Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 18, 2010

DRTP Rail Tunnel: Another Bridge Company Lawsuit/NAFTA Claim

We'll talk about STOPDRTP2 in another BLOG.

I am sure that there is no connection but the timing is so coincidental when Councillor STOPDRTP decided not to run for office again. Right after mini-Gord praised him to the high heavens in his column we received news about the old DRTP rail tunnel project that has morphed into sending hundreds and thousands of rail cars daily potentially down the CASO corridor unless we have rail rationalization that will prevent it.

Oh man, they are getting dumber and dumber.

Does Transport Canada want to make it a slam dunk for Matty Moroun to be successful in the lawsuits and NAFTA claims against them? Does Minister Baird want more actions against the Government of Canada? Don't Justice Department lawyers have better things to do?

I am certain that you saw this announcement:
  • "Windsor Port Authority, Canadian Pacific and Borealis Become Partners in Public Private Coalition

    DETROIT/WINDSOR, Ont. – June 17, 2010 – The Windsor Port Authority, along with Borealis Infrastructure, a division of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), and Canadian Pacific (CP) have formed the Continental Rail Gateway coalition (CRG) to pursue opportunities for the development, funding and construction of a replacement rail tunnel under the Detroit River.

    The current freight tunnel, which carries approximately 350,000 rail cars each year, opened in 1909 and remains in excellent condition. However, it cannot handle double-stacked, nine-foot, six-inch (9’ 6”) containers and some new generations of multilevel rail cars used by shippers and auto manufacturers. The tunnel clearance was enlarged once in 1994 and can’t be further expanded.

    Earlier this month, the Project Description for the CRG was submitted to Transport Canada as the first formal document submitted under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). In addition, work with U.S. regulators will continue on environmental reviews that began in 2009 with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Dietrich Bergmann was correct at the Senate hearings in Lansing. Who needs DRIC now when a lot of the truck traffic will be using rail? So much for the DRIC engineer reports. So much for the WSA traffic projections. So much for the revenue forecasts. DRIC is a disaster waiting to happen.

Here is what Ontario and Quebec want to spend money on as does the US:

  • "Premiers hop on U.S. fast-train bandwagon
    Charest, McGuinty agree on making Quebec-Windsor line a high-speed corridor

    Now that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has decided that a fast-train network in the northeastern states will be part of its legacy, the provinces of Quebec and Ontario don't intend to miss out on the benefits, their premiers say.

    "This is once in a lifetime (opportunity)," Quebec's Jean Charest said Wednesday. "It's a unique opportunity. It is historic and . . . we need to seize that opportunity."

    Ontario's Dalton McGuinty added: "When we build this line (in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor), it's more than just connecting 16 million Canadians, strengthening our regional economy, better protecting our regional environment. It's going to plug us in to a North American network of high-speed rail."

Can you believe it? First DIFT on the other side and now DRTP on our side would suggest that rail traffic will be ever so important with respect to transporting containers. Where is the capacity for the new bridge going to come from? Out of thin air.

Here is where real dumbness starts on Transport Canada's side that almost makes MDOT look smart. And you know what I think about MDOT.

The Windsor Port Authority is involved in this new venture. That really means Transport Canada. This means now that Canada through the Windsor Port Authority which it controls is an actual competitor for traffic against the Ambassador Bridge Company. It will be one of the owners of the project. And who knows how much money ultimately the Government will contribute to fight the Bridge Company.

Oooops, by the way, there went the Bridge Company is a monopoly argument out the window too thanks to John Baird and friends.

And what is the Windsor Report Authority's role respecting the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project? They have to approve a competitor's project now:

Can you now understand why the Bridge Company has said that their Environmental Assessment is being blocked by Canada? How much clearer does it need to be? Comments by DRIC-ites that the Bridge Company does not have permits ring very hollow right now.

And just so that you understand who the Port Authority is and its relationship with Minister Baird, take a look at the following:

  • "Windsor Port Authority


    Under the 1995 National Marine Policy, 19 major Canadian ports were deemed vital to Canada's domestic and international trade. These 19 ports were designated Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) under The Canada Marine Act which received Royal Assent on June 11, 1998. Canada Port Authorities were created to operate particular ports on behalf of the Government of Canada. In certain cases, CPAs possess the power to engage in activities related to shipping, navigation and transportation of passengers and goods. They may also be given Crown land to operate and manage, but not to own. They may, however, acquire and own land in their own name. CPAs are required to be self-sufficient and fund their operations through the revenues that they generate. Under Section 25 of the Canada Marine Act, CPAs are not eligible for federal funding, other than grants of general application or in the case of emergencies. The mission of the Windsor Port Authority is to manage, develop, and promote the Port of Windsor for the benefit of its stakeholders and ensure the general security of the port while remaining sensitive to the need for a high degree of safety and environmental responsibility.

    Appointment Provisions
    The Board shall consist of seven directors. The directors of the Authority shall be appointed to hold office as follows:

    •the Governor in Council appoints one individual nominated by the Minister;
    •the City of Windsor appoints one individual;
    •the province of Ontario appoints one individual; and
    •the Governor in Council appoints the four remaining individuals nominated by the Minister in consultation with users selected by the Minister or with the classes of users.

The Minister....oh that is the Federal Minister of Transport: John Baird!

  • "Within the Government of Canada, Minister John Baird leads the Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TIC) Portfolio. He is the Minister responsible for the activities of Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada. The portfolio also includes the following:

    •17 Port Authorities."

It is so ridiculous. Weren't the DRIC people consulted by the Minister before the announcement was made? Probably not because the Minister is the only one who is supposed to know anything in his Department and why would he bother telling the underlings. They have been completely cut off at the knees by this announcement. Who cares if they have been made to look stupid?

The failure to produce complete financials plus these rail announcements make the whole process before the Michigan Legislature look completely ridiculous. Moreover, Canada has known about this since 2009. Was that in the 2009 WSA Refresher that Canada has never revealed either?

All of the protestations by the Bridge Company against Canada's unfairness have just been proven true. Now you know why lawsuits and NAFTA claims have been started. It is the only way to get justice against Canada.

Now I can understand the Port Authority being involved in this project, on some basis, although I don't know what it really is since "Canada Port Authorities were created to operate particular ports" and "CPAs are required to be self-sufficient and fund their operations through the revenues that they generate."

How can the Port Authority find the funds to invest in this project that really does not seem to have anything to do with the operation of a Port? Oh wait a minute, I know how it was done:

  • "The port authority will take an equity stake in the tunnel, but Byington declined to say how much.

    Talks to add the port authority to the project began after a May 2009 multi-model conference in Windsor, Byington said. It’s participation in the effort is expected to ease the regulatory and financing process, she said."

I wonder how much the Port Authority will pay for their equity position. I wonder if their payment will be "in kind" because as a Government Body their "effort is expected to ease the regulatory and financing process."

I wonder if the Minister will talk to the Justice Department about the appropriateness of the Port Authority receiving equity on this basis. I remember that he forgot to ask the Justice Department about the $550 million offer to Michigan and whether it met the requirements of the law in answer to a question by Member of Parliament, Joe Volpe, about it.

Gee, that suggests to me how easy it was for the DRIC people to get their approvals on both sides of the river. I wonder who eased their regulatory and financing process.

Some people have said that there is a strong smell in the Delray area of Michigan because of all the pollution. I have to tell you there is a very, very strong odour right across the river in Windsor as well right now.