Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Border Vindication

DRIC has seemed to me for the longest time to be a phony. A pressure play!

Now we know it don't we. Admit it. What Matty Moroun and Dan Stamper have been saying all along is true. They have been vilified for telling us what the bureaucrats and the four Governments did not want us to know.

I feel totally vindicated now as well. Absolutely and completely. My “conspiracy theory” is accurate about what the border file is all about. Here is what was written in the National Post last night and rewritten in the Star today:
  • “It has been estimated that it would take an estimated 75% of the truck traffic that uses the existing bridge. That prospect may persuade Mr. Moroun to take another look at any federal offers to buy the Ambassador…

    Government pressure on 81-year-old Mr. Moroun to give up the fight has increased of late.”

You mean the Government has been applying pressure, say since as long as the late 1990’s after they supposedly settled the Bridge matter forever over FIRA or maybe even for the last 50 years to take over the Bridge and at a bargain basement price! Do you mean that Bill C-3, the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, really was directed at them to pressure them? What a surprise.

At least you, dear reader, as a loyal reader, are way ahead of everybody else in knowing that the DRIC bridge was nothing more than part of an attempt by the Canadian Government to force the owner of the Ambassador Bridge to sell out cheaply.

I was sitting at my computer last night trying to figure out what I should write about and then all of a sudden I received an e-mail about a National Post story.

  • "Ottawa mulls buying Windsor-Detroit Ambassador Bridge

    Stephen Harper has instructed his ministers to explore the prospect of buying the Windsor-Detroit bridge -- the busiest international border crossing in North America -- from its American owner.

    Lawrence Cannon, the Foreign Minister, said buying the bridge from the private sector is one option being examined. "My understanding is that the file is progressing and there are options being looked at," he said"

I literally almost fell out of my chair when I saw it. I could not believe it. What I have been arguing was proven true after all.

I am certain that we will learn a lot more over the next few weeks about what is really going on. However, I find it shocking that this story would appear in the media at this time, especially if there are sensitive negotiations going on that might lead to the Government of Canada buying the Ambassador Bridge.

There are all whole bunch of thoughts that immediately arose in my mind that I wanted to point out in this BLOG:


Who in their right mind would finance this new DRIC Bridge with Moroun's competition or even take over Matty's Bridge.

We know now that the Government values Matty's bridge at least at $1.5B so that is the minimum price. Let's add on a billion for a negotiated price since DRIC has been telling us that traffic volumes will double (and who can argue against those geniuses) and another billion for a new bridge beside the Ambassador Bridge. We are at $3.5B easily that some P3 operator would have to fork out in advance.

No one is going to do that without sky high tolls which will chase business away. Look at how David Bradley of OTA whined about the Blue Water Bridge toll increase. Alternatively there will have to be Government subsidization which means taxpayers pay.

Yes, Michigan taxpayers are going to be thrilled to pay for the border bridge rather than their highways. So will road contractors who will not have work since Michigan can't pay for road projects now!

No wonder we saw the stories about alternative methods of payments instead of tolls. And these people are looking after our tax money.


It could be the Bridge Company but I doubt it. They have a reputation of being pretty secretive with respect to their business dealings so I doubt that they would publicize it so the whole world could know what was going on. I especially doubt that they would throw out numbers either.

I would expect in addition that if the Bridge Company was going to do leaking then the source that they would use would be the Windsor Star or a Detroit paper because I would doubt that even the Bridge Company has the clout to get the National Post interested in the story.

I am shocked that the story was not leaked to Today's Trucking first as has been done many times before. This has to be a BIG story then.

The most obvious Leakor is the Government of Canada. After all, whose name appeared other than that of the Prime Minister and the Former Minister of Transport and now Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon right at the beginning. I certainly am surprised that John Baird’s name was not mentioned since this is his file but that suggests that he might be the one who is negotiating on behalf of the Government given his close relationship with the PM.

Or is he still too involved in giving out infrastructure election goodies!

Oh, and why did it come first through the National Post? Who is their Chairman at financially troubled Canwest and remember what I have Blogged about him before!

Geez, at least try and make this a challenge.


Let us assume that the Government leaked the story. It is pretty clear from the quote below isn't it. Why would they do so?

Certain sums of money were set out in the story, again leading me to believe that it was not the Bridge Company who leaked the story:

  • “One insider said the government has approached Mr. Moroun in the past and been told the asking price is $3-billion -- roughly twice the government's valuation.”

To me, revealing amounts is designed to discredit Moroun. What you are to take from the story is that he is not interested in building another bridge. Rather, it is all about the money and how much he can squeeze out of the Canada. Demonize him again...that has been Caanda's strategy for some time.

It has not worked before so try again.

Seriously, if that is Moroun’s asking price, he better get Edgar (aka Eddie) to negotiate for him. Only asking for twice the value is peanuts! I hardly see why the Government would be concerned about a price that is only twice what they think the Bridge is worth when they paid so much money, $34 million, to the City of Windsor for land at Brighton Beach that is only worth $5 million.


As the story sets out:

  • “Government pressure on 81-year-old Mr. Moroun to give up the fight has increased of late. Last Friday, he lost a major court battle with the Michigan government that ordered the bridge owner to demolish his newly constructed duty free store and gas pumps on the Detroit side, after the judge concluded the company violated government agreements and illegally built the structures on city property.”

Someone in the Government needs a lesson in Court Procedure. This was nothing but a Summary Judgement in a lower court which was a decision without a trial that will no doubt go to Appeal! It was hardly a major victory. Someone over-reacted in Ottawa.

As the Free Press story on border lawsuits pointed out:

  • “MDOT Resident Engineer Victor Judnic, who helped plan Gateway, suggested that a ruling on any of the suits in any courtroom won't necessarily end anything.

    "They'll appeal, we'll appeal," he said.”


Poor Governor Granholm. Even now, Canada just won’t leave her alone, even as a lame-duck Guv of Michigan. They really are insulting her as they have done over the last few years, ever since she tossed out the downriver communities as the landing spot for a new bridge for her political purpose of being re-elected.

Can you believe this. Poor MDOT is being sued for breach of partnership by the Bridge Company since MDOT has beeen working with Canada and now MDOT’s DRIC partner, Canada, has being doing things behind MDOT’s back without telling them anything. What a farce:

  • “Another partner in the DRIC team is the state government of Michigan. It was unaware on Monday of any discussion regarding a potential Ambassador sale by Mr. Moroun.

    "It's news to us," said Bill Shreck, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation. "That's very interesting, but we haven't been privy to any of this. And I'm sure we wouldn't be until it's farther along."

What a bunch of fools in that Department! I wonder what the Legislators will have to say about a Department that wants to spend billions but which has no clue what is going on. They are helping Canada thwart the Governor’s #1 border priority yet they are not in the loop.

No wonder I argued that the Guv should clean house before she leaves office. They have embarrassed her.


What clearer indication is there than this story! DRIC’s purpose was to terrorize the Bridge Company owner to sell out before he was forced out of business:

  • “However, the government received environmental approval for the new Detroit River International Crossing in December and the Ambassador Bridge's annual $60-million toll revenue would be badly hit if the new crossing was built. It has been estimated that it would take an estimated 75% of the truck traffic that uses the existing bridge. That prospect may persuade Mr. Moroun to take another look at any federal offers to buy the Ambassador. "

Think about it. Canada would “mull” buying the Bridge notwithstanding:

  •  The plaza required for the new bridge would wipe out Sandwich
  •  The DRIC road is being designed to go to the new DRIC bridge
  •  Land has already been bought for the new plaza
  •  The secondary off-site inspection facilities are supposedly not the ideal for CBSA
  •  There are security and redundancy problems having bridges side-by-side
  •  "construction would occur in close proximity to neighbourhoods on both sides of the border -- one reason why the DRIC project would instead be constructed in industrial corridor away from residents." [Geez, Delray really does not count at all!]
  •  And so on, and so on and so on

Those excuses which were used to exclude the Bridge Company as the ideal crossing were all lies. They always intended to build a twinned bridge as they did in Sarnia/Port Huron and as is being proposed in Fort Erie/Buffalo.


  • "He added the government's first choice would be to pursue development of a new publicly owned bridge, the Detroit River International Crossing, down river from the Ambassador Bridge. But he said that deal is complicated by the involvement of state governments in the United States. "No decision has been taken on what specific option to take," he said."

Does Michigan know that they are a complication? What other state is involved? Why has it taken Canada so long to understand this? How can Cannon shoot off his mouth like this without bursting out into laughter or having the reporter do it? And the readers too!

  • "The government remains committed to the building of a new (DRIC) bridge between Windsor and Detroit, as additional capacity is needed along this corridor to support the anticipated growth in broader [sic]traffic...

    Michigan will still support construction of the government crossing regardless of what transpires with Mr. Moroun's bridge, he said.

    "It's never been about a specific crossing -- it's about a border system. Detroit-Windsor needs more capacity now and in the future in order to maximize jobs because of its unique location as a conduit to move goods internationally."

Lord, how long will we hear about capacity when volumes are at the 1999 levels and worse.


The Government thought they could steal the bridge for about half a billion dollars! Why else did they set aside in the Budget $400M supposedly for the DRIC Road. It was the amount they reserved for the time Moroun wanted out.

After the 2 1/2 page Globe and Mail spread, they must have known that Moroun did not want to sell out. They had to suspect that the price that they ultimately would have to pay to Moroun and his son--who they said would sell out in a New York minute--would have to be substantially higher. They had to justify spending that kind of money.

How do you do it and not look as if you were taken to the cleaners:

  • "The federal government has been involved in the proposed $5-billion Detroit River International Crossing -- a bi-national government effort to build a competing crossing, plazas and feeder highways about two kilometres downriver from Mr. Moroun's bridge."

If you can do it for the price of $3B plus the cost of a "cheap" DRIC road, why then they are financial geniuses as well as controlling the border for trade. Unfortunately, Matty's number has probably just increased too.


I told you that the CTV interview where the US Ambassador to Canada was blind-sided over DRIC would have consequences.

The news story confirmed that Canada really wants to control US border crossings as I have Blogged so many times before.

It is the Dubai ports all over again. Can the Canadian Government be any more stupid? Leak the story and then face the American reaction. Are they truly that dumb? Is Michael Wilson still round?

Again, as I have predicted, the fuss over the Ambassador Bridge will become the test case for our relationship with the US as was softwood lumber.


Again confirmation about what Governor Granholm said about Canada blocking the Bridge Company from moving forward:

  • "We need another crossing. If Canada, and if Canada would allow Matty Moroun to do it, I think everybody would be in favor of that as the first priority. They are opposed to his bridge... So until Canada gives permission, he can’t build a bridge that’s halfway across the river."

Confirmation again that their crossing was Number 1 but for the DRIC lies

  • "Mr. Moroun has his own proposal on the table to build a twin span in order to avoid losing the financial stranglehold he has held for decades at the Detroit-Windsor border. That proposal has been stalled in environmental red tape since construction would occur in close proximity to neighbourhoods on both sides of the border -- one reason why the DRIC project would instead be constructed in industrial corridor away from residents."


Go back and check out my BLOG September 10, 2009 BLOGextra: Why The Feds Don't Want Matty Around

It is explained graphically by Lufthansa of all people.

Clearly, Moroun should now ask for more, a lot more, if Canada wants his bridge so badly! And why not? Canada's leak shows their desperation. Except he probably will NOT sell out. Why should he? He built it to become the #1 border crossing. The Bridge is his icon. Transport Canada was right about that. Nor will his son. They have under-estimated him badly.

Obviously, they are business people too as the Globe story pointed out. If the price is right....but it will have to be a big price.

And who has to take the hit for him asking for more? Why no one else than the Senior Level's bestest buddy, Mayor Edgar Francis of Windsor. No wonder that Edgar is being bad-mouthed by the Senior Levels even more now. They don't need him any longer. He is done. Watch the Star start to go after him soon. The "M" word was the first indication of that.

Edgar (aka Eddie) gave it all away in the Schwartz report when Gridlock Sam's Socialist-type musing brought the Blue Water Bridge into play.

  • "Balanced Traffic between Blue Water Crossing and Windsor-Detroit Crossings

    Developing a balanced traffic network between the Sarnia-Port Huron and Detroit-Windsor Crossings would provide benefits without a new crossing but would be compatible with any of the new crossings... It sets aside the profit-motive, which means each facility is competing for the most traffic, with a utilitarian-motive: the greatest good for the greatest number. Such a scheme may require revenue sharing among participants."

That could never happen unless Moroun operated both crossings or he was bought out and a "private" P3 operator ran both.

There was no reason for Sam to say what he did other than for Edgar to point at it in the future and to let everyone know what a genius he was. Except he gave the Government plot away to Moroun years ago!

If the Governments want one private operator to run both crossings, then it may as well be Moroun since he has the track record of being best border operator between Canada and the US. I bet he could figure out a way to make that bridge work without destroying Port Huron!

Throw in Minister of Finance Flaherty's asset review of the Blue Water Bridge and Dwight Duncan's Gong show faux pas that told us nothing would happen until 2010 and you know why all hell is breaking loose now.

And we may as well throw in something into the pot involving Buffalo/Fort Erie because Moroun wants to build a bridge there too. Something will have to be done there as well.

Oooops, I almost forgot Edgar's ridiculous $75M Tunnel proposal and how Canada tried to stop Moroun's Tunnel deal and 200 Customs booth concept. It was all part of this too. So much for shared border management and why it really failed.

Oh these Government guys are so smart, their plans so complicated, nothing is easy. The initials prove it all: DRTP, DRIC, DIFT, TC, FHWA, MTO, TC, BIIG, DWT, EA, DEIS.

Don't they understand as Moroun does, since it is HIS money that is at stake, that it is as easy as 123, do-re-mi.

In fact, it is as simple as ABC!