Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Even More Border Stories

Here are some border stories that you might find of interest


Or maybe it is not so important after all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Another Crains story of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


I am sure you may have seen this story:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bet they had a terrific time talking about:

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

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reasonable Apprenhension Of Bias

It seems the Governor and Legislature in Michigan have finally had enough of DRIC. If anyone wants another reason to end the boondoggle, then here it is from a legal perspective.

Wikipedia gives this definition:
  • "In Canadian law, a reasonable apprehension of bias is a legal standard for disqualifying judges and administrative decision-makers for bias. Bias of the decision-maker can be real or merely perceived.

    The test was first stated in Committee for Justice and Liberty v. Canada (National Energy Board), [1978] 1 S.C.R. 369:

    ...the apprehension of bias must be a reasonable one, held by reasonable and right minded persons, applying themselves to the question and obtaining thereon the required information. . . . [The] test is "what would an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically and having thought the matter through conclude."

I would expect that there must be a similar legal principle in the US.

Obviously, that is why the Consultant Disclosure Statement was prepared and signed for the DRIC project above. The head consultant is stating that it has no financial or other interest in the DRIC project other than its professional reputation.

Everyone should expect that the consultants hired for the DRIC study should provide a professional and unbiased perspective to a project for which they have received millions of taxpayer dollars in fees and for which billions in taxpayer dollars will be spent.

Moreover, organizations like DRTP, Mich-Can and most especially the Ambassador Bridge Company, which owns the existing bridge which may be bankrupted by a new DRIC bridge if that bridge takes away most of its traffic as the consultants have projected, should at least have confidence that the review and recommendations by the consultants were objectively arrived at.

In other words, there was a fair process.

Accordingly, please explain how this advertisement placed in a Detroit newspaper as an advocacy ad for DRIC just before the Michigan Budget hearings ended maintains the "unbiased" nature of the consultants' work!

Here is the clear advocacy section:

Compare the firms in this ad with those named as consultants in the Consultant Disclosure Statement. Do you notice the similarities?

I noted URS because I assume there is a relationship with the Canadian DRIC consultants. Wilbur Smith Associates, a private consulting firm, is writing the environmental impact statements for both the Blue Water Bridge and Peace Bridge plazas, sites that compete with the Bridge Company. They also did the investment grade traffic survey for Canada, the one not released yet.

I have suggested for a very long time that the DRIC process was a farce designed to terrorize the Bridge Company into selling out to the Governments cheaply in our corridor and because they are a thorn in the side in all of the Central crossings.

In my opinion, the consultants by being signatories to the ad have put themselves into a position where they can be viewed as advocating for and supporting one proponent over all others. Their job for which they were paid millions was to analyse and report, not advocate. They crossed the line.

The consultants should have no interest in what the Governments ultimately decide... or were they hired to be advocates as well which would further contaminate the process?

Remember this case involving the Paterson/Francis press conference where L. Brooks called Eddie an [Expletive deleted]

  • As an example, can you believe this? MDOT’s Mohammed Alghurabi said this when sending out the notice about the L. Brooks Patterson/Eddie Francis Press Conference

    •“I understand there will be a joint press conference in Detroit tomorrow morning by the Oakland County Executive office and Mayor Eddie Francis of Windsor…

    I was made aware of the news release this morning, wanted to share the information with you in advance of the press conference.”

    Factually, I am sure that everything that he said in there is absolutely true. However it might be interesting to ask him some questions about how this press conference got set up in the first place and what the role of MDOT was.

    How about this confusion:

    •“Patterson’s spokesman Robert Dustman said Joe Corradino of the Corradino Group handled the invites. The Corradino Group is a consulting firm working with MDOT on the project.

    Corradino said Dustman was responsible for the guest list.

    “I didn’t handle any of that,” Corradino said.

    Francis, Windsor’s mayor, also said Corradino put the list together.”

    Joe actually took part in the press conference by helping to answer a question. Does Joe bill MDOT for his time there or was he there just for fun?"

Accordingly, I would have thought that a reasonable and right-minded person could reasonably conclude that consultants who are advocates for a DRIC Bridge could not have prepared an independent, unbiased and objective analysis. They have put themselves into a conflict position.

Remember, that conclusion need not be true. They may be acting in a completely innocent and honest fashion believing that the DRIC Bridge is absolutely essential now and must be built. The test though is not just "real" bias but "perceived" bias as well ie a reasonable apprehenion.

If I am right, the remedy would seem to be to me that the consultants have to be disqualified and their reports thrown out. Considering that it involves Corradino and URS, the main consultants for DRIC on both sides of the river, it suggests to me that the whole DRIC process needs to be started all over again.

Just what we need now. An Administrative law lawsuit over bias to delay matters for years! Or is this the Governments' way out?

As I told you, the Bridge Company opponents just keep on doing it to themselves!

Will CUPE Workers Buckle

CUPE workers owe it to me, to the citizens of Windsor but most importantly to themselves. We all need to know the truth about what went on before and during the 101 day strike. That can be done simply with the OLRB "bad faith" complaint!

For that, the CUPE workers need to vote to go forward at their meeting this week. Notwithstanding what their chance of success might be, and no matter what their lawyer may say about the odds of winning, good or bad, they need to do it because the war is continuing against public servants.

The issue is NOT a legal one but rather strategic. They desperately need to level the playing field. How can they do it:
  • Put Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis under oath and have him testify.
  • Put Helga Reidel and John Skorobohascz under oath and have them testify.
  • Put Councillors like Caroline Postma, Percy Hatfield, Ron Jones and Dave Brister under oath and have them testify too.
  • And do not forget about the union leaders too, both Jim Wood and Jean Fox need to be under oath and examined as well

It would be interesting to note how the Premier, Sandra and Dwight would react since they were so pro-City especially about Back-to-work legislation. Heck, examine them too!

We all need to know the truth out of their own mouths, subject to cross-examination too, for us to make intelligent decisions about what really happened, and not filtered by the Messenger. I want to know as an example:

  • who advised the City about strike strategy and when were they first hired
  • if Councillor Postma was right about the 7 week City non-negotiations
  • who was the leakor and why since the Integrity Commissioner and internal City report have never been issued after all of this time
  • what is the real story behind the stairwell meeting
  • why did Edgar reject the advice given about the Back-to-Work Protocol almost causing a near-riot and delaying settlement again
  • how could both sides reach a conclusion in less than a week at the end but not before
  • who talked to the Windsor Star and when and about what.

Whew, the onslaught against CUPE is continuous.

Of course, it is not directed towards CUPE alone but to Junior as well. Let's stoke up as much anti-CUPE feelings in advance as possible so that when Junior's bombshell comes out, assuming of course that there is one, no one will listen or, more importantly, care.

What a dumb time for CUPE to hold a meeting too on its OLRB complaint, mere days BEFORE Junior's Report is out, and in such an inconvenient location. Couldn't they wait? What happened to a more central and easily reached location like the Caboto Club? Could someone be trying to influence the vote?

Some may be foolish enough to support these types of suggestions: let's move forward and forget the past. We do not need another fight. We need to mend fences and re-establish a good working relationship with our employer, from a position of complete weakness of course!

I hope not but for those who are still doubters, here is what is going on


  • "I thought it was important for me to touch base with you and email seems to be the quickest way to accomplish that. I plan to continue with regular communications in various forms so that staff are continually informed about the direction and initiatives stemming from the CAO's Office.

    My first priority, as CAO, is to bring City Council a proposal for a revised executive organizational structure. They have requested this now because the vacancy of two General Manager positions has left our senior team reporting structure unclear. Council has not made any decision on changes to the structure, but has asked me to prepare a report in consideration of the groupings of the programs and services offered by the city, and as documented by our service delivery review committees last winter. For all of our benefit, this is an important step so that we are all clear about which departments report to which GM or CAO.

    The senior management team has, over the past 2-3 weeks, provided valuable feedback into the rationale for making changes or not making changes to certain aspects of the current structure. The report will likely be considered by Council within the next couple of weeks and I hope to bring you an update on their decisions at that time."

And here in the CAO Attachment is how the cutbacks will be justified when the Budget is discussed to make it easier to slash programs and thereby cut jobs:

  • "The then CAO and four GMs reviewed the comprehensive list of projects and initiatives and categorized each item as either A or B. Those items classified as A are initiatives or projects that are prioritized due to grant funding already received or available, capital budget funding already allocated and/or because they have an economic development impact. Some of the items are classified as A initiatives because they are required by provincial and/or federal legislation and for corporate health and safety best practices. The A initiatives are identified as the priority over the B initiatives. While the nomenclature “B” may suggest that the projects on this list are unimportant, this is not the case. The items classified as B’s on the list are also very important. However, these initiatives may require additional planning, resources and time to implement. As available resources (both financial and time) are limited, projects and initiatives classified as A are likely to be prioritized over those listed as B, should resource pressures arise.

    Note: The A and B lists do not include normal, day-to-day tasks of the department but rather major initiatives, plans or projects that departments will be working on over the next twenty-four months. Please note that in most cases, these A and B projects will be carried out simultaneous to the normal day-to-day work of the department.

    In many instances, successful completion of the projects, plans and initiatives rely heavily on input from multiple areas of the Corporation and pressure will rest with the responsible department. In addition, each initiative will require financial input in the form of the departmental Financial Planning Administrators, legal advice and contract finalization from the Legal and Purchasing departments, employment services and staffing from the Human Resources department, technology support and implementation from the Information Technology department and policy and approval from the Council Services department."

Hmmmm whatever happened to SDR?


  • How many have been issued so least 4 that I have heard about


DUH, Gord's name for this alone---the savings that the City made while its workers were out for 101 days---will remind people of our hero Mayor every time money is taken out of it. It continue to divide the City until at least the next elction. Or until more lay-off notices are issued, whichever comes last

  • "We are pleased to remove $X Million from the CUPE Strike Legacy Fund to waste on another mind's eye dream such as "Y." Oh do not worry, it is not taken out of our operating Budget or taxes. It's "found money." It is from the money saved by our Mayor and Council's genius in keeping those greedy union workers out for 101 days!"

Or is it the Sheriff deliberately stirring up the CUPE workers to ensure a "YES" vote!


Just read the anti-CUPE hatred coming out of people in the writings on the Star forum!

They really cannot be blamed after the Messenger did its job over the past few months. People have no idea how poor a job was done due to Council's handling of the strike.

One wonders if the same result will happen here as happened in Toronto once people know the truth when the Mayor there chose NOT to run again due to his failure.


It's a euphemism for slashing CUPE jobs and cutting wages no matter that a contract was signed as in England and Alberta.


  • "In other words, council has its work cut out for it -- if it is serious about a bottom line that includes a zero increase in the tax levy...

    Preliminary budget documents already point out that projected wage, salary and benefit increases will create new spending that would result in a four per cent tax hike.

    The report goes on to say "administration advises very significant service level reductions/eliminations will be required to achieve a zero per cent tax levy increase."


  • "The shadow chancellor set out a detailed range of cuts, including a one-year pay freeze for five million public sector workers, which, he said, would save the taxpayer £23 billion over the next five years"


  • "To help accomplish this, salaries for civil service managers will be frozen for two years,” the premier added. “And we will be asking the entire public sector to share in this effort.”

    The premier’s spokesman, Tom Olsen, said freezing the wages of 6,500 managers in 2010-11 and 2011-12 will save the government a total of $22 million. He noted the province could save hundreds of millions in additional dollars if unions representing government workers, teachers, university staff, nurses and doctors agree to a two-year pay freeze as of April 1, 2010."


  • "Good sign: Mayor Eddie Francis says council will have to do everything in its power to achieve a zero per cent increase on its operating budget of $314 million. Simply raising taxes isn't an option anymore, the mayor says, since our tax load is already too high."
  • "Bad omen: the city is hiring extra tax collectors to chase down its rapidly expanding list of tax debtors who owe the city $45 million. That's the most in Ontario, and double the provincial average.

    "People are hurting," says city treasurer Onorio Colucci. And their numbers "are increasing dramatically."
  • "divvy up the loot from the city strike"
  • "payback for enduring the CUPE onslaught"
  • "The vast majority of us invested money, time and sweat to keep our properties garbage-free for 15 weeks"
  • "we could have done so much more with those strike winnings."

It is not a tough decision to make at all for CUPE members, especially if they win at the hearing. Earn back some respect too. They only have everything to lose otherwise.


Monday, October 19, 2009

A Torrent Of Stories

So many more.


Just to remind you what Edgar (aka Eddie) said:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis warned residents Monday to steer clear of the area late at night if they value their safety.

    "If people are concerned, they should be concerned," said Francis. "I would avoid that street. At 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., if you're concerned don't be on Pelissier Street on that corner.

    "Businesses continue to be open and residents continue to live without any problems for the majority of the day," Francis said. "But in this particular location at a particular time there seems to be problems."

Yet, days later, he can also say as quoted by CBC

  • "In 2006, Windsor created a guns, gangs and drugs unit, Francis said, specifically to handle the cross-border drug trade.

    "We have demonstrated in the past that we've been able to partner with both American and Ontario authorities," he said.

    "So we are on top of these issues and will continue to be on top of these issues, because we believe very strongly that we need to take it to the gangs."

Well, a problem identified by the Mayor on one street corner only and nothing can be done other than Edgar floating an idea about a pedestrian mall.

Here is a generous offer that we will see if it is ignored:

  • "Businessman offers free space for mini-police station

    Windsor business owner Larry Horwitz is offering free downtown commercial space to city officials and the police in hopes they'll use it for a mini-police station.

    Horwitz would provide the space, on Pelissier Street, "at no cost for the next six months so they may facilitate the monitoring of the comings and goings of the bar scene," he said."

Heck, we do not have staff for that. We have to crack-down on tailgating parties at the East End arena.


Sorry Councillor Gignac, no luck so far. Good thing that the Councillor visited in the summer and not now. What would her response have been if the Queen asked her:

  • "She was very interested in terms of what’s happening in Windsor."

In any event, we just learned that

  • "Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, will visit 12 Canadian cities in four provinces next month in their first trip to Canada as a married couple.

    The couple will visit the following cities and communities during their 11-day visit: St. John's, Cupids, and Brigus in Newfoundland; Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara-on-the Lake, Petawawa in Ontario, Victoria and Vancouver in B.C., and Gatineau and Montreal in Quebec."

I don't know but I just cannot help feeling that the scare stories about the DRIC road health impacts and the violence of our downtown and the CUPE strike revelations to come may just have scared away the Royal couple.


Tunnel traffic is tanking, minimal work is being done on Tunnel Plaza improvements, tolls have been increased and toll and rental revenues are down about $1M at year end 2008.

Yet more legal fees are going to be paid out, that is for sure since Transport Canada has given their approval for the rollover of the tunnel to a "private' City subsidiary company under the International Bridges and Tunnels Act

Don't worry, once it is private, it will be treated like the airport...reporters and the public will be kicked out of meetings.


The Provincial deficit increased dramatically and now the Federal story is just as bad.
  • "Federal deficit $5.8B in July

    Spending up 30%, revenue down 15%

    The federal government recorded a nearly $6-billion deficit for the month of July, as growth in program spending soared 30 per cent while tax revenue fell 15 per cent.

    For the first four months of the fiscal year, the budget shortfall stands at $18.3 billion -- of which roughly half is attributable to the measures included in Ottawa's two-year, $46.6-billion stimulus package...

    Just last month, the federal government warned that the deficit this fiscal year, ending March 31, 2010, was projected to be $56 billion, slightly more than its previous $50 billion estimate.

    Annual deficits are now expected up until 2014-15, but there's no indication when a budget balance will emerge."

Nope, we do not need Matty Moroun's money for a new crossing when we can soak taxpayers.


What a terrific message sent by Windsor City Council about joint efforts between the City and County.

Even Councillor Brister did not attend


Edgar's buddy, Mayor Daley of Chicago lost out in getting the Olympics. Why though is Edgar feeling so bad:

  • "Chicago's pain at losing its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics was shared Friday at Windsor city hall.

    "Ohhhhh ... you're kidding me. That sucks," said a disappointed Mayor Eddie Francis as he stared at his BlackBerry and the flashing real-time news of the IOC decision in Copenhagen.

    "Who'd it go to?" he called out from his office to staff who were also eagerly following the up-to-the-second voting in the Danish capital.

    That's sad," Francis said of Chicago's loss."

Geeez, Edgar, do I have to do all of the thinking for our City. It's now our huge opportunity. You see if Chicago won, then we would have no chance for decades to come!

We all know that Windsor is the premier sports City in North America:

  • "Our track record speaks for itself to host these events," said Francis at the time. "From the Super Bowl, to Wrestlemania, to the Grand Prix."

We should remake a joint bid with Detroit for the Games. "A host city is expected to be announced in mid-2013" for the 2020 Games. What a world's stage that would be with Edgar re-elected for the next decade or two to pull it off.

As Governor Granholm said back in 2006

  • "With three universities and downtown sports venues, Detroit has the facilities to pull off a summer games, she said. And, with Windsor just across the river, Detroit's uniquely positioned to host the first international Olympic games. Gov. Jennifer Granholm supports the idea of attracting the Olympics to the region. "We have said that with the success of the All-Star Game, and the success of the Super Bowl, that the sky is the limit..."

Think of the big $$$ that the Senior Levels would pour in here. The money could be used

  • to justify a high-speed train from Montreal to Chicago via our new transportation hub

  • to build the canal for tourists

  • to build an Olympic Village at Mr. Farhi's site and elsewhere downtown that would be our Urban Village after the Games

  • to expand the airport and turn it into a Lufthansa Cargo Shanty and get us another scheduled carrier or two

  • to build a new Olympic stadium (for CFL later) and pay off the debt of the University stadium

  • build an extension of the WFCU arena to house the Coyotes down the road,

  • to turn Mt Francis into a ski hill after the next strike

  • to hire more police for Pellisier to keep visitors safe from gangs, guns and drugs.
Symphony halls, water taxi terminals, Tunnel plaza improvements, an Aquarium...come's time to THINK OLYMPIC SIZED BIG before the next election!

The Senator And Body Bags

To be honest, I am tired of the Windsor Star giving up so much space to Senator Colin Kenny.

He is the Chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

We in Windsor should know him well because he has mouthed off on the border file. I have written about him and his Senate Reports before. Here are a few instances
  • March 29, 2007 "The Real News About Senator Kenny's Report,"
  • "September 11, 2006, Journalism 101: The Windsor Star And The Border" and
  • "March 10, 2006 "A Redundant Border."

He is the fellow who supports building a second bridge away from the existing bridge remember for redundancy purposes yet he also favours reverse customs which solves the redundancy problem! I guess this concept is too hard for him to grasp.

As I wrote recently about the Senator:

  • "Senator Kenny should be ashamed of himself. He was no different than Orson Welles telling us that the Martians were coming.

    Remember what the Senator's Report said:

    "The type of cautious, step-by-step, approach currently underway is clearly the most intelligent approach for non-urgent projects. This is not one of them. Windsor-Detroit is of such strategic importance to both Canada and the United States that fixing it requires war-time urgency.

    What the process fails to take into account is the possibility that the Partnership’s timelines are unrealistic and likely to slip and that a crossing could be permanently disrupted between now and the completion of a new crossing."

    Well several years later and the DRIC project has just slipped to 2015, at the least. He should be shocked and be demanding armed guards at the border shouldn't he. Instead, all he can say is:

    "I'm very concerned that it's been delayed past 2013 but if it's coming it's very good news for people in southern Ontario and Windsor in particular."

Well the Star has given him more space so he can pontificate about the war in Afghanistan.

  • "Success in Afghanistan 'pipe dream'"

Oh Senator, do you really think we are that naive? Do you really believe that we thought our soldiers were being sent there for the noble reason you set out:

  • "The rationale behind Canada's military foray into Afghanistan under the Martin Liberals and then the Harper Conservatives was simple: Canadian troops would help contain the Taliban until the Government of Afghanistan could mature to the point that it would stabilize this nation after endless decades of war.

    Unfortunately, the initial assumption of Canadian political and military leaders that the Taliban was a spent force proved to be a pipe dream...

    The western world's one hope in Afghanistan in the 21st century was that the ruthless Taliban government -- ousted in 2001 by the Americans and their warlord allies -- had not been popular with many Afghans. So if most Afghans were to quickly fall in love with democracy, as well as the democratically-elected government of Hamid Karzai, and a reasonable level of stability could be maintained while this love affair took root ... Canada at least had a chance of helping to create a less threatening, less terrible Afghanistan.

    The payoff for a winning roll of the dice would be enormous: the weakening of radical Islam; improved chances of achieving stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan; at least some disruption of the international drug trade; a staunching of the perception that the authority of the western world is on the wane; and lastly, improved lives for millions of Afghans, most notably women."

Perhaps that was true at first but it is not now and the Senator knows it! The purpose for the mission has morphed into an economic one. Realpolitik at its finest.

He states:

  • "In Canada, there is a strange hush in the land. Many Canadians identify strongly with families who have lost loved ones in the cause, and one senses that most of them don't want to confront the fact that these lives may have been wasted.

    Perhaps that is why Prime Minister Stephen Harper avoids the subject of Afghanistan like Superman avoids kryptonite -- he wants the quiet to continue. While President Obama argues publicly for his "necessary war," and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown makes speeches defending Britain's presence in Afghanistan, Harper avoids talking to Canadians about what he is hoping to accomplish there and what would constitute success."

Of course the PM is silent. The public would be outraged if they knew what I suspect is the real reason we are still fighting in Afghanistan. Heck, if the Brits can release a bomber for economic reasons, why can't we follow in the path of the Mother Country:

  • "New statements by both a top U.K. official and one of the country's largest oil companies fed speculation by opposition politicians and victims' families that the recent release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber is entangled with the country's pursuit of oil interests in Libya."

Oh please the Senator, knows why we are still fighting the Taliban and it has nothing to do with building a democracy there but with building the DRIC Bridge here! Go and reread my BLOG January 20, 2009, "Political Decisions: Do Dollars And Bodies Equal A DRIC Bridge."

  • How about dead bodies? Would that concern you?

    Take a look at this story and wonder how anyone could think what is being proposed or say it publicly:

    "Blueprint for getting Obama's ear: Keep our troops in Afghanistan

    Supporting U.S. in spreading global democracy will be a key to a better relationship, a policy paper says

    Mike Blanchfield, Canwest News Service

    Canada's laundry list for Barack Obama's arrival in the White House next month is ambitious: boosting trade across a dysfunctional border, a continental energy and climate-change accord, and halting the economic meltdown.

    But if Ottawa has any hope of getting the ear of the world's most popular politician, it will have to think big and act even bigger. And that means dumping plans for the large-scale withdrawal of Canadian Forces from Afghanistan in 2011.

    That was the underlying message this past week when dozens of senior bureaucrats, diplomats and analysts from Canada and the U.S. met in Ottawa to discuss a "blueprint" for getting the Canadian government on the radar of the incoming Obama administration."

As can be seen by the Obama snubs of Harper, that tactic has failed miserably. There is no DRIC bridge and there may never be one. Protectionism is still around. And so are the bodybags as we THOUGHT BIG!

So now Senator Kenny can say:

  • "I have long been wary of our military mission to Afghanistan and, along with my colleagues on the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, have in two reports expressed doubts about its sustainability after three visits to the field."

He can now take credit for this:

  • "Our troops have performed magnificently under conditions much more odious than any of us would have predicted. They persevered as a tiny band against huge odds, and the lack of success of far greater numbers of U.S. troops demonstrates what an impossible mission they were faced with.

    But we are not achieving anything close to our objectives in Afghanistan, and there is no sign that we will. Why would we continue to risk lives under the pretense that there is good news around the corner.

    If Prime Minister Harper has good news, he should share it. Otherwise, he should do the right thing, and start moving toward a word that no soldier likes to hear, but that is sometimes the only intelligent thing to do. That word is retreat."

Oh well, perhaps the Senator's comments will help prepare the public for Harper pulling out troops before the next election. You know, being tough against the Americans, listening to public opinion especially in Quebec which has been against sending the troops overseas

  • "This past week in Quebec, the news was dominated by the departure for Afghanistan of the first group of soldiers from the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment.

    Their departure followed a month-long public relations blitz by the federal government and the Canadian Forces to regain the hearts and minds of Quebecers, as their own sons and daughters prepared to go into battle.

    They are leaving at a critical juncture in Canada's involvement in that distant conflict. While the situation on the ground is growing increasingly perilous for the troops, the home front also is growing hazardous for the Conservative government as opposition seems to be gathering steam.

    Moreover, the inevitable casualties of the conflict will soon begin to return in coffins to their hometowns in Quebec, where opposition to the mission is highest.

    So much has been made of this opposition, in fact, that the Taliban are expected to target the Van Doos intentionally in the hope of driving Canadians out of their country."

Think I am being cynical. You better believe it!