Ambassador Bridge owner invites PM to talk

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to get a new bridge built between Windsor and Detroit and said one will be constructed. Ambassador Bridge owner wants PM's respect.

Prime Minister calls private ownership of crossing 'ludicrous'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised Wednesday that a new border crossing will be built between Windsor and Detroit. (Paul Chaisson/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to get a new bridge built between Windsor and Detroit.

He is also frustrated with Matty Moroun, the billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge, one of two crossings in Windsor. 

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Bill Anderson, Ontario research chair in cross-border policy at the University of Windsor, will join The Bridge host Bob Steele at 5:10 p.m. on 97.5 FM to discuss this topic.

"This is the biggest single corridor of trade in the world and the concept that somebody could claim that he privately owns it all is, to me, ludicrous but to some degree that is the situation we're dealing with," the prime minister said.

Harper made the comments Monday while attending a summit with the presidents of the United States and Mexico in Washington.

When asked why Canada does not partner with the Obama administration on the project, Harper said Canada is dealing with Michigan first, but that this crossing has unique issues.

"We think it is essential, let's be frank about that," Harper said. "There is a bridge there today that has a private owner and my understanding of the private owner's position is that he not only owns the bridge but somehow owns the broader crossing. Of course, we don't accept that. It's obviously public space.

"I think the preference of all governments would be public infrastructure."

Matthew Moroun, on behalf of the Detroit International Bridge Company, responded Tuesday to Harper's comments.

"I renew my invitation to the prime minister's office or the transport minister's office to discuss resolution," Moroun wrote in a statement. "If the government officials agree that a smooth-running border crossing is the true goal, then the only two remaining elements necessary for resolution are: Canada's respect of our private economic interests and our mutual respect of the rule of law."

The bridge company had previously invited Transport Minister Denis Lebel to sit down and discuss how the company and ministry could "cooperate in the future."