OTTAWA — The federal government has appointed Dwight Duncan, a former Ontario Liberal finance minister, as interim chairman of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals came to power in October promising a new, merit-based, more transparent process for federal appointments and a government release says Duncan will serve on an interim basis while that new process is established.
Duncan, as chairman of the bridge authority, will be responsible for developing the new Gordie Howe International Bridge across the stretch of the Detroit River currently spanned by the privately owned Ambassador Bridge.
The 86-year-old Ambassador Bridge between Ontario and Michigan is the busiest border crossing in Canada.
Current board chairman Mark McQueen, appointed by the Conservatives in July 2014, recently announced his intention to resign, telling the Windsor Star newspaper he expected the new Liberal government in Ottawa would want their own person to oversee the $2.1 billion bridge project.
Duncan’s appointment comes on the same day the Liberals set as a deadline seeking the voluntary resignations of 33 federal appointees who had their appointments renewed or extended by the Conservatives just before last summer’s election call.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to say Friday what responses have been received, although Canada Post released a letter last week tartly rejecting the government’s suggestion that its Conservative-appointed president Deepak Chopra step down.
The government said Duncan’s interim posting fills an urgent need.
“In order not to delay the construction of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge and recognizing the importance of this project for Canada’s economy and for the region, Mr. Duncan will be taking on the role on an interim basis until the new appointment process is established,” said a Friday news release from the office of Amarjeet Sohi, the federal minister for Infrastructure and Communities.
Duncan is a native of Windsor and represented Windsor-area ridings in the Ontario legislature as a Liberal from 1995 to 2013.
The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is a not-for-profit Crown corporation, overseen by an appointed board of up to five members, including president and CEO Michael Cautillo.