Baird and Michigan: NAFTA-Gate Junior
Why is Transport Canada Minister John Baird seemingly giving up so easily? After all, the various Canadian Governments have been trying for 50 years—a generation or two in Baird’s words—to take over the Ambassador Bridge, especially in this last decade. Get the P3 Bill passed and Moroun is toast and will have to sell out cheaply or face a DRIC Bridge right.
It is all to lull the Bridge Company into a false sense of security while the DRIC-ites work feverishly behind the scenes. After all he himself was in Lansing talking to people.
There is NO real interest in the DRIC bridge on Canada's part. There never was. After all, there was a secret mandate letter from Harper to BUY the Ambassador Bridge. Ex-Governor and DRIC consultant’s consultant Jim Blanchard has told us about negoatiations. Why BUY it if you are going to build DRIC. Makes no sense at all.
Now get this….If Moroun sells cheaply (It looks like Canada offered around a billion or so and Moroun wanted higher according to Jim), then Canada’s tactics are fantastic. Hey the DRIC project would cost $5.3B we are told now. If Moroun sells for a lot less and even with the cost of building the twinned bridge beside it thrown in and a cheap DRIC road in Windsor, then the Governments have saved billions and achieved their objective.
So say and promise anything and it does not matter. Just get that damned P3 bill passed and it is game over for the Morouns and NO legislative oversight in Michigan. All that has been offered so far is NOT cash but a 2-page letter that even the Minister could not hold back laughing about as the other video showed.
Come on now, after the P3 Bill is passed, terms will be introduced during the due diligence stage that mean that Baird’s offer will never be taken up. Why else was this language inserted in the P3 bill:
- "(14) FOR ANY INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE CROSSING THAT DOES NOT EXIST AS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE AMENDATORY ACT THAT ADDED THIS SECTION, A PUBLIC-PRIVATE AGREEMENT FOR ANY SUCH INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE CROSSING SHALL INCLUDE RISK ALLOCATION PROVISIONS SPECIFYING THE RISK ASSUMED BY THE CONCESSIONAIRE AND EACH INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT THAT IS PARTY TO THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE AGREEMENT RELATED TO THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FACILITY, INCLUDING THE RISK RELATING TO CONSTRUCTION COST OVERRUNS AND, AS APPLICABLE, TOLL REVENUE SHORTFALLS.
It appears as if MDOT anticipates a toll shortfall as the P3 proponents suggested and here come “availability payments” where taxpayers foot the bill!!!
Shhh, do not tell anyone and for heaven's sakes do not dare release the Wilbur Smith Financials or the cat will be let out of the bag. How far will a "confidentiality' argument take MDOT if no one complains.
- BEFORE APPROVING AND ENTERING A PUBLIC-PRIVATE AGREEMENT FOR ANY INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE THAT DOES NOT EXIST AS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE AMENDATORY ACT THAT ADDED THIS SECTION, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL ENSURE THESE RISK ALLOCATION PROVISIONS PROVIDE FOR THE MOST ECONOMICALLY BENEFICIAL WAY FOR THIS STATE TO PERFORM THE PROJECT, WHILE MINIMIZING LIABILITY FOR CONSTRUCTION COST OVERRUNS AND TOLL REVENUE SHORTFALLS FOR WHICH THIS STATE COULD BE HELD LIABLE, AND THE DEPARTMENT SHALL SUBMIT A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR EXPLAINING HOW THIS MANDATE WAS FULFILLED.
Complete discretion in MDOT to determine how to minimize liability. No talk of eliminating liability or making it riskless to Michigan now. The Governor appointed Director reporting to the Governor and NO REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE! Amazing.
“Economically beneficial” is not RISKLESS!!!
It all smells availability payments with Michigan taxpayers on the hook, Hardly a riskless no-brainer! Taxpayers are screwed and no one is around to take the blame since the Governor will be gone and the MDOT Director as well. Just the Legislators!
Then MDOT and Canada can do their own deal with no one looking over their shoulders since both the House and Senate will have passed the P3 Bill and given out a taxpayer blank check.
Oh, about NAFTA-gate. You remember how Canada butted in during the US Presidential primaries and tried to hurt Candidate Obama's chances. Then the Canadian pressure tactics to try to get the DRIC bridge done with President Bush before he left office and that dangerous Obama took over. You would think that Canada would learn. Baird did not.
So he butts in again but just at the State level. NAFTA-gate Junior, get it now!
Baird proclaims it has to be done now, before the Legislature takes off for the summer months and then there are elections and nothing would happen for 2 years.
2 year---why is Canada anticipating a Republican Governor, House and Senate who will oppose P3s and DRIC? 2 years until the next election after that to hope that friendly Democrats will be voted back in as Legislators.
Canada really does not care who wins as long as they are pro-DRIC. The Democrats are their choice now and so offer them the world to pass a P3 bill. $550M was a good opener. Then challenge the Republicans to be the Party to turn down 10,000 jobs.....Oh heck, forget about silly lawsuits trying to stop all of this. Mere details. Moroun's Bridge would create jobs---why mention that troubling detail either.
Now Canada has to make up with the Republicans and still maintain support with the Democrats. Butt in again to make the Republicans look like heroes. How to do it?
Damn Democrats and Matty Moroun. If the Governor and House Leadership would have done their job weeks ago, without the Moroun people telling their story so effectively, the House would have passed the P3 Bill without the need for the $550M. That was going to be the Senate sweetener!
So the only solution, increase the bucks. Up the ante. And make it breathtaking. Make sure it hits the front pages.
Actually, it is no big deal since Canada really wants total control of the borders between Canada and the US anyway. Baird thought he could get it for only $550M. Oh well.
That would make it hard for the Senate to turn down. Perhaps even have the Prime Minister make the appeal this time to really turn the screws. Will Jennifer be breathless again? Let the Republicans become the Party of "Yes" at least with respect to this matter! That will be the pitch.
It does not matter. Just issue another letter. But make it at least 3 pages to pretend additional thought was put into it.
This way the Democrats can take credit for the initial deal. The Republicans take credit for the increase even though Jennifer can arrive breathless with another letter in the Senate hearings. Everyone gets Jobs, jobs, jobs!
Remember though, "Jobs" was the DRTP mantra and no one fell for the "Jobs Tunnel" propaganda since the project made no sense. DRIC is the same.
However, due diligence kills everything so Canada does not put up a penny but the P3 Bill has already passed, Moroun is pressured to sell out, everyone wins but Moroun but then again who cares. You know what he is like.
Will the Senate fall for Baird butting in and now Ohio as well? Is that what it takes to get Legislators to look the other way---money, big money?
Or will they remain true to what they have said up until now:
- Is the P3 Bill good legislation? In my opinion, clearly NOT
- Legislative oversight is required to prevent bureaucrats doing dumb deals that may kill taxpayers down the road when availability payments have to be made
- There is no business case presented at all re the financial viability of the project and in fact MDOT has made it secret
- Other border crossings could be at risk considering the traffic projections seem over-optimistic
- Why spend money on DRIC when Michigan has 243 projects that have been postponed and the Ambassador Bridge project provides toll credits that Mmichigan can use.
- Has MDOT complied with section 384 with their "refresher" and hiding key financial data
- Whose traffic numbers have been consistently too high and how can they be trusted for a $5.3b deal when their basis, a Canadian report, has never been released publicly by Canada
- A foreign Government, even a friendly one like Canada, should never be made an "Instrumentality of Government" of Michigan and given sovereign powers as if they were the State.
- Why hasn't Canada set out a draft of the required "Terms and Conditions" of its $550M loan as part of its 2-page letter
- The P3 deal is surrendering the border to Canada especially if Canada convinces the US to have all border facilities in Canada as in Fort Erie with shared border management so that Homeland Security powers are reduced.
- Why not force Canada to accept the Ambassador Bridge project the way Caanda is forcing Michigan to accept DRIC since there is NO liability on taxpayers when private money is used and the project can be completed in 30 months not 5 years or more and without destroying communities on both sides of the border
- Why have the Governor and MDOT NOT helped out a Michigan Company get its project accepted when the Governor admitted that she would have supported it but for Canada.
- Let Canada spend its $550M on fixing its roads to the border rather than destroying Delray and negating the purpose of the Ambassador Gateway project.
- With the Baird offer, the only jobs he talked about were jobs for Windsor-Essex workers. After all, he who holds the gold makes the rules
- Is the P3 bill constitutional
- Is Canada's offer a proper one since it was designed to get the P3 Bill passed. The result would be to circumvent any opposition by Senators and to make their "Up or Down" vote irrelevant
- In the end, DRIC is nothing more than a "public" bridge being given over to Canada for its objectives and the private sector for a minimum of 50 years and perhaps longer. Why not let the best border operator in North America who helps out Michigan andontario/Quebec continue what he is doing so well.
A simple thought that I have expressed before. Why spend billions today on a guess about traffic in the future and difficult financing. Let Moroun build his project now since it is a traffic flow solution not a capacity one. It solves all of the short-to-medium term problems.
IF and only if traffic picks up such that more capacity is needed, then take a hard look at a DRIC bridge. In the meantime, protect the DRIC corridor but do not waste money when most of the P3 proponents have already said that the toll revenues won't cut it. Isn't that the final answer"