NEWS BACKGROUNDER


Former Windsor Star reporter at centre of Ottawa Nazi flag-waving allegation

WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov. 24 2022

A former Windsor Star reporter is at the centre of a controversy arising from deliberations at the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa. The commission is investigating the justification of the federal government for suspending civil liberties under the Emergencies Act during the Freedom Convoy truckers protest in Ottawa and elsewhere including Windsor last winter. Protesters’ lawyer Brendan Miller this week identified Brian Fox as the person who paraded with a Nazi flag in Ottawa amidst protesters at or near Parliament Hill. Fox’s identity was based on distant pictures of the flag-bearer’s face, mostly covered by shadows, and an “untested” affidavit of a man who “purported to have recognized Fox from Miller’s photos after having spoken to the flagman in January,” according to Postmedia. The lawyer wanted Fox and his employer Enterprise Canada to testify but was denied. Miller said at Monday’s hearing that Enterprise Canada executive Brian Fox was the Nazi flag-bearing person at Freedom Convoy protests around Jan. 29 in photos widely distributed through social media. But, calling the lawyer’s request a “fishing expedition” and “purely speculative,” Commissioner Paul Rouleau denied it and others. Rouleau stated the theory is that Enterprise Canada “carried out such conduct at the direction of the prime minister, his staff or both.” Meanwhile, Enterprise Canada has vehemently rejected Miller’s claims. On its website, the firm called the lawyer’s statements “entirely unsubstantiated and deeply offensive.” It added they were “absurd and despicable” and said Fox was not in Ottawa but in Toronto at the time of the alleged incident. “Mr. Fox and everyone at Enterprise Canada stands firmly against the hatred represented by the symbol Mr. Miller referenced and strives for our workplace to be an inclusive and accepting environment for everyone." Fox’s bio on the same website says, “Brian’s career began as a Windsor Star journalist and has taken him to the Queen’s Park Press Gallery as well as senior branding and marketing roles supporting the finance and tech sectors.” Enterprise Canada describes itself as “an agency at the intersection of public affairs + traditional advertising. We focus on ideas that help you find currency in a world defined by social movements, political upheaval, and digital disruption.”

Photo: Enterprise Canada


LaSalle warehouse figures in case worthy of “Agatha Christie woodunit.”

WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov 10 2022

A LaSalle warehouse has figured in a story of international intrigue about a large quantity of vanished precious metals. In what was described as a plot worthy of an “Agatha Christie woodunit,” $10 million in silver ingots was taken from a Montreal rail yard and driven to a warehouse outside of Windsor in LaSalle. A National Post story reported that in January 2020 a Quebec trucking company received an email with a secret code of instructions about what to do with the shipment. “The email had all the necessary information — the weight of the cargo, the correct container number and the secret code — so the silver was driven out of CN’S Montreal rail lot and to a Lasalle, Ont., warehouse,” the newspaper said. The warehouse is not identified. “And then it vanished — all roughly 18,000 kilograms of it.” Federal Judge Kevin R. Aalto, overseeing a lawsuit related to the disappearance, said the case “has all the elements of an Agatha Christie whodunit.” Reported the newspaper, “the email was likely fraudulent. Thieves had allegedly gained access to the secret code and other details and changed the delivery location, pulling off a remarkable international heist.” In the intervening years only “token amounts” of the metal have been found across North America. “It’s a tale of international intrigue, and somewhere, a modern-day Auric Goldfinger is sitting on some 20 tonnes of silver.” Judge Aalto said the intriguing elements were the stolen cargo, various suspects, an unknown perpetrator and “a trucking company that was given the pickup code with instructions to deliver the cargo to a location unknown to any of the parties.” The shipment, which originated in Korea, was only intended for a stopover in Canada on its way to New York. Said the judge, “Four days after in arrived in Montreal, Oriental Cartage, a trucking company based in Laval, Que., received a pickup email. It contained the “correct container number, pickup code, and weight of the Cargo.” The silver was then driven to LaSalle, where it last saw the light of day.


Ottawa mayor said his city had 'more difficult' blockade than did Windsor

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 18 2022

The City of Windsor came up several times today in testimony before the federal commission examining whether the use of the Emergencies Act was justified last winter to clear truck Covid rules protesters in Ottawa. Commision counsel Natalia Rodriguez referenced how it appeared ending the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor took priority over ending the three week truck blockade in downtown Ottawa last February. “Yes, and that’s in fact what happened,” that city’s mayor Jim Watson (photo) said. The counsel read a letter to Windsor protesters about how, before meeting provincial authorities to seek a resolution, they would have to leave the protest site and denounce “all unlawful activity and encourage a period of quiet.” Added Rodriguez, “The Solicitor General is offering that the province will meet with the group of protesters in Windsor if they leave the protest site immediately and denounce all activity.” She then asks the mayor if he’s aware the province “ever offered to meet with the protesters in Ottawa." Answered Watson: “I’m not aware of any such request....That was never an option that was presented to me or anyone in my office.” Watson added, “I can’t give you the exact date but eventually the OPP came on board (after the resolution in) Windsor and (got) to Ottawa as quickly as possible.” Later in his testimony the mayor again mentioned how the blockades at the border in Windsor and at Coutts, Alta. were wrapped up relatively quickly – where there were economic impacts because of the border – but similarly the capital city also suffered economically. He said the protesters “and occupiers were significantly larger in Ottawa (than) in Coutts or in Windsor, so I think we had a much more difficult situation.”

Photo: City of Ottawa


Fogolar lands slated for major five building condo redevelopment

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 27 2022

Wonder what ever happened to those soccer fields, long owned by the Fogolar Furlan Club but sold off as the club decided to downsize a couple of years ago? The almost 10-acre site is now proposed for redevelopment as a massive condo complex. HD Development Group, which is already developing Trinity Gate Condominiums at Walker Rd. and Ducharme St., is the builder. This new development at 1850 North Service Rd. would see five six storey condo towers along the narrow swath of land (472 ft. frontage by 1336 ft. depth) with 387 units and 491 parking spaces. To the immediate east is Byng Rd. with single family homes. Immediately west is the existing Fogolar property as well as the Chartwell Oak Park Terrace retirement home. While all the buildings will be six stories some will contain more units than others, varying from two with 58, two with 64 and one with 143. Altogether the buildings’ footprint would take up 21.5 per cent of the land. The project was lauded by city planners as a successful “infill” development. Proponent HD states it would be “positive” and “compatible” with the neighbourhood. Buildings will face laterally east-west with balconies on the north and south sides therefore not facing residents on Byng. The “medium profile” buildings will be located at the “furthest points on the west of the property to provide for substantial distance separation” from residences, the developer’s report says. The remaining property will be park-like with “extensive grassed area, trees and landscaping, 4 outdoor pavilions, 3 outdoor pickleball courts, and proposed walking paths,” landscaping and benches surrounding a storm water pond designed to create a gathering place. An open house was held in May. More than 100 nearby property owners were notified and 33 attended. There will also be another public meeting. City staff have recommended approval, saying the development provides “a housing type that creates a diverse neighbourhood, creates an environmentally sustainable development by redeveloping a serviced vacant parcel…..and provides housing that is in demand.”

Image: HD Development


Revitalized park to celebrate 20th anniversary of Japanese donation

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 13 2022

It’s perhaps one of Windsor’s lesser known or appreciated parks. But it is one with a unique setting and history and with likely loads of future potential. Gateway Park, located at 1271 Riverside Dr. W., is undergoing a $700,000 revitalization to be completed by year’s end. The park has two sections – Riverside Dr. to University Ave. and University Ave. to Wyandotte St. The park is actually located on land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Last November the city reached agreement with a railway subsidiary, Detroit River Tunnel Co. to operate the park on a 99-year lease. The park is literally above the 2.6 km railway tunnel linking Windsor and Detroit. Besides having a distinctive natural flavour for a very urban setting near downtown the park is known for its row of Japanese cherry blossoms located at its centre. These were donated in 2002 by the Consulate-General of Japan’s Sakura Project as a symbol of international friendship. The trees are among a group of diverse plants and trees surrounding what up to now has been a narrow footpath within the 50-70 metre wide park. City engineer Wadah Al-Yassiri says this thoroughfare will be “enhanced and developed to be an asphalt trail three metres wide” and be made wheelchair accessible with ramps. Al-Yassiri noted the “very good” coordination between the city, CPR, the city’s accessibility committee and biodiversity office. The contactor is Valente and Golder/WSP is consulting on design and geotechnical work. When done, it will mark the 20th anniversary of the Sakura donation. “We are still on time and target,” Al-Yassiri says.


Stuck in elevator at Huron Lodge

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 30 2022

An employee of the city-owned Huron Lodge long term care home got stuck in an elevator and apparently fainted. This is one of several occupational health incidents reported at city-run facilities over the year’s first six months. On March 30 the employee entered the elevator on the first-floor heading to the fourth. But the doors would not open. “While in the elevator the employee contacted a co-worker and told them that she was starting to have a panic attack,” the report says. The Windsor fire department responded and freed the staffer after 10 minutes. The worker “believes she sustained a loss of consciousness while in the elevator and noted that she frequently has panic attacks and faints as a result.” The elevator maintenance company, Kone, repaired the device. The cause? An electrical circuit board. An investigation continues. Meanwhile, at the same home, an anonymous caller reported May 26 that workers on a scaffold were not tied off. “The Maintenance Supervisor and the JHSC Management Representative advise that they did have a crane on site earlier and Vollmer Services was also on site to change out a chiller on the rooftop of the four-story building,” says the report. But both parties agreed safety was “adequate” and the Ministry of Labour didn't issue an order. On January 13 the ministry visited fire department headquarters where a firefighter reported hearing loss due to horns, sirens, diesel engines, saws and gas fans. But the worker retired after almost 30 years and had experienced gradual hearing loss. Workers must wear hearing protection for equipment producing 80 decibels or more and an audiologist regularly attends workplaces. No orders were issued. Finally, a Seminole branch library worker slipped and fell, fracturing their wrist in three places, after the floor had just been mopped. The custodian had asked staff to be careful. From now on a wet floor sign will be placed.

Photo: City of Windsor


Narrow St. Clair River point has made an excellent smuggling route

Update Aug 11/22: Joint-police Project Monarch yesterday announced the seizure of 27 handguns, 9 kilos of cocaine, 1.9 kilos of fentanyl, 20,000 Xanax pills and 28 grams of heroin, and the arrests of 22 people on 400 charges. Walpole Isl. Chief Charles Sampson called on senior levels of government to help fight crime and smuggling.

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 8 2022

It’s not a problem that occurs regularly but does raise its head from time to time. It’s the human smuggling, by boat and sometimes over the ice, over a very narrow stretch of the St. Clair River between Walpole Island and Michigan communities like Harsens Island, Clay Township and Algonac. The latest event occurred August 4 when US border officials interdicted a boat carrying three people. “An agent interviewed the three subjects, whom all admitted to having just crossed the border from Canada in a boat,” said a US Customs and Border Protection news release. One was from the Dominican Republic and two were from Mexico. Officials described the area as an “historically known smuggling route.” Two years earlier US Customs saw a vehicle on land in the same area between Algonac and Walpole Island. Two of the suspects admitted to having come across the river by boat. The other two were apparently waiting for them. Altogether four Brazilian nationals were arrested. “Even with the ongoing pandemic, transnational criminal organizations will continue to operate,” Douglas Harrison, chief patrol agent with the agency’s Detroit sector, said. And back in 2010 border patrol agents form Marysville Mi. arrested three people including an Israeli and two US citizens in Clay Township. “Detroit Sector personnel, utilizing the new Remote Video Surveillance System, witnessed a vessel leave Walpole Island, cross into the United States, and five minutes later return to Walpole Island,” said a news release. The two Americans were waiting for the Israeli to cross the river. These were all relatively isolated events. Illegal smuggling seemed to be more common a couple of decades ago. “In the past year, illegal immigration in this region 'has gone from nothing or close to nothing detected to 100 people,' said Mark W. Osler, Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan told The New York Times in 2000. ‘You'd have to assume the majority of them we don't catch,’ he said, but just since December, a Detroit grand jury has indicted 15 people on charges related to smuggling.” At the time court documents showed an alliance between some Walpole Island natives and Chinese smugglers. Most of the crossings were by Chinese or Korean nationals. “They come by boat in warmer weather or on foot on the coldest nights,” the Times said.

Photo: US Customs and Border Protection


Safety, security among reasons old bridge would have to be torn down

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 25 2022

It comes down to “safety, security and the environment.” Those are the reasons the Government of Canada gives for a requirement the Ambassador Bridge company demolish its existing span should a new bridge be built. This is based on an August 2017 Order in Council that granted the bridge company the right to construct a new six-lane bridge (image), replacing the four-lane existing bridge which opened in 1929. Bridge management has long wanted to keep the existing span even after the new bridge opens to provide redundancy in case of emergencies and as a people place for pedestrians and cycling. And management said this month the demolition requirement is actually at odds with a permit granted by the US Coast Guard requiring the existing bridge remain standing. The federal Order in Council expires Aug. 31. It states, “The Canadian Transit Company shall commence the construction of the Replacement bridge no later than five years after the Governor in Council approved its construction.” And Article 22 states the bridge “shall demolish or cause to be demolished the Ambassador Bridge other than the border services facilities. The demolition must be completed within five years from the day on which the Replacement bridge opens to traffic.” Because of this stipulation it appears the Ambassador's long-planned replacement bridge project is now dead. Speaking to the Windsor Star, bridge president Dan Stamper labelled the stipulation an “absolute block.” However, for its part, Ottawa says demolition of the old span is a must. “It is important to note that the conditions of the permit were established to mitigate safety and security risks, and the impacts on the local community and the environment while also taking into consideration the results of consultations on the proposed project with the general public, the City of Windsor, the Province of Ontario, Indigenous groups, and U.S. Federal and Michigan State authorities,” Transport Canada spokesman Hicham Ayoun told WON.com.


Petitioners denounce mayor's tax bill insert as unpaid electioneering

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 12 2022

Those who’ve signed a petition calling on Mayor Drew Dilkens to pay for a tax bill inset with his photo on it, not surprisingly, didn’t have the nicest things to say about Hizzoner. The leaflet showed a pic of the mayor and the slogan “Delivering results.” Underneath were check marks for three items: A $1.7 billion 10 year capital plan, New playgrounds and major park improvements, Investing in roads, bike lanes and local trails. A bottom slogan read “Building Our Community Up.” T. J. Bondy started the petition for what he states is "inappropriately using taxpayer funds" to campaign for election. The petition demands $25,000 be repaid by the mayor. That’s based on Canada Post costs for a mass mailing and presumed graphic design but would adjust if the true cost is known. (The mayor said he doesn’t know the cost and is unapologetic.) Many if not most of those who signed (some 477 as of today) added remarks suggesting or stating the insert was an attempt at blatant electioneering for this fall’s municipal vote. Dilkens is in his second term and hasn’t announced if he will seek a third. Here are some comments: 1) “I remain unsettled but unsurprised by the Mayor’s continued disregard for ethics.” 2) “Do the right thing and quit using tax dollars for your political campaign.” 3) “Don’t want my taxes paying for the Mayor’s Campaign.4) “Dirty politics should not be free. My tax bill is not your campaign apple box.” 5) “Blatant self-promotion/electioneering.” 6) “I am tired of seeing Drew Dilken’s face, photographed at a podium at some ‘press conference’ almost daily, claiming the limelight for anyone’s accomplishment.” 7) “His entire tenure has been a personal marketing campaign.” 8) “As if Windsor taxpayers haven’t suffered enough thru the last eight years of municipal govt waste…” 9) “The Mayor miss used (sic) taxpayers’ money for early campaigning before election rules take effect.” 10) “The mayor’s inclusion of the mailer showing himself at a lectern with the logo 'Delivering Results' is a blatant re-election attempt.” 11) “I absolutely object to tax dollars being used for the Mayor's self-promotion, both with this flier and with the well-staffed Mayor's Office publicity team.” 12) “I was immediately angered by the fact Mayor Dilkens used official city business to advertise for himself.” 13) “This was definitely an election ploy and a waste of taxpayer money.” 14) “The arrogance of this empty suit knows no bounds. He needs to be held to account. 15) “Mr. Dilkens thinks he owns the city and its citizens' money and can do with it as he sees fit.”


City accused of environmental hypocrisy doling out parking passes

WindsorOntarioNews.com June 28 2022

The City of Windsor is being called out for hypocrisy for issuing hundreds of free parking passes after taking strong action against climate change. Public advocacy group SecondStreet.org found that Windsor doled out 327 passes including 20 for city council. In November 2019 council unanimously passed a motion declaring a “climate emergency.” Mayor Drew Dilkens said the vote showed the city’s seriousness about helping tackle the climate issue. “This motion to me is symbolic ….this just will cement in the minds of folks that we're committed to it." In doing so Windsor joined more than 400 communities across the country in taking such a stand. Yet, says SecondStreet president Colin Craig, giving out parking passes flies in the face of advocating alternatives to emission-spewing vehicles like cycling or taking the bus. “We don’t begrudge elected officials for receiving a free parking spot, but if they’re going to declare a climate emergency and pressure the public to use transit, then giving up their free parking pass is a logical policy option to consider,” Craig said in a release. The organization says it’s one thing to drive a car it’s another to enable their use, as the city is doing. “Obviously politicians sometimes have to drive around for their jobs, but so too do real estate agents, delivery drivers, handymen and all kinds of other professions. What councillors could do instead is expense individual parking expenses like everyone else.” The city’s 2019 motion even called for the “phasing out” of natural gas usage, considered one of the cleanest fossil fuels and the mainstay of heating residential homes. Altogether SecondStreet found cities it surveyed, including major ones across Canada, gave out more than 5400 parking passes. Windsor compared badly to a couple of southern Ontario cities with similar or greater populations. Kitchener, with 257,000 people, gave out just 15 passes and Mississauga with a population of 718,000, doled out 201.

Photo: SecondStreet.org


Hospital comments teapot tempest

WindsorOntarioNews.com June 2 2022

What was the s-storm over Windsor West Liberal candidate Linda McCurdy’s hospital comments this week all about? On Tuesday McCurdy responded to a reporter’s question by saying she supports the new regional hospital on the city’s outskirts, even though she’s a downtown candidate. But she wanted an “acute care” facility at Hotel-Dieu Grace Ouellette Ave. site. “Closing all of the hospitals and having one acute-care centre at County Road 42 (the new hospital) creates a serious divide between services and accessibility that needs to be addressed by having 24-hour emergency care in the core, accessible to everyone in Windsor West,” she was quoted in the Star. The newspaper reported that under the mega hospital plan no such emergency care would be located downtown. Then all hell broke loose. The Star today included a correction that it should have said McCurdy “supports the location” of the new hospital but would still canvass for 24-hour emergency care downtown. And that the mega hospital plan also includes a satellite emergency at Hotel-Dieu. But McCurdy never said she was against the new hospital site. What she got wrong was thinking there would be no emergency clinic downtown or at least that it wouldn't operate 24/7. Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) was correct in issuing a statement confirming – “clarifying” as the Star put it – such a facility would be built though the hours have yet to be determined; they’re apparently set by the province. But the mayor’s office also jumped in. “After multiple appeals and a tribunal, the matter has been litigated twice and has been decided,” Mayor Drew Dilkens said. “The fact of the matter is the location has been decided.” But the location was never an issue.


Confederacy of FBI dunces masterminded failed Michigan governor kidnap plot

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 4 2022

How did the recent high profile criminal case against plotters allegedly planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer fall apart? According to James Bovard in the New York Post, FBI informants infiltrated the Wolverine Watchmen, a vociferous anti-Whitmer social media group who decried the governor for massive lockdowns during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the informants was Stephen Robeson, who had “a list of felonies and other crimes.” He “organized key events to build the movement.” Don Chapel, another informer, was paid $54,000, and became second in command. He “masterminded the military training for the group, even as he helped the feds wiretap their messages.” Bovard wrote that ironically several militia members had “explicitly opposed kidnapping the governor.” That didn’t stop Robeson and Chapel who “helped hatch a ludicrous plot to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home and take her away for trial.” The FBI operatives then took members of the Watchmen “who prattled idiotically about stealing a Blackhawk helicopter, for drives near Whitmer’s vacation home, which supposedly proved they were going to nab the governor and unleash havoc.” But, says the writer, “it was all a set up.” Texted an FBI agent to Chapel: “Mission is to kill the governor specifically.” Says Bovard, there were “as many FBI informants and undercover agents as there were purported plotters in this case.” The scheme began unravelling even before the kidnapping trial began. Robert Trask, the lead FBI agent and “the public face” of the kidnapping case, was fired after he was arrested for “beating his wife during an argument over an orgy that the two had attended at a hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich.,” The New York Times reported. Two other key FBI agents were sidelined from the case for misconduct (including creating a side hustle with his own cybersecurity firm).” All of which begs the question: isn’t what the FBI did the most blatant form of entrapment? Writes Bovard, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling “gutted most defenses against government entrapment by focusing almost solely on the ‘subjective disposition’ of the entrapped person.” In other words, if prosecutors “find any inkling of a defendant’s disposition to the crime, then the person is guilty, no matter how outrageous or abusive the government agents’ behavior.”


Your pick-up truck could soon be whacked with additional green tax

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 22 2022

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is warning the Trudeau government wants to levy an additional “green” tax on average pick-up trucks. The four top-selling vehicles in Canada in first quarter 2022 were pick-ups, led by Ford F-Series, Ram P/U, GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. The feds’ tax would add $1000 on a Ford F-150 and as much as $4000 on a Ram 3500 heavy-duty. The CTF says the recommendation to “whack trucks” is contained deep in a new 271-page environment ministry report, 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, posted on the federal website March 31. The report recommends broadening an existing “Green Levy (Excise Tax) for Fuel Inefficient Vehicles to include additional ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] vehicle types, such as pickup trucks.” The current tax affects larger SUVs that use more than 13 litres of fuel per 100 kms. such as the GMC Yukon Denali and Lincoln Navigator. CTF author Kris Sims says, “For many Canadians, trucks are as important to their work and daily life as a laptop and Zoom account is for those of us in offices.” She asks should the government invoke the tax “what’s stopping” it from eventually taxing smaller SUVs like the popular Chevy Blazers and Ford Explorers. The report suggests as much: “A sliding scale for the implementation of this Green Levy should be developed based on the emissions produced from different vehicles.” Federal environment minister Steven Guilbeault vociferously denied the government is bringing in the tax. On Twitter he called the article and subsequent political criticism “disinformation” and “fear mongering” saying this was only a recommendation from an independent advisory body “in the annex of a report.” The CTF’s Sims called Guilbeault's response “weird” since it is “right in their report.” She adds this proves Ottawa is "darn well thinking” about the tax and a watchdog agency like hers should alert the public before it becomes law.


Huron Church - a crisis in policing

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 17 2022

There were a number of very puzzling aspects of the police response to the tracker blockade in Windsor. The blockade was allowed to persist almost seven full days. Why? Huron Church Road is the most significant trade connection in Canada and there was no reason police should have allowed it to be blocked as long as they did. It makes a mockery of policing, as the truck protests have done elsewhere in Canada. But this is not new. The police for some time have been loath to arrest protesters and break up blockades by Indigenous people and supporters - witness pipeline and railway blockades two years ago, and Caledonia, which went on for years. This is not a crisis of politics or leadership, it’s a crisis of policing. There must be an investigation as to why the police act or do not act.

Second, in the standoff along Huron Church Road, why were some police armed with machine guns? Why were there two armoured carriers? The protesters, while disruptive, were highly peaceful and friendly. If this was meant to intimidate it didn't work.

Third, police tactics over last Saturday and Sunday after a court injunction Friday. It was puzzling indeed to watch a kind of Mexican standoff between police and demonstrators Saturday morning into afternoon. The police would advance several meters and then stop. This effectively pushed back the protesters. They did this several times. The police were making inroads and had matters well enough in hand. Then they abruptly stopped. Until Sunday morning when they started to mean business and arrests ultimately ensued. Why did the police halt Saturday? What happened between Saturday and Sunday to get police to finally act Sunday when they didn’t Saturday? Were there high level calls from the province or federal government to force them to decisively act?

In the aftermath of the week-long protest and removal of demonstrators and vehicles - and Huron Church open to trucks again - Huron Church Road has become effectively militarized. Street access has been blocked from the bridge up to E.C. Row Expressway, dealing a major blow to west end residents and numerous businesses in several shopping plazas north of EC Row. Never before has this happened, not even in the aftermath of 9/11 when the border was temporarily closed and trucks backed up for kilometres along Huron Church and Hwy. 401. The only noticeable difference that time was police monitoring of the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor Police have explained streets need to be blocked to prevent possible access by more protesters. But protesters can access Huron Church, and even the 401, at any point.

Windsor has never seen anything like this.


City and residents have different views on Matchette Road's future

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 4 2022

The City of Windsor wants to “calm” traffic on busy Matchette Road and this week held a public information session to gather comments on the proposal. But the handful of people who were on the Zoom meeting or wrote-in weren’t particularly in favor of the direction the city is heading. They wanted more protection for wildlife than humans, particularly given the low human accident count. City traffic engineer Jeff Hagan said just under 9000 vehicles a day (6000 is optimum) use the “collector” commuting route through west Windsor to LaSalle, bisecting two natural areas containing species at risk. He said there’s a “high degree of speeding” with 85 per cent of traffic going 69 km/hr. in a 50 km/hr. zone. Over the past five years there have been six non-lethal accidents, mostly “angled” collisions at Matchette and Sprucewood. Hagan proposed peripheral transverse bars (photo) and radar speed signs. The bars are painted. “It’s an optical effect that has a psychological effect on drivers,” he said. “It gives them a heightened sense of speed.” The bars have reduced speed as much as 50 percent for those doing 25 km/hr. over limit. Some questioners wanted to know why more barriers, like speed bumps, aren’t suggested. Hagan said this is a “rural cross section” road, a collector and transit route, with a relatively high posted speed and gravel shoulders. That could cause accidents by “launching” vehicles hitting the bumps. But most of those raising questions were upset that wildlife issues weren’t being looked at. One called the proposals “comical and disappointing” given the relatively few human accidents and larger number of wildlife or endangered species killed crossing the roadway. Hagan said a “parallel study” is examining eco crossings. Another person wanted to know why the city doesn’t close the road. Hagan said city council rejected that idea a couple of years ago. A former city planner suggested the city could make the route “less attractive” and divert vehicles to nearby Ojibway Pkwy. Hagan said Ojibway already has a high volume. Written submissions will be taken until March 1, followed by a vote through 311 on an updated proposal by area residents before a plan is finalized.


Local health leadership top salaries

WindsorOntarioNews.com January 12 2022

During the ongoing pandemic politicians have deferred almost exclusively to the decisions of the public health sector. For information purposes, here is a list of salaries and taxable benefits paid to the leadership teams of the five public organizations which oversee health care in Windsor-Essex. This is based on the 2020 Ontario government’s public sector salary disclosure information (aka the “Sunshine List”) for those earning $100,000, as required under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.

WINDSOR REGIONAL HOSPITAL

DAVID MUSYJ - President & Chief Executive Officer: $447,732.83, $14,547.92

KAREN RIDDELL - Chief Operating Officer, Chief Nursing Executive, Vice President Critical Care & Cardiology": $228,802.50 $1,809.74

DR. WASSIM SAAD - Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief of Staff: $314,153.33 $2,541.72

MARK FATHERS - Vice President, Corporate Services and CFO: $240,834.18 $0.00

MARK FERRARI - Executive Director of the Windsor Family Health Team: $164,642.46 $1,374.68

JONATHAN FOSTER - Vice President of Emergency Services and Mental Health: $220,982.17 $1,813.84

THERESA MORRIS - Vice President of Medicine and Corporate Patient Flow: $220,982.16 $1,813.84

ROSEMARY PETRAKOS - Vice President, Peri-Operative, Surgery, Women's and Children's: $221,353.78 $1,656.25

HOTEL-DIEU GRACE HEALTHCARE

Bill (Biagio) Marra - President and CEO: $175,544.72 $1,389.54

Janice Kaffer, Advisor to the CEO and Board: $313,025.35 $11,451.00

Sherri Laframboise, Chief Financial Officer: $132,596.90 $1,199.33

Dr. Andrea Steen, Vice President Medical Affairs, Quality & Performance, Chief of Staff: (not listed)

Sonja Grbevski, Vice President Clinical Services - Mental Health and Addictions, Executive Lead - Addictions & Collaborative Programs (CMHA): $180,985.19 $1,432.05

Janice Dawson, Vice President Clinical Services - Restorative Care & Chief Nursing Executive: $275,706.21 $931.91

Claudia den Boer, Executive Lead for Community Mental Health: (not listed)

Terra Cadeau, Executive Lead for Lead Agency Child & Youth Mental Health, Strategy and Partnerships: $151,384.03 $1,381.47

WINDSOR-ESSEX COUNTY HEALTH UNIT

Nicole Dupuis, Chief Executive Officer: $161,953.77 $1,014.40

Theresa Marentette (former CEO): $238,596.88 $1,319.54

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Acting Medical Officer of Health: (not listed)

Wajid Ahmed (former Med Officer of Health): $351,767.63 $1,839.64

Lee Anne Damphouse, Executive Assistant to the CEO, MOH, and the Board of Health: (not listed)

Kristy McBeth, Director of Health Protection: $169,479.18 $1,066.27

Dan Sibley, Director of Human Resources: $160,696.73 $990.75

Elspeth Troy, Executive Assistant to the Director of Health Protection and Director of Human Resources: (not listed)

Lorie Gregg, Director of Corporate Services: $165,747.30 $1,036.63

Janette Forsyth, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Corporate Services: (not listed)

Felicia Lawal, Chief Nursing Officer and Director, Health Protection: $126,178.31 $674.37

Eric Nadalin, Director of Health Promotion: $127,676.53 $650.85

Emily Briscoe, Executive Assistant to Director of Health Protection and Director of Health Promotion: (not listed)

ONTARIO HEALTH WEST (FORMERLY ERIE ST. CLAIR LOCAL HEALTH INTEGRATION NETWORK)

DONNA CRIPPS, Interim CEO, Home and Community Care Support Services: (a Donna Cripps is listed under Crown Agencies, which include LHINs) $300,051.32 $1,897.44

CATHY KELLY, VP, Home and Community Care: (not listed)

ERIE SHORES HEALTHCARE

Kristin Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer:$163,078.62 $865.59

Dr. Ross Moncur, Chief of Professional Staff: $213,998.46 $814.28

Nolan Goyette, VP, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer: $116,825.79 $442.47

Heather Badder, VP, Patient Services: $116,907.53 $649.85

Misty Fortier, Director, Interprofessional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive: (not listed)


Salvation Army won’t comment on controversial anti-racism resource

WindsorOntarioNews.com December 17 2021

Next week is Salvation Army Week and the City of Windsor will raise the Salvation Army flag at city hall. But the Salvation Army in Canada did not respond to requests for comment as to whether it endorses a controversial online anti-racism resource its US counterpart published and withdrew last month due to overwhelming controversy. The charitable group published Let’s Talk About…Racism and reportedly called on white supporters to apologize to black people for racism. According to The Daily Wire, the guide called on Salvationists to “achieve the following” including to “lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.” (WON.com could not find an unlocked version of the resource online but did find the accompanying study guide). According to the Wire, “The resource claims Christianity is inherently racist and calls for white Christians to repent and offer ‘a sincere apology’ to blacks for being ‘antagonistic … to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community.’” As well, the resource says, “Many have come to believe that we live in a post-racial society, but racism is very real for our brothers and sisters who are refused jobs and housing, denied basic rights and brutalized and oppressed simply because of the color of their skin.” And, “There is an urgent need for Christians to evaluate racist attitudes and practices in light of our faith, and to live faithfully in today’s world.” Further, “as we engage in conversations about race and racism, we must keep in mind that sincere repentance and apologies are necessary if we want to move towards racial reconciliation. We recognize that it is a profound challenge to sit on the hot seat and listen with an open heart to the hurt and anger of the wounded. Yet, we are all hardwired to desire justice and fairness, so the need to receive a sincere apology is necessary.” After the uproar, the Army published a lengthy response, including, “although we remain committed to serving everyone in need—regardless of their beliefs, backgrounds, or lifestyle—some individuals and groups have recently attempted to mislabel our organization to serve their own agendas. They have claimed that we believe our donors should apologize for their skin color, that The Salvation Army believes America is an inherently racist society, and that we have abandoned our Christian faith for one ideology or another. Those claims are simply false, and they distort the very goal of our work.”


It's true: scantily-clad bar-hopping women feel little chill in winter

WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov. 9 2021

Once upon a time, when Windsor was a magnet for young Americans who flocked to our bars because Ontario’s drinking age was lower than Michigan’s, we remember how, especially women, would hop from club to club in skimpy clothes – and in the middle of winter! Now there’s research to prove that those bar patrons weren’t so foolish after all. In fact the British Journal of Social Psychology gives reasons as to why scantily clad women are less prone to getting chilled than their more covered counterparts. The study’s title says it all: When Looking ‘Hot’ Means Not Feeling Cold: Evidence That Self-Objectification Inhibits Feelings of Being Cold. Co-author Roxanne Felig said the research was partially inspired by singer Cardi B’s lyric, “it’s cold outside but I’m still looking like a thottie — because a hoe never gets cold.” Felig suggested Cardi was saying she’s “too focused on how she looked and what she was wearing to feel cold.” In fact, researchers found the rapper’s intuition correct. Their focus, after all, was on “self-objectivation.” So, as women stood outside clubs when temperatures dipped below the 40s researchers asked them how cold they felt. Clad only in crop tops and miniskirts, the bar-hoppers felt no colder than women wearing coats and pants. Felig told the New York Post: “Women who are highly focused on their appearance … have a diminished capacity to feel cold, regardless of how much of their body is exposed to the cold weather.” In other words, “when women are highly focused on how they appear externally — it reduces the amount of cognitive resources they have available to appraise their internal states.” Oh, one other thing. Felig didn’t like Cardi describing women as “hoes” and that a women’s clothing choices aren’t necessarily connected to her sexual proclivities.

Photo: City-Data.com


Cabinet's very ironic appointment

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 12 2021

Is there any appointee more ironic than the Ontario government minister who most symbolized the rule-for-thee-but-not-for-me approach to governing during the Covid-19 pandemic than Rod Phillips? After a several months slap on the wrist by Premier Doug Ford, Phillips in June was appointed Minister of Long Term Care, the sector most devastated by the same pandemic? Phillips, who otherwise was a credible government minister and finance minister at the time, made the wrong – and very hypocritical – decision to fly off to St. Barts, playground of the rich and famous, just after Christmas last year. That’s when his government repeatedly told citizens to definitely not travel because of health concerns. To add insult to injury Phillips used a fake backdrop to pretend he was still in snowy Canada and not in the sunny south. Phillips resigned and was in the proverbial doghouse until June. Then, when Ford announced a cabinet shuffle, the delinquent Phillips had been forgiven and was once again reinstalled around the cabinet table. But, very ironically, he was put in charge of nursing homes, which saw the most people die during Covid-19, arguably in part because of the current government’s lack of action to protect them, as a provincial report last spring disclosed. To Phillips’s credit he launched his portfolio by apologizing for the almost 4,000 LTC deaths and that his and processor governments had “failed” residents. “I think that's a necessary step so that we can take the action we need to do now to move forward,” he said. Perhaps Phillips was redeemed by his public embarrassment and six-month expulsion from cabinet. But at least his stance was a far sight better than the previous minister in that position, Merillee Fullerton, who took no responsibility for the LTC misery. “We didn’t start the fire,” were perhaps her most (in)famous words, defiant despite torrents of criticism directed her way.

Photo: Legislative Assembly of Ontario


Permit parking fees may see rise

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 23 2021

The City of Windsor may be increasing residential permit parking fees. The city’s transportation committee this week discussed a fee hike from $55 to $70 for two permits. Currently the first permit costs $35 and the second $20 with a maximum of two permits per household. The least expensive option to increase the fee was recommended. The highest would have seen the price rise from $35 to $52.50 for a total of $87.50 annually. By selecting the least expensive option the city would obtain an additional $915 per year based on current permit requests. Windsor’s fees are small compared to other cities. Burlington charges $30 per month or $350 per year, has a restriction of one permit and parking is not to exceed 48 hours in the same spot. Ottawa charges $130 per year per permit. Implemented in the early 1990s the city has 12 designated area for permit parking. But, says a report by parking enforcement supervisor Bill Kralovensky, “issues have arisen” such as availability of street parking, permit misuse and permit eligibility. “Policies and procedures have been amended from time to time, to mitigate these issues within the guidelines of the residential permit parking programs,” he says. The largest neighbourhood designated for permit parking is around the University of Windsor. “Many of the properties in this area have no onsite parking in either the frontage or the rear of the addresses,” the report says. Also, many of the residents are students who have financial constraints “and a drastic and sudden increase may be of a financial hardship to them.” Fees are used for maintenance and administrative costs, like issuing permits and installing signs.

Photo: Google Street View


Unvaxxed staff firings wouldn’t have “significant” impact on patient care

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 9 2021

A spokesman for Windsor Regional Hospital says the hospital is confident that any employees terminated for not being vaccinated would “not be significant” and therefore firings would not negatively impact hospital patient care. Steve Erwin said WRH has also conducted a “risk assessment” to “minimize any possible impact” of terminations on patients. Erwin told WON.com earlier this week that “close to 100 per cent” of staff “will be vaccinated by the time of the effective date of the policy.” Last week there were reportedly some 300 staff still not vaccinated. Meanwhile, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare spokesman Bill Marra said the hospital is still “firming up details regarding timelines for the vaccination requirements along with contingency plans associated with the potential loss of employees.” He said there has in fact “been an uptake” in vaccine requests over the past couple of weeks. As for any termination of staff having a negative impact on patient care and treatment – and the well-reported shortage of health care workers in the province to replace them - Marra said the hospital will be “in a better position to provide details regarding the number of employees impacted by our policy requirement and our contingency plans to address any loss of employees over the next couple of weeks.” This week “just over 90 per cent” of staff have been vaccinated, he said. Last week 86 per cent had been vaxxed leaving 150 employees who had still not been vaccinated or had not disclosed their vaccine status. The hospitals still haven’t set individual termination dates for employees who refuse to get vaccinated, subject to medical exemptions and human rights law. But five southwestern Ontario hospitals Sept. 3 issued a joint letter mandating that unvaxxed employees would be terminated by a certain date set by each hospital. All employees, credentialled staff and volunteers not vaccinated will either go on “unpaid leave and/or termination for cause.” .....[UPDATE: Sept. 10: WRH hospital has now set Sept. 22 as the deadline for workers to get their first shots, Oct. 7 for the second.]


Closed streets have repercussions

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 22 2021

If it can’t happen in a small community like Amherstburg is there hope for more pedestrian friendly urban streets in larger cities? Case in point: the burg’s experiment called Open Air Weekends, instituted last summer and again this year. Like many other towns and cities the idea was to allow the public to dine out in a safer atmosphere instead of inside restaurants due to Covid-19. In the burg, which has a very compact old downtown, four blocks were blocked off on Dalhousie, Richmond and Murray streets. Motor vehicles were not allowed into these areas but parked on the perimeter. The closures are Friday and Saturday mid-afternoons to late evenings. The atmosphere for many was tantalizing, providing a whole new experience for diners, Covid or no Covid. It might have been an argument for permanent street closures, especially as the streets were adjacent to the town’s picturesque river and Navy Yard Park. But a group of merchants saw otherwise. In an open letter they criticized the concept as hurting their businesses. “The idea is great, streets can be alive with people and boundless entertainment,” wrote Jen Deluca of Waterfront Ice Cream on behalf of the merchants. “But the reality is in downtown Amherstburg the logistics and mix of businesses can at times make this idea very difficult for us. For some businesses, they need more outdoor space, for others they need vehicular access to their shops.” The problem was lack of vehicular access. “For some businesses, they need more outdoor space, for others they need vehicular to their shops,” said Deluca. “You cannot achieve both in the current format of Open Air.” And the fact blocks are closed “forces patrons of many of our businesses to park unnecessarily far away in order to reach their desired shop.” Deluca also noted the seeming declining popularity of Open Air perhaps in part because indoor dining has reopened. In any case, the fact some businesses say they have suffered because of the closed streets may be a lesson to other municipalities, urban planners and so-called “urbanites,” who want downtowns to be more people places. Deluca’s argument suggests people won’t come if streets, ironically, are chocked off to cars.


Gallows humour "most egregious" of Bondy's harrassment - report

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 23 2021

Essex town councillor Sherry Bondy posted a controversial “gallows” cartoon on Twitter March 30, which has since been deleted. But it was attached to town Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze’s report to council this month. The cartoon shows a hooded figure carrying a lightbulb to the gallows. Standing around are a mass of people with heads as candles. Tweets Bondy, “I am not sure who the original artist is of this illustration but it’s very impactful.” Swayze cited the cartoon as being the “most egregious” example of her breaking the town’s Code of Conduct by harassing ELK Energy – the town’s electrical power supplier – and municipal staff. As such he recommended she be docked 30 days pay and council agreed. She was also warned that if the harassment continues, she could receive a 90-day penalty. Swayze was investigating a complaint, launched by Mayor Larry Snively, that Bondy, who represents the Harrow area, “publicly and continuously” harassed staff “by posting negative comments about them on social media and recording a video in front of the company’s premises.” In public statements Bondy denied the cartoon was meant to harass staff and said it depicted her as victim. She also called her criticism of staff legitimate because of problems plaguing the town's power supply. Said Swayze, “she attempted to assert that the drawing was not intended to portray an ELK staff member which I found to be absurd, given her long history of criticizing ELK staff.” Swayze said Bondy had a “long history of aggressively criticizing the staff” back to when she was an ELK board member before 2019. She was advised by letter in November that year that she was in “breach of her legal duties and obligations.” In response, she resigned “and continued publicly harassing staff.” Other than the cartoon, the exact nature of the harassment, such as the language Bondy used, isn’t mentioned in the report. Swayze said her treatment of staff affected their “morale.” Also, “There appears to have been a reduction in the response to recruitment advertising as a result.” And public complaints to ELK have “substantially” increased since she “started stirring up the community.” Swayze affirmed Bondy’s right to criticize staff but in private such as at closed council meetings. Indeed, the Code specifically states council members treat staff “appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that the work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.” Swayze concluded Bondy’s behaviour was political. “I suspect that she believes her public diatribes against staff will get her votes.”

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Teachers' pension fund on hook for $95 mil in FTX crypto collapse

Ontario Teachers’, one of the world’s largest defined pension funds, may have lost $95 million in the FTX crypto currency crash, one of the largest private financial collapses in American history. Once the darling of the crypto world and touted by celebrities like Bill Clinton, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen the exchange mysteriously collapsed last week, with as much as $32 billion possibly vanishing under the ownership of Bahamas-based Sam Bankman-Fried (photo). In a statement, Teachers downplayed the loss. “While there is uncertainty about the future of FTX, any financial loss on this investment will have limited impact on the Plan, given this investment represents less than 0.05% of our total net assets.” – 11/15/22


City wants to hire anti-racism consultant

The city is moving ahead with an anti-racism/anti-discrimination consultation. It’s put out a funding request for a consultant who would consult people in various groups including Indigenous, Blacks, racialized, the disabled “and other equity deserving communities including culturally diverse communities, women, and the 2SLLGBTAQIA+ community.” The city, led by its accessibility advisory committee, will be “looking at things at an intersectional approach as people do not just fit into one category.” The committee, in a report to city council, says the purpose is to create a plan that “identifies and addresses systemic barriers and certain consistent gaps that people face.” – 10/20/22


Windsor-Tecumseh MPP gave up job as city drain inspector

Progressive Conservative Andrew Dowie (photo) may have turned the provincial riding of Windsor-Tecumseh blue for the first time in almost a century when he won in last June's election. But in doing so the 41-year-old civil engineer, a member of Tecumseh's town council, had to give up his job as the City of Windsor's drain inspector. "Mr. Dowie has taken a leave of absence from the Corporation to take on this role," says a current city hall report. He's being replaced by Tom Graziano, who applied for the position and has been the city's manager of facilities. The job requires inspecting every drain and supervising their maintenance. - 5/10/22


And now, we can reveal the Monarch Express boxcar

No, it’s not the Holiday Train that visits the city at Christmas time. But locals will have an opportunity to turn out for a festival of a different kind Sept. 10 at the old CP rail station in Windsor. That’s the day the Monarch Express will be inaugurated for a run through North America all the way to Mexico. The train will follow CPR and Kansas City Southern rail tracks to Michoacán. The route traces the migration of the endangered Monarch butterfly. The train will highlight the butterfly’s declining numbers and plea for the planting of 60,000 trees to help their nesting on the 3000 mile migration. The family friendly event, 10 am - 3 pm at 1039 Janette, will feature music, poetry, kids’ activities and vendors. WON.com is the first to reveal the boxcar’s look, above. – 8/31/22


United Nations hooks up with Windsor - Detroit border region

A joint research and studies program between the University of Windsor and Detroit’s Wayne State University will be affiliated with the United Nations. The idea is to have students and experts “create solutions to sustainability” for the border region. It will “identify actions” in areas of “climate change, economic and health disparities, and social inequity to create a more sustainable future for the two communities that share an international border.” Other local organizations have jumped on board including school boards, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, the United Way and foundations. The idea is to also cultural exchanges on both sides of the border. – 8/18/22


GHIB soon to start looking more and more, well, like a bridge

The Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) is starting to look more like a bridge, if by that you mean the roadway itself connecting the two towers located on either side of the Detroit River. This summer crews began installing corbels which will hold in place the bridge deck or roadway. The “table” (photo) connecting the access ramps, also under construction, will support the deck. Meanwhile, the lower part of the towers reached their full height (460 ft.) in the spring and now the upper "pylons" (262 ft.) will be constructed with work to finish by the end of the year. Then the public will see the full “modern and elegant” A-shaped towers which have long been shown in architectural drawings, says the bridge authority. – 8/3/22

Photo: Gordie Howe Intl Bridge


Good reasons for city's low investment returns - report

City councillor and mayoral candidate Chris Holt has knocked the city’s investment policy for drawing paltry results, “dollars that could go directly to fund amenities for residents.” He says the city could have invested in ONE Investment, a non-profit Ontario municipal-related corporation and earned “$5 to $9-million each year.” A report to city council says the city’s return on investment in 2021 indeed was only 1.24 per cent. But this reflected the city’s low reserve balances compared to other municipalities. As well, Windsor’s pay-as-you-go strategy “limits the use of debt to finance capital projects; therefore, internal cash balances are used (largely reserves) for interim financing of projects.” This “saves significant interest charges on external debt that would otherwise be incurred.” Bottom line? There are "significant" net savings "as borrowing rates are generally much higher than investment yields.” – 7/2/22


Local pioneer in female political leadership dies

A pioneer in female political leadership in Essex County has died. Nancy Baumgartner, 72, died July 5 after a “fierce battle with pancreatic cancer,” her obituary said. Baumgartner, born and raised in Colchester, entered local politics in the 1980s. She served as reeve of Colchester South Township for two years, only the second woman to hold such a position in either a town or township in Essex County. Prior to that she was deputy reeve and served on many committees. She later became publisher of Harrow This Week. Visitation is at Gerald A. Smith Funeral Home, Harrow, July 10 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. Donations to the Hospice of Windsor. – 7/7/22


Group sends 600,000 meals for Ukraine

Southwestern Ontario Gleaners have sent 20 pellets – 600,000 servings of dried soup mix to Ukraine and Poland to aid the humanitarian crisis there. The Leamington-based volunteer organization announced the plan two months ago. The group partnered with Loads of Love Humanitarian Aid and Mission Society of Chatham, Ont. Another shipment is planned for early July, seeing the total grow to over one million servings. – 6/24/22

Photo: SW Ont Gleaners


Charles Clark Square ice rink replacement could cost about $4 million

With perennial problems undermining the ice rink at Charles Clark Square city council is being asked to spend $300,000 on a study to develop an entirely new rink immediately north of city hall. The Square has required numerous repairs over its more than decade use. These have included problems with the chiller and perimeter pipe leaks. A report says continued operation is “a challenge due to a number of required repairs resulting from the original rink design.” The latest have been loss of 50 gallons of brine daily. Even concrete expansion joints physically impact piping. Excavation, costing $1 million, would solve problems but would not address “operational concerns." Instead, the city could design an entirely new rink between the Square and city hall. This could be “a year-round gathering space, potentially augmented with sails or canopies that would provide shade in the summer, and the opportunity to extend the operating season of the rink in the winter.” Cost would be about $4 million. – 6/7/22

Photo: Google Street View


Food for Ukraine luncheon

Southwestern Ontario Gleaners is hosting a community pasta lunch at Roma Club, Leamington May 24, 11:30-1:30 pm. All proceeds go toward processing and packaging dried soup mix for Ukraine. For tickets or for sponsorship/donations contact the office at 519-326-7687 or swogleaners@gmail.com. Advanced tickets: $10 ($12 at door). Sponsorships: $1000 (six comp tickets, etc.), $500 (four tickets), $250 (two tickets). Goal is $20,000 to send 250,000+ servings to Ukraine. - 5/5/22

Photo: SW Ont Gleaners


Chrysler parent CEO pay aggravates shareholders

Stellantis NV shareholders rejected the pay package for CEO Carlos Tavares. 52% of voting shareholders, including the French government, withheld support of the proposed $21.5 million including $18.9 million in direct compensation. The vote was advisory only and doesn’t affect compensation. But Tavares is the highest paid CEO in Europe, where Stellantis, parent of Chrysler, is based. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the package was “not normal” according to Automotive News, and called for a more regulatory environment. Stellantis’ general counsel, said Tavares’ 2021 base salary was a 17.6% increase from 2020 given the larger size of the combined corporation. By comparison VW’s CEO in 2020 made $8.7 million. Ford and GM’s CEO’s over the last two years have made in excess of $22 million. – 4/20/22


Red light cameras ok here but not across the river

They might be a (new) thing in Windsor. But our neighbors on the other side of the river are having none of them. Red light cameras. The Michigan Senate has voted 28-10 to ban the use of the cameras. It “solidifies” a 2007 Mich. Attorney General opinion that barred cities from creating ordinances to charge motorists from the use of unmanned traffic monitoring devices. State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said it’s all based on the age old legal principle of being able to “confront your accuser ….. all of that isn’t happening with these cameras.” She said the cameras are also “causing accidents.” – 4/12/22


New bridge toll booths will be located - where?

And now for the answer virtually everyone was wondering about. When the new Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) opens in 2024, where will the toll booths be located - on the Canadian or US side? Ta da! The answer is they will be on the Canadian side. “The primary difference (between the US and Canadian so-called Port of Entries) is that there will be no toll collection services on the US side,” says spokeswoman Heather Grondin. Perhaps that’s only fitting, since Canada is paying all the costs of bridge construction and not Canada and the United States together. - 17/2/22

Photo: Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority


Leamington trucker heading anti-vax protest

A Leamington trucker is leading what he expects will be hundreds of truckers and supporters on a multi day protest beginning Sunday at the Ambassador Bridge. Ben Peters, owner of ADT Transportation, says the protest will begin at the Petro Canada in Comber and head to Huron Church Rd. He said trucks will take up two lanes but not impede bridge traffic while “slow rolling.” He said the convoy will turn left on Wyandotte St. and then circle back along Huron Church. It’s part of nationwide protests by truckers, including in Sarnia, as the drivers protest mandatory cross border Covid-19 vaccinations. “Somebody has got to stand up to what our government is doing to us and there’s been a lot of little rallies here and there for nurses and different things like that and I just feel that it’s time that we've got to get together as a group of people, not just as truck drivers, and we've got to stand up to our government,” Peters said. The convoy plans to continue “the loop” until Thursday when truckers will head to Ottawa for a major rally. - 1/21/22


Some teachers still heading back to school

Schools may be closed until Jan. 17, according to Premier Doug Ford’s latest update on Covid-19 restrictions. But vehicles can still be seen parked around school facilities. Yes, some teachers are still going to their physical classes, even if virtual learning is still being carried out. “According to the provincial directive, teachers had to be given the option of teaching from the school if they didn't have the necessary resources to teach from home, so that's what we are offering to those teachers,” Stephen Fields, spokesman for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, said. – 1/4/22


AG: no comment on Covid measures when rest of province re-opening

On Oct. 9 the province lessened Covid restrictions the most widely since controls were imposed the past year. Theatres, concert halls and stadiums allowed to open at 100 per cent, albeit with screening and masking. Later last month restrictions on restaurants were also lifted. Yet the province implemented major changes to four Windsor courtrooms as if the pandemic was just beginning. Among changes – the accused to sit alone behind plexiglass in the area formerly reserved for juries and the 14 jurors sitting physically distanced in the main courtroom floor where public seating – now ripped out – was once located. The judge, court staff and defense and Crown lawyers, and witnesses, sit separately behind Plexiglass. Limited spectator seating is available in another courtroom where they watch proceedings on video. No spectators are allowed in the courtroom itself. WON.com contacted the Ministry of the Attorney General as to why measures are imposed now, contrary to the wide re-opening in the rest of the province. What is the cost of these changes and similar alterations across the province? What is the impact on the hallowed principle of access to justice? After email and phone inquiries, no response. - 11/10/21


Covid lockdowns hit transit advertising hard

Transit ads lost money during Covid. Transit Windsor saw a drop in $77,000 revenue from Streetscene Media, the company that places ads on buses and transit shelters. This was for four months earlier this year during provincial lockdowns. That’s because their clients, often small and medium businesses, “were forced to close or drastically reduce their activities, and either short-paid or stopped making payments,” a Transit Windsor report says. The city will recover the sum under the provincial and federal Safe Restart Program. In turn, Streetscene Media has pledged to increase yearly revenue from 2022-2024 beginning with $245,000 next year. – 10/5/21


Not all of city walkways get cleared of snow

The city has 80 or 5.4 km of “pedestrian walkways” that run between streets, lead to schools or parks. Some of these don’t get winter maintenance leading to possible city liability, according to councillor Gary Kaschak, who said “most” in the Forest Glade and Fontainbleau areas “are not being maintained” and asked the city to address the issue. In a report before the city’s transportation committee, the city says 3.7 km of the walkways are cleared of snow but 1.7 km are not. That’s because of obstacles like narrowness and bollards preventing motorized equipment from entering. “There has not been resources or budget dollars dedicated to clearing these walkways.” They could, though, be hand-shovelled or closed during winter or closed permanently and sold off. Snow removal would cost $230,000. Closing during winter would cost $18,600 to put up 62 signs on 31 walkways. – 9/14/21


Transit purchase features “clean-diesel” engines

Transit Windsor’s recent purchase of 24 new replacement buses will be diesel powered, similar to ones already plying the city’s streets. The buses, built by Nova Bus (photo) in St. Eustache QC, will feature “sophisticated exhaust after-treatment systems,” transit general manager Tyson Cragg says. They will also provide a 15 per cent improvement in fuel economy over older buses in the system’s fleet “as well as greatly reduced exhaust emissions,” he said. The buses are strictly replacements for out-of-date existing vehicles. Transit Windsor is planning route expansions and Cragg said plans to purchase additional buses for those runs “will be brought to (city) council in the future.” Most of the $17 million cost of the 24 buses will be borne by the federal infrastructure program and almost $5 million paid by the city. – 7/26/21

Photo: Transit Windsor


City forgives loan to historic Black church

City Council has forgiven a 10-year-old outstanding loan of more than $22,000 to Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, a significant city African-Canadian church. The money for the church at McDougall and Elliott was in need of stabilization finding as the building, constructed in 1939, was at “severe risk of collapse.” The city originally provided $25,000 in grant and $25,000 in loan from the Community Heritage Fund, of which only $1,354.85 was repaid. The city learned that the son of the founding pastor had died in March 2020 and other US based church officials weren’t involved in the renovation or were unaware of the loan. However, one official expressed “great passion” about turning the building into a community centre with financial support from US congregations. Church services at one time were broadcast live on CKLW radio for 30 years.– 6/24/21

Photo: Downtown Windsor BIA


Farm worker employer critics using Covid to “magnify mistruths”

The agency that processes employer requests for seasonal foreign workers is hitting back against comments of unfair labour practices. The Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services, a non-profit that administers the federal government’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, says “vocal opponents” are using the Covid-19 pandemic to “magnify mistruths.” It says “anti-farming activists and trade union leaders with the United Food and Commercial Workers continue to falsely assert that seasonal workers from overseas have not been extended the same labour rights as Canadians during the pandemic.” In fact, it says in a release, foreign workers are “entitled to the same benefits” as Canadians like Employment Standards and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Workers also qualify for WSIB, OHIP, certain Employment Insurance benefits, the provincial minimum wage “and, like every other worker in Ontario during the pandemic, job protection if they have to take an unpaid leave because of COVID-19.” – 6/1/21

Photo: Agriculture Canada


Docs tee-off for golfers for the May 2-4 weekend

Golfers who may be teed-off their sport has been subject to provincial lockdown for over a month have an ally – and a prestigious one. The Ontario Medical Association today called on the government to reopen the links. In a release, the body, which represents physicians, said it believes the general lockdown should continue beyond the current six weeks ending May 20. But it does “prescribe reopening more outdoor recreational facilities such as golf courses and basketball and tennis courts to improve people's physical and mental health.” This must be done “safely” with “clear guidelines” on mask wearing and number of players “on the May 24 long weekend.” That has also been Golf Ontario’s position. While condemning the Bridges of Tillsonburg for defying the lockdown it says the sport is generally safe and “naturally aligned” to social distancing. – 5/12/21


Will fewer get delayed second Covid dose?

One of the questions that has hardly been discussed or not at all regarding the Covid vaccine take-up rate is whether Canadians indeed will get their second doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines in the same numbers as they got their first shots. News this week from the US CDC was that five million, or eight per cent, of Americans had skipped their second dose. Some said they felt sufficiently protected already or fear flu like side effects from the second. Another was that providers like drug stores had simply run out of doses, a familiar story here. So, what does this mean for Canada, already a severe laggard in vaccine rollout? So much that authorities have stretched the second dose to four months from drug manufacturers’ guidelines of three or four weeks, the only country in the world to do so. Could such a long lead time, and with possible new developments about the risk of vaccines (i.e., Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson and blood clots), along with languishing desire during traditional summer vacation months, lead to many fewer second shot take-ups? – 4/28/21


Michigan “most dangerous” for Covid

Our international neighbour just happens to have the greatest surge in new Covid cases in the entire US. “Michigan is by far the most dangerous place” for Covid, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan candidly told reporters. 17.6% of tests that came back Friday were positive (compared to 8.9% yesterday in Ontario). And the state also happens to be home to the top six metro areas with the highest number of US cases. These include Detroit, Lansing and Flint. Other Michigan cities like Kalamazoo and Holland ranked among The New York Times’ Top 20. Michigan added 100,000 cases and 532 deaths in just the past 27 days, a higher pace than any other state. Why? “It’s hard to say for sure whether that is due to lifting restrictions or people feeling less at risk as vaccines are rolled out,” Ryan Malosh, assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told The Detroit News. – 4/6/21