Americans aren’t just choosing a president on Tuesday. They’re also voting on a head-spinning array of state-wide propositions and local ballot initiatives, ranging from liberalizing marijuana laws to requiring actors in the Los Angeles porn industry to wear condoms. One question, in particular, could have a dramatic impact on Canadians.
It’s Michigan’s Proposal 6 — a move to amend the state’s constitution so that anyone planning to build a new international bridge or tunnel would first have to put the idea to a state-wide referendum, plus conduct votes in every affected municipality. A group called The People Should Decide has been forcefully promoting this change, cloaking its agenda as a public consultation effort.
In fact, it’s nothing of the sort. Proposal 6 has one purpose — to undermine an agreement reached with Canada to build a badly needed new bridge between Windsor and Detroit. And it has one main beneficiary: billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun, owner of the existing Ambassador Bridge. He doesn’t want another span interfering with his comfortable, and lucrative, monopoly.
That’s why he’s spent more than $30 million pushing for Proposal 6, which would make construction of a rival bridge immensely complicated and fraught with pitfalls.
It would be disastrous if the state fell prey to Moroun’s unprincipled campaign. Especially because Michiganders (as Gov. Rick Snyder calls them) would get the proposed bridge for free. That’s right, state taxpayers would benefit from the building of a new, super-efficient, six-lane international crossing, and all associated infrastructure, and it wouldn’t cost them a cent.
The Canadian government has agreed to cover Michigan’s $550-million bill. It’s not entirely a give-away. Canada will recover its costs by getting first crack at tolls generated at the new crossing. But this country has assumed the risks associated with construction.
Why? Our economy needs this thing. With about 70,000 people crossing the Windsor-Detroit border each day, the Ambassador Bridge is often jammed. That’s only going to get worse. Even on arriving in Windsor, motorists still face 17 stoplights before reaching Highway 401. That’s especially bad news for businesses relying on the 8,000 trucks that pass through there every day.
A modern bridge, connecting directly to the 401, would ease congestion and be a blessing to truckers, businesses and tourists alike — on both sides of the border. There’s a lot riding on this. That’s why it’s vital that our neighbors to the south reject Proposal 6 and Moroun’s selfish effort to preserve his monopoly.