Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Ambassador Bridge And The US Ambassador

I will never be a good card player. I just do not have a poker face and would give away when I held a good hand or even worse, when I had a bad one.

In the same vein, I would never make it as a diplomat. Subtleties of language is not something I am good at. Making black into white is too difficult a job for me, even for Country.

But isn't that what US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson did with his interview with the Windsor Star. The man is a real pro!

You would think the champagne corks would be popping in Ottawa after reading the Star headline:
  • "Obama backs DRIC, says ambassador"

In reality, after the Ambassdor's remarks and the Ambassador Bridge lawsuits, people are ducking under their desks to escape from the fall-out!

Why no one wants to come out and just kill the DRIC boondoggle has always mystified me. But that is what the US Ambassador did in a diplomatic way of course. Not directly but oh in such a subtle manner.

In comments very similar to how L Brooks Patterson suppported DRIC, the US Ambassador supports it because it is supposedly the only project around:

  • "With the DRIC project now the only bridge-crossing application still standing for U.S. regulatory approval after the Ambassador Bridge's disqualification, "my government supports the DRIC," said David Jacobson. "We think it's a good thing."

So if you want to build a bridge for capacity purposes, he is right in what he said. However, he went on to say:

  • "We believe there is probably demand for both crossings, Jacobson said"

So he is now supporting the Ambassador Bridge project as well. As you will see, in the US Federal mind, the issue is traffic flow, not capacity. And that is what the Enhancement Project solves.

And why is the Ambassador supportive of DRIC. He was misled. Simple as that:

  • "But certainly there is enough [demand ie traffic volume] for the DRIC"

No Ambassador, there is no demand. We are back to the 1999 levels.

However, forget all of that nicety of language. What the Ambassador effectively said to Canada is do not call us, we will call you someday when we can come up with a few hundred million dollars for a bridge.

  • "In the interview, he declined to answer questions regarding the financing of the U.S. half of the project, saying the money end was out of his pervue."

So much for Canada hoping that the US would put up Michigan's 20% of the billions required as well as its 80% of the DRIC cost if Michigan is unable to do so financially

Capacity issue, what capacity issue:

  • "There is no question Windsor and Detroit need far more crossing infrastructure, he said.

    As ambassador, Jacobson has spent "entire days crossing the border back and forth, to experience the different border crossings. I don't recommend it" as entertainment, he said wryly.

    Jacobson said he paid close attention to border traffic during his attendance at the Olympics in British Columbia. "There were no significant wait times at any point while entering Canada or the United States." And that was despite much larger than normal volumes of people crossing the border."

It's traffic flow, not capacity that is the issue. He is repeating what the Homeland Security Secretary said months before. The "crossing infrastructure" needed is not a new bridge for more capacity but the new Ambassador Bridge 6-lane bridge for adding a lane for the FAST and Nexus vehicles for traffic flow.

And when the Ambassador talked in the Star video about perimeter security, that means moving Customs away from the border as well and in effect turning the Bridge from a border choke-point into a mere road with the odd security check as in Europe. It won't happen quickly as the Secretary made clear because Canada right now is providing hurdles as with shared border management because it kills the need for DRIC.

In the end, when you ignore the headline and read what Jacobson said, the Ambassador likes the Ambassador. After all, his boss, President Obama, still does not care for what happened with NAFTA-gate. And it shows.


Listen to the Ambassador's latest CTV interview at around the 2:30 minute mark

He was not blind-sided this time. His concern re the border is how we strike the appropriate balance between security and efficiency ie how we defend together North America rather than how we deal with the "smaller issues" at the border.

So much for worrying about a new bridge here.