Stephen Harper is no bridge builder.

It was the kind of announcement that has you constantly shaking your head. It cannot be real. Here (on June 15) you have the Canadian Prime Minister and the Governor of Michigan announcing that Canada is putting up the entire billion dollars to build a new bridge across the river between Detroit and Windsor. The so-called 600-pound gorilla in the room who did not take part in the announcement was billionaire Manuel (Matty) Maroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge.

Maroun is already starting to get his licks in. A petition with more than 100,000 extra signatures has been gathered to support putting the bridge on a ballot in Michigan this November. Since the majority of the Michigan State Assembly seem to be on Mr. Maroun’s patronage list, nobody expects there will be a problem putting the Canadian bridge scheme to a vote in Michigan. They just have to figure out how to say ‘get stuffed’ in more family-friendly language.

On the Canadian side of this bridge are the poor people of Windsor. And this announcement can even make them poorer. The announcement was played in the media as another beneficial employment opportunity for Windsorites.

But as they say in Windsor: ‘Been there, heard that, got screwed, had to pay for the t-shirt myself.

These poor souls are still trying to figure out Provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s highway to the new bridge that is already being built at a proposed cost of $1.4 billion. This was also supposed to create jobs. They are becoming a bit annoyed that the highway project has some 100 engineers living temporarily in Windsor while University of Windsor engineering graduates have to go elsewhere to find jobs.

There is little if any problem in acquiring land in West Windsor where Mr. Duncan’s new highway meets Mr. Harper’s bridge. The problem will be on the Detroit side where the Delray Community will likely be well supported by Mr. Maroun to fight Eminent Domain (that is what Americans call expropriation). The battle on that side of the river will take years and millions of dollars for every foot gained.

But before you throw up your hands and complain to your Member of Parliament, you should take a close look at what causes line-ups of trucks on their way to America on the Ambassador Bridge. You will be quite impressed with the thoroughness of the few customs people there and especially with the limitations of the facilities they have to do their job. After all, there is no incentive for them to expedite the flow of Canadian goods into the United States of America.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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