NL ELECTION UPDATE: Provincial Tories take a stand on Marine Atlantic rates

With less than four days remaining before polling day in the February 13th Newfoundland and Labrador election, Transport Action Atlantic has received one encouraging response to its invitation for position statements on Marine Atlantic ferry rates.

Although the ferry service is a federal constitutional responsibility as stated in the Terms of Union under which the province joined Canada, there is widespread concern over the rapidly escalating cost to users amid Transport Canada’s demands for 65% cost recovery. TAA believes that provincial politicians must become more assertive to ensure that the intent of the 1949 agreement is respected. Accordingly, we reached out to all four parties, but as of noon on February 9 only one written statement had been received.

Here, in part, is what PC Leader Ches Crosbie had to say on the issue:

“As you acknowledge, Marine Atlantic is the responsibility of the federal government. But that does not mean I cannot stand up and hold them accountable. The federal government should ensure that Marine Atlantic provides affordable and reliable service. As you note, it is their constitutional responsibility to do so. A PC government will work with the federal government and press them to keep rates as low as possible. Ottawa must step up and not ignore our province.

“To answer your specific questions, yes, I do support the principle that the cost to use the ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney should be comparable to the cost incurred to travel a similar distance via road. Additionally, regardless of the election result, I will support a full review of the existing Marine Atlantic rates to ensure that the Federal Government is compliant with the Terms of Union.”

We are appreciative that Mr. Crosbie took the time to address our concern during a busy campaign amid many issues clamouring for attention. Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s vote, TAA is committed to working with all parties, organizations and individuals that are supportive of affordable ferry rates.

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