Although Canada does not make it a habit of "providing free infrastructure to developed countries," Canadian Consul General Roy Norton said when it comes to building a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, his country has no choice.
Norton joined Gov. Rick Snyder's ballot proposal bus tour in Sterling Heights last week to clarify Canada's stance on the "new bridge to Canada" and urge Michigan residents to vote no this Tuesday on Proposal 6, which would amend the state constitution to require a statewide vote to build international bridges or tunnels.
“Let me raise my right hand and solemnly swear for anyone who is paying attention that the government of Canada will pay for this bridge and guarantee all liability and the State of Michigan will face no cost and no liability,” Norton said.
As to why Canada has chosen to fund such a project, Norton said it is a matter of economics and time. The aging Ambassador Bridge won’t last forever and thousands of jobs in Canada and Michigan are co-dependent on trade between the nations – including 17,000 in Macomb County alone, Norton said.
“We don’t normally engage in providing free infrastructure to developed countries, but there frankly was no choice,” he added. “The bridge is 83 years old. We faced a choice – to do nothing or pay for it – and we found doing nothing less attractive as a country than paying for it.”
Norton predicted that should the Ambassador Bridge become non-operational for some reason, more than a million jobs in Canada and the U.S. would be lost within two weeks.
"This isn’t about putting the Ambassador Bridge out of business," Norton said, adding that there is more than enough business for two international crossings. But he said a new bridge is needed to accomodate increased trade between Canada and the U.S. and provide a sense of security for that trade.
"It’s not a win-lose situation, it’s truly a win-win situation," he said. "And so we’re prepared to ante up, and take all responsibility for the bridge and we’ll both benefit and we’ll both grow as a result."
Check out the video for Norton's full remarks on why Canada is willing to fund an international crossing.