Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Vilification of Matthew Moroun

It did not take very long for you to be demonized Matt did it?

What was it, a couple of interviews where you stated some facts that the DRIC-ites did not like and bang...Like Father, Like Son. Big Windsor Star headline, story and photo designed to discredit you and make it impossible for Michigan Legislators to support your project.

As far as I am concerned, it was shoddy and irresponsible journalism. Remember this principle and standard of practice set out in the Ontario Press Council website:
  • "Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

Did that happen when this story was first reported. Nothing about that in this story that I saw:

  • "Matthew Moroun told John Baird that Ambassador Bridge would 'destroy' DRIC, says Jeff Watson

    By Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star May 28, 2010 3:56 PM

    Ambassador Bridge vice-president and heir Matthew Moroun told federal transport minister John Baird that the bridge company will “destroy” the Detroit River International Crossing project, says Essex MP Jeff Watson.

    Watson said he and Baird encountered Moroun — son of bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun — by chance in the hallways of the legislative building in Lansing on Wednesday. Watson said it was the first time Baird and Moroun have met face-to-face.

    “Mr. Moroun did take the opportunity to express — probably in the most succinct language I’ve heard yet — that the intention of the Ambassador Bridge company is to ‘destroy’ the DRIC,” Watson said.

    “Those are the words Matthew Moroun used.”

And what did the Star say about your side of the story, Matt-----NADA. ZERO, ZILCH. It does not even look like you were contacted at all before the story was posted.

Oh then we got version #2

  • "Matthew Moroun told John Baird that Ambassador Bridge would 'destroy' DRIC, says Jeff Watson

    By Dalson Chen, The Windsor StarMay 28, 2010 5:38 PM"

This time you were mentioned Matt:

  • "But Moroun disputed Watson’s account of the conversation, and said he is disappointed that “my attempt to introduce myself to Minister Baird” is being misused.

    “I never used the word ‘destroy,’” Moroun said via phone from his office.

    According to Moroun, he said to Baird: “Despite what others may have told you about me and my company, I believe that if you got to know me, you would find those remarks to be false.”

    Moroun said he offered “cooperation” with Transport Canada on short-term improvements to the bridge and border...

    Moroun said he did not notice Watson, and did not engage Watson in conversation...

    In a letter sent to both Baird and Watson, Moroun reiterated that “I still feel our fighting each other is resulting in missed opportunities” for Transport Canada, the bridge company and the public."

Again, not clear who called whom but assuming the reporter called you Matt, why did it take him 2 hours to do so and why couldn't he have called you before posting the first story? Interestingly, the reporter has a copy of your letter but only chose to publish one paragraph of it? Why?

Gee, Mr. Watson is a pretty big guy. I am surprised Matt that you did not see him. He must have been close by to hear everything. I wonder where he was standing in relation to Baird and why he did not say hello to you.

Then Revision #3

  • "Bridge heir denies threat to 'destroy' DRIC
    MP cites remark made in Lansing

    By Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star May 29, 2010"

Notice nothing in the first 2 headlines with you, Matt, denying what was said.

So who is the liar? Who is telling the truth? We will never know. However dear reader, here is some circumstantial evidence that might help you decide.

From watching the CBC interview, it looks like Watson's interview where he made his remarks took place at Windsor Airport where there was an 11 AM press conference. So it either happened slightly before the conference started or after that time when the conference was over.

Here is the interesting part. Matthew Moroun did use the word "destroy" earlier in the morning on the Paul W. Smith Radio show on WJR but it was used in a different context completely. He talked about Canada and Michigan "destroying" his family's business NOT the other way around

Oh, by the way, his show is on from 5:30 – 9:00 AM I believe Moroun's interview took place at 6:56 AM.

Oh pshaw, Blogmeister, you might say, that is hardly convincing. And you are right. Here is something more compelling.

Keep in mind this timeline:

  • Wednesday, meeting in Lansing
  • Thursday, Bair and Watson back in Ottawa for a Transportation Committee morning hearing
  • Thursday, Watson Statement in the House of Commons
  • Friday, Watson anti-Moroun remarks.

Consider what Watson said and how shocked he must have been about Moroun's remarks in the Star story:

  • "probably in the most succinct language I’ve heard yet...

    Asked his opinion on the exchange, Watson said he found Moroun’s statement “rather provocative.”

    “I think the language speaks for itself...

    That was the most direct language I think I’ve heard used by the Ambassador Bridge to date.”

So the next day, after Lansing, with the issue of the DRIC bridge being brought up in Committee, did Baird raise this "rather provocative" statement by Moroun: Nope.

Did Watson raise this "rather provocative" statement? Nope but he did go after 2 other Bridge people, one of whom who is struggling with a vicious disease. He could take an uncalled for cheap shot at her but no attack at Moroun:

  • "Mr. Jeff Watson: Okay.

    Also, I know the Liberals, it's become clear, favour the Ambassador Bridge monopoly. That's been a long-held position, I guess, for the party. Former Liberal cabinet minister, Susan Whelan, who was offered a very soft landing by the Ambassador Bridge, with a job there after I defeated her in 2004. But here's what Mr. Stamper—

    Hon. Joseph Volpe: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

    The Chair: Mr. Volpe, on a point of order.

    Mr. Jeff Watson: It better be a point of order, Mr. Chair. I would hope.

    Hon. Joseph Volpe: Yes.

    I think, Mr. Chair, there's always a lot of leeway for what people can say or not say, and we try to stay away from statements that inflame passions of partisanship.

    Ms. Whelan has not been a member of Parliament for some years. Minister Van Loan was an employee of the Ambassador Bridge. Last time I checked, Mr. Van Loan was still a member of the cabinet. I did not mention his name. I did not talk about recusal. I did not talk about casting aspersions on people who do their jobs, and I don't think anybody around this table does.

    I would ask you to ask Mr. Watson to stick to questions related to the decisions with respect to what Michigan did or did not do without talking about whether somebody lands softly or harshly after they have left public office.

    Otherwise, I guess what we're going to do is we're going to have to ask how it is that a Minister of the Crown currently can recuse himself from a decision when you can only do that or only need to do that if you actually still have an interest in the decision that's being made.

    So if Mr. Watson was wanting to raise a point of order so that we can entertain back the idea of bribery and corruption in this government, well, then, let's go ahead. Otherwise, let's be serious and ask the Minister questions that link to the estimates…

    Mr. Jeff Watson: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It was part of a preamble to a question I was moving to, by the way.

    Mr. Dan Stamper, President of the Detroit International Bridge Company, was quoted in The Windsor Star this morning about that process in Lansing yesterday, and I quote him. He said, “We've had fun here”, referring to the Ambassador Bridge folks. He goes on to say, “We understand now how the game is played in Lansing.”

    I think the unemployed in Windsor–Essex would hardly view this as a game with respect to their future. I don't know if you'd care to comment. Do you share Mr. Stamper's view that a new crossing between the two countries and maintaining or enhancing the importance of our trade with the United States is somehow, all revolves around a game?"

Hmmm, that's odd. No slam at Matthew Moroun and his "rather provacative" remarks. Why not?

Then Mr. Watson made this statement in the House of Commons. Did he take a shot at Matthew Moroun here. Nope:

  • "Mr. Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC):

    Mr. Speaker, following today's historic address by Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, I rise in the House today to reaffirm the importance of NAFTA to the flourishing trading relationship on the North American continent.

    Since NAFTA's implementation, merchandise trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States has more than tripled, reaching $946 billion U.S. in 2008. Today, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico trade roughly $2.6 billion U.S. in merchandise on a daily basis. That is about $108 million U.S. per hour.

    NAFTA has proven that liberalizing trade is an important tool in promoting transparency, economic growth and economic stability. It has been such a success to the North American continent that countries, such as Colombia, now also want to open their own markets to benefit from the economic prosperity on the North American continent.

    I call upon parliamentarians to do what is right for Canada and for Colombia and to pass the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement. Colombia is more than just its past civil injustices. It is time that those opposed to this agreement stop focusing on--"

I wonder why Jeff had to wait so long to make his allegation. Why did he have to wait several days? Why didn't he do it when he had the perfect opportunity? Perhaps some reporter could ask Mr. Watson that that one day and then you and I can use his answer to help us make our decision, dear reader.