A Billionaire Is Battling To Kill Plans For A New, 'Free' Bridge Between Michigan And Canada

Hopes are high for a proposed second bridge between Canada and Michigan. The bridge itself, fully funded by Canada, is one part of a wider plan to improve trade between the partners, and should take the load off the one bridge currently standing between the two areas.

However there’s a hitch. On November 6, Michigan will vote on “Proposal 6“, which would require all “international bridges” to win a vote from the majority of Michigan residents.

A wide ranging advertisement campaign clearly links the vote to the new bridge, and clearly implies that the “free” bridge will not really be free for Michigan residents, despite some good evidence to the contrary:

Yesterday the Canadian newspaper the National Post published a widely read article on the fate of the bridge, pointing to a wealthy Michigan family, headed by self-made billionaire Manuel (Matty) Moroun, who has spearheaded the movement behind Proposal 6.

According to National Post journalist Joe O’Conner, the Moroun family are thought to have spent around $10 million on the campaign, including “door-to-door flier campaigns, robocalls and their ubiquitous television spots”.

What motive would Moroun have to get involved in the fight? Moroun is one of the largest shareholders of the Ambassador Bridge, currently the only privately owned border crossing between the US and Canada, and, more importantly, the only current link between Michigan and Canada. Critics believe that Moroun’s family are worried about the losses they would incur in toll fees and other income (notably from his duty-free gasoline stations) if traffic levels over the Ambassador Bridge drop.

“The new bridge will be a great benefit for our state, and we shouldn’t let one billionaire and his special interest monopoly get in the way,” Michigan Governer Rick Snyder said in a statement.

With Canadian press and big names like the Daily Beast’s David Frum stepping in on the issue, it looks like November 6 may end up being a big day in national and international news.

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