'Marc Garneau quite frankly was a jerk': Masse blasts Liberals at bridge meeting

A town hall on the Ambassador Bridge featured plenty of questions but few answers as area politicians work to form an advocacy group that will hold proponents of the replacement span project accountable.
Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse hosted a town meeting in Windsor Wednesday to discuss the approval of a replacement span for the Ambassador Bridge. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

A town hall on the Ambassador Bridge featured angry residents and plenty of unanswered questions as area politicians worked to form an advocacy group that will hold proponents of the replacement span project accountable. 

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse organized and hosted the event, attended by dozens of west-end residents puzzled and stunned by the way the government quietly approved the controversial project earlier this month. 

"(Transportation Minister) Marc Garneau, quite frankly, was a jerk doing this," said Masse during a question and answer portion of the event.

"I don't understand this. They come down here for re-opening the Veterans' office several times. If this is such a proud moment for Canadian history and it's a benefit? Then why wouldn't you do that for the community affected?"

Many of the public questions focused on how the final permit approval was granted without public consultations in Windsor to ensure residents had a chance to voice their opinion on the deal. 

News of the deal was made public by the bridge company and not the government, which has long been fighting attempts by the bridge to delay or derail the government's Gordie Howe Bridge project.

Garneau said last week the government was still committed to the Howe bridge project and that both bridges were necessary to ensure "Canadians continue to benefit from the efficient movement of people and goods at this crossing while providing infrastructure improvements for the local community."

Masse joked "there was no selfie in the cabinet meeting" after the government approved construction of the span subject to certain conditions, including the eventual demolition of the existing bridge. 

"It just shows that there's a disdain and phoniness with regards to public outreach and public communication," said Masse.

Public Complaints

Long time Sandwich resident Terry Kennedy spoke out in frustration about the way the bridge received the approval of the Liberal cabinet.

"The whole idea of us performing for the government in all these meetings that we've gone to in the last 20 years literally says that we're not to be taken seriously," said Kennedy.

"As consultation went through we are not going to be taken seriously - as far as this thing being brought into our neighbourhood."

Masse reiterated how the approval was granted after a short applause break for Kennedy.

"By law, what's happened to the order of council is they've submitted their environmental assessments where there's commentary allowed by the law for that, and there was," said Masse. 

"So I don't even know what went into the full cabinet decision."

Masse said the only response he's received from Garneau is "short of disappointing."

"What I got back from his office is that they let the regional office decide," said Masse."This is not a regional issue. This is an issue of national importance that's very significant."

Bridge company officials were invited to attend but said they weren't available — sending a statement instead.