MV Beaumont Hamel — Telegram file photo
I’ve been listening to reports from the chair of the Fogo Island Transportation Committee. I noted that the Fogo Island ferry was out of service “until further notice,” and was back on the run Tuesday morning. The MV Capt. Earl W. Windsor is off the run and the MV Beaumont Hamel is broken down. Local residents had to leave their car on Fogo Island, fly to Gander Airport, and get a taxi to Grand Falls-Windsor or St. John’s to see a doctor.
In any event, the MV Capt. Earl W. Windsor was an old boat, formerly the MV Prince Edward, built in 1972 for the Prince Edward Island ferry crossing. Since the Confederation Bridge was constructed, the province of Prince Edward Island has no longer required the marine vessel. It was purchased for $300,000 during the tenure of Works, Services and Transportation minister Lloyd Matthews in the Brian Tobin administration in June 1998, just seven months after Hibernia went into production — the most prolific oil well in Canada; and two years and four months before Tobin made his escape back to Ottawa to join the federal cabinet and run for re-election to the House of Commons in a snap election.
All the while, you have local multimillionaire Zita Cobb spending her own money for a hotel resort on Fogo Island to develop the local tourism sector. Is there something wrong with this picture? The Capt. Earl W. Windsor is a 40-year-old hand-me-down boat from P.E.I.
The MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood, then a brand new vessel, entered service on the gulf in 1989 and would end up scrapped on a beach in Alang, India (along with her sister ship, the MV Caribou), in August 2011. That’s only after 22 years in service!
The Harper government has put in service two state-of-the-art vessels on the gulf, the MV Blue Puttees in early March 2011 and, her nearly identical sister ship, MV Highlanders, a few weeks later. Each vessel has a gross register tonnage of 28,460, a length of 199.5 metres, a beam of 26.70 metres and a draught of 6.20 metres. Plus, as of 2009 there is also in service the MV Atlantic Vision, between Port aux Basques and/or Argentia, and North Sydney, N.S.
Am I missing something here? Newfoundland and Labrador — “have” province or welfare state? Benefits for St. John’s and area only, or for the entire province?