Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Pedestrians walk on a path in front of the international Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y.,in this May 3, 2003, file photo.

DAVID DUPREY/AP

A pact to end the unseemly political clash that threatens to turn the Peace Bridge, the second-busiest crossing between the United States and Canada, into full-blown border dispute may emerge in the next few days.

"We're making progress," Canada's Ambassador Gary Doer said Sunday after a long face-to-face meeting on Saturday with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Talks between U.S. and Canadian officials continued Sunday.

"It's very constructive, very comprehensive," Mr. Doer said of the ongoing negotiations.

Story continues below advertisement

After months of threats and inflammatory accusations, significant progress was finally being made on sorting out both the financing and the sequence of redevelopment intended to increase and smooth two-way flows across the span linking the two countries.

But no new pact had been reached by the end of the weekend.

"We all want the same thing," Mr. Doer said. "We want to reduce congestion" and "improve trade and travel."

New York state and Canadian officials are expected to continue to hammer out details of an emerging deal over the coming days. But ending the bitter feud, replete with name-calling and accusations of deliberate stalling, may take far longer.

In recent months, the bridge with the pacifist name has become the centre of an unusual war of words. New York state officials have accused Canada of impeding long-delayed improvements to the American side of the span, something Ottawa has firmly denied.

In retaliation, New York lawmakers earlier this month passed a piece of legislation that would seek to dissolve the Peace Bridge Authority, the binational agency that governs the 86-year old bridge. Canada has maintained that the legislation is on shaky legal footing and promised to challenge it in court.

Both sides moderated their rhetoric on Saturday, emphasizing their common interests.

Story continues below advertisement

"We all want the same thing," said Mr. Cuomo after the meeting. "We want a bridge that works for everyone."

The lack of agreement means that $50-million (U.S.) in already-approved projects to improve the American approach to the bridge are in limbo. It also means that the future of the agency that oversees the bridge – which connects Buffalo, N.Y. and Fort Erie, Ont. – remains in question.

While New York lawmakers have passed legislation that could disband the agency, Mr. Cuomo has not yet signed the bill into law.

On Saturday, Gov. Cuomo sounded a conciliatory tone. "The track we're on now is to come up with an agreement that resolves the issues," he said.

A political star in the Democratic Party who has bent New York's legislature to his will, Mr. Cuomo is known for his combative style and possible presidential aspirations. Modernizing the access to the bridge on the Buffalo side is a priority of his administration – and he is not afraid to make enemies in the process.

A recent cartoon is a reflection of the deteriorating situation. In Friday's Buffalo News, a drawing depicted a chess game between Mr. Cuomo and a Canadian official. Dressed as a three-star general, Mr. Cuomo is shown pushing tanks, instead of rooks and pawns, across the board toward his alarmed-looking adversary.

Story continues below advertisement

On Saturday, there was friendly banter between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Doer but no agreement. "We wanted to have a big look at all the issues,"

Mr. Doer said. "Some of the financing issues are more complicated than what might appear on the surface."

One flashpoint: a unilateral move by the Cuomo administration to plan and execute an expansion of the U.S. plaza. It demanded $95-million for the project from the Peace Bridge Authority, which already had $50-million of its own improvements to the American side planned, said sources with knowledge of the proceedings.

Mr. Cuomo said changes at the bridge have taken too long and he intends to achieve results. "One of the problems with the Peace Bridge is that the can has been kicked down the road for too long," he said.

Canada has said that any previous delays in improving the American side were in fact a U.S. problem, caused by a lengthy environmental assessment process by U.S. federal officials that was finally abandoned.

Also present at the meeting were John Prato, Canada's Consul General in New York, and David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies