Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dwight Duncan: Minister of Honour

Matty Moroun can rest easy now, for once. Dwight Duncan as a true and honourable man has given him his Enhancement Project Bridge on a silver platter!

After all, Dwight's title is "The Honourable Dwight Duncan Minister of Finance and Chair of Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet."

Let's be real. It seems hard to find a person of honour amongst politicians these days. How many scandals have we seen around the world that just make one sick to one's stomach.

Oh they make big promises when they first run for office and may even try to carry out some of the things they offered up. However, as time passes, their memories fail as they get caught up in their own self-importance. So many of them seem to forget so quickly why they were elected.

You know, and this is off-topic, there may well be a virtue to term-limits as in the US in many jurisdictions including that of the US President.

How refreshing therefore to read the remarks of local MPP and Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, in the Star.

Sure Spanky is only a mere Provincial politician and has absolutely no jurisdiction over an international bridge. That falls completely within the power of the Federal Government. However that did not stop him from telling us the facts of life.
  • "Senator Cropsey has an interesting point of view, but it conveniently overlooks the fact that the governments of the United States and the State of Michigan have signed agreements to proceed with this," Duncan said Wednesday. "The governor of Michigan and the current president of the United States, as well as the previous one, have all affirmed their commitment to this..."

    "At this point, there's no concern that I can see," said Duncan, the province's finance minister. "We remain committed to going forward, as they do."

I must admit that I as a mere citizen have no idea what he is talking about respecting "agreements to proceed with this" unless he just means the DRIC study.

Considering the snub of Prime Minister Harper by President Obama and the rejection of Harper's border push by President Bush, I am unaware of anything that the Presidents have done that has committed the US Government to allow the DRIC Bridge to be built. In fact, it seems highly unlikely based on what the US Department of State has said already that the DRIC bridge can ever get a Presidential Permit to do so!

Spanky knows that the US Governments and the Bridge Company have sunk almost a quarter of a billion dollars into the Ambassador Gateway project which was designed to accommodate a second bridge. Moreover, he must remember that what Senator Cropsey said on the record has never been denied by MDOT:

  • "In talking with [MDOT] Director Steudle this morning, he very clearly stated to me that MDOT would not in any way impair the Ambassador Bridge project and stated to me that MDOT is on record that the Ambassador Bridge should be twinned."

As a man who keeps up to date on all border crossing Reports, Dwight knows as well that the Brookings Institution has written:

  • "The Michigan Department of Transportation has undertaken a $230 million expansion of the Ambassador Bridge customs plaza to improve traffic flow and enhance access to Interstate 75 and Interstate 96, as well as to ease traffic problems affecting adjacent city neighborhoods. The DIBC has proposed a privately financed $1 billion second span for the Ambassador Bridge that is pending regulatory approvals...

    However, the DRIC is expected to be completed later than the DIBC barring additional delays to either project, and concern over the auto industry and the potential for lower traffic volumes due to reduced automotive industry shipments casts doubt on the need to proceed with both the DIBC and DRIC...

    Declining traffic figures, if sustained into 2009, undermine the case for the investment of billions of dollars in new border infrastructure after years of contentious debate and planning has already taken place..."

I will excuse Spanky. Maybe he really meant the building of the Enhancement Project Bridge and got confused. He must be giddy since he is rejoicing short-term because the Obama snub will certain help out IGGY federally in the next election and himself too if he decides to run federally in Joe Comartin's riding if Joe retires.

I digress.

What our Senior Minister is really saying is that he believes in parties living up to their obligations. He wants people to live up to their commitments. A true Man of Honour and a Man of His Word. A Gentleman!

And that is why the Bridge Company owner should be feeling so comfortable today.

He knows that the BIF money was meant to build a road to his bridge so now the money can finally be spent to do so even if it is now called the DRIC road for face-saving purposes. After all, the DRIC road follows the path that Windsor suggested in its WALTS Report and which the Bridge Company engineered years ago. Thanks to Dwight, he knows now that the Ontario Government will live up to its commitment.

But it is more than that. Spanky must know about Ontario's written support of the Enhancement Project. He must also be aware of the signed agreement to help improve the Bridge's border crossing, executed long before DRIC ever started. Heck, he is even obliged to help get the Feds off their rear-ends to get that Enhancement Bridge going already!

I did an Internet search and found out data about this. Spanky must have the originals of what I found and a lot more at his fingertips as a powerful Minister so he could make the statements that he did.

As a Minister of Honour, when will he meet with the Bridge Company to work out the details of co-ordinating their project with the DRIC road to get those thousands of jobs that Dwight as a Politician of Honour promised us.

The Ambassador Bridge And How Canada's Foreign Policy Failed

I am rather surprised that our national media have not dumped more on the Government for the disastrous results suffered by Prime Minister Harper at the Three Amigos Summit. Can it be any worse for our relationship with the US when one considers:
  • Harper was snubbed by President Obama who met the Mexican PM one-on-one but not our leader
  • The President brushed off Harper's big concerns about protectionism as if he did not care, because he did not
  • The shortness of the meeting and the lack of any significant results makes a mockery of the Canadian strategy for dealing with the US and suggests again that Ambassador Wilson has more than overstayed his welcome
  • The visa fiasco and the Derek Burney approach failed to appreciate the importance of Mexico to the US to our detriment
  • NAFTA-gate still rules!
I mentioned to you last week an article in Embassy Magazine.

"Trilateralism Vs. Bilateralism
Should Canada cozy up to the U.S. while angling Mexico out?"

I was annoyed at the Canadian position set out in the article especially when I saw who was involved. I had written about the Report mentioned in it before and had criticized it. I was horrified that this Report was the basis of our policy with the US especially since it seems to be failing with the Obama snub of Harper in Mexico:
  • "At the time, few knew whether From Correct to Inspired: A Blueprint for Canada-U.S. Engagement, would have much bearing on the Harper government's approach to North America. 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.

    Experts across the continent say the report has made a deep impression on the Harper government's approach to continental affairs, which will be centre-stage this weekend in Guadalajara when Mr. Harper meets Mr. Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the annual North American leaders summit. And not everyone is happy with the results.

    While it was written with the input of intellectuals from across Canada and the United States, the report was produced by a clique of experienced NAFTA experts, some of whom were directly involved in the treaty's negotiation.

    Among them were former Canadian ambassador to Washington Derek Burney, a trusted adviser of the Harper government..."

Accordingly, I Blogged about the article and sent my BLOG to the reporter on the story. He invited me to do a Letter on my thoughts respecting the bridge situation and his article. Here is what I sent. I do hope they decide to publish it. I am sure it will shake up some people. It is exactly meant to do so!

For my new readers, it gives an overview of the border situation from my perspective that, in my opinion, will be the lightening rod for further deterioration in our relationship with our biggest trading partner.


The introduction to the article by Jeff Davis (Trilateralism Vs. Bilateralism) intrigued me. Why would he write out of the blue something that only Windsorites care about:

  • “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.”

The answer is obvious. Harper now has the way that he can try for the fourth time to convince an American President to help him take over the privately owned Ambassador Bridge from its American owner, Matty Moroun. He has tried twice with President Bush and once with President Obama already.

Ever since the Globe and Mail published a 2 ½ page spread on Moroun, the Canadian Government knew that its plan to terrorize him into selling out cheaply failed! Harper would try again at the Three Leaders’ Summit meeting in Guadalajara.

As someone who has been involved in and Blogged about the border file extensively over the last 7 years, this fascination over the Bridge by Canadian Governments has been nothing short of amazing. It would appear that the desire to take over the Bridge has spanned a half a century going back to the time of John Diefenbaker to Mitchell Sharp’s Third Option period to FIRA and now the International Bridges and Tunnels Act time-frames. Can you believe that a Conservative Government adopted Liberal legislation so whole-heartedly!

What is not clear is why. If Moroun was a poor operator of this key commercial crossing, it would be understandable. Except his border crossing was recognized by the US Government as being the best operated and it was supposed to be the model crossing for Canada. Public ownership of an important border crossing …pshaw…it is to be handed to a P3 private partner for a period of as much as 99 years.

The real reason has never been explained publicly as far as I know.

Oh, Governments on both sides of the river have spent $60 million on the Detroit River International Crossing study that supports spending billions on a new P3 bridge a mile downriver from the existing bridge. And this is after the US Government, Michigan and the Bridge Company spent $250M on the almost-completed Ambassador Gateway project at the existing bridge which, on its own, can handle twice the volume at the Bridge now without another bridge.

So what if the project, one of the biggest in Michigan’s history, was also designed to accommodate another span as the Bridge Company proposes to build to smooth out traffic flow by adding another lane in each direction for FAST and NEXUS vehicles. So what if a lawsuit has been started over this already, probably the first of many, that can take decades to resolve to the economic detriment of both countries. So what if the DRIC bridge would wipe out the Delray community in Michigan. It’s an American Environmental Justice issue, not ours.

We have heard all the reasons from the need to increase capacity because of the expected doubling of traffic in the next 20 years, to security and then to redundancy. Unfortunately, as often happens with the best laid plans, they do not pan out. Traffic has fallen dramatically so that there is no economic justification for a new bridge and its building could bankrupt other border crossings as each fights for the reduced volumes. Security and redundancy concerns can be easily met by reverse customs (Minister Van Loan’s suggestion of a pilot project at the Windsor-Detroit border mysteriously disappeared). The world economic meltdown has killed the P3 market so it is unlikely the project can be financed as the Minister of Finance had hoped.

My own view is that this really all started as a legitimate economic nationalism concern. There was a need for Canada to have influence over the Corridors and Gateways into the US (as the Transport Canada Policy Paper recognizes). In this way, the Canadian economy can be protected from the periodic US protectionism shocks that take place at the worst possible moments for us. We have Ministers in charge of our Atlantic and Pacific gateways now and it seems that the PM has taken the Central Canada Gateways, which includes the Ambassador Bridge, under his wing.

We don’t talk about economic nationalism much do we? Instead, we focus on “border thickening” as a problem so the Americans think they are in control. However, our Governments work diligently to try to take over the Bridge and the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, P3 the Blue Water Bridge so both sides can be in friendly hands and now we want again “shared border management” in Fort Erie/Buffalo on the Canadian side of the river.

Toss in excessive profits as a motive to corrupt good intentions too---there are billions for a P3 operator to make in a “concession-type” deal. This can no longer be a true P3 deal because of the credit crisis. It will turn into some kind of a Government guarantee or financing arrangement such as that being proposed for the multi-billion dollar DRIC road to the bridge that will make the successful bidder a fortune over its term.

Now we know why Moroun has to go. In each area, his bridge and his proposed one in Buffalo/Fort Erie have proven to be a block to the Government’s road to success.

Back to the Davis article. Its Derek Burney inspired theme is to toss out Mexico from the Trilateral talks as the Carleton University “From Correct to Inspired: A Blueprint for Canada-U.S. Engagement” Report proposes so Canada and the US can discuss their important issues without Mexican hindrance.

Not a word about the border or the Ambassador Bridge specifically. But just read into the Davis article our border file as part of the PM’s hidden agenda. The approach would be to achieve a bilateral solution between Canada and the US, 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."

We are such clever people. Keep on trying to sucker Obama. Keep on rubbing his face in it by reminding him of NAFTA-gate. Haven’t we learned our lesson yet? Beating up on the US Homeland Security Secretary did not work. Janet Napolitano still has her job and drones are flying over Canada as we have to show our passport to enter the US.

Wouldn’t it make sense for our Government to talk to Moroun and work with him to improve our border for the advantage of everyone rather than to expect that an American President and Congress would allow a foreign Government, even Canada, to control its commercial entrances and exits. Doesn’t anyone at our Washington Embassy remember the Dubai ports controversy?

Let’s keep it up. Let’s make one tiny, little bridge between Canada and the US our new softwood lumber dispute with the US by the time this is over.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is Eddie Galvanized, Again

He ought to be given our #1 status as being the City with the highest unemployment rate in Canada for how long. And there still is no Undevelopment Commission CEO.

Remember what he said before:

  • "Francis galvanized by Maclean's grade

    You'd think no mayor in his right mind would ever want to hear in a national news journal he's at the helm of one of the country's worst-run cities.

    But Eddie Francis indicates he can actually put to good use a new survey by Maclean's magazine, which gives Windsor a slew of failing grades in categories of municipal governance, taxation, finance, transportation, environmental health and recreation.

    While not the worst Canada has to offer, Windsor is in the gutter, with an overall ranking of 26 out of 31 cities examined and rated on cost-efficiency and effectiveness...

    "I guarantee you ... we will be ahead of more than our fair share of cities," he said, adding the Maclean's study "reinforces the urgency of what we're doing."

Yes, job creation is so urgent. Why it is so urgent for our Mayor, who went overseas to discuss with his foreign-retained consultants their report about building a cargo centre that will take years to achieve if ever, and our County Warden, who has to prepare for his nomination meeting tommorrow, that this happened:

  • "Joint council meeting cancelled

    A joint meeting of Windsor and Essex County councils scheduled for today to discuss job creation has been postponed.

    Councillors were to hear from members of the Workforce Development Board of Windsor Essex about two studies it has completed.

    One says the construction of a new border crossing will create 15,185 jobs and more co-ordination is required to ensure local residents get as many of those jobs as possible.

    The other, called an Integrated Local Labour Market Plan, sets out the current job situation in the region and sets out how future opportunities should be pursued...

    The meeting with city and county council will likely be rescheduled for September, said Tony Paniccia, who heads the workforce development board."

"Likely?" Maybe. Here is how the City's website describes it:

  • "Please be advised that there will be a special joint meeting of City / County Councils respecting "Economic Development and Jobs Creation Strategy" to be scheduled in the near future. (This meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday August 13, 2009 but has been cancelled for that date.)"

Oh I so hope that nothing more important comes up again. But what the heck, they got their Star headline about 15,000 jobs to help Eddie bury Greenlink. That is all that counts.

Time For Citizens For Jobs Now To Act

Wow, some readers are very demanding:
  • "Hope all is well with you. I am surprised not to see you out with a major piece on the Star story about the American side not interested in building a second bridge. No land assembled and grumbling over what was spent studying the idea.

    Or is the mother of all blogs coming soon and it is like ordering a sultan's meal, it takes a little longer?"

The truth is that I cannot get too upset over this stuff considering the lawsuits started already and the new ones that are sure to come. It took over a decade to settle the FIRA matter.

More importantly, no one has really discussed the crossing in the context of the Obama snub of PM Harper in Mexico and the American focus on the southern border. That is the main reason that nothing will be done here for who knows how long.

There is no US Federal Government need to do anything since the Bridge Company is handling the border so well. Why would they want to sink more money, after the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent on the Ambassador Gateway project a mile away from a DRIC crossing, to satisfy the economic nationalistic ambitions of the NAFTA-gate Prime Minister?

So that kills the DRIC bridge and the road to the bridge because one cannot build a road to nowhere.

The Star story is nothing more than a repeat of what the Detroit News already reported several days ago and a rehash of past stories about what Michigan lawmakers have already said.

The Detroit News stated:

  • "Delray residents wait as new bridge to Canada is debated

    Delray resident Kyle Osborne feels like he and his neighbors are in real-estate limbo.

    For months, Osborn and scores of other Delray residents have waited to find out whether their homes and businesses are going to be purchased in order to make way for the long anticipated Detroit River International Crossing; a second bridge stretching between southwest Detroit and Windsor, Ontario...

    On the American side, the Michigan Department of Transportation has made no movement at all, saying it has purchased no property in the area because of a legislative logjam created in Lansing.

    "We have bought zero," said Bill Shreck, MDOT director of communications.

    "We haven't purchased any property because in the last two or three budget bills, language has been inserted that keeps us from doing just that." Leading the charge against the bridge is Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, who has called the $1.8 billion span a "boondoggle."

    Among his objections were that the bridge would be built with taxpayer money and was based on faulty traffic predictions. Cropsey, who represents the 33rd District, supports plans by Moroun to build a new Ambassador Bridge at a cost of $1.5 billion...

    Among his objections were that the bridge would be built with taxpayer money and was based on faulty traffic predictions. Cropsey, who represents the 33rd District, supports plans by Moroun to build a new Ambassador Bridge at a cost of $1.5 billion.

    According to the Detroit River International Crossing Project, the bridge, plaza and freeway access to the project would be financed three ways.

    The bridge would be paid for by bonds that would be repaid by tolls. The cost of the plaza would be paid by the federal government, and 80 percent of the freeway access costs would be paid by the federal government with 20 percent coming from MDOT."

Naturally, the ridiculous Brighton Beach deal has caused values in Delray to sky-rocket or at least that is what I would claim if I was an attorney for a Delray resident being condemned. That ought to please the cash-short Michigan Legislators a lot!

Of course the financing is a joke. The DRIC tolls would have to be set so high to pay back the bonds that no one would use the Bridge. The US Feds need the money for other matters. Where MDOT will get the money is beyond me since they cannot pay for immediate road projects they need now.

The Star story merely re-emphasized what was said for Canadian readers:

  • New bridge called a 'boondoggle'

    Michigan hasn't purchased one acre of land

    The Canadian government is wasting its money acquiring land for a new bridge across the Detroit River because the costly project will never go ahead, a U.S. lawmaker said Monday.

    Ottawa has so far paid $34 million to the City of Windsor for 94 acres of land -- and is negotiating with 10 other property owners for a total of 202 acres. Michigan, however, not only has yet to purchase a single acre, but has not yet even given approval to buy any land, said Bill Shreck, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

    "This isn't a done deal at all," said Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, a Republican and the leading opponent of the taxpayer-funded bridge. "If Canadian taxpayers want to blow money on purchasing land, that's their prerogative. We blew money ($2 million) on a useless bridge study here in Michigan.

    "But absolutely, it's a waste. It's a boondoggle..."

    Cropsey said that in order for the Michigan Department of Transportation to buy any land, it must win votes in the Michigan house and legislature. He questions whether the project will even come to a vote, since a number of Michigan politicians oppose the public project…

    "But Michigan taxpayers are hurting right now. And this is a prime example of wasteful spending."

Accordingly, Mark Butler is being the good spokesperson as he is forced to say with a straight face:

  • “The governments of Canada, the United States, Michigan and Ontario have been working on this for five years," Butler said. "That binational partnership is committed to seeing a new crossing between Windsor and Detroit that is subject to appropriate public oversight.”

By the way, “oversight” means ownership in DRIC-speak.

However, let’s assume that oversight means oversight. We could have the basis of a compromise. What Mark’s words can mean is that the Enhancement Bridge can be built---a new crossing---with appropriate oversight---as in Bill C-3.

What about the obscene overpayment for the purchase of Brighton Beach. How does that fit in? The reality is that the Feds had no choice. They took their anti-Moroun crusade too far and did not have a way back out.

They need to save face

I am going to help out Sean O’Dell here. I am going to give him some assistance in how to explain away the purchase so the Auditor General will not get too mad at him. Reread my BLOG for the rationale to use, Sean, if you have not already done so: March 19, 2009 “How A Kangaroo May Save Sean O'Dell.”

And in case it bothers him to go Down Under because he does not want to go down under in his career, here is how Maine is salvaging their situation with traffic going down:

  • Maine Turnpike puts off widening project on lower traffic forecast

    Maine Turnpike Authority's ten year plan forecasts much slower growth in traffic, and as a result a widening project through the western edge of the Portland area is being deferred at least five years. Traffic on the Maine Turnpike grew steadily from around 100k/day in 1990 to an average 170k/day in 2004 and remained at about that level through 2007. But last year was down to 166k and this year it is heading for a further 4% drop to about 160k/day.

    Deferred until about 2015 is a third laning project between milepost 44 at the I-295 interchange in Scarborough and milepost 52 at the Falmouth spur, a 13km, 8 mile stretch along the western edge of the greater Portland area. The Turnpike is already 2x3 lanes from MP44 south to the New Hampshire border.

    HNTB, general consultants to Maine Turnpike Authority say in the draft ten year planning report: "total Turnpike trips in 2008 were at their lowest point since 2003. And data from the first 6 months of 2009 suggests that this decline will continue through 2009…

    "They propose to continue with a modernization of the MP44-MP52 segment involving reconstruction of cross bridges to higher vertical clearances and longer spans with the abutments set back to provide for extra lanes, widening of shoulders and clear zones.

    The ten year plan calls for a variety of less spectacular projects than widening

    it is what Dan Paradee of the Turnpike calls "pretty much bread and butter stuff."

In case Sean has trouble understanding what I am getting at, I will spell it out in very simple terms so even a bureaucrat can understand it: build the Enhancement Bridge project as the interim step, build the road to the Ambassador Bridge, protect the corridor and then build a new bridge at the appropriate time.

As I have said before, the only way that jobs can be created is if the Canadian Government and Moroun can figure out a way to work together. That will result in the Enhancement Bridge being built. That would necessitate a road to the bridge. That would create jobs.

Citizens For Jobs Now needs to focus on getting the Feds and the Bridge Company together or we are facing a decade or two of economic disruption on this region. It is time for Citizens For Jobs Now to start getting vocal.

Oh, there is one more Star story to consider. It provides the "jobs now" excuse for Eddie to back off:

  • "15,185 Border jobs projected
    Report on crossing, parkway goes to councils

    The construction of a new border crossing and access road is expected to create 15,185 jobs in Windsor and Essex County, says a report that went to city and county councillors over the weekend."

The key lines were buried at the bottom of the story as is usual with the Star:

  • "Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said the environmental assessment for the Windsor-Essex Parkway road goes to cabinet this week.

    The city was pushing for changes to the province’s border road plan, but has been working closely with the federal and provincial governments in recent months to get the project moving, Mayor Eddie Francis said.

    The mayor said he’s hopeful that once cabinet has the environmental assessment, the city and province can come to an agreement.

    According to the province’s plan, construction could start as early as 2010 and would take at least three years."

Notice the past tense of the language. The deal has been long done. No wonder Dwight will pay for Red Bull again.

Take down that darn Greenlink banner already! It is dead with its stall mission accomplished. Sure we have to worry about kids and backpaths and death and destruction as Eddie and the Star warned us. However, this is all poltiics now since it is re-election time as unconscionable as it may seem to be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eddie's Pie In The Skies Idea

It's just too funny! A real pie in the skies idea from our Mayor. Not just like the Canal which will be coming soon to a theatre (or a Council chambers) near you.

I wonder if Eddie had to go recently to Germany to make sure that the Report was done well. For $220,000, a foreign consultant whose business is more than 4-500 Kms away from here has determined:
  • "They’ve basically said this is the pie and does YQG have an opportunity to get a slice of this pie?” said Francis.

    “The answer is yes. What is the level of the slice? Here it is."

Of course we heard that from Eddie because the public and media were excluded from the meeting. (See previous BLOG)

We need to spend another quarter of a million of taxpayer dollars on foreign consultants to spend months on another study so that Eddie can flog this concept early in election year 2010 even though he has told us on CKLW that he has more important things to do than worry about some municipal election campaign.

Oh, Eddie's plan depends on having this:

  • "The study suggests Windsor could work to increase that market share by aggressively promoting the merits of the airport — a relative unknown in the competitive air freight industry — and by consolidating U.S. and Canadian customs and security agencies on site...

    City documents detailed in The Star in March discussed a strategy of consolidating U.S. and Canadian inspection and security agencies on site, including “the Canada Border Service Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Transport Canada,” and other bodies from both sides of the border."

Uh-huh....shared border management between Canada and the US is dead and we are going to have US Customs here! Get real.

Oh dear, what has Ms. Nazzani been doing for all of this time as the head of the airport. I thought she had been out visiting people and making presentations about YQG. Wasn't she supposed to get our airport's story out there to the trade? Obviously whatever she was doing was a complete failure. Will the Board reconsider her role as this moves forward given what Eddie has said:

  • "Key to Windsor’s success at grabbing a slice of the action will be what Francis called a “multi-pronged” approach that includes more marketing efforts...

    Authors of the Lufthansa study met with freight forwarders and logistics providers who were unaware of what Windsor Airport had to offer, which underscores the need for increased marketing, said Francis.

    A lot of people don’t even know Windsor Airport exists,” said Francis.

    “But when they’re told about Windsor Airport and where Windsor Airport is and its proximity to Detroit and the advantages here, they determine that there’s value here."

What a vote of non-confidence in her and publicly too. If this is what the Mayor thinks of her, then she ought to submit her resignation immediately!

I wonder if the lady from Air America Logisitics is still around! Here is what I Blogged well over a year ago. She could be a real winner for the airport even though the drop in the freight market killed her business:

  • "Remember the story about Air America Logistics and its general manager Vicky Kyriaco-Wilson:

    "Air America has also been instrumental in spinoff work at the airport -- for fuel sales, ground handling equipment, local trucking services and maintenance work.

    More than 800 aircraft movements associated with Air America occurred last year involving DC-8 jets, Boeing 727s, Boeing 737s, DC-9s and numerous other small jets.

    The company handled more than 5.4 million pounds of freight last year.

    "We're the lynchpin that keeps the cargo aspect humming over here," Kyriaco-Wilson said."

    Perhaps airport general manager Federica Nazzani might want to pick up the phone and give her a call. I am sure that she has probably done so. However, Federica's response concerning her lack of experience in the airline business was rather smarmy

    "She dismissed criticism of her lack of aviation experience: "It's true I don't have that experience. But I would point to the prior manager (Serco) who did -- and that didn't work out very well."

I do not want to be rude but is Eddie still studying how to charter a plane to send Windsorites out West to find jobs and to bring them back on weekends? If he cannot do that simple scheme after all of this time, how can he possibly be involved in the cargo business.

All talk, talk, talk and consultant reports....never any action. Well of course not, then you cannot be blamed for failure!

The Story The Star Would Not Publish

Dear reader, if you are still a Star newspaper subscriber, you may have missed this story that was posted online.

I do not know if it was published in the paper because I no longer subscribe to it. It was not included in the "Printed Edition" stories on the Star website that I could find.

Better just to have the positive Eddie stories.

  • "Francis bars media from YQG meeting
    By Donald McArthur, The Windsor Star August 11, 2009

    WINDSOR, Ont. -- Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis kicked a Star reporter out of a Windsor Airport board meeting held in council chambers Tuesday afternoon, insisting that the meetings are and ought to be closed to the public.

    The reporter walked into the public chambers at City Hall shortly after the meeting began about 2 p.m. A host of people who aren’t on the board of YQG — the corporate entity that controls the publicly-owned Windsor Airport — were in attendance.

    They included councillors Alan Halberstadt, Fulvio Valentinis and Caroline Postma along with Norma Coleman, Francis's chief of staff.

    Councillors Drew Dilkens and Ken Lewenza Jr., who are council’s representatives on the board chaired by Francis, were also in attendance. A handful of others The Star reporter could not identify were also present.

    Francis was near the public gallery in council chambers fiddling with a slide projector when the reporter entered the room. On a large screen behind him was an image of a title page with the heading — Feasibility Study Phase 1, Market Potential Study and Forecast for Windsor Airport YQG.

    Francis told the reporter it was a closed meeting and the reporter asked if there had been a motion to go in-camera. Francis replied that there had not been, but that the meeting was still closed to the public and the media.

    The reporter questioned whether the public chambers of council was the appropriate venue for a closed meeting of a private corporation and asked further if the item up for discussion was the $220,000 feasibility study for which Windsor taxpayers are paying.

    Francis told the reporter that the media wouldn’t have even been aware of the meeting had he not told them and the reporter responded that the meeting was publicly advertised on a sign next to the elevator on the first floor of City Hall.

    Francis left the meeting through the public door and returned several minutes later through the rear entrance to assume the chair. He welcomed two board members via teleconference — he referred to them as Renato and Jack and there is a Renato Discenza and a Jack Fraser on the board — and then sought a motion to go in-camera.

    Francis then said he didn’t need a motion to go in-camera because YQG board meetings were closed-door affairs. He then instructed everyone who didn’t have business with the YQG board to leave the room.

    Valentinis slowly rose from his chair and motioned unsurely to himself, but Francis said his order didn’t apply to councillors, who were entitled to remain. The reporter then left the meeting.

    There are three political representatives on the board but there are six private sector representatives. They are Discenza, Fraser, Robert Payne, Deborah Dent, Ronald Holden and Bill Robertson.

    City council agreed in February to pay Lufthansa Consulting $220,000 to conduct an economic feasibility study into creation of an air cargo and perishable goods centre at Windsor Airport. The study was to take four months to complete and was to determine whether the city can become a viable air freight hub.

    The two councillors appointed to the airport board are set to receive at least $4,000 annually, plus $200 per diem, which means the total could hit $6,400 apiece if the board meets monthly.

    That money — at least $8,000 and potentially $12,800 — will be pooled with other committee stipends and divvied up among all 10 councillors.

    For serving as airport board chair, Francis is in line to receive $6,500 annually plus meeting honorariums."

I do not understand this comment by Eddie

  • "Francis declined to discuss specific numbers until the report goes to council Aug. 24."

Don's story said

  • "A host of people who aren’t on the board of YQG — the corporate entity that controls the publicly-owned Windsor Airport — were in attendance.

    They included councillors Alan Halberstadt, Fulvio Valentinis and Caroline Postma along with Norma Coleman, Francis's chief of staff.

    Councillors Drew Dilkens and Ken Lewenza Jr., who are council’s representatives on the board chaired by Francis, were also in attendance. A handful of others The Star reporter could not identify were also present."

Hmmmm 6 members of Council in attendance, a majority of Council members. Doesn't that make it a legal Council meeting? If so, they needed a MOTION to go in camera. Otherwise the public could not be excluded never mind all of the other Procedural By-law violations made.

Eddie is an expert in this area by the way. I note that Councillor Jones was not there. Was he invited or not? If not, wow, that sounds like that infamous meeting in 2003 that the Councillor objected to and in which Eddie was a participant and justified his role at a Council meeting.

This sounds like a job for the Meetings Investigator.

PS. Councillor Hatfield came too, probably after the reporter was kicked out. That made it SEVEN Members of Council, SIX Councillors (a majority) PLUS the Mayor!

New News

I am sure that you may have seen some of these stories but did you think of this angle to them?


Just a little something that I heard recently.

Expect an announcement around the time of the Windsor International Air Show in a couple of weeks.

Let's see, so far Spanky has contributed several millions to a foreign outfit to run a show in Windsor. How much has he given over to a local air show operator who keeps the money in the region?


Ah, Councillor Brister. He really does need people around him to advise him when to keep his mouth shut.

Glad to see that he is playing his Councillor formerly Known as Councillor Budget role again. What a terrific time to talk about outsourcing, rub salt in the wounds of CUPE workers.
  • "Brister argues that the threat of arbitration hanging over council's head prevented them from following through to extract greater cost savings from CUPE.

    Had that threat not been there, "I would have held out longer, no question."

No question because he was still getting his salary and benefits. I guess he forgot about the Protocol fiasco too and the fact that Council caved!

Arbitration may be a bogus issue if Junior is right:

  • "I can assure you,” “I can assure you,” “I can assure you,” that there is no way the City can be successful in the future in taking away PRBs from those employees unless they negotiate them away and sell them."

Here is the important part for you to understand, dear reader. He may be running for Mayor if Eddie does not. His ego is that big. At the least, he is in Councillor competition with his Wardmate Councillor Dilkens depending on what happens with ward boundary review.

As I am sure that many know, Councillor Dilkens disappointed many in CUPE with his hard-line approach. Many had hoped that he would be the swing vote to end the ridiculous strike but he did not. So, I expect that he will be the target of CUPE forces during the next election

Well, Councillor Brister could NOT have that. He had to one-up his colleague. He had to do something so outrageous that CUPE would go after him even harder.

Congratulations Councillor. Your insensitivity has earned you top spot!


No doubt about it now. Just like Gord, he provides the outlet for Councillor Brister to be a big man in town.

It's a shame though that the Councillor still does not have the guts to appear on Face-To-Face with John Fairley. He knows that John would turn him into a pretzel!


More bad news for those advocating P3s as a solution to the border wars:

  • "Illinois, Indiana Toll Roads May Join Macquarie Sales

    July 28 (Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Infrastructure Group, a publicly traded toll-road fund managed by Australia’s biggest investment bank, Macquarie Group Ltd., may sell the leases on the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road as it seeks to raise cash, investors said.

    A July 8 statement by the Sydney-based company says “it is reviewing options which seek to enhance security holder value.” prompted speculation that the Skyway, the first privatized U.S. toll road, and the Indiana highway, the largest such transaction, may be part of the company’s divestiture plans, said William Seddon, an analyst who helps manage $250 million with White Funds Management in Sydney.

    Governments’ rush to get cash for revenue-producing assets, epitomized by the Chicago and Indiana road deals, has ground to a halt amid the biggest economic slowdown since the Great Depression. Once-promising providers of lump sum payments from privatization of public thoroughfares deals can’t get funded amid tight credit, while some of the existing arrangements aren’t generating projected revenue as drivers cut back on trips.

    In September, Abertis Infraestructuras SA of Spain and Citigroup Inc. withdrew their $12.8 billion offer to operate the 537-mile (864 kilometer) Pennsylvania Turnpike."

Note that Macquarie has denied that it will be selling its US assets.


Please don't tell me that the Governments are not working together to force Matty Moroun to sell out to them.

You would think that if there was this big war amongst the three levels as they have been pretending for years, the last thing the Senior Levels would do is to provide money to the City to pay those legal expenses.

That is what is happening with part of the obscene amout of money the Feds paid for Brighton Beach:

  • "City council will use $6 million from the deal [Brighton beach $34M] to pay off its legal costs for Toronto lawyer David Estrin and others incurred during the last five years of the border road debate, with the rest of the money being directed toward the city's capital budget and replenishing municipal reserves, said Mayor Eddie Francis."

They make it so easy for the Bridge Company lawyers. One would almost think they they want the Bridge Company to sue so they can execute some brilliant plan.


Delay after delay. Some still think Government should operate the busiest border crossing in North America.

To those people, keep your legs crossed too as you keep on waiting as Highway 401 travellers are. With the 2013 phony completion date of the DRIC bridge now a mere target date and with the project delayed for lack of traffic and P3 money, can you trust anything the Governments say?

  • "Service centres

    Waiting for the 'near future'

    The provincial Ministry of Transportation is promising that those closed or demolished rest stops along highways 401 and 400 will eventually offer travellers full, "round the clock" service and be "family-friendly facilities."

    Nice to hear, but for now, we're keeping our fingers -- and our legs -- crossed.

    After two years of waiting for the ministry to pick a contractor and get things rolling, travellers are having trouble believing anything the ministry says. And with good reason"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Leweneza's Strike Confession: It Was Not CUPE's Fault

I hope that Junior is furious this morning. He unburdened his soul at Council last night, or, if you are cynical, tried to salvage his sinking political career but was ignored.

Of course he would be. He attacked how the strike was handled by the man in charge. He let us in on the fact that there was no hope of there being a negotiated settlement unless CUPE was crushed.

There were reasonable alternatives that could have been pursued. In fact, he claimed that there was a better offer for taxpayers introduced in the 4th week of the strike that CUPE would have been hard-pressed not to accept but it seems it was never offered to CUPE.

There was ample time for a resolution to be reached without a strike but there was no desire to do so on the City's side.

What a crappy newspaper the Star is.

Oh I forgot. The Star is merely "the messenger" in Marty Beneteau's words.

I am so happy that I cancelled my subscription. I hope that after this BLOG, dear reader, you might want to consider if you should continue to subscribe to it if you have not already stopped receiving it. It is the only way to let the Star, its Senior management and, more importantly, its advertisers know that the newspaper has failed this Community!

What am I so upset about now: the coverage of the PRBs for Councillors story:
  • "Councillors move to abolish post-retirement benefits"

I read what Councillor Grandstander said:

  • "It’s an issue of fairness. I feel we have no option,” said Coun. Percy Hatfield, who had earlier advised council he would bring forward the motion this week."

But I did not read a word about what Councillor Lewenza said other than

  • "Lewenza used debate on the motion to give a long and pained speech on council’s handling of the strike and to defend his actions during the closed-door council sessions dealing with the strike."

Along with Councillor Mom's remarks re non-negotiation for 7 weeks, and isn't it interesting that the Councillor has not Blogged anything more for over a month, and what Junior said, we are learning a whole new aspect as to why this strike happened in the first place and why it took so long to settle.

It is now very clear to me at least that Eddie's Protocol fiasco shortened the Windsor strike by many weeks and probably caused David Miller to settle in Toronto long before he intended to do so.

Junior's comments should have been reported by the Star extensively. However, it did not do so. Better no one should know what Junior says.

Oh they might cover his Ward meetings if he ever has them but by then who will care what Junior says about the strike.

Fortunately, Chris Schnurr has software that allows Junior's remarks to be BLOGGED (see video above). Thank goodness that Windsorites have an alternative media where they can get information.

What Junior says is an absolute indictment of the handling of the strike by the Mayor and Council, including Junior. I know that only the surface has been scratched so far. A skilled cross-examiner should be able to destroy the City's position in any OLRB and other litigation just based on what Junior and Councillor Mom have said publicly so far alone.

As for Junior, how convenient is all I can say. I have some respect for him for at least opening his mouth. However, where was he telling us all of this information during the strike? Why was he so silent? Why did he vote as he did? Why did it take so long before he had his "rift" with the Mayor? Why did he not step up and perform his Municipal Act duties if the Community was in pain and being divided when there were reasonable alternatives? Why didn't he lead his colleagues and take over the handling of the file even after the near-riot and the grossly unfair attack on his Wardmate, Councillor Marra, in the Protocol?

I was interested to note that Junior did not refer to how the Library handled its PRB matter with CUPE that did not result in a strike! I also noted that the Mayor let him go on, off topic, for so long without one single "clarification." I cannot think of another precedent like that except when Dan Stamper or his lawyer, Paula Lombardi, is in Eddie's face!

Here are excerpts from Junior's remarks taken from the video above. Given the settlement, there is no doubt that CUPE won big time in the face of a multi-million dollar campaign to destroy them! Based on what Junior said, CUPE has no choice but to continue forward strongly on behalf of its members in their action against the City.

  1.  Wants blue ribbon committee to deal with Councillor salary issues such as PRBs as in the past. Puts things out of whack otherwise [NOTE but why not something similar for employees when dealing with a major issue like PRBs. See comments later]

  2.  PRBs taken away from only 30% of the work force after the 101 day strike

  3.  Other workers—police, fire, ONA—will have to go through arbitration and NO arbitrator will take away their PRBs based on CUPE 82 & 543 workers but will look at comparable police and firefighters in other cities. Lewenza put his career on the line over this

  4.  “I can assure you,” “I can assure you,” “I can assure you,” that there is no way the City can be successful in the future in taking away PRBs from those employees unless they negotiate them away and sell them

  5.  Lewenza now explains that CUPE got those benefits in lieu of wages

  6.  City money offered over the 4 year term of the collective agreement cost more than PRBs in its entirety

  7.  He predicted 4 month strike with enormous consequences to the community ie their 1,800 jobs and 3 or 4 spin-off jobs per job.

  8.  Having 10,000 people not contributing a paycheck has a tremendous impact to this Community

  9.  Again confirms that there is no savings to Windsor for 30 years

  10.  Solution was “phasing it in”

  11.  Treasurer said if CUPE or the City took only 1 % of what a wage increase looked like and applied it to a PRB fund, no contribution was necessary until 2018.

  12.  Could have been done with less cost and pain to everyone if there had been a more open-minded approach to finding a long-term solution

  13.  New employees do not think about PRBs but at the end of the day, they are glad to have them

  14.  1% contribution by the City or CUPE equals $5 per household with no solution needed until 2018.

  15.  CUPE offered to keep the status quo collective agreement but keep PRBs. In 4th week, Hatfield offered a Motion for 2% increase in the first year , 2% in the second year and CUPE walks away from PRBs or maintain PRBs in a 2 year agreement but get nothing else.

  16.  If you analyze the cost, that was the best deal for taxpayers had Council at least approached CUPE with that compromise and CUPE accepted it. Should have at least challenged CUPE, called their bluff, to avoid a whole lot of pain

  17.  To the public, we need to ask why all people are not entitled to PRBs for life as in other countries

  18.  There were other alternatives

  19.  Look at what happened 2 years ago when this issue first started so Council should have had a good idea that this would create a long strike.

  20.  Managers wanted to form a committee to sit down with Administration and Council to look at alternatives. Lewenza said to an Administrator that they should do it since there were alternatives so both sides could achieve what they were looking for

  21.  The next day there was an Administrative Recommendation for the City to take away PRBs from managers

  22.  The managers, after 150 years, sought to unionize because of PRBs.

  23.  The City has spent $3-400,000 in legal costs over this particular issue so far re the managers.


  25.  Pain and division was felt in this community that was absolutely not needed

  26.  Lewenza was not just pro-union. He represented taxpayer interests and is willing to share discussions he had with the CUPE Presidents during the strike to try to find a settlement in the interests of taxpayers and CUPE

  27.  Challenges his Council colleagues or anyone in the community that this was not his intention

  28.  Some of the Star Editorials are blatantly, blatantly wrong. Now wants to challenge Vander Doelen since any coward can debate an empty chair [Did NOT mention Brister]

City/CUPE Strike: The Historical Context

I think it is too early to tell who won or lost. We have not yet begun to understand what was really going on.

As I suggested with respect to Gord's damage control comment about Eddie and Toronto's David Miller, after the Protocol fiasco I suspect that formerly friendly politicians may well be trying to distance themselves from our Eddie. Great planner, poor in execution, rattled under fire.

So much for pancakes and best wishes:
  • "Toronto's waste collectors piling up the overtime

    Mayor David Miller said city staff were directed to ensure that no overtime would be collected after the strike except for cleanup and matters of health and safety.

    “We've got to get the garbage cleaned up. That's the first priority,” Mr. Miller said. “When you're picking up from many houses in Toronto, mine included, six weeks worth of recycling and six weeks worth of garbage – it takes time.”

    Asked why Toronto didn't follow the lead of Windsor, which prohibited overtime during its garbage cleanup after a 101-day strike, Mr. Miller was curt. “Why not leave garbage in the streets for another few weeks? I think the question speaks for itself.”

It's a shame though that David did not tell the Toronto media to read the Windsor Star to see what the real garbage situation in Windsor is! 75-80% dealt with...pshaaaaaw!

Who knows, perhaps Councillor Halberstadt's son who "is taking a course in local history at the U this summer and is working off a book chronologizing the 99-day Ford strike in 1945" could ask his Prof to write an essay and put this strike into a historical context for us.

In any event, we will certainly find out over time what happened. In the meantime, a reader sent me this note that is being circulated that is obviously pro-CUPE and gives the author's perspective of what happened.


    An Open Letter to leadership and membership of
    CUPE Local 82 and CUPE Local 543

    You held the line.

    You held the line and by doing so it was a victory for every person in this city who must sell his or her labour for a wage and salary in order to survive, be they union or non-union.

    Ninety years ago, in the city of Winnipeg, thousands of government workers, municipal employees and workers in private industry, men and women, proclaimed a General Strike. In a strike lasting 100 days they battled for elemental rights. While that strike was defeated by the combined assault of political leaders, employers and strikebreakers egged on by the press it became a symbol to spur on workers for the rights of free collective bargaining.

    The 99 day Windsor Ford strike in 1945 was another momentous event when autoworkers in our community stood against the employer, the forces of an anti-union corporation and two levels of government abetted by the anti-union outpourings of the local press. Forced to end the strike, the ruling of what came to be known as the Rand Formula helped to finally establish the process of free collective bargaining, union security and the legitimisation of trade unionism. Those rights have come under increasing attack as they did in these past many weeks.

    History happened in Windsor this summer.

    This was more than a strike about a particular set of demands and needs of a section of Windsor’s working people and of two union locals holding onto hard won economic gains in a time of general economic downturn.

    In this strike 1,800 Windsor CUPE workers placed themselves on the front line to defend the very process of free collective bargaining, those very rights the Canadian working class struggled so hard to win for 150 years. And that is precisely why you encountered the particular intransigence of a mayor, why some councilors slavishly towed the line or remained in silence.

    The agenda of the mayor and city council was never articulated beyond shallow references that retrograde battle cry of “fiscal responsibility,” a smokescreen to keep the public in the dark and to provide self-justification for turning their backs on you. The job of articulating that message and perspective was left to certain members of the media who attacked the union as they always have with such particular vehemence to a captive but increasingly dwindling audience.

    The more it became clear that you stood together in union and could not be cowed the more they shrieked about greedy workers stealing money from the public fund, the more they preyed upon ignorance and fear. And it is particularly easy in tough economic times to stir up the pot of suspicion, distrust and mean heartedness to turn neighbour against neighbour. Ultimately they failed.

    Their so-called “taxpayer revolt” did not exist beyond those individuals who gave in to fear and ignorance. The real revolt was organised and it was the revolt of thousands against the position of the mayor and city councilors. The mayor and councilors and their pundits will never admit to this or acknowledge it. It is to their political detriment to admit it ever existed because it exposed the lie that the city administration spoke on behalf of the community.

    The mayor and councilors should take heed that even after the dust of the strike settles (and it will not settle for a long, long time), that their role will come back to haunt them.

    Strikes are momentous life changing experiences. The strike you fought, with a new leadership that underwent trial by fire, and fought for so long at such great personal cost has many lessons each member can take away with them. It revealed to the broad community who you were, what you represented, the principles you upheld, and who was out there with you.

    Members of CUPE Local 82 and CUPE Local 543 can be proud of what you have
    accomplished and what you have inspired others to do.

    What the city workers did was amazing because you held the line for all of us.

    With much thanks.

The Three Amigos And The DRIC bridge

Not a word! Here is what they said that was border related

As you read on, all one can say is Poor Stephen! Quick, call for the Governor General to help out!


Guadalajara, August 2009
  • "Our integrated economies are an engine of growth. We are investing in border infrastructure, including advanced technology, to create truly modern borders to facilitate trade and the smooth operation of supply chains, while protecting our security. Building on these investments, we will work together to strengthen the resilience of our critical infrastructure, which transcends borders and sustains the well-being of our communities and economies. We will cooperate in the protection of intellectual property rights to facilitate the development of innovative economies. We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline.

    North American trade is a vital component of our economic well-being and we pledge to abide by our international responsibilities and avoid protectionist measures. We reiterate our commitment to reinvigorate our trading relationship and to ensure that the benefits of our economic relationship are widely shared and sustainable. We will seek to promote respect for labour rights and protection of the environment with a continuing dialogue to address the functioning of the Labor and Environmental side agreements. This dialogue must result in mutually agreeable and cooperative activities with the aim to enhance the well-being and prosperity of our citizens and the economic recovery of our countries."

It seems to me that the language hardly supports spending billions on a DRIC project especially when the specific item mentioned to help out was "advanced technology."

I would argue that in fact the language supports the Bridge Company's Enhancement Project where they risk their own money:

  • "we will work together to strengthen the resilience of our critical infrastructure."

That sounds to me like working to fix up the existing bridge at its location since its smooth operation is critical to both economies!

Want to know how badly Canada lost out thanks to NAFTA-gate. Here are the other Statements released as set out on the White House website.:

STATEMENTS AND RELEASES---nothing about a DRIC Bridge here either

North American Leaders Summit: Energy Deliverables
Energy and climate change will be an important element of the trilateral discussions at the North American Leaders Summit, to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, on August 9-10, 2009.

North American Leaders' Declaration on Climate Change and Clean Energy
We, the leaders of North American reaffirm the urgency and necessity of taking aggressive action on climate change.

North American Leaders' Declaration on H1N1
Building on the strong record of our trilateral cooperation during the spring of this year, we will remain vigilant and pledge to continue our close collaboration in addressing the H1N1 pandemic. We agree to work together to ensure that we have effective strategies, grounded in the best available science.


  • "Q Does he have any new initiatives that he plans to put on the table here, or is this a follow-up to the meetings that he had with Calderón and Harper earlier this year?

    MR. BURTON: Well, I would point out that the President has made it a point to focus in on issues important to this hemisphere, and together with his counterparts in Canada and Mexico -- he's met with those leaders a combined dozen times. So this is one part of an ongoing discussion to talk about some of the things that are specifically time-sensitive, as I mentioned before, and it's a conversation that will keep going.

    Obviously President [sic] Harper will be coming to Washington in September. We'll see them at the G20. So this is part of an ongoing conversation."


  • "In terms of the schedule, the first meeting on the trip will be with President Calderón and his team. This will be the President's third meeting with President Calderón this year, once as President-elect and twice as President. This underscores the importance the President places on our relationship with Mexico, and his support for the courageous efforts of President Calderón and Mexico in confronting violent drug cartels.

    Given the depth and breadth of our relationship with Mexico, the bilateral meeting with President Calderón and his team will undoubtedly touch on a broad range of issues from security cooperation to preparation for the coming North American flu season, to economic partnership, to clean energy and climate change, to name a few examples"

No nice words about Stephen!

Protectionism: Will Obama Listen

The Star reported that he said:

  • "Buy American won't compromise trade: Obama

    President Barack Obama downplayed his country's controversial Buy American policy on Monday and said it has not compromised trade relations between Canada and the United States.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon following a two-day North American summit in Guadalajara, Obama said Harper raised the issue with him.

    "It's important to keep it in perspective that, in fact, we have not seen some sweeping steps towards protectionism," Obama said, adding that the measure does not contravene any World Trade Organization obligations.

    The provision requires U.S. contractors to use raw materials and equipment made in the U. S. for projects tied to the $787-billion U.S. stimulus package. Harper and his cabinet colleagues, including Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June, have been calling for a reversal of the provisions and, last week, the provincial and territorial premiers voiced their support for Ottawa's efforts to push back against the policy. Canadian companies say they are losing millions of dollars in contracts because of the Buy American provision..."

    Harper, who arrived in Mexico on Sunday for two days of talks with Calderon and Obama — an annual meeting dubbed the Three Amigos Summit — made it clear he doesn't intend to drop the issue.

    "I anticipate that President Obama and I will be discussing this at greater length at our upcoming meetings," Harper said at the news conference. Harper and Obama have a bilateral meeting scheduled in Washington in September."

Such nice words from the President in Mexico. Here is a different US reality that blames the mess on us and suggests that no one in DC really cares what Harper thinks!


    Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release
    August 7, 2009


    August 6, 2009

    James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

    Q I guess maybe Mr. Froman -- it's the "Buy America." Both Canada and Mexico, Canada especially, are upset over -- continue to be upset over the "Buy America" provisions. We have heard here in the briefing room that that's really been resolved, that we would adhere to our international obligations. Yet Canada says that there is a violation. Can you resolve that? And how will it be resolved this weekend?

    MR. FROMAN: As you know, the President insisted that whatever "Buy American" provisions were put into the stimulus bill be consistent with our international obligations, and we believe the implementation of the "Buy American" provisions are consistent with our international obligations. The problem, as you probably know, is that Canada has not bound its provinces to the government procurement agreement and therefore our states are not bound either. And so it covers federal procurement, but not state and local procurement.

    We're in dialogue with Canada and our other trading partners about the issue to try and implement the "Buy American" provision in a way consistent with the law, consistent with our international obligations, while minimizing disruption to trade.

    Q Does the fact that the provinces aren't bound, is that a violation of WTO --

    MR. FROMAN: No, countries volunteer whether they want to bind their states and localities, or in the case of Canada, their provinces, and Canada did not bind their --

    Q So they're stuck?

    MR. FROMAN: We'll work with them -- we're working with them and our other trading partners to see if we can mitigate the impact on trade while implementing the law and fulfilling our international obligations.

BLOGExclusive: Is There Another Windsor Protocol

You remember the disaster and near-riot with the first Back-to-Work Protocol with CUPE.

Is there a secret Protocol signed between the Government of Canada and Eddie Francis that no one outside of Government has been let in on? Does Council know?

If there is another one, I sure hope it works out better!

Serious questions are now being raised as a result of the Three Amigos Session!

Was this Protocol the reason why it seemed that Transport Minister Baird and Conservative MP Jeff Watson were prepared to do handstands to get the City canal money even though it is clear that the canal would not meet the Infrastructure Program criteria:
  • "City of Windsor engineer Mario Sonego said road jobs like those underway in the county can usually be tendered quickly, but that the projects for which the city secured approval are more complex and require significant engineering and planning.

    He said the term "shovel ready" didn't mean projects had to be signed and sealed and sitting in blueprint form on a shelf, only that projects needed to have cleared certain environmental hurdles.

    The costs involved in the engineering phases of projects mean design work generally isn't undertaken until projects are greenlighted, he added."

Was this Protocol the reason why the Feds overpaid for Brighton Beach so that the City could pay for the Estin bills and for its share of the Government programs?

All these mysterious trips for the Mayor supposedly for Children's Games and job creation. Does the Protocol now explain the reason he was overseas? In reality, was he in Europe for several weeks during the CUPE strike, something that seems inconceivable, for national security reasons ie to check out security arrangments for meetings of world leaders. Who is the unnamed, mysterious woman he was with for part of the trip and why did he pay out his own money if a good part of it was for City business?

Why would he want to do that?

Guadalajara, August 2009:

  • "President Calderón and President Obama welcome Prime Minister Harper’s offer to host the next North American Leaders´ Summit in 2010. We will continue to work through this North American Leaders’ Summit process, in an inclusive and transparent manner, for the common benefit of the people of Mexico, Canada, and the United States."

If Eddie runs for the Conservatives, expect the Summit to be held in WINDSOR! After all, Muskoka got the G8 meeting. So far anyway.

I can hardly wait to see what else is in the Protocol!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Next CUPE Strike And Other Stories

Here are some more items of interest.


Here they are until the end of March. Up another quarter of a million. Such perfect timing for the disclosure too.

Good thing that the City can use up $6M of the $34M we got from the Feds for Brighton Beach to pay for the BUY FOREIGN consultants who live and work more than 4-500 KMs from here.


Should CUPE start planning now? You had better believe it and so should other City Unions. They need to look back and learn their lessons as they plan for the future.

After the Protocol fiasco,
  • "Said Jim Wood, who represents outside workers: "Our people want respect, and they didn't get it today."

They did not get it on payday either. Talk about lack of respect!

Preparations have already been started at City Hall for the next strike. I know this not because of the stupidly insensitive remarks of the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget nor because of the right-wing claptrap from Gord and mini-Gord.

Remember the Star Editorial saying:

  • "But with their return come the questions: Where do we go from here? Will it be business as usual after a long and protracted work stoppage that virtually polarized the city? Can it ever be the same?

    Maybe not -- at least, not in the foreseeable future. As Mayor Eddie Francis said, there are wounds to be healed."

I think City Hall is healing them by rubbing the wounds with salt. The psychological warfare has just begun.

Here is a copy of a pay stub sent to me by a CUPE worker. Obviously I have deleted most of the key inforamtion so that the person cannot be identified because that person might be disciplined for daring to speak to the BLOGMEISTER.

You will notice that the worker was not "on strike" but rather on "unpaid leave." However, the key point is that the person will see on every paystub for the remainder of the year that he/she has lost about $15,000 in pay as if the person did not know that already (The actual amount is close to that amount but not exact for reasons expressed above). Oh and the signing bonus is a mere adjustment

Guess how the person feels about this new "healing" technique:

  • "I don't think I'll forget Eddie saying on the news (A channel I believe) 'Respect ... we respect our employees ... now they want to negotiate respect ... how do you put a price on respect?'

    Well one way to put a price on respect is not to rub my face in how much I lost over the strike, [expletive deleted] (and will now see this amount every two weeks until my last pay in December 2009)!!! or how about giving us the $2000, $1000 or $500 adjustment cheque by the first Friday we were back instead of making us wait the full 10 days! How about giving overtime if needed or as required to get back to normal city business as fast as possible. How about not sending in Ron Jones and Ken Lewenza Jr into the lunch room at 400 CHSE (city hall square east) a week ago to welcome us back.

    The list is endless and Eddie the [expletive deleted] just doesn't get it. He is just so wrapped up in himself. See how easy it is to get me to rant!!!"

Gosh, do you think possible mayoral candidate to be Dave Cooke will condemn this in public? After all:

  • "As Cooke said, it's time for us to move on; time to embrace a spirit of goodwill and co-operation"


From another reader:

  • "First, let me thank you for your honest and fair observations of the recent CUPE 82 and 543 strike. It was refreshing to read comments from a third party that admitted he wasn't always on our side. (one of your first blogs I read - 29 May 2009)

    Since I first read your blog, my wife, 12 year old daughter and I have been reading it regularly. When I came home last night my daughter wanted to show me a video she made about the strike. I cannot understand why ten adults and their so called leader could not understand our fight but a 12 year old girl could.

    She has asked me to share this video with as many people as possible. I thought you might enjoy it. Please feel free to share it if you wish.

    Again, thanks for the honest and fair support."


I received a couple of emails from him repecting some recent BLOGs:

1) "Good to see you are keeping up a hectic schedule and catching up to so many issues and stories. I will have an invitation sent to you shortly re: nomination meeting--putting final touches on it this morning!

Thanks for the mention and definitely want to help answer all those questions you pose."

2) After asking him about the disclosure of WEDC income and expenditures, he wrote:

"Many answers will come as the new corporation and board members have joined.

As for compensation--the new bylaws as presented to both councils include a provision that the positions for directors are volunteer without any remuneration or stipend--the only compensation allowed will be for out of pocket expenses (Parking etc.)

Hope the weekend has been good."

This new pay-scale for Board members makes it even more urgent and important that WEDC open its books fully.

I do hope that the Warden and Mayor as our "political representatives" have the sense to do so immediately although based on past comments I am not very optimistic:

  • "I believe now is the time to look at all the books; do a forensic audit and get a look at the 2006, 2007 cheque registry," said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara.

    An independent probe into the spending records of the commission was also demanded by The Windsor Association of Concerned Taxpayers -- a self-described taxpayers' watchdog.

    It is absolutely astonishing to learn that after millions of dollars were given to the development commission, their priorities have been so minimal," said Chris Schnurr, WeACT president...

    Mayor Eddie Francis and County Warden Nelson Santos as well as acting commission CEO Remo Mancini accused the agency's critics of spreading innuendo through the news media...

    Francis challenged McNamara to come forward with information that would warrant a forensic audit.

    "If he has information that is credible and leads him to believe a forensic audit is needed, I would urge him to come forward with that information. Otherwise this political attack on the development commission and creating or insinuating there are issues hurts our efforts to attract investors and jobs to our region."

I would suggest that the first thing the Warden should do at the next Board meeting is introduce a Motion to release this information to the public so as to set a new tone of openness and transparency.

If not, he has just given Jeff Watson his first issue to use to try and beat him in the next Federal election!


Here is a hint that it probably will not be:

  • "Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that he will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and American President Barack Obama at the upcoming North American Leaders' Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, on August 9 and 10, 2009. The Prime Minister will be joined at the summit by Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan and Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) Peter Kent."

Although Minister Van Loan has CBSA responsibility, one would have expected Transport Canada Minister Baird to be in attendance since this is technically his file although PM Harper is really running it!


City Hall so confuses me. One thing is said one time which is pretty clear then I read something subsequently that does not seem to me to square with what was said first.

Perhaps in Eddie's new Office of Communications, one person could be detailed to explain away the seeming contradictions. It would be so much easier for me that way!

Story #1

Dig it? Yes we can; City plans $300M in projects
Windsor Star 04-29-2009

Council meets May 6 to begin consideration of the recommended 2009 budget, beginning with public delegations....

The preliminary 2009 capital budget being submitted to council is $92.5 million, but administration notes there are a number of factors that could have an impact on that figure.

The preliminary budget, for example, doesn't take into account $20.6 million the city received last fall under the Provincial Investing in Ontario Act that remains untouched. And Windsor has yet to hear what its share will be from the $4-billion federal- provincial stimulus funding package announced in this year's Conservative budget.

Council had delayed debating the city's 2009 capital budget pending word on what might be coming from the senior governments, but Francis said it can't wait any longer.

"Without a doubt, that stimulus money is a necessary catalyst for projects we'd otherwise not do," he said, adding whatever the final figure is, it will "just further enhance" what Windsor is now planning on its own.

Treasurer Colucci said Windsor has been asked to submit a detailed shortlist of infrastructure projects that can be started quickly and completed by March 31, 2011. He said the city hopes to do that by May 1 and that it has been told "Ottawa will expedite it."

Colucci and Francis said exactly what makes the lists for federal money or the city's own plan is still being worked out. Pushed to give examples, however, Francis points to the $6.3-million upgrade of "beat-up" Tecumseh Road East between Jefferson and Lauzon, completion of the Wyandotte Street East corridor, the start of the Riverside Drive Vista enhancement project, replacing the College Avenue bridge and improvements to Walker and Provincial roads.

By next week, council will also be digesting a report being prepared by the mayor on pushing ahead with a proposed downtown canal project."

Story #2

Focus Ontario Interview August 1, 2009. Transcript from

Eddie: Absolutely. Going into this strike, into these negotiations, the city of Windsor knew exactly what our financial position was, our budget had already been struck; we had already delivered a zero percent tax increase to the residents....

Eddie: What I can tell you in Windsor is that, as I indicated, we’ve been working hard to get our financial house in order. We completed our budget, we delivered a zero percent tax increase on the average assessed home in the city of Windsor and at the beginning of the strike there are many charges against us by CUPE, by Sid Ryan, by CUPE National, suggesting that we were entering into a strike to save money for the city."

How could the Budget have been completed when it was not finalized by May 6 and the strike started on April 15.


A reader sent me this photo of the City's Tax Statement of Account. "Taxes levied" seem to have gone up every year, except for 2004, and increased in 2009. The biggest increase was in 2009, the year we had a "zero percent tax increase." I guess this home was not "average."