But Canada feels it has been betrayed by Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, who broke his promise to allow a vote on a proposed new Detroit River International Crossing Bridge.
Canada didn’t expect Bishop to vote for the new bridge, which would be jointly owned and run by the two nations, and which the Michigan House of Representatives approved this year.
The Canadians just wanted him to keep the promise he made in May, to hold an up-or-down vote on the issue. Last week Bishop said he wouldn’t hold a vote after all. He blamed the Michigan Department of Transportation for not supplying enough information about the project. MDOT and Governor Granholm said that was nonsense, though they didn’t use that mild a term.
They said that this was about protecting special interests. What they meant was the special interest of one man:
Manuel J. Moroun, the owner of the aging Ambassador Bridge, which now has a monopoly on transporting heavy cargo between our region and Ontario. Canada feels a second bridge is so badly needed it has offered to front Michigan’s share of the expenses.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants the bridge too. And there is rare broad bipartisan agreement. L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County’s Mr. Republican, wants the new bridge. The leaders of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all want it. So does the Chamber of Commerce. But one very rich man doesn’t want this bridge. Manuel J. Moroun.
Every year, his aging Ambassador Bridge is essentially the only way to get billions of dollars in manufacturing and other trade components from Michigan to Ontario, and vice versa. The Ambassador, which was built in 1929, is wearing out. It needs major work; its approaches weren’t designed for modern traffic. Moroun, an 83-year-old billionaire, wants to build a second span next to his bridge. Canada has indicated it will never allow this to happen, for environmental and traffic flow reasons. But the Moroun family is determined to stop competition, and has given money to many politicians, especially Republicans in the legislature.
Senator Bishop said this wasn’t a factor. He said that there wasn’t “enough money on earth,” to make any member of the Republican caucus change his position on any issue.
You can believe that if you want to. You can also believe Claude Rains really didn’t know gambling was going on in Humphrey Bogart’s nightclub in Casablanca.
But the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce is very angry. Sarah Hubbard, their main lobbyist, said this sabotages the creation of as many as 35,000 jobs in the region.
“There is no reason to delay approval of this project any further,” she said.
But Mike Bishop won’t even allow his fellow senators to vote on it. The good news for the chamber is that in two months, he’ll be gone from the senate forever. The bad news for bridge supporters is that the process of trying to win legislative approval for a program that would create badly need jobs now has to start all over again.