Do You Remember Tor-Buff-Chester?

16 Nov

This piece, written by UB student Brendan Ryan appeared in yesterday’s Buffalo News, and it’s absolutely correct.  For some reason, we exclude southern Ontario and Toronto from discussions about our regional future, much to everyone’s mutual detriment.

…why is it that we often fail to even consider our nearness to Toronto among that list? Toronto and Southern Ontario are bursting at the seams and the Buffalo Niagara region is choosing to not take part in this growth.

Where is the political will to harness it and usher it over the border and why is this seemingly not a priority? What are our elected officials doing to foster relationships with leadership on the other side of the border? In an economic environment in which regions compete for the firms and industries that will help them to grow and become more vibrant, it is imperative to capitalize on assets that make a region unique and that can provide an advantage to businesses considering locating there.

Western New York’s direct line to Canada’s financial capital is an asset that no other region in the country can claim, yet it is almost completely ignored. We need to begin by exploring and discussing what we can gain from Southern Ontario and what we have to offer them. Southern Ontario has a diverse economy with industry clusters in aerospace, financial services, information technology, life sciences, tourism, fashion, design and a wealth of other areas. With a little imagination one can envision our region as a center for logistics between Southern Ontario, the Midwest and the East Coast.

This is absolutely obtainable and only one of the possible methods for evolving a symbiotic, cross-border, regional economy.

Part of this is due to cross-border travel hassles and the various rules and regulations surrounding residency and doing business in each respective country.  I’ve written before about the real need for a Schengen-type agreement between the US and Canada, whereby immigration rules were harmonized and there was true freedom of movement of people, goods, and jobs between our two countries.  Unfortunately, we didn’t even have the political will to cobble together a shared border management agreement for the Peace Bridge, so the likelihood of a North American Schengen is nil.

But the silence from our local political and business communities about better integrating our economy with that of Ontario is unfortunately deafening.

11 Responses to “Do You Remember Tor-Buff-Chester?”

  1. peteherr November 16, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    When you want to look for things like this to happen. Who is the more powerful, better positioned leader that should be making these inroads? Is it the County Exec or the Mayor of Buffalo?

    • Christopher Smith November 16, 2010 at 9:47 am #

      It should be the regional economic development authorities (Buffalo Niagara Enterprise) who make the initial outreach and promote a particular agenda that has the support of the other regional IDAs, Mayor and County Executive. Keep in mind, we need the Canadians much more than they need us.

      We have something called the Framework for Regional Growth which serves as a starting point. BNE has made some inroads into Canada as we have several companies who have located back office or logistics operations in WNY. However, it could be much more with a unified outreach plan and goals. Which circles back to your original question…who leads the effort? I’d vote for BNE with support from World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara as well as an endorsement of their efforts from Reps. Slaughter and Higgins, Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, Mayors Brown and Dyster as well as Chris Collins.

      It needs to be a unified effort.

  2. Jesse November 16, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    What is there to be done about it?

  3. STEEL November 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Canada welcomes immigrants and understands the strength they add to Canada. They will never go along with our American fear based system of immigration policy – so forget any kind of unified system there.

    Some local companies embracing the Golden Horseshoe would be WNED TV which has made its market into TOR-BUFF. The Bills are also showing how to do this – for now at least.

  4. Good Grief November 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    Absolutely agreed. Buffalo should be latchin on to Southern Ontario like its life depends upon it. This region is a lot larger and healthier than its given credit for nationally because S. Ontario isn’t considered. However, we really need to strengthen those ties.

  5. FDR November 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    Lets start with a high speed rail link. Toronto to NYC on the new North Shore Rapido 3hrs 45 min. The border is not much of an impediment as it is an aggravation. .

  6. Bruce Beyer (member WNY Peace Center) November 17, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    “whereby immigration rules were harmonized” — Alan, I think you fit in with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ultra conservative vision for the future of Canada. This crackpot idea of diminishing borders between the US and Canada shows a complete lack of knowledge regarding US/Canadian history reaching back to the days the American “revolution”. The fact that the Canadian people have resisted the onslaught of both political and cultural American imperialism for the last two hundred plus years is testament to their enduring independence. Southern Ontario’s booming economy is derived partly from the fact that Canada is not over extended in two immoral wars. Harper is doing his best to reverse situation but for the time being our shared border remains intact. Only a envious corporate liberal would suggest lowering border restrictions.

  7. Alan Bedenko November 17, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    @Bruce Beyer:  Usually, when people spend a lengthy paragraph that tells me to go fuck myself, I respond in kind, only more concisely.  I will give you the courtesy of a more detailed reply.  

    I don’t know the first thing about Stephen Harper’s views of the future of Canada – whether they be ultra-conservative or otherwise.  I’d wager that a Canadian ultra-conservative would be quite opposed to any harmonization of any laws with the United States, so I think your point about my views being similar to those of Harper’s is a semi-contemplated pile of shit.  In fact, Harper’s main free-trade overtures have been to the EU, not the US.  

    The middle of your “fuck you, Alan” missive briefly recounts the self-evident fact that the US and Canada are separate countries that even went to war against each other once upon a time.  You then pivot to accusing the United States of being an asshole, and suggest that Southern Ontario’s economic successes are due partly to the fact that they’re not “over extended” in two wars.  (You see, you had to go with “over extended” because Canadian troops are part of the NATO force in Afghanistan). 

    I’d argue that the successes seen in Southern Ontario and the GTO have a lot to do with regional government, diminution of redundancy, an enviable health care payment system, an immigration policy that is encouraging rather than discouraging, tighter regulation of commercial goings-on – especially as it relates to banking.  I would agree that not spending trillions on a needless war in Iraq inures to the Canadians’ advantage, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Canada is fiscally responsible, while the US is mired with conservative Republicans who like to endlessly repeat long-discredited economic theories that benefit the richest at the middle class’ expense.  

    The free movement of people, goods, and money throughout Europe since the advent of the Euro and the Schengen zone has made it much easier for Europe to become a singular market while maintaining cultural and national sovereignty.  While imperfect, it beats the alternative, which in Europe’s case involved two millennia of almost constant territorial, national, and religious warfare. 

    The United States and Canada are each other’s largest trading partners, and the free movement of goods, people, and money between the two countries could do wonders especially for depressed regions like Buffalo-Niagara. It’s silly that it’s difficult for a Canadian in Fort Erie to commute to work in Buffalo and vice-versa.  It’s ridiculous that there are duties to pay and forms to complete in order to ship lumber from Ontario to New York. 

    I don’t know what your last sentence means, because I’m not some cultish robot who pays attention to code phrases like “corporate liberal”.  Just like I don’t watch Glenn Beck and his John Birch Power Hour, I don’t read the Daily Worker, either.  You’re just another side of the Ostrowskiite political cult coin. 

    Have a great day!

  8. Bruce Beyer (member WNY Peace Center) November 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    @Alan Bedenko: Had I chosen to write a “fuck you” missive, I would not have hesitated to do so. Rather I thought I was responding to what I believe to be a misguided analysis of a possible solution for WNY’s economic malaise. Perhaps my labeling you an “envious corporate liberal” was misconstrued? I thought your middle of the road, rule from the middle approach to politics reflected those of corporate liberals like Clinton and Obama both of whom support relaxing border restrictions. I am baffled as to why you would object to such a label? (FYI a Nexus card greatly reduces cross border hassles.)

    You are absolutely correct in stating that “true” supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, in the John Diefenbaker tradition, would abhor a harmonization of laws between our two countries. Stephen Harper is not cut from the same cloth as Diefenbaker, rather he prefers the tailors of Bush/Cheney. The Prime Minister is presently engaged in rolling back the progressive policies of Trudeau and Tommy Douglas in the same way we Americans seem to be turning our backs on the policies of the New Deal.

    Canada does not have troops in Iraq because then Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien opposed Canadian intervention in what he perceived to be an Illegal war. The UN sanction of the Afghanistan invasion was what allowed Stephen Harper to manipulate his countries involvement contrary to the opinion of the majority of the Canadian people.

    As much as I dislike the waiting time and extremely invasive questioning each time I cross the US-Canadian border, I am thankful that it exists. Without this border, thousands of American’s would have suffered both persecution and prosecution at the hands of the American government. From fleeing Empire Loyalists, to escaping slaves and Vietnam era war resisters — the border has offered freedom. Each time an Iraq war resister crosses this border, I thank the Canadian people for their desire to follow their own path.

    PS: I’ve never been called an “Ostrowskiite” before but if that’s anything like being an “obstructionist” it is a label I will proudly wear. And finally, you seem to feel the need to pollute rational political discourse with crude language. I prefer your writing when it turns on your wit and penchant for charming verbosity.

    • Alan Bedenko November 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

      @Bruce Beyer: If you go back and read not only what you wrote, but how you wrote it, it is nothing more than a roundabout “fuck you” to me. If that wasn’t your intention, you should have re-read it before hitting “submit reply”.

      In any event, I’m not familiar with the label “corporate liberal” and I don’t think you can legitimately say that your use of the word “envious” was in any way intended to be other than hostile. I already know about – and carry – a Nexus card, but that doesn’t give me permission to seek employment or obtain residency in Ontario. It doesn’t give me a free pass to import Canadian goods, either. In fact, the rules are quite stringent about what you can and cannot bring in while using a Nexus lane.

      As much as I dislike the waiting time and extremely invasive questioning each time I cross the US-Canadian border, I am thankful that it exists. Without this border, thousands of American’s would have suffered both persecution and prosecution at the hands of the American government. From fleeing Empire Loyalists, to escaping slaves and Vietnam era war resisters — the border has offered freedom. Each time an Iraq war resister crosses this border, I thank the Canadian people for their desire to follow their own path.

      Harmonization of immigration laws and true cross-border free trade and movement of people, goods, services, and money would not suddenly mean that the FBI had jurisdiction in Ontario or that the RCMP would be arresting people on the West Side. So, the border as a political construct would still exist as far as legal jurisdiction is concerned. It ought not exist to erect a barrier preventing the better comingling of adjacent economies.

      PS: I’ve never been called an “Ostrowskiite” before but if that’s anything like being an “obstructionist” it is a label I will proudly wear. And finally, you seem to feel the need to pollute rational political discourse with crude language. I prefer your writing when it turns on your wit and penchant for charming verbosity.

      When people come on here and dismissively call me names, I don’t particularly feel the need to temper my language in any way. Perhaps one ought not pollute one’s discourse with clumsy political labels if one wishes to not read crude language written in reply thereto.

  9. Bruce Beyer (member WNY Peace Center) November 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    @Alan Bedenko: Methinks thou doth protest too much.

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