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Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017

 

For Immediate Release

 

Will the Liberals Stop the Marine Atlantic Rate Hike?

 

Steve Kent, Business and Tourism Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “The Ball Liberals need to speak up and demand that the Trudeau Liberals stop Marine Atlantic from raising fares on the Gulf ferry service.”

 

“The Gulf ferry service was guaranteed as a condition of our province’s union with Canada in 1949; that’s how essential this service is to our people and economy,” said Kent. “Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation established to meet that obligation, has instead been raising the costs of using the ferry service year after year, essentially putting a toll on access to and from Newfoundland and Labrador. It is wrong, and it has to stop.”

 

Marine Atlantic raised rates by 4% in 2012; 4% in 2013; 3% in 2014; 2.6% in 2015; 2-3% in 2016; and 2.6% in 2017.

 

Kent said, “This will hurt our tourism industry. It will hurt local consumers, whose goods will cost even more. We are already leading the country in inflation, thanks to the Ball Liberals’ tax increases. It will also hurt importers and exporters – local employers who rely on the ferry service to transport goods. It will make local firms less competitive nationally at a time when the provinces are about to lower trade barriers. If we cannot compete on an even playing field thanks to the tolls that Marine Atlantic places on our marine highway, then we will lose opportunities, revenue and jobs. In a federation of equals, that’s wrong. It’s wrong to discriminate against us for our geographic location in this country.”

 

Kent said, “Federal and provincial Liberals who were very vocal about this while in opposition are shockingly silent now that they are in a position to actually do something about it.”

 

In 2012, Judy Foote – now the province’s Minister in the Trudeau Cabinet – stated: “All Newfoundlanders will see the effect of the rate increases in their goods and services as all provincial businesses who use Marine Atlantic to import and export goods will simply pass the extra fees on to their customers.” She said: “The bottom line is that I don't agree with the increases, and I don't think they are necessary. If they are necessary, I feel the government of Canada should absorb those increases and find another way to make up any shortcomings.”

 

Also in 2012, Gerry Byrne – then a federal MP and now a Ball Liberal Cabinet Minister – called for the provincial government to join others in fighting increases. He stated: “It’s only then that we will likely see any long-term permanent change to this service.” He said: “We need to stand together but, more importantly, we need to speak out.”

 

Kent said, “All that talk was nothing but empty rhetoric if Mr. Byrne and Ms. Foote are not prepared to use their positions now to actually help Newfoundland and Labrador avoid these latest increases.”

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications

 

Office of the Official Opposition (709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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