Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Characterizing Canada's DRIC/P3 $550M Offer

Do we need to call the Fed's Eliot Ness or the RCMP's Sgt. Preston of the Yukon to investigate?

After all, with the senior Government people involved at the highest levels in Canada and Michigan and possible serious allegations being made, who else would you call in? It could be an international incident since the phone lines were used across the border to finalize the deal we were told.

DRIC/P3 matters are heating up.

What would you call the money being offered by Minister Baird to Michigan? This is another of those BLOGs where I present the facts and you draw your own conclusions.

Has the nature of the DRIC debate changed?

Clearly yes if you listen to the CBC host on the show when Matthew Moroun was interviewed. Listen to the host's reaction to what Matthew says and then his concluding words

A bribe....naawwww so gangsterish. We need to call it something much more genteel.

Here is the complete letter

While the letter itself is very interesting, it is what Tranpsort Minister Baird himself said when he announced the $550M offer that explains in full detail what is going on. Listen closely to the excerpts that I have made from his Press Conference.

Tempest in a teapot? A mere diversion? Or is this escalating matters?

If only it was so simple as the Minister said in his recent Detroit speech:

  • "We’re now at the stage where I believe we can get this bridge built. We want Michigan to be ready too. Let’s be clear . Not only is this project the most important infrastructure project in Canada. It’s the most important issue for North American trade.

    It will create thousands of jobs, thousands of jobs here in Detroit. It will support Michigan’s economy. It will expand trade for years to come and it will greatly boost and assist our national security on both sides of the border. That’s why on April 29th the government of Canada announced even more support for this project by committing up to $550 million to help jump start this project on this side of the border."

But he did NOT just say something similar to that in the excerpts above did he? He went a lot further. Did he go too far so that might give rise to a possible investigation?

Here are some of the key points he mentioned that should be considered in your decision:

  • -that’s why our Government has said since 2007 that it is committed to building a new bridge in the region

  • -Michigan is facing some significant obstacles in getting the proposal approved and our Government is stepping up to move this important project along

  • -We have waited a generation or two to make this happen and we want to get it going as soon as possible

  • -The opposition of the Ambassador Bridge Company has obviously been a huge problem literally for a generation or two on this issue. We have been working tremendously hard as has been my predecessor but nothing has happened… We required an important piece of legislation to go through the Michigan House and Senate… This was the way to move it along. If you wanted to make this thing happen, this was the only way we could do it

  • -This was required to put it over the top.. If we did not act now, this could literally put this thing off for another 2 years. We cannot wait for this project any longer. One of the mandates the Prime Minister gave me when I took this responsibility some 16 months ago was to make it happen.

  • -We needed this Bill through the Michigan House and Senate

  • -In order to get this thing moving along we need a P3 Bill through the Michigan House and Senate.

  • -This program has been delayed and delayed and delayed. There has been fighting and fighting and fighting. The mandate that the Prime Minister gave me was to bring this game to a close and to get the job done.

  • -This is a 2-page letter that we have given today and we have gone through the first hurdle in the House.

Why was a P3 Bill needed---it gave MDOT a way to circumvent the Michigan Senate opposition to DRIC is one possible explanation.

In case you are wondering, here is one Act that could be applicable. The Americans have a comparable statute. It is not an easy decision to decide whether what was done falls within the Act and whether there has been a breach or not:

  • Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act

    Bribing a foreign public official

    3. (1) Every person commits an offence who, in order to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business, directly or indirectly gives, offers or agrees to give or offer a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind to a foreign public official or to any person for the benefit of a foreign public official

    (a) as consideration for an act or omission by the official in connection with the performance of the official’s duties or functions; or

    (b) to induce the official to use his or her position to influence any acts or decisions of the foreign state or public international organization for which the official performs duties or functions.


    (2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

My concern has always been and it is proving true now is that this file will soon go completely out of control and, like the FIRA litigation, will take a decade or more to work its way through the court system.

Who gains from all of this? No one, not even the parties. Lawsuits for another decade just like with the FIRA ones

Is there a way to resolve the differences? Sure there is if the parties, all of them, will sit down in a room and discuss in good faith what their differences are and how they can be resolved. It might require a facilitator or a mediator of some repute to assist but why not try.

If that process fails, then I guess I will be writing border BLOGs for a very long time.

"On, King! On, you huskies!"