Mayor Eddie Francis says both sides must be left alone in an effort to hammer out an agreement."

I wonder how many weeks shorter the strike would have been had the Mayor followed his own advice. Perhaps someone might have to figure that out one day if there is a claim for back wages.

I know 2 Councillors at least who will have to testify under oath and maybe a third who represents the other political extreme.


You know that some CUPE members were angry at the comments made by Catherine Swift, President and CEO, Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

  • "On behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' (CFIB) small and medium-sized business members in the City of Windsor, I write to express my outrage at the rejection of the City's latest contract offer by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals 543 and 82."

I guess no one told her about the near-riot caused by our Mayor's dumb actions on the Protocol fiasco. Consider her solution:

  • "I urge you to continue to stand up to the selfish demands of the union by calling on Premier McGuinty to legislate the striking civil servants back-to-work."

It was exactly what CUPE wanted and the Mayor and Council did not.

In any event, someone I hear is circulating a list of CFIB Windsor members. I assume that the idea is that unionists ought not to shop at those establishments so they can

  • "see what it is like without the Unionized workers' business."


I read this comment in a news article the other day. I wonder if this was based on something that the DRIC people said. You know DRIC, the people who have been completely unable to project traffic volume numbers after how many attempts.

Now I assume that they will try and shove these numbers down our throats to justify the new Bridge:

  • "Traffic should have recovered by time new bridge opens

    Traffic at the existing crossings is down dramatically at present - some 25% to 30% below the peak of two or three years ago. This is a combination of the collapse of the once Big Three US auto manufacturers, GM, Ford and Chrysler which are heavily concentrated on both sides of the international border, as well as declines in tourist travel, and more paperwork at the US border following the 2001/09/11 attacks.

    However by the time the new bridge is built (2014 or 2015) the expectation is that traffic will have recovered."

If that is the case, then we had all better go out and buy shares of the Big Three on the stock market! After all, the Governments know since they are the biggest owners of Government Motors and Cries-ler.

Shhhhhhhh, don't tell Sean O'Dell about the numbers being down so much either. He might have to tell a few Ministers who are out on a limb now.


He dare not. It would scare off too many P3investors. Better they do not know:

  • "NIAGARA FALLS — One month into more stringent requirements for identification at border crossings, and passenger travel volume across the busiest international bridges in Ontario has taken a nose dive.

    From Sarnia and Windsor to Niagara and Kingston, fewer people are crossing back and forth between Canada and the United States, heightening fears about the economic toll it will have on communities along the border and businesses and industries everywhere that rely on a steady, efficient flow of people and goods to survive and thrive.

    “It’s frightening,” said Arlene White, executive director of the Binational Tourism Alliance.

    “Everybody is concerned. We’ve got businesses down 15 to 40%.”

    Figures for June show two-way passenger vehicle traffic at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls was down more than 20% last month compared to June 2008.

    The Queenston-Lewiston Bridge was down 16%, while the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie saw a 12.5% decline in passenger vehicles.

    The trend was similar at other major crossings, including the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel where passenger travel was down 23%, and the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia where it was nearly 13% lower.


What a businessperson our Mayor is not:

  • "Traffic at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel fell nearly 10 per cent in the month following implementation of new U.S. passport rules on June 1 — confirming the worst fears of local tourism and business leaders...

    When June’s traffic numbers at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel are compared to June 2008, the decline is much worse at 22.5 per cent, according to Mark Galvin, executive director of the Windsor Tunnel Corporation.

    The tunnel launched and informational campaign focusing on the new passport rule with postings at the plazas, freeway billboards and flyers.

    “Obviously, we expected some measure of impact,” Galvin said. “It’s new and hopefully over time people will get the correct documentation.

    “Certainly, there has been a drop. It’s difficult to know what to expect with so much going on with the economy and less travelling.”

Imagine "hope" as the basis of a US$75M transaction!


The traffic numbers make a mockery of the claim of the Minister of Finance that $100M was generated for the Red Bull Air Races. It would seem that not too many Americans came over in June.

No one has said yet how many tickets were actually sold. The overlyoptimistic number of 290,000 people participating suggests that business has to be off by about 60% compared with the 750,000 last year.

I heard that restaurants had overstocked this year. You did NOT read many Star stories about happy restauranteurs the way we did last year.

If I was a Member of the Opposition, I would ask Dwight to justify the number. If he is so wrong on it, imagine how wrong he could be on Government finance projections.


Time he did another Report to keep him occupied so he can stay away from border matters.

Check out the data on EMP Electro Magnetic Pulse

This might scare you too and the Senator's Committee:

  • "Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.

    EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power.

    The common element that can produce such an impact from EMP is primarily electronics, so pervasive in all aspects of our society and military, coupled through critical infrastructures. Our vulnerability is increasing daily as our use of and dependence on electronics continues to grow. The impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to potential protagonists who are not as dependent on modern electronics.

    The current vulnerability of our critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected. Correction is feasible and well within the Nation's means and resources to accomplish.


Since there will be no tolls on the DRIC road, guess who pays and pays even if traffic goes down. Yuppers, taxpayers, you and I, dear reader

  • "Toronto's 407ETR loses traffic in recession but revenue holds, and breaking even

    Traffic on Canada's big tollroad 407ETR is down 3.8% the first half of this year (2009H1) versus first half of 2008 (2008H1) but a slightly larger increase in toll rates (4.7%) has ensured that revenues are holding. Revenues in 2009H1 were running at an annual $469m (C$524m @$C=90c) based on 292.1k trips/day versus 303.8k in 2008H1, the 3.8% decline. The revenue in 2008H1 was $468m (C$520.2m.)

    Depending on the exchange rates this is in the top two or three grossing tollroads in North America.

    Vehicle-kilometers traveled were running at an annual 2,076m v 2157m 2009H1/2008H1, also a 3.8% decline.

    Unprecedented in the eleven year history of the Toronto pike this 3.8% reduction in traffic is however similar to that experienced on many US tollroads (and tax roads), and far less than the double-digit percentage declines being seen at the US-Canadian border crossings, where 20+% declines are common. "

But then again, the investor here won't care...they will make their guaranteed profits at Ontario Government expense. Why should the Government do traditional road financing when P3 investors can make obscene profits instead at our risk.

Time for an Ontario Auditor General Investigation.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Harper Border Attempt #4 To Beat The US

Honestly every day there is a new shocker on the border file. It never stops.

Why is the Ambassador Bridge so damned important to Canada, never mind the billions in obscene profits for which some P3 operators are drooling based on a deal that will be virtually guaranteed by the Senior Governments at all levels on both sides of the border.

He has tried twice with President Bush and once so far with President Obama. Now he will try again at the next summit of the Leaders of Canada, the US and Mexico.

Prime Minister Harper really wants to take over the Ambassador Bridge and needs the US President on his side if he has any hope of doing so. After all, at the least, a new DRIC bridge needs a Presidential Permit and it has been rejected once so far by the US Department of State. Harper knows the Bridge Company's Enhancement Bridge project does not need one.

How do I know it is on his agenda? From an article in Embassy Magazine that starts off this way:
  • "The cold January day he received a ready-made policy for engagement with the United States in the age of Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wore a blue blazer, striped tie and a smile as wide as the Ambassador Bridge."

Now why would the author mention the Ambassador Bridge since that is hardly something that anyone in Ottawa press circles would think about. And it is NOT mentioned again in the story. Someone obviously talked to him about the importance of the Ambassador Bridge but on a deep background basis ie for his information only but not to be disclosed until the appropriate time.

That policy was in the Report "From Correct to Inspired: A Blueprint for Canada-U.S. Engagement" It was prepared at Carelton University in Ottawa. I wrote about that Report in my BLOG " January 27, 2009 Canada's Plot Against Obama

I said in my note:

  • "The Carleton Report clarified to me that this entire DRIC process is a joke. It is more than a joke; it is a complete farce. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that everything that DRIC did really did not matter as long as it resulted in the Bridge Company Owner selling out. This is nothing more than getting rid of an American owner of the Ambassador Bridge. It is part of a program that was started under John Diefenbaker and continues today, no matter which party is in power...

    Accordingly, one ought not to have expected very much to have been said in the main Report about building a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor since it was not identified as a need by the experts in the background papers.

    If that is what you thought, are you ever wrong. Remember, we have a 50 year goal in Canada that we have to reach...

    Do you see what I mean? There is no need to spend $5 billion on a DRIC project. A new bridge is not the answer when other steps can be taken much more inexpensively. Even with a DRIC bridge, we would still have the identified problems so what would we have solved?

    It is all a joke for Canadian nationalistic reasons only. The take-over desire predates the Moroun family ownership by a decade or more. DRIC is nothing more than a subterfuge to hide Canadian ambitions from the new US President who must issue in the end a Presidential Permit before the DRIC Bridge can be built! His Department of State has refused once already but Canada has to try again with the new incumbent.

    It is pretty clear that the Ambassador Bridge Owner is a hindrance to the Governments' plans for Windsor/Detroit and also to sell/lease the Blue Water Bridge and perhaps also the Tunnel. He even impacts the Peace Bridge. His ownership or even his business needs to be eliminated immediately if Canada is to succeed.

    There is nothing new in anything that is being said in the Carleton Report. It has been said by business people and government leaders ad nauseum in the past. What is clear is the anti-Americanism.

    What an absurd approach by our Government!"

That report caused terrific problems with both the Americans and the Mexicans.

  • "A product of Carleton University's Centre for Trade Policy and Law, the blueprint was delivered on the eve of President Obama's inauguration. It counselled the government to exclude Mexico from some policy discussions in hopes of cozying up closer to the United States."

Why is trilateralism a problem for Canada and the border in particular:

  • "One of the constraints to resolving bilateral issues has been an obsession with trilateral approaches. The dividends have been meagre, largely because Canadian interests and issues are not the same as those of Mexico," the blueprint declares. "Canada can do more bilaterally.... There is much more common ground between Canada and the United States—i.e., 'Upper North America'—than there is between Mexico and either of its northern partners. The best diplomatic description may be 'trilateralism when necessary but not necessarily trilateralism.'"

In other words, nothing would be done at the Canadian border because of the huge problems with the border with Mexico. Moreoever, what was being done in the South respecting security was being applied for Canada too and ruining our economy because of "border thickening." supposedly. Moreover, how could the Americans allow the take-over of an American-owned bridge by Canada in this context. Politically it would be suicidal in the US .

One US commentator suggested that:

  • "If Canada and Mexico were to develop a common approach to a wide range of issues, including border management, I believe Canada is far more likely to achieve its objectives than if it continues its unilateral approach." He added that there seems to be a fear up north that Canada will be somehow "tainted" by the violence, disorder and drug trafficking going on in Mexico."

But that approach did not work for the NAFTA-gate people who have still not learned their lessons. Beating up on the US Homeland Security Secretary did not work either. Janet Napolitano still has her job and drones are flying over Canada.

Canada could NOT allow the Americans to focus on Mexico at all. Canada needed to accomplish its hidden agenda now. So the Report approach needed to be maintained and a new and better justification provided. Here is the person who did it and how:

  • "Derek Burney, one of the report's principal contributors, hesitated to say the degree to which the blueprint has influenced government policy. He said he has perceived some "echoes" of it in the government's demarche, but he questioned its traction as a few major recommendations—such as annual bilateral meetings between Canadian and American executives—have not been achieved.

    Mr. Burney defended the report, making clear that trilateralism has it place in the blueprint, and that "resuscitating bilateral discussions...doesn't mean we throw the trilateral concept out the window."

    He argues, however, that Canada and the United States share not just bilateral, but global interests that the Mexicans simply do not. He provided Afghanistan, the Arctic and the G8 as examples of issues that are simply "not on the radar" in Mexico.

    "We understand that there are some issues in which there is a trilateral dimension, but there's a whole host of issues where Canada's interests and Americas interests intersect, but Mexico's don't," he said. "Just as there are issues between Mexico and U.S. that are not very relevant to Canada, whether its immigration or drugs."

    Due to the trilateral format, in which all must appear to agree on issues of common concern, many of Canada's top issues can be passed by in the name of trilateral agreeability.

    "Inevitably, at these trilateral meetings, the focus tends to shift to things on which they can agree, rather than ones on which they cannot agree," Mr. Burney said. "Leaders have limited time in their agenda, so the more time spent on trilateral concepts that don't take us anywhere, the less time is going to be spent on either resolving some of the bilateral issues where there is friction, or positively, in moving forward on a constructive bilateral agenda."

    Reflecting on the history of continental policy development, Mr. Burney points out that, historically, Canada and the United States have forged ahead bilaterally, later inviting Mexico to join once the foundation has been laid. He points to the NAFTA as an example. The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1988, he said, laid the essential groundwork for the NAFTA, which followed some six years afterward.

    Likewise, a "bilateral-first" approach should be taken to continental climate change policy, he said. The ongoing Canada-U.S. Clean Energy Dialogue could lead to a cap-and-trade emissions regime that best suits the integrated and similar economies of the two countries. Once this is established, he said, Mexico would be free to follow.

    Mr. Burney called his opponents' arguments "flimsy," and said they just need to look at the pudding to find the proof.

    "My answer to those in Mexico and the U.S., advocates of the trilateral as opposed to the bilateral approach, my message is very simple: Show me the proof," he said. "Where is the evidence a trilateral approach to North American relationship has actually achieved something?"

Not a word about the border or the Ambassador Bridge in particular. But just read into it our border file. Very clever these people. The approach would be to achieve a bilateral solution with Canada, say by taking over the Ambassador Bridge to "control" the border more effectively and then use that precedent in Mexico by later "inviting Mexico to join once the foundation has been laid."

Just a bit of deeeep background information for you and how it ties into the border that might give you, dear reader, some insight into the border file.

The Chancellor of Carleton University where the Report was produced is Herb Gray who lead the FIRA fight against the Bridge Company.

He worked with former Transport Canada Deputy Minister Louis Ranger in preparing Canada's Ultra-secret Playbook about how to deal with the US.

Louis Ranger worked on the border file for years and retired at around the same time as the new Minister, John Baird, brought out into the open finally Canada's hostility to the Bridge Company.

Derek Burney, O.C., of Ottawa is Chairman of Canwest, the parent of the Windsor Star, the paper that is anti-Bridge Company as well in a City whose Mayor is head of a Tunnel Commission who is the Bridge Company border competitor and who just sold land for a DRIC plaza to the Feds for an outrageous amount. The Editor of the Star signalled his "messenger" role too: "A strategy of demonizing the mayor and shooting the messenger."

Burney is also senior strategic adviser to the law firm of Ogilivy Renault. Interestingly, former Senator Michael Fortier is a partner there and he had responsibility for the border file when he was in the Conservative Government. Former PM Brian Mulroney is a partner there too and while he was PM, the FIRA litigation against the Bridge Company was "settled" or rather, as is now clear, merely put into limbo until Bill C-3 could take its place under Harper. Note how significant that piece of legislation was to the Government by its number!

Burney was also Canada's Ambassador to the US and served as Chief of Staff to Mulroney.

The magazine also described Burney as a trusted adviser of the Harper government.

Fortier's former law partner knows about "shadow tolls" for roads like the DRIC road since...... Oh this can go on forever.

I am sure that this brief snippet shows you how hard Canada is working, how many people within and outside of Government are involved, how much money must be being spent outside of the millions around DRIC and the strategic thinking to beat Matty Moroun and some of the ties that bind this all together.

However, the real shocker to me is that the Canadian Prime Minister would put this country at risk for one tiny, little bridge. Why?

Brian Masse's Gift

It is quite amazing when one looks at an issue from the perspective of another person. New vistas all of a sudden appear! I think I may have an answer to the question I posed yesterday on my BLOG on the Brighton Beach deal, "Shafting Federal And City Taxpayers At Brighton Beach:"
  • "There just has to be more!"
Read on to find out what "more" may mean.

Perhaps we should call Brian Masse the "Brave Little Tailor." You remember the story of the tailor who killed 7 flies with one blow but people though he meant giants.

Well Brian, along with his buddy Joe Comartin, have the chance to knock off three politicians: a Mayor, a Federal Minister and an MP with one blow over Brighton Beach. Three with one blow is not too shabby considering our Mayor might want to run for the Conservatives against Brian. All Brian and Joe have to do is read on.

Chris Schnurr's BLOG was a real eye-opener.

It helped explain the reasons behind the shafting of federal and Windsor taxpayers in the Brighton Beach deal that I Blogged about the other day and now requires our Federal NDP MPs to demand action.

Brian and Joe Comartin had already written to Transport Minister Baird in May complaining about the infrastructure funding process in Windsor.

Brian said as well in the Star:
  • "[Masse] cited controversy around Windsor’s canal proposal touted by Mayor Eddie Francis as an example.

    “This process leads to a potential for corruption or projects that are not the best value for public interest,” Masse said.

    “It also creates debacles like the city just went through.

    “There has to be some public vetting and proper process for all projects..."

However, they did not go far enough.

Schnurr's BLOG makes it clear:

  • "Thank goodness for the sale of the Brighton Beach land to the Federal Government.

    Otherwise, the city may not have been able to afford its $44-million contribution towards the $424.2-million spending spree which both the Province and the Federal Government contributed a total of $89-million."

It is worse than I imagined. Never mind the obscene overpayment of taxpayer money to Windsor, it is what the money is to be used for that is of concern. The Mayor lets us know what it includes:

  • "council has directed $13 million to pay the outstanding costs of the properties. Those funds will be directed internally to a handful of capital reserve funds that were used to finance the Brighton Beach acquisitions...

    The remaining $15 million is being directed for use toward the city’s five-year capital plan which includes about $646 million in municipal projects."

As Schurr points out, the City's Capital Stimulus Plan shows a deficiency of $10.6M this year.

How remarkable. We just received $15M Brighton Beach money FROM the Feds that would go to the amount that the City has to pay as part of its contribution to get Infrastructure money FROM the Feds and Province. In other words, without the federal overpayment, Windsor might not have been able to obtain all of the Senior Level Infrastructure money.

So it was NOT what Eddie said in the London Free Press:

  • "In Windsor, though, Francis says his council was prudent and wise, too.

    While his city plans to spend about one-third more on public works over two years than will be done in larger London, Francis says not a penny will be borrowed.

    To do anything less wouldn't be right in a city where jobless rates have led the nation for several years, Francis said.

    "We've been knocked down to the ground," he said.

    So how can Windsor afford to do much more than London without borrowing a dime?

    Francis says his city in the past five years has accomplished what seems an insurmountable task: Eliminate borrowing for public works while doubling what's spent on those works, all while keeping tax increases among the lowest in Ontario.

    "That's unheard of among municipalities," he said.

Now we know why it is "unheard of."

Consider this if you like conspiracy theories. Take a look at my BLOG March 12, 2009, "Giddy But Engaged" when I mentioned that the Star had NOT reported about a Francis/Baird meeting and where I quoted:

  • "Never too shy in the past to publicly criticize senior governments over perceived slights when it came to funding, Francis is almost giddy over the prospect of Windsor getting a fair share of the multibillion-dollar municipal stimulus package the federal Tories announced in their latest budget..."

And this

  • "Francis praised the involvement of Baird and Essex MP Jeff Watson in focusing attention on the plight of Windsor, struggling with the implosion of the automotive sector and decimation of its manufacturing base.

    “They’re engaged down here and there’s a desire to see things get done down here,” said Francis.”

Remember also in the "Your arrogance has no bounds" Star story on May 3 that

  • "Coun. Alan Halberstadt flew into a rage after discovering the project, twice rejected for inclusion on the list by council majorities at earlier meetings this week, was back on the agenda, this time with a team of outside consultants invited by the mayor to present the business and feasibility plans. The Ward 3 councillor was incensed to learn Essex MP Jeff Watson, also at the meeting, and federal bureaucrats in Ottawa, received copies six weeks ago of a feasibility report that city council is still waiting to see.

    “Your arrogance knows no bounds,” Halberstadt shouted at Francis, his fist repeatedly slamming the table. “This is no way to run a city — I’m tired of this crap,” he added."

Hmmm 6 weeks before....wasn't that around the time when Barid was in Amherstburg and it was said in the last paragraph naturally of the Star story

  • "February 28, 2009
    'Green' arena project gets $15.7M

    Essex MP Jeff Watson, who donned a white construction hat, said he was ready to put a shovel in the ground and get working.

    Federal Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities John Baird said the project was moving ahead because the community put together a great 700-page proposal...

    Baird also said he planned to meet Friday with Mayor Eddie Francis to discuss Windsor's needs."

"Windsor's needs." What an interesting choice of language don't you think.

Was the Baird/Francis/Watson deal made months ago? Did the Feds know the City's fimancial position well in advance at the earlier time-period? Was the canal project merely a front to get Federal money and then when that blew up, the over-payment for Brighton Beach took its place under the Gateways and Border Crossings Fund? That's where

  • "At least $400 million from this fund will be devoted to the construction of an access road for the new Windsor-Detroit crossing—the busiest border point for Canada-United States trade."

No mention made initially about funding a plaza!

As I Blogged on July 21, 2009 Why Eddie Really Wants A Canal:

  • "There is no doubt that the Senior Level Leaders would try to appease him. They would use the canal funding as the perfect reason for him to trust their bona fides. No matter that it appears that the canal has no hope of falling under the program, the Feds are bending over backwards to make it fit. Moreover, the Province has to support it as well.

    Of course, Eddie does not want a canal. Who does? But it sure is a good place to park $50M until Eddie decides how to squander it."

Brian, along with Joe, have no alternative but to raise this mattter in Question Period when Parliament resumes its sitting. There are legitimate questions that need answers. More importantly, they have no choice but to write to the Auditor General and ask that the Infrastructure Funding Issue in Windsor be examined along with the payment of Windsor of $34M to ensure compliance with all Government rules and procedures.

If the Report is negative, then Brian especially, and Joe win! Baird, Watson and Francis have blackeyes. Even if nothing improper is found, they both win too. They are at least being vigilant, keeping their eyes open to protect Windsor and Canadian taxpayers.

That should be good for their re-elections next time! Now that's a nice present.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

CUPE Strike: The Laughable Side

After 15 weeks of tragedy for a strike that never should have happened if there was any kind of enlightened labour relations at City Hall, there are some knee-slapping, side-splitting events that will put a smile on your face even if you have lost $10-15,000 of wages.

By the way, with respect to the wages, we will see who may wind up laughing last about them too if a labour litigator gives an opinion about whether there is a way for CUPE members to get them back. Can you imagine what would happen then to our Mayor and Council's re-electability chances! Do you think the voters would take it out on the near-invisible Sandra, Dwight, Joe and Brian too?



Oh my, Junior is so upset that people do not know his true position. Of course, he could have told us during the strike, not after, but that is another story.

So far no major counter-attack by the Mayor on someone who dared say he was wrong and could be blamed. Highly unusual and totally out of character. If you do see Eddie going after Junior soon, then you know who reads my BLOG at City Hall.

Frankly, and this is just me so you form your own opinion dear reader, methinks Junior doth protest too much.

The key indication of support for the Mayor's tactics had to come early on in the strike. If Councillor MOM is correct, the strikers were doomed right from the start. In effect, the savings that the City made by not paying salaries, all $30M of it, was used against them to crush them.

Again, as the Councillor said:
  • "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."

If this is true, and why would Councillor lie about it in public, then all of the Councillors agreed to this approach. Not one single one of them, not even Junior, said NO and went public by disagreeing. Not one Councillor publicly attacked this bad faith labour negotiating stance, not even the so-called pro-labour types! Not even Junior.

Now let's see what Junior had to say about his rift with the Mayor:

  • "Ward 4 Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. agreed that the strike has damaged relationships on council. "To be frank with you, I've had a great relationship with the mayor over the last five years -- up until the last few weeks.

    "At the end of the day, I continue to support all the good work that he does for the city, but very much question his approach to labour relations"

What time priod would "the last few weeks" cover: the time after the May stairwell fiasco or after the Caboto fiasco when Junior spoke out or when a meeting was arranged with CAW while Eddie was in Europe? What about after "leasing" land to Red Bull so that they could clean up the property downtoiwn rather than the City?

Let's be generous and say that when talking about 15 weeks, a third or 5 weeks is a "few."

I am sure that you see what I am driving at---Junior apparently was there supporting Eddie's approach that Councillor MOM talked about: council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate.

Some rift!


Of course they have to be for heaven's sake even though they have a strong distaste for each other. Politics sometimes makes strange bedfellows.

The former Councillor Budget is the supposed Council penny-pincher and right-winger who plays that role perfectly if you believe the Star Columnists.

Brister is not the only one to play the vote game. It is easy to do so when one is a vote-counter and knows that something will pass with a big majority. It's easy to vote NO then. It would not surprise me if we saw that during the CUPE strike too during some of the in camera votes by several Councillors.

Obviously, the Councillor will be a target for the UNION forces during the next election after his completely insensitive remarks re outsourcing. Who better to help out Junior, Council's supposed left-winger and pro-union Councillor!

What better way for Junior to try and rebuild his union image than supposedly attacking Councillor Dave right after he also supposedly attacked the Mayor about their labour relations rift! A two-fer in one week for Junior.

Of course, no one wants to hurt Junior by pointing out that his support for CUPE appears to have beeen less than robust (and how long were the taxi drivers, part of CAW, out on strike without hearing much from Junior) so have a nice war on the front page of the Star and everyone will forget.

Junior's chance to run federally if Comartin retires is back on track as is the CAW's attempt to win over CUPE members. Imagine, rehabilitating Junior's union bona fides without the need for a single public meeting too.

I wonder if this was a freebie from the Eminence Greasie just to prove how well the masterful manipulator manages many multi-media manoeuvres magnificently. Say that out loud three times.


Sid Ryan of CUPE was accused of using the Windsor strike to help CUPE in Toronto and elsewhere.

That should not be a big surprise if really true since unions have done that in the auto industry and with police, fire and teachers for years.

Should it come as a shock if management does the same!

I have suggested before that Governments were working together to crush their unions. Heck Deputy Premier George Smitherman was not afraid to be photographed in Toronto helping clean up although I noticed that our Ministers, Sandra and Dwight, did not have the guts to do so.

My own view is that the fight was meant to be tough down here because who cares about Windsor to be blunt. Toronto workers would eventually have to be legislated back otherwise unless Windsor CUPE was crushed.

The problem was that although planning had gone on for years, when it came time to execute, Eddie failed. Again.

If Councillor MOM was right, the lack of negotiating should have forced CUPE to knuckle under right away (heck many were the lowest paid workers at City Hall) and also resulted in the fire fighters losing out in their arbitration. CUPE lasting for so long was the first event that the Mayor never contemplated.

Then we had the stairwell fiasco that could result in a bad faith decision against the City. Please do not tell me that this did not influence the Mayor back to the negotiating table. After all, the hearing was put on hold wasn't it!

To be blunt, CUPE would have exchanged the bad faith claim for no discipline but for the CABOTO FIASCO! Another Eddie failure to the extreme. Someone could have been seriously hurt or arrested because of his desperation.

Isn't it amazing how quickly both Toronto and Windsor settled after Eddie panicked and totally blew it! It would NOT surprise me if this event alone scared David Miller and other Ontario Mayors who did not want to be tarred with Eddie's misadventure. While not identical, the tems of settlement were very similar. Both cities had initially advocated for concessions in their contracts and picked ONE PR issue as their high profile strike issue, one which had no financial payoff for their Cities for years down the road but which allowed the Mayors to throw out big liability numbers.

Of course you want support for my position don't you. You want a reason.

Clearly, if you are David Miller in Toronto, who barely received approval for his deal from his Council, you need a scape-goat. Thus, why not tar and feather Eddie. I am surprised that the Toronto media have not figured this out yet since they gave Eddie so much coverage when things were going well in Windsor.

If they looked closely at what happened in both cities after Caboto, then their big guns could be turned on our Mayor.

Remember that I told you that the important part of Windsor Star stories and Columns are printed at the end. Gord did not disappoint me again. In his Saturday column, ignore the 90% silliness at the beginning and focus on this right at the end:

  • "city residents eagerly embraced the clear, common-sense contractual message delivered by Francis and a majority of councillors. They understood what this fight was about and they took it on.

    What a contrast between Windsor and Toronto. CUPE won in Toronto because a mealy-mouthed Mayor David Miller and his NDP council cronies never got off their socialist backsides to offer more than token resistance during that city's strike."

You see it is damage control time already. David did not lose because of Eddie's messes that ruined the Mayors' bargaining strategy; he lost because Miller was too pro worker!

The Eminence Greasie is still smiling.


Mini-Gord has not been around long enough to understand that the campaign for the next Mayoral election started the day after the last election. He was too busy covering autos to notice.

This is not another world-class sports event to put Windsor on the world's stage hosted by our Sports Jock Mayor but rather the event to choose who may be used to split the vote in a Francis/Marra mayoral fight assuming Eddie runs for a third term. Or to provide an alternative to Marra if Eddie does not run.

Is the Councillor formerly....oh you know who I mean...going to run even though he claimed to Gord:

  • "In fact, said Brister, he has zero interest in becoming mayor.

    “Write that rumour off forever. It’s not something I ever want to do and it’s just never going to happen."

How else to explain his pandering for the right-wing vote in Windsor? And his fear of pubic debate with Junior or his absolute terror to appear on Face-To-Face since John Fairley would destroy his career with one lifting of his eye-brow. Such Brister bravado, such big talk, such lack of intestinal fortitude.

But the biggest non-surprise is the canal-man, Dave Cooke, who is being boosted by the Star either to be the Mayor if Eddie does not run or to use the Cooke/Brister team to allow Eddie to sneak in. The big fear would be that in a 3-way race (without Brister) either Marra or Cooke could win.

Former NDP Minister Cooke was virtually invisible during the CUPE strike as were Federal NDP MPs Comartin and Masse. Recently appointed to the Undevelopment Commission Board to build up his CV for business voters, the Star quoted him extensively at strike end:

  • "Finally, some words of wisdom.

    Said former Windsor MPP Dave Cooke: "Both sides have to keep in mind that this has been heartfelt on both sides. There have been mistakes made on both sides."

    But, he said, "for the sake of the city, for the sake of the individuals, we have to move on. We really have to..."

    That's the bigger question, says Cooke: how to rebuild the tattered relationship. You can't have successful public policy if morale is in the toilet.

    Council will have to take a good, long look at what went wrong, too, said Cooke.

    Clearly, he said, there were major problems in the way the city handled the dispute.

    "I can't really recall a situation where it has been that chaotic," he said, citing individual members of council writing on blogs and calling meetings, disrupting negotiations and exacerbating the tension.

    This dispute might have eclipsed the 99-day Ford strike of 1945, but unlike that historic event, this one will be remembered for how not to handle a labour dispute.

    Councillors will have to come to grips with the mistakes they made and learn from them, said Cooke.

    "If they can't do this," he said, "then they don't deserve to be there."

OOOOOOO.. I am so impressed with his words of wisdom although he too suffers from the "move on" pandemic disease I see. Another politician opening his mouth after the war ended. As the Star's Editors gushed:

  • "Cooke is right. We have to get past this, for the well-being of everyone."

While not knocking Eddie but "Council," as if they counted at all, or the result to keep the conservatives happy, Cooke makes the effort to keep union support by attacking "mistakes" and suggesting that non-learners should not be on Council.

Take a look at his work as U of W Board member/Chair to see what kind of Mayor he would make.

His support for the Engineering Complex downtown would have been a huge mistake for students and the University, but would have helped Eddie politically. His actions helped stall construction for a considerable period of time thereby increasing costs.

Some might think that he should actually try to accomplish something at the University of which he is Board Chair rather than spending time working on absurd canal projects. Like helping to raise big chunks of money for all of the University projects. That he got involved at all with the canal is a huge negative about his judgment considering his comments in the past.

Speaking of money, in the story about the new fund-raiser at the University, I was shocked at Cooke's attitude:

  • "Cooke said he is looking to Bergholz to make connections with alumni associations, local businesses and supporters around the country to advance the university's fundraising goals.

    "It's quite impossible to put a target or percentage increase on it," said Cooke. "This kind of work takes time to develop, especially in this economy. It's a long term process. But we like what he has done in Chicago and Illinois. I think he'll be a real asset to the university."

In other words, little accountability while he is Chair so neither Bergholz nor he can be judged. And with a built-in excuse already---the economy if there is failure. Judge in the long-term ie after he has left office.

With all the University cut-backs, I trust that the Chair has ensured that his new fund-raiser has enough money and staff to do what is needed or he is doomed to fail.

During the strike, Cooke in fact started his mayoral campaign suggesting we all get along together. His major campaign plank so far to be used to hit County mayors over the head:

  • "Cooke goes further, advocating one, streamlined regional government. "The only way to have a united front is to have one government," he said...

    Windsor and the seven county towns would retain municipal councils dealing with local issues. A regional council with representation by population would deal with regional issues like land use planning, economic planning and police and fire protection.

    This is the largest urban area in Ontario still governed by local councils from the late 1800s, said Cooke."


I did not know he had this power. With the rat population increasing and endangered snakes appearing in the centre of the City, he was virtually invisible. No Windsor Star stories similar to Toronto Star stories. Oh, no wonder, that would have meant arbitration:

  • "Meanwhile, it appears Toronto's medical officer of health had grave public health concerns about the city's strike lasting beyond the end of the month, worries that would likely have convinced Ontario's chief medical health officer to recommend back to work legislation.

    As the strike entered its sixth week, Toronto's medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown became increasingly concerned about the "cumulative effects'' of the loss of the services caused by the fact public health workers were among those on the picket lines.

    "By the end of the month, I was becoming quite concerned about the impact of the loss of health services,'' McKeown said last night.

    McKeown was providing regular updates to Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, who has the authority to recommend that the province end the strike for public health reasons.

    King could not be reached for comment but McKeown said as Aug. 1 approached, he was becoming alarmed about the loss or reduction of key services such as home visits after high-risk births, sexual health counselling, food safety and restaurant inspections. He was also worried the critical "ramping up'' needed to prepare for an anticipated second wave of H1N1 flu in the fall would be delayed.

    Miller, who kept in constant contact with McKeown, said yesterday the shortage of public health workers "wasn't sustainable forever.''


Greasie must have been away celebrating!

It looks like Eddie acted again on his own as he did with the Caboto fiasco. All the goodwill achieved and the glory for the Mayor blown in one story, down the drain:

  • "Strike refund less than $50
    And the rebate could be even smaller

    Homeowners shouldn't expect more than $50 when municipal tax rebate cheques are issued in a month or two, according to Mayor Eddie Francis and several city councillors.

    The mayor, in the middle of the 101-day municipal strike, had vowed homeowners would get a refund cheque for services lost once the work stoppage was over.

    He estimated Wednesday it will be at least one per cent of a homeowner's taxes -- or $26 on an average $150,000 home. But if council decides to expand the rebate to business owners, apartment tenants or industry, it would fall below that, he said."

$30M saved and only about $2-4M for taxpayers rebates. Uh-huh.

Oh do expect more in the end. That makes Eddie a Star if it is $100! It's called exceeding expectations even if they are minimal ones. There, that is a freebie for Eddie and Council from the BLOGMEISTER while Greasie is away.

Heck, Eddie has to be in a panic now. He forgot. He can always adjust cash from the Brighton Beach money after it goes into the reserves.

As one of my readers claimed (I have no idea whether it is true or not but the claim will spread like wild-fire):

  • "I believe the cost to issue a cheque is about 25 to 30 dollars, that is the whole process charge. Cost of chq, cost of person to produce it, cost for the envelope, cost for the mail, cost for cashing and clearing, cost for balance the monthly city bank account. If and that is IF there is a refund cheque the city would be smart JUST TO credit each taxpayer account, to go against the next tax installment or bill.

    Issuing the cheque would cost more than the cheques will be worth."


Given all of the concessions made by the Old Farmer McFrancis and the low tax rebate amount, the answer has to be, after looking at the straw bales at Optimist Park,