Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Health Canada Warning: Reading Mini-Gord Can Be Hazardous To Your Brain

Clearly, mini-Gord knows even less about the Bridge project in Buffalo than about the one here. Yet he can pontificate.

One of the big advantages to me in Blogging about P3s for the past few days is that I have been able to ignore what mini-Gord has been saying for awhile.

I listened in on the Ambassador Bridge Company press conference the other day and mini-Gord made a fool of himself there with his question. However, he had to confirm it as a badge of honour by repeating it in his column:
  • "I couldn't help myself when Moroun -- a nice guy, actually -- claimed that the Canadian government is so lax about security concerns that it wasn't even guarding the Ambassador Bridge against international terrorism.

    How does he know this? "You can't see any Mounties," Moroun said, straight face still intact.

    I put up my hand. "Have you ever heard of CSIS? The Canadian Security Intelligence Service? You're not supposed to see them. They don't wear red coats."

    There were some titters in the audience. After some blustering about 24-hour security, they ignored my question and moved on."

Uh mini-Gord, the titters were for you. Moroun ignored you because he did not want to embarrass you. What you were suggesting is NOT part of the role of CSIS. From the CSIS website:

  • "What does CSIS do?

    CSIS collects and analyzes information and security intelligence from across the country and abroad, and reports to and advises the Government of Canada on national security issues and activities that threaten the security of Canada. The Service also provides security assessments to all federal departments and agencies, with the exception of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

    How does CSIS differ from the RCMP?

    While CSIS is strictly concerned with collecting information and security intelligence for the purpose of advising the government, the role of the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies is to investigate criminal activity and to collect evidence that can be used in criminal prosecutions.

    Is the work of CSIS similar to how it is portrayed in Canadian television shows such as The Border?

    It is important to remember that shows such as CBC’s The Border are works of fiction, and employ fictional devices and situations to generate drama. While life at CSIS has its moments, the work of intelligence officers bears little resemblance to how it is portrayed on television. The Border, for example, suggests that CSIS can arrest or detain people. CSIS, in fact, does not have the power to do either."

But it was his Saturday column "Bridge's claims contradict" that infuriated me again. DUH, when you want to interview a person about something it is obvious you know nothing about, then wouldn't it make sense to ask someone who might be considered "impartial" or at least offer 2 sides.

Nope, not our mini-Gord. He has to interview Moroun's opponent in Buffalo/Fort Erie for "objective" information: Ron Rienas, general manager of the Peace Bridge.

I see that Gord Henderson wrote a column not too sympathetic to people in our area who try to cross the border without following the rules:

  • "Hassles at the border? Here's some advice

    I'm getting a chuckle out of all this whimpering from a segment of the Canadian population who've deluded themselves into thinking they have some God-given right to traipse across the "undefended" border, preferably with U.S. customs officers sprinkling rose petals at their feet...

    But who can blame the Americans? Have we forgotten, just nine years later, that they were on the receiving end of an attack, conducted by a tiny group of individuals on student visas, that claimed more lives than Pearl Harbor?

    The threat still looms. And the near misses, from Times Square to Detroit Metro Airport, keep the tension tightly wound.

    Windsor lost something special -- a unique cross-border relationship -- when the twin towers came down and the wall of suspicion went up.

    But we better put away the hankies and face the new gloves-off reality because it won't be coming back any time soon."

I wonder if Canada Customs are tough in the Peace Bridge area. I wonder if a newspaper would write a weepy story if a Canadian resident got caught trying to bring a car purchased in the US back into Canada and was forced to pay Canadian taxes on it.

So let's see how contradictory the Bridge Company is here and in Niagara:

  • Bridges need replacing in both areas because of age. The real issue is where should they be built

  • Rienas wants a new bridge not for traffic capacity purposes but for traffic flow; so does Moroun

  • Both Rienas and Moroun agree that traffic projections need to be down-graded because of the economic turmoil.

  • Rienas wants to build a project with a new plaza that will destroy a Buffalo neighbourhood as DRIC does with Delray; Moroun's projects will NOT destroy neighbourhoods because it will use his existing plaza footprint in Detroit/Windsor and it is away from populated spots in Fort Erie/Buffalo

  • Rienas wants to build a twinned bridge in Buffalo (OMG...does John Baird or Jeff Watson or MDOT's Bill Shreck know that given their security concerns) while Moroun wants to build it downriver. A contradiction---nope see answer above ie build it in the right spot. Of course, the Ambassador Bridge Co. has 2 solutions to the security concerns that I have Blogged about before.

  • Rienas mocks the price that Moroun says it will cost him to build a bridge; Moroun is using HIS money not taxpayers so I expect he has an idea about costs

  • The urban myth spreads again: Rienas' area already boasts four international crossings with a total of 14 lanes to Windsor's total of six. The reality: Buffalo/Niagara has 14 lanes of traffic except only 2 of the 4 bridges can be used for trucks and the number of Customs lanes for trucks in Windor/Detroit into the US is 13 and into Canada is 12 plus 6 built but not occupied.

  • The Nolan State Dept letter in Buffalo is similar to the one that DRIC received in Detroit where the Bridge Co. does NOT need a Presidential Permit. The Nolan letter was in response to Bridge Co. "DRAFT" Presidential permit application - US State Department allows these application to be submitted as "working documents"

Mini-Gord wants Michigan Republicans to get more information from Buffalo.

I agree. How about this:

  • "For the past 6 years we have lived under government-funded condemnation via eminent domain. Today, the historical integrity of our community is facing extinction, because the PBA proposes to expand its current truck plaza footprint from 14 acres to 45 acres. Over the years, the PBA has annexed historic Olmsted Park land which was immediately adjacent to Fort Porter, famous for its role in the War of 1812 but now also gone—one of the first neighborhood casualties, lost during construction of the bridge more than 80 years ago...

    The tax exempt Public Bridge Authority is poised to seize 100 homes, 200 households, 15 businesses, 7 city streets, and cut down 350 mature trees. Hundreds of responsible citizens will be forced out of a community they love and have helped sustain for generations. The truck plaza and bridge will destroy architecturally important buildings and permanently change view sheds of the residential properties ‘left behind’. The truck plaza will replace 5 city blocks of tax-rolled homes and businesses with a duty free store and 500 space parking garage. Cement and steel will blanket 45 acres of urban landscape, and trucks will replace people. This plan will gut the character, history, stability, property values and vibrancy of a neighborhood and forever change the larger adjacent community."

Sure sounds like what DRIC wants to do in Delray to me.

Who was eager to have the Bridge Company involved in New York State because of their expertise:


    US Senator Charles E. Schumer today encouraged the Detroit International Bridge Company not to abandon their proposal to take over the existing Peace Bridge or build a new one. While the Public Consensus Review Panel voted on Tuesday night to give no further consideration to a proposal put forth by the company last week, the company believes it may be possible to garner significant support for the plan because there is frustration on both sides of the river with the current delays.

    "This firm has successfully managed the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, and presented a proposal to Buffalo to build a signature bridge with private money, manage the existing Peace Bridge at maximum capacity, study the environmental impact on the surrounding area, restore Front Park , and create a transportation hub that would attract business and jobs to the region " said Schumer. "It was my strong feeling that the plan deserved careful consideration, and I am surprised by the Review Panel's outright refusal to do so. To turn this proposal down summarily makes no sense..."

    "I understand that many people are worried that considering this proposal will slow the process down," said Schumer. "In fact, it may do just the reverse - the company says that it could handle existing traffic more efficiently, resolve other concerns about the location of the bridge, and build a signature gateway that would boost trade and tourism in the Western New York area. I believe this plan merits our consideration as we work together to build a bridge for the next one hundred years."

Let me be one-sided like mini-Gord and tell you what some residents of the are think are issues about the PBA project and answers for which they are waiting to get:

  • Funding v. need v. economic benefits for Buffalo Niagara Region.

  • Trucking goods v. Moving Freight via multi-modal system.

  • Does trucking goods give Buffalo/Niagara a global market edge? Does it justify spending 1 billion?

  • If the building a bridge beside an exisitng one is a security issue as MDOT and the Government of Canada suggest, then why is a another bridge being considered to be built beside the existing Peace Bridge

  • Disappointment about the role being played by their Congressman

  • Closely examine the operations of these bridge authorities who operate as shadow governments

  • the project is a political one not an economic engine for job creation.

Now I expect the Bridge Company people would rather work with people rather than fight them. They must have an idea that that the Peace Bridge people might be having some problems just like DRIC down here. I understand that they actually talk to the Peace Bridge people if you can believe it.

Perhaps the fact that they talk might allow Canada to change their opinion and approach and work with the Bridge Company here rather than fight them.

Perhaps there is an opportunity to find practical solutions for Buffalo/Niagara and Windsor/Detroit international border problems - including financing any future project and without the need for absurd P3 deals too.