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Traffic makes its way to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Canada to the United States. (Mark Spowart/CP)
Traffic makes its way to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Canada to the United States. (Mark Spowart/CP)

Globe editorial

Where Windsor meets Detroit, two bridges are better than one Add to ...

Canadians need not be discouraged by the opposition of some of the people of Michigan to the greatly needed second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont. That remains true although a campaign backed by Manuel Moroun, the owner of the existing Ambassador Bridge, appears – as of Friday – to have gathered more than enough signatures of citizens of Michigan. Thus there will probably be a referendum on whether there should be a new crossing in the November state election.

Fortunately for the North American economy as a whole, the projected bridge is now the subject of an international agreement between Canada and the United States. The constitutional foreign-policy power of the U.S. federal government will prevail over the uncertain vagaries of Michigan politics – though the Governor, Rick Snyder, a Republican, like his predecessors of both parties, is actively in favour of the bridge.

The Detroit River is commercially the most important border crossing in all of North America. The Harper government, often parsimonious in other respects, is quite right to have undertaken to pay almost the entire cost of the new bridge often referred to as “the second span”; the United States will pay for its own inspection plaza, and the Ontario government is sharing with Ottawa the costs of a road that will connect the new bridge to a major Canadian highway. In short, Canada is giving Michigan a present, though in Canada’s self-interest to do so.

It is understandable that Mr. Moroun and his family want to preserve their monopoly, and prevent competition from a new alternative about three kilometres downriver. It is also understandable that they have influenced some state legislators in Lansing, Mich. But the success of the campaign called The People Should Decide is perplexing. It has obtained 420,000 signatures. Earlier this month, an editorial in the Detroit Free Press said, “Canada believes in Michigan’s future more than Michiganders do.” It seems that the economic shell shock of the past few decades has produced a Tea Party-style distrust of all government initiatives.

Canada, Ontario and the executive branch of the government of Michigan must forge ahead with the Detroit River International Crossing. It will abundantly benefit Central Canada and Michigan, indeed all of North America.

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