Globe and Mail article: Bridge Proposal divides U.S, Canada
The article below was written in the Globe and Mail on July 17th. The article seems to give balanced arguments both for and against the building of the bridge. However, key arguments opposing the building of the bridge are not mentioned.
One of the opponenet of the bridge, the owners of the Ambassador bridge, have been accused of spreading a 'misinformation campaign'. However, they raise the valid concern that 'annual traffic on the Ambassador bridge is down more than 40% in the past decade' - a point which is not highlighted as significant in the article. Other factors such as 9/11, increased border security, the passport requirement coupled with the ongoing recession as just some of the reasons for the continuing decline in cross-border traffic that began in 1999. This continued decline shows no sign of reversing in the near future.
The most glaring ommission is the failure to mention the environmental damage that would occur to the sensitive, rare, prarie grassland ecosystem which is home to 8 threatened or endangered animals.
Bridge proposal divides U.S., Canada
Business leader denounces 'misinformation campaign' aimed at undermining support in Michigan for second Detroit-Windsor span
STEVEN CHASE OTTAWA
The head of Canada’s biggest business group says he’s worried a “misinformation campaign” by opponents of a second Detroit-Windsor bridge is hurting the chances the long-sought project will secure vital approval in Michigan.
There is no greater conduit for CanadaU.5. trade than the link between Detroit and Windsor. The thousands of trucks that cross the Ambassador Bridge each day carry about 25 per cent of the annual merchandise trade between Canada and the United States.
Canada has been pushing to build an additional crossing for more than seven years to ease bottlenecks in cross-border traffic and meet future demand. It’s offered to pay Michigan’s $550-million share of the project - which would later be repaid from toll revenue.
The operators of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, how ever, have waged a public campaign against the plan in recent months, using TV ads to raise questions in Michigan voters’ minds about the rationale for a government-backed second crossing.
Opponents not connected to the Ambassador Bridge have used more controversial tactics, such as delivering fake eviction notices to Detroit residents that erroneously suggested they would be displaced by the project.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty calls the new crossing “the single most important thing we can do to improve the functioning of the border” and says campaigns against the project are throwing up barriers to the deal.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder had committed to getting legislative approval for the new bridge by early July. But bills that would pave the way for the state to enter officially into a bridge deal didn’t pass before the summer break.
Detroit media have reported in recent weeks that the project currently lacks sufficient political support among Michigan legislators.
Mr. Beatt whose group represents about 192,000 Canadian businesses, said Michigan taxpayers must understand that Canada’s offer to front more than $500-million of the costs for its neighbour “is a deal that the people of any other state in the United States would give their right arm for.”
“If there’s ever an opportunity to get it done, it’s now,” he said.
Canada wants to build a second bridge “[But] what you have is massive amounts of money being poured into a campaign to spread misinformation.”
Brad Williams of the Detroit Regional Chamber estimates bridge opponents have spent more than $1-million (U.S.) on campaigning against the second crossing.
The proprietors of the Ambassador Bridge make no apologies for the messages in their TV ads.
Matthew Moroun, vice-chair man of a family holding company overseeing the Ambassador Bridge, said a new government-backed crossing makes no sense now because it would beggar both. Annual traffic on the Ambassador Bridge is down more than 40 per cent in the past decade, he said.
He acknowledged Ambassador has spent a "significant amount" to fight the project but said it’s necessary to counter what he characterizes as disinformation from politicians bent on building a rival crossing that would steal customers.
Jay Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, said bridge supporters must now win over public opinion in the state. Political observers add that Mr. Snyder must also woo additional Michigan legislators from his own Republican party.
“In my view it’s the people of Michigan, their constituents, that kind of need to be convinced,” Mr. Myers said. “That’s going to be the focus for most of the summer.”