Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks to the media on the wharf in Bay Bulls Wednesday morning.
— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in Bay Bulls Wednesday, trumpeting repairs to the wharf there and talking about his budget priorities.
Flaherty said small craft harbours are a good use of federal dollars because they foster economic activity, and they provide a safe facility for people who work on the water.
“Fish harvesters continue to contribute to a healthy economy, and we are pleased to provide them with the harbour infrastructure they need in order to earn a living and support their families,” he said. “Our continued support for small craft harbours recognizes the importance of the commercial fishing industry in Canada, and we are pleased to make investments to ensure safe and efficient harbours throughout the country.”
The money for the repairs to Bay Bulls and list of other harbours was announced by Sen. Fabian Manning as part of federal government stimulus spending in the winter of 2011. Flaherty said Wednesday that one of the best things about the harbour repairs is that they were “ready to go” as stimulus projects.
“These were ready-made projects to go ahead with,” he said.
But a year and a half on, he defended the recent move towards budget cuts, which have seen the axe fall on 400 jobs in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“We’ve made some choices, but what we’re doing is we’re making sure in the long term Canada is in good, sound fiscal shape, which is what I think the primary job of government is,” he said. “Governments can’t be all things to all people, nor are they intended to, and governments have to be affordable.”
The repairs to the Bay Bulls small craft harbour cost $3.8 million.
While Flaherty was in town, he also met with Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Finance Minister Tom Marshall.
Flaherty told reporters Ottawa is still working on the details of a loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
“We have some more work to do in order to get everything in final shape, but that’s what we’re about right now,” he said.
Dunderdale was not available to speak to The Telegram, but in a statement provided by a spokeswoman, she said the meeting went well.
“Minister Flaherty and I had a productive meeting yesterday in which we discussed various topics, including the loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls. The minister recognizes the project will bring important energy infrastructure for both the region and the country. We continue working through the process of finalizing the details,” Dunderdale said.
More broadly, Flaherty said they talked about unspecified economic development projects, and he said the federal government wants to be involved.
“We’re on the same track together, he said.
“We want to develop major economic projects in Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government is a partner, as you know, with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador in accomplishing those goals.”