No billionaire bridge?

Jim Blake | November

Thirty million dollars just doesn’t buy what it used to.

American billionaire Matty Moroun was hoping his $30-million scare campaign to convince Michigan voters they will end up paying for a second Detroit-Windsor crossing would pay dividends in the Nov. 6 vote.

Instead, voters defeated Proposal 6, which would have required an amendment to Michigan’s constitution ordering a statewide vote on any international crossing. In the end, it wasn’t even close with more than 60% of voters rejecting Maroun’s heavily-backed effort.

The fact that Maroun thought his money would buy such a change is a demonstration of how he believes the world works.

The reaction from voters is a demonstration that some things aren’t for sale.

Maroun has every right to wield his power and influence to get what’s in his best interest. His best interest is the status quo, in which his ownership of the Ambassador Bridge is a monopoly for truck traffic using the busiest international crossing between the United States and Canada.

The second best scenario for him would be another span he would own so that he can continue without competition.

For those of us not named Matty Maroun, a second bridge operated independently is exactly what should happen.

In terms of economy (moving goods on a more timely basis) the environment (less time spent idling by thousands of trucks) and security (the threat of terrorism) a second span makes sense.

It’s difficult to imagine a better scenario for Michigan. A billion-dollar span with Canada paying the full cost and a promise that tolls will only be paid on the Canadian side makes it more than attractive.

Government promises have been known to vanish but if it comes down to it, better to trust a government which eventually has to answer for its actions than a private individual who answers only to himself.

The list of those in favour of the proposed span include Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, governments of Great Lakes states and provinces, Ontario’s MIA premier, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Detroit Regional Chamber

No doubt, Maroun has more legal challenges up his sleeve but there is a possibility, given his defeat and the looming prospect of competition, that he might just want to hold onto a few million for a rainy day.

– Jim Blake

– QMI Agency