We know all about the Friday the 13th but has anybody ever written about Monday the 13th? I suspect that if you are a member of the Government of Canada, then this Monday is worse than any Friday could possibly be.
There is no doubt in my mind that today was supposed to be a day of victory for the Government:
The Bridge Company was to have been found in contempt in a court in Michigan and fined who knows how much money to so that no one would ever want to support them.
Secretary Clinton would be falling over herself approving Canada’s perimeter security initiative.
Finally, Governor Snyder and the Republicans in Lansing would finally see the error of their way and approve in the new year the P3/DRIC Bill.
It just did not work out the way that the Ottawa politicians and bureaucrats thought. The only one smiling today is Matty Moroun. Why today is such a good day for him since he was interviewed for the first time ever on TV on Eh-Channel! Cristina Howorun got the scoop.
Take the Contempt hearing. After all, if mini-Gord went there to report on what happened, the expectation was that Moroun would have been dumped on severely. However, it may be that the Judge may have had some second thoughts about who the responsible party is for the mess that is taking place at the border. Here is what the Free Press reported:
“Maroun, state given a deadline to submit bridge work plans
BY Matt Helms Free Press Staff Writer
The operators of the Detroit International Bridge Co. won’t find out until after the holidays whether a judge will hold the firm in contempt for defying his order to finish construction of ramps and roads connecting Manuel (Matty) Moroun’s Ambassador Bridge to I-96 and I-75.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards today ordered lawyers for the state and the bridge company to submit by Jan. 4 recommendations for completing the work. Edwards said he would rule Jan. 10 whether to hold the bridge company and its president, Dan Stamper, in contempt…
Outside court, bridge company lawyer Craig John said only that the Moroun organization hopes Edwards sees they were not defying his order, but instead were unable to complete work because of disagreements with MDOT about how to proceed with the project.”
The Perimeter Security initiative… what a farce that was. It was almost as bad as the Radio Canada leak in 2008 about the Prime Minister and President Bush signing a deal to build a DRIC bridge. It never happened.
I am not sure how many times Foreign Minister Cannon used the word “trilateral” in his press conference after the session. It is clear however that this choice of language was inserted in his comments I am certain because of the flak received from the Americans and perhaps also the Mexicans.
They don’t like to be blindsided by some dumb Canadian bureaucrats who think that this is the way to exercise their muscle in foreign affairs. These people still don’t understand how much they are hurting our relationship with the United States. Or maybe they just don’t care.
As Secretary Clinton pointed out when she was asked a question about this, the talks were trilateral not “bilateral.” Again, she effectively dismissed out of hand Canada’s initiative. That is not to say that some agreement may not be signed between the President and Prime Minister. But all that will do is increase the pressure on Canada to comply with American demands for security without giving up much in return with respect to trade.
I expect that the session dealt primarily with Haiti and the climate deal in Cancun based on the comments I heard after the meeting.
“Also on Monday, Cannon and Clinton were pressed for details on a border-security deal that is quietly being negotiated by Canada and the U.S. Neither government has said much about the plan, which has leaked out in recent days. According to leaked documents, the deal is supposedly to be signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama in January…
The idea is to build a security perimeter that protects both countries from threats such as terrorism. In return, the Americans would ease up on controls at the Canada-U.S. border, thereby reducing congestion and increasing the flow of two-way trade.
Cannon was not forthcoming on what Canadians can expect from the deal, merely speaking of how both countries face the twin challenges of enhancing trade while also ensure they stay "safe from the threat of terrorism." (Juliet O’Neill and Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News December 13, 2010)
Before dealing with Lansing, Mayor Bing of Detroit moved back from his position of support for the DRIC bridge. In an interview on Channel 4 on Sunday, he said that he is indifferent as to which bridge is built. The only reason that he supported DRIC, is because Windsor won’t allow it to land in this City.
I should point out to the Mayor that it doesn’t matter what Windsor wants. Constitutionally, this is a Federal Matter. Moreover, the new bridge has already “landed” in Windsor. The ramps have already been built and Canada Customs has already said that the Plaza is sufficient for about another 25 to 30 years. The only thing that remains is the middle part across the Detroit River since the ramps and the Ambassador Gateway project are almost finished on the other side.
Finally, Governor-elect Snyder has finally seen for himself the flimflam known as the $550 million loan as described by former Transport Minister Baird which is not a loan now but which has to be paid back.
What an interesting day and co-incidental for the Transport Minister to go to Lansing…to gloat perhaps and to put Moroun in a bad light.
If Snyder read the letter that was sent to his predecessor, he would have seen that the money would be offered by some P3 operator, if there is one that can be found at some time in the future. That is provided that availability payments are paid by the Governments since the toll revenues are insufficient to pay for the cost of the project.
I wonder if the Governor-elect was told:
The only money that the Federal Government of Canada has budgeted is for the DRIC road and nothing else. The rest of the money has to come from some P3 operator.
We learn in writing for the second time that Canada is not making this an unconditional offer but only if the P3/DRIC bill is passed.
I’m certain that Snyder will understand that once the Bill is passed, Canada and/or the P3 operator can back out if they cannot agree on terms. Canada gets what it wants: it becomes an Instrumentality of Government of Michigan
For the first time, recognition is put in the Bill that somehow appeared on the Detroit Chamber website that the project may not be financially viable since it talked about default and the appointment of a receiver.
However, here is the part that should be shocking and something that the Attorney General of Michigan may want to consider along with the allegations from the four Legislators concerning alleged misrepresentations and withholding of information.
I’m certain that you remember after the initial Baird offer was made, that Matthew Moroun was interviewed on CBC. He said that his lawyers would not permit him to make an offer to Legislators to give money provided that the legislation with respect to P3s and DRIC was not passed. The CBC host got all excited about that.
Moreover, so many commentators have bemoaned the fact that the Bridge Company Owner made perfectly legal campaign donations to candidates during election. No one has reported as far as I know, that there were conditions made upon the giving of that money the way that Canada did.
Here is why Matty might be smiling today. The following is from a Press Release from the Government of Canada issued after Transport Minister Strahl met with Governor-elect Snyder on the 13th:
“CANADA’S MINISTER OF TRANSPORT MEETS MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-ELECT IN LANSING, MICHIGAN
OTTAWA, Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ – Today the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, met with Michigan Governor-elect Rick Snyder in Lansing to reaffirm the Government of Canada’s commitment to build the new Windsor-Detroit border crossing.
"I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet in person with Governor-elect Snyder to discuss the importance of the Detroit River International Crossing," said Minister Strahl. "The meeting was very productive. The Governor-elect understands the complexity of this project and was very interested in learning more about Canada’s offer to increase its financial participation so that there would be no cost or financial risk to Michigan taxpayers."
In May 2010, the Government of Canada advised the State of Michigan that Canada was willing to increase its financial participation in the new Windsor-Detroit crossing by $550 million to pay for project components in Michigan, at no cost to Michigan taxpayers. Canada’s offer is subject to the Michigan Legislature adopting the necessary authorizing legislation for the implementation of the new bridge.”
It is the last line that is the key one. It is in writing too for heaven’s sake. It is Government-speak for the P3 legislation and the right to charge tolls. It also imposes a condition. No money is provided UNLESS Michigan acts in a certain, required way to Canada’s advantage.
I am not a Michigan lawyer but I found this section of the Michigan Penal Code very interesting:
“750.117 Public officer; bribery.
Any person who shall corruptly give, offer or promise to any public officer, agent, servant or employe, after the election or appointment of such public officer, agent, servant or employe and either before or after such public officer, agent, servant or employe shall have been qualified or shall take his seat, any gift, gratuity, money, property or other valuable thing, the intent or purpose of which is to influence the act, vote, opinion, decision or judgment of such public officer, agent, servant or employe, or his action on any matter, question, cause or proceeding, which may be pending or may by law be brought before him in his public capacity, or the purpose and intent of which is to influence any act or omission relating to any public duty of such officer, agent, servant or employe, shall be guilty of a felony.”
Who knows, perhaps this is a Federal Matter in the United States and the FBI have to become involved because it is an international incident. Can you imagine if there is an investigation or even a charge? Who then from Canada would able to come to Michigan to talk to the Governor and the Legislators?
Now I don’t know about you but I don’t know if that section is applicable or not. However, it would give me a great deal of concern. Especially since Canada’s aim, in my opinion, since I know now that the Prime Minister wants to buy the Bridge, is to force Moroun to sell out cheaply using DRIC as another pressure point.
I can just imagine the media howling if the Bridge Company made that kind of an offer to the Governor and the entire Michigan House and Senate. But if it is Canada, why they are praised to the high heavens for their actions.
To be direct, Governor Snyder and the Michigan Legislature have more important things to worry about than helping out Harper & Co. With the State budget deficit being the size it is, DRIC makes no sense. All they need do is to tell Canada that the Bridge Company should get going and the game is over.
It all happened on a Monday the 13th—Manitriskaidekaphobia!