Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Liberals missed the boat with Yarmouth ferry deal

Opinion

To the Editor:

The Yarmouth ferry will sail for 99 days this year.  As I write this, eight of those are in the books. That’s right, eight per cent of the season is over. Eight per cent is not insignificant. So how are things going? In a word: badly.

If everything were to go according to the Liberal script, the ferry will only (“only”) cost $23 million this year; $23 million is an incredible amount of money and yet that is the cost if everything goes according to plan.

That “plan” includes 60,000 passengers for the season. If they don’t get 60,000 passengers, the cost will go up. Quickly.

Sadly, things aren’t unfolding according to plan. The Liberals are not on track for 60,000 passengers but more likely less than 30,000.

Their script had 4,800 passengers so far this season. The actual is more like 1,500 so far.  Considering that so far they have 1/3 of what they hoped, 30,000 may be generous.

The result:  this Liberal ferry could cost $30-$40 million this year. Compare that to the $6 million investment the Liberals announced for rural Internet and you will see why I ask, “Where do the Liberal priorities lie?”

What could government do with $30-$40 million? Lots.  Improved mental health services, more doctors, better roads and more teachers come to mind.

We all want a viable, affordable ferry but this terrible Liberal “deal” threatens the service.
Where do we go from here?  The Liberals may have signed a 10-year deal but if it continues to perform this way it is just not affordable. That will mean somehow fixing this terrible Liberal contract and coming up with something workable.

The Liberals definitely missed the boat with their one-sided, political deal but it’s never to late to try to fix it.  And that we will.

Tim Houston
MLA for Pictou East

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