November 7, 2012 | Ambassador Bridge Company spokesman Mickey Blashfield said “the people should decide” whether to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor. They decided to say “yes.” (The Windsor Star / TYLER BROWNBRIDGE).
Matty Moroun wanted “the people” to decide whether a new public bridge should be built between Windsor and Detroit.
On Tuesday, “the people” went to the polls and decided that’s exactly what should happen. Their rejection of Moroun’s Proposal 6, which would have required a statewide vote before constructing any new bridge in Michigan, was crushing.
The billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge had spent $35 million on false and misleading advertising in an attempt to convince people they should vote against a competing public span so he could keep his monopoly intact. It didn’t work. The voters saw right through him.
Others might wither under such a crippling defeat, but we doubt Moroun will react that way. He’ll choose to believe voters weren’t smart enough to know what they were doing, and we doubt he’ll honour his promise to accept the people’s verdict with good grace.
It won’t be long before he’s back in court, trying to find another way to stop or delay the bridge to keep his empire from shrinking.
The difference now is that it doesn’t matter. With the Prop 6 campaign now a distant memory, legislators on both sides of the border are shifting into high gear to push this project forward.
“The sooner we can build that bridge, the better off we are in creating jobs,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said at a press conference Wednesday morning. Indeed, he suggested shovels could be in the ground within two months — if Barack Obama hunkers down and signs the necessary presidential permit to get things rolling.
With Prime Minister Stephen Harper on board since June and no campaign to distract the re-elected president, it’s pretty much a done deal.
No one was more enthusiastic than federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel. “The defeat of Proposal 6 clears the way for the construction of the new bridge across the Detroit River. This is good news for travellers, workers and industry on both sides of the border who will benefit from the new publicly owned bridge.”
It is good news. For everyone but the incorrigible Matty Moroun. Ambassador Bridge spokesman Mickey Blashfield seemed to pave the way for more challenges when he defended the enormous amount of money spent on Proposal 6. “Like any family business we would do it again — and will in different ways — to defend economic freedom and limited government.”
Clearly the Moroun family isn’t done yet. Ironically, this second span does just what the bridge company says it wanted to do; defend economic freedom. In this case, it’s freedom against the tyranny of monopolies, and both governments are helping those who transport millions of dollars worth of goods achieve it.
No matter what measures Moroun takes, the process is too far along to suffer significant setbacks. The bridge company, however, has suffered many, including the Gateway Project ruling that sent both Moroun and bridge president Dan Stamper to jail for illegally rerouting Detroit traffic to their entrance.
This is an exciting time for people in Windsor and Detroit. The build will result in thousands of jobs and increase cross-border trade and travel.
And Moroun? Well, he asked the people to decide, and they decided they wanted to build a new bridge and embrace prosperity. What more is there to say, except go away?