Mention in speech buoys mayor; But MP Masse says action on border counts more than words

PUBLICATION: The Windsor Star
DATE: 2007.10.18
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A5
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Eddie Francis;
BYLINE: Sarah Sacheli
SOURCE: Windsor Star
WORD COUNT: 313

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Mention in speech buoys mayor; But MP Masse says action on border counts more than words

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The mention of Windsor in this week's throne speech shows the federal government's commitment to the border, an optimistic Mayor Eddie Francis said Wednesday.

"They could have mentioned any other project but they chose to highlight the Windsor-Detroit corridor," Francis said.

The border was named as an example of a project funded through the Building Canada Plan. "Our government will announce an infrastructure program, the Building Canada Plan, to support our long-term growth. By investing in our transport and trade hubs, including the Windsor-Detroit corridor and the Atlantic and Pacific gateways, our government will help rebuild our fundamentals for continued growth," the speech said.

But while the speech portrayed the Building Canada Plan as new, it was announced earlier this year and the federal government has already used it to dole out money, including $13 million for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and $21 million for a highway intersection near Portage La Prairie, Man.

"They've just tried to rewrap it," MP Brian Masse (NDP - Windsor West) said Wednesday. "They've reannounced it."

Masse doesn't share Francis's optimism. "I think why they mentioned it at all is a shot at the province," Masse said, suggesting the mention pressures the province to make more of a commitment toward a Windsor border solution.

Masse said he fears the province will "cheap out" on the access route to the new crossing, approving something less than what Windsor is demanding with its $1.6-billion GreenLink proposal. And the federal government would then feel justified to do the same on the crossing itself and plaza.

"It's always nice to be mentioned, but what is needed is real action."

But Francis sees the throne speech mention as momentum. In the last federal budget, the government committed $400 million to the access route. Francis hopes the city's GreenLink proposal will be endorsed by the province before the next federal budget and the feds can then announce their share of the cost.

"The throne speech is the road map.... If it's a priority in the throne speech, it will be a priority in the budget."