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Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Canadian official responds to ads attacking Detroit-Canada bridge proposal

By Ryan J. Stanton

Roy Norton, Canada's consul general in Detroit, didn't mince words on Thursday as he slammed the owners of the Ambassador Bridge for running "a mass campaign of deliberate deception."

Norton said the Moroun family, which is behind a $10 million television ad campaign opposing the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Canada, needs to be held accountable.

"The multimillion-dollar television campaign tells three very big lies," he said. "First, the latest versions complain that the bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers $2 billion upfront and $100 million a year. Totally wrong — the bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers nothing.


Roy Norton

"We've had enough of this. It's time for the lies to be exposed."

The Michigan Truth Squad at the Center for Michigan recently conducted an independent review of the ads and agreed the misinformation contained in them hits a new low.

Norton's remarks came Thursday afternoon as he addressed a crowd of business leaders in Ann Arbor during an Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He acknowledged the language of diplomacy in which he's trained doesn't easily lend itself to confronting such attacks.

"That's exactly what the Ambassador Bridge folks are counting on — that the rest of us will play by so-called Marquess of Queensberry rules while they peddle their lies," he said.

"Not just lies — big lies," he added. "The absolute-opposite-of-the-truth lies. Lies repeatedly told, however, with such elegance and simplicity that many voters believe they must be true."

The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet Monday to consider whether a proposal aimed at blocking the new bridge project should be approved for the November ballot.

"Michiganders can seize the opportunity to bring this saga to an end," Norton said. "If you mobilize to defeat this constitutional amendment, I think you'll position your state well to take advantage of job-creating economic development opportunities well into the future and you will affirm the U.S.-Canada and Michigan-Canada partnerships that give us so much faith going forward in this region."

State Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, and Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, were in attendance and applauded Norton for his remarks.

"I think more people should be exposed to the real facts, including that we're talking about an 83-year-old bridge that is a monopoly," Rutledge said of the Moroun-owned Ambassador Bridge. "We're also talking about an opportunity for Southeast Michigan to be a hub for world-class exports."

Warren said she gives credit to Gov. Rick Snyder for pushing forward the vision for the NITC and she hopes concerns about the cost to Michigan taxpayers will be put to rest soon.

"Michigan's constitution is incredibly clear that not a penny of state dollars can be spent without being appropriated by the Legislature, and so far this Legislature has been unwilling to appropriate any money," she said. "So until the Legislature votes for money being spent, there's no money being spent."

Snyder and Canadian Transport Minister Denis Lebel on June 15 signed an agreement to build a second bridge over the Detroit River between Canada and the United States.

Canada is bringing $550 million to the table, money Michigan will be able to use to leverage additional federal transportation funds for other highway projects in the state.

Norton said Canada will sign the contracts for construction and Michigan cannot in any way be held responsible or liable for contracts it does not enter into.

"The bridge will be built according to a public-private partnership model by a firm yet to be selected in an open tendering process," he added. "If the bridge costs more than expected, then the builder is on the hook. I should add that Canada commits to backstopping the builder."

Norton said Canada will front to the builder the full cost of constructing the interchange to Interstate 75. The builder also will be repaid for its estimated $1 billion investment in the bridge over 25 years. After that, Canada will be repaid over the next 25 years using toll revenues to recoup its $550 million investment.

Considering the bridge is expected to stand for 125 years, Norton said that leaves 75 years in which Michigan and Canada each will receive about $40 million annually in toll profits in today's dollars.

"In Michigan's case, that's $3 to $4 billion that you will receive in revenue, having put nothing down and having assumed no liability — the opposite of what the television commercials say," he said.

Even taking into consideration of the likelihood of legal battles over the project, Norton said he's confident the project could break ground in 2014 and be completed by 2018. After that, he said, the new crossing will bolster Michigan's $70 billion-a-year trade with Canada.

"For some time, it's been Canada's No. 1 national infrastructure priority, getting it built," he said. "I think it should probably be Michigan's No. 1 infrastructure priority as well, and for a lot of folks it is."

The A2Y Chamber last year offered its endorsement of the project, saying a new bridge connecting Michigan with Canada will be vital to Washtenaw County businesses.

Norton said more than 230,000 jobs in the state of Michigan alone depend on trade with Canada, including about 11,500 in Washtenaw County, 45,000 in Wayne County and 41,500 in Oakland County.

"You've got essentially 100,000 people in three counties in Southeast Michigan who depend for their employment on trade with Canada," he said.

Norton said the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge, by itself, carries 25 percent of all U.S.-Canada trade. While there's no reason to believe it will fall down tomorrow, he said, it's not going to last forever.

"Bridges of its era were built to last 50 years," he said, suggesting it's past its prime and it would be an economic catastrophe if it goes out without a second span between Detroit and Canada.

"We Canadians were forced to make a choice," he said. "Maintaining a death watch on an 83-year-old bridge while crossing our fingers and hoping for its eternal life did not strike us as being responsible public policy, so in 2010 we stepped forward and offered to absolve Michigan of any liability for any part of the project."

Norton said the reasons for supporting the NITC are numerous and compelling, but there's really only one rational reason for opposing the bridge, and that's if you own the Ambassador Bridge.

"Because you will cease to enjoy monopoly profits," he said. "It will remain profitable, but evidently profitability isn't enough. Maximizing those monopoly profits for as long as possible, it would seem, is sufficient justification for holding hostage — literally holding hostage — millions of American and Canadian workers."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Matty Maroun, we don't want you any more! Please give your bridge to the people of Michigan and get your butt out of this fine state!


Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

This state will follow detroit into the toilet because of the amount of corruption. Snyder and Bing are trying to do a good job with no interest other than the public good in mind and they are surrounded and outnumbered by corrupt politicians and special interests. Our democratic principles and accessable justice system are being used to further corrupt the system and bilk the taxpayers.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

I'm sure the average Obama vote in A2 believe the Maroun's.


Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 2:51 a.m.

I vote for you as moron of the year


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

We all believe in free speech--but there are limits (e.g. shouting fire in a crowded theater when there is none.) Can the pubic media not be prevailed upon to pull the Maroun ads and any others that are such blatant lies? Are our legislators so beholden to Maroun money that they refuse to support a new bridge that has been proven to be needed? We hope that Mr. Norton's comments can be included in state-wide publicity that will reach all uninformed voters. Voting in favor of this new bridge should be a no-brainer.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

WHAT? Straight talk Tom that's all we want ! Not all the double talk gibberish that has nothing to do with the topic!

Tom Todd

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

The heirs to the wal-mart(largest employer in the country) throne have more money then the bottom 30% in this country also alot of these employees are on Goverment assistance yet that's ok, we can't have it both ways people!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Hey! Be quiet up there Canada!

Martin Church

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

I have several questions about this deal. 1. after the new bridge is built what is to stop the Canadian government from shutting the ambassador bridge down through eminent domain, or denying access to truck traffic. 2. what happens to the revenue generated by the tax exempt store and gas station that will be built to support this venture. 3. what is the loss of revenue to the city of Detroit by moving the bridge away from the city. the Second bridge will allow commercial and private traffic to avoid the city cutting the city out of huge revenue. It will take private jobs away from an american company. also will the people working on the construction and support afterwards be Canadian taxpayers or american.

Stuart Brown

Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

I hope they do shut it to truck traffic. Diesel fumes cause health problems and keeping the trucks away from the population centers is good policy.

Chase Ingersoll

Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : midnight

It's likely that they will shut it to truck traffic, except for local trucks. They dont want the trucks going through Windsor. Good for the people traffic.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

What's to stop them from shutting the bridge down now?


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

If Manny MORON spent all these millions on the buildings he already owns maybe he wouldn't be so hated! Anyone seen how he keeps up the Michigan Central Railroad Station lately?? I wonder how many improvements all these millions would have paid for? But he is not in business for the betterment of Detroit. I wish he would have spent more time in jail!!

John S. Armbruster

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

What I would really like to understand here is why the media, television and radio in particular, keep taking Maroun's money and broadcasting his lies. Are they sincerely trying to say that it is not their responsiblilty since it's Maroun's ad? That appears to be the attitude and I find it despicable.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

If the taxpayers will never be on the hook to pay toll shortfalls, Why is Governor Snyder against legislation that would require 2/3 legislative support for making taxpayers pick up the tab? Remember we were told tolls would pay for the Mackinac Bridge. However, when legislative leaders desperately needed votes to pass a proposed tax bill that was the centerpiece of their agenda, Representative Emil Peltz of Rogers City proposed a deal. He would supply the votes needed to pass the tax bill, but only if the bridge appropriation bill was passed first. The deal was made, hands were shaken, and the Mackinac Bridge was guaranteed $417,000 in annual support from the state, if the bonds could be sold.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

Must be the last of the purple gang...Just another maroun mob tactic to gin up the sheep.. I'm surprised he hasn't been appointed ambassador to whatever for using the same tactics as his chicago kin....hopefully the voters will smarten up come Nov. and throw out this stupidity and all the crooks out east of the beltway as well...


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

I feel lik the Lone Ranger. For all of you who want the bridge owned by the government, the DRIC is a Private-Public partnership. These arrangements have proven to be the worst of all worlds for the taxpayers. Private gets its money and taxpayers pay the shortfall. Also there is no incentive to run them efficiently. Amtrac, Post Office Toll roads in various places are variations of Private Public partnerships. MDOT traffic study


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

So, where is Tonto in all of this? Does he have a say? Or not?

Tom Todd

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

How much Control does the upper 1% have in this Country & NOW it's not ok?


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

Control of a major Detroit to Canada crossing by one family is not in the interest of the State of Michigan, the United States, Canada, or the people or businesses on either side.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

"I feel lik the Lone Ranger." The one wearing the mask here is Manny Maroun!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

Why would you ever want private ownership of a major international crossing? I understand private management of it, but not ownership. This is a no-brainer and Snyder and the Canadians are absolutlely right with this project.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

The Gateway, and all the nonsense surrounding it, is exactly the reason that the Maroun family should never be allowed to be considered for a new crossing.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

@tom todd, The whole problem with the Gateway was Maroun's Bridge Company. Obviously you don't go to Canada much or you would know why the Ambassador bridge is my third choice after the tunnel and the Blue Water. Soon the Gateway will be finished but it took nearly five years of unnecessary court action to push Maroun to the sideline.

Tom Todd

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

Gateway anyone!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

Why hasn't the Republican controlled legislature just ignored the lies and voted to move ahead with the bridge? Lots of Maroun family money in campaign contributions -- check and see if your legislator was 'helped' by Maroun. Like this: RICK OLSON -THE VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE 514468-CAN DIRECT LINDSAY MOROUN 160 PROVENCAL HOMEMAKER-HOMEMAKER GROSSE POINTE FARMS MI 48236-0000 10/25/10 $500.00 $500.00 Tons of money spread across the legislature and the votes follow to block the bridge. Take a look at the contributions from the Marouns and then what legislators did on the bridge. Interesting. Money talks, democracy walks.

Chase Ingersoll

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

Rick Olson has always been on favor of a bridge and that contribution is less than a fraction of a percent of what he spent n his campaign.

Paul Epstein

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

Why do Canadians always make much much more sense than Americans do? Is it because we are a nation of virtual morouns? (Yes, I fear. Pity!)

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

If you ever drive to Toronto, you know the proposed bridge is an excellent idea with its freeway connections on both sides. The fact that the Canadians are giving us the local match money and guaranteeing any cost overruns and still giving us half the profits after recovering their investment is amazingly generous. I applaud the foresight of the Canadian Government for stepping up to the plate and paying for this critical infrastructure improvement and say shame on the mass media for taking the Maroun's money and allowing blatantly misleading ads to be run. Don't they have a shred of ethics left?

Stan Hyne

Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Well said


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

I could not agree more with this post. I too am all for this bridge and really hate crossing Marouns bridge especially with all the trucks and hi traffic. I too agree that the Maroun family has no shred of ethics left when they hire children to go out canvassing for signatures on a proposal one teen said they had no clue as to what the were having voters sign except to say that all they knew was it was to stop a bridge from being built because it would cost us tax payers money we don't have. Even after explaining to one teen what they were doing they still had no clue. Yes to the bridge and no to Maroun.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.

Canada should offer free passage for a few years after completion for the purpose of spiting the Maroun family. If the residents of the state get lucky, perhaps the Ambassador Bridge will not be maintained while traffic shifts to the free bridge and then can be condemned and taken over by either Michigan or Canada. The fact that some wealthy family could tie up and hold hostage the entire State Government shows just how dysfunctional and corrupt the American political process has become.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

"Shows how dysfunctional the American political system has become"...You realize that the Ambassador bridge has been privately owned from the start, right? This is not a recent development.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

"as long as the rich get richer" = Manny Maroun

Tom Todd

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

hey as long as the rich get richer and the middle class suffer with no benefits or pensions is that not the american way.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

First of all, the former head of the Canadian equivalent of the CIA said a couple of years ago that Canadian politicians were so thoroughly corrupted by China that it was too late to do anything about it. Thus, I am very skeptical about anything a Canadian government official says. Second, there will be US federal taxpayer dollars supporting the bridge and the approaches. The last time I checked some of those federal taxpayers lived in Michigan. Also, it was the Democrats on the legislative committee that had the deciding votes on whether or not to approve the bill getting out of committee. They ended up not voting for it because the Republicans would not bribe them with enough "community development funds" for Detroit. Why then are AA Democrats supporting the bridge. The experts also testified that the amount of traffic using the bridge would not support the need for another bridge in the forseeable future. Building an unnecessary bridge is no better than building a bridge to nowhere.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

Lots of vague claims no facts! "I am very skeptical about anything a Canadian government official says." I am very skeptical about anything a FORMER Canadian government official says.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

A link or some real evidence? I haven't heard anything like this before.

Go for it

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

I guess what I really don't understand about all of this is that there is no room in Windsor for the second span to be built alongside the Ambassador Bridge. But there is room where the Canadians want it to be, along with a connecting freeway to the 401. Lots of traffic off of surface streets that were never designed to carry all of it in the first place.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 10:01 a.m.

If you used the bridge regularly, you would understand. The bridge was built decades before freeways.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

the bridge is already situated in a bad location, if he had a great location to twin its existing span, then yes, i could see him taking the windfall and getting his second span. unfortunately, he lost out with windsor and detroit building communities around this international trade route and there was no room for his second span. in addition, he is a complete idiot.

Stan Hyne

Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

Not an idiot, just self serving.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:01 a.m.

So Real Life, how does Maroun do it without Canadian cooperation? Do you think Canada will cooperate with him after all the lies he has been spewing out? We did fine with the Big Mac, there is no reason not to believe that this new bridge won't be the same. Are you against the state picking up some revenue in the future?

Real Life

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

Nobody likes Manny Maroun. Hell, I don't like Manny Maroun. But he wants to spend his own money to build a second span at a site where we already prepared a "gateway". Why are we even talking about this? Let him build his bridge, really "for free". There are too many asterisks on the government(s) proposals to trust.

Stan Hyne

Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

Manny Maroun probably isn't trying to build his new second span out of the goodness of his heart. He must figure the second span will earn him more than the millions he is prepared to spend to stop the Canadian bridge where he can't profit from the collection of tolls.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

RealLife? "There are too many asterisks on the government(s) proposals to trust." What could you possibly trust about Manny Maroun??


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

This appears to be a good financial decision for Michigan that the Maroun stands to lose a lot of revenue over. If Canada wants to backstop it and we can benefit financially let's go for it. Canada won't let Maroun build where they want to anyhow and it won't get through our legislature for a number of reasons (lobbyists, the state is broke, etc)

Rob MI

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

Canada will not let him build his bridge where he wants to build it, for one thing, and for a number of reasons. While he may have built "the gateway", he did so in a manner that was contradictory to agreed-upon plans with MDOT that did nothing but benefit him, then dragged his feet so long in completing his portion and making the legally-obligated corrections that he spent time in jail for contempt of court and had the entire process removed from DIBC's responsibility and handed over to MDOT. MDOT has completed more work since April than that clown did in years while fighting these changes in court. And, if you weren't aware, DIBC, not MDOT, is paying for all of the required changes out of a $16M escrow account that was ordered established when Maroun lost his final appeal.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

If Michigan citizens can't see through this Maroun lie pack, I give up on us. This guy is filthy rich beyond imagining, and we are going to continue to help him get even richer by monopoly and lying? Come on, people. Let's get on with the bridge people (and businesses) can use easily.

Tom Todd

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

I thought Snyder loved the rich business people in this state,I guess not this guy, I support Matty


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

Another Maroun family member supports them. Only those that still think the earth is flat believe the Maroun lies!

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 9:58 a.m.

Did the tea party hack your account?


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

A moron for Marouns huh?

Tom Todd

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

All the thumbs down must be Snyder family members or those in his pocket.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

I guess they are appealing to the "MORE-ON" vote: Those that don't care, those that cannot understand or those that only take from the government! I was surprise to see Mr. Rutledge and Ms. Warren supporting this. This could take jobs away from their Union members like NAFTA did!


Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 5:53 a.m.

Our resident Republican, XMO, is surprised by Mr. Rutledge and Ms. Warren's support for more jobs in Michigan while he would prefer to see our jobs leave the country via NAFTA. Does this attitude seem anti-patriotic to others as well?


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

I am sure the Canadians are laughing at us behind our backs. How long can we tolerate people/groups rich enough to buy media ads lying to us? Where is the Michigan legislature on this? They say they are all about jobs, but it looks like their only care is Matty Marouns campaign contributions and enacting anti abortion, anti woman, and anti union laws. I am not a big Snyder fan, but he sees the potential and Has gone for it despite millions of dollars of lies coming from Maroun.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

YAWN! On the "hiring of children" comment. All political campaigns and causes "use children" to collect signatures for THEIR lies. This is no different. Silly fake-indignant comment.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

When I heard how much they spent on the anti lies campaign and seeing teens out canvassing for signatures, I had to realize they too were being misled by this propaganda of lies as well. So, the Maroun family is now hiring children to help with these lies? How low can they go?

Ghost of Tom Joad

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

Looks like the Canadians had to be the responsible older sibling in this situation because we Americans were too busy squabbling over ideology to be bothered with regular maintenance of our vital infrastructure. The Maroun family has been scandalous in their campaign of misinformation.

Stan Hyne

Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

He who talks long and loud has poor product for sale.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I wouldn't say there's been a lack of maintenance on the bridge itself. There ALWAYS seems to be something being done to it. Of course, maybe that's a bad sign, that it's constantly in need of repairs. It could just be good regular maintenance.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

We Americans are broke; their dollar is worth more and their economy is better. simple