Marine Atlantic a 'toll road,' says MP

Dave Bartlett
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Transportation/Politics

The Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte says recent comments by Federal Transporta-tion Minister John Baird amount to a promise from Ottawa that increased funding for Marine Atlantic will be in the upcoming federal budget.

Baird was in North Sydney, N.S., over the weekend and told the Cape Breton Post discussions for Marine Atlantic funding will be held with his fellow cabinet ministers before the budget comes down March 4.

Gerry Byrne

The Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte says recent comments by Federal Transporta-tion Minister John Baird amount to a promise from Ottawa that increased funding for Marine Atlantic will be in the upcoming federal budget.

Baird was in North Sydney, N.S., over the weekend and told the Cape Breton Post discussions for Marine Atlantic funding will be held with his fellow cabinet ministers before the budget comes down March 4.

"There's no doubt that the age of the fleet and the cost for keeping it in operation is significant," Baird said.

"Obviously, this is not only important for the region. It's really part of the national highway system; it's part of the Trans-Canada Highway. It's important for both Nova Scotia, and particularly for Newfound-land, so I don't need to be convinced of its importance."

Gerry Byrne told The Telegram Tuesday that's the first time a Stephen Harper cabinet minister has publicly stated what many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been saying for years.

"When the federal transportation minister openly agrees that (Marine Atlantic) is indeed an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, then it has certain implications," Byrne said.

Byrne said considering no ones pays to use the Trans-Canada, the Marine Atlantic ferry service between this province and Nova Scotia should be free or delivered at a very minimal cost to travellers.

But he said the realty is that Ottawa pays 35 per cent of the cost of the service, while travellers are on the hook for the other 65 per cent in the form of fares.

"That's not the Trans-Canada Highway. That's a toll road," Byrne said.

Considering Canada's Auditor General (AG) said in a September report the government should spend $1.6 billion on fleet renewal and onshore infrastructure, coupled with Baird's comments, Byrne suggests Ottawa has no choice but to put some serious budget money toward Marine Atlantic this year and table a long-term plan to move toward meeting the AG's recommendations.

"In my 14 years of being a member of Parliament, I've never heard an auditor general actually come forward and say the government must spend $1.6 billion. I've heard the auditor general say where we should stop spending money," Byrne said.

"I'd be shocked. Quite frankly, I'd be livid if there isn't a major, major announcement in the budget (for Marine Atlantic)," he said.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Trans-Canada Highway, Cape Breton Post

Geographic location: Ottawa, Nova Scotia, North Sydney Canada

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • I. P. Freely
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Well Gerry b'y, prepare to be shocked.

  • James
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    And that never dawned on you Gerry during your three years as Minister of ACOA. Politics is the art of mastering hyprocisy.

  • I. P. Freely
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Well Gerry b'y, prepare to be shocked.

  • James
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    And that never dawned on you Gerry during your three years as Minister of ACOA. Politics is the art of mastering hyprocisy.