Pictou Advocate Court

Court upholds PC ferry fee appeal


HALIFAX – The Progressive Conservative caucus’s application to have management fees regarding the Yarmouth ferry upheld by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

 “We launched this lawsuit to fight for answers for Nova Scotians,” said PC leader Tim Houston. “The government has tried to frustrate the process at every step, but with this decision behind us, we can now begin to deal with the real issue – how much money taxpayers pay in management fees alone.”

In May 2016, the PC Caucus filed a FOIPOP application asking the government to disclose the management fees paid to Bay Ferries. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal refused to provide the information. In January 2019, the FOIPOP Commissioner recommended full disclosure of the management fee, saying “the evidence offered [by the Department] falls well short of the legal standard.”

In February 2019, the PC Caucus filed a Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia asking for the release of the information the FOIPOP Commissioner’s report recommended be made public. Bay Ferries subsequently raised procedural roadblocks and argued to have the lawsuit thrown out on a technicality. Their arguments were rejected in a written decision by Justice Peter Rosinski. The company appealed that decision.

The Court of Appeal dismissed that appeal, saying the Director of Research was “properly authorized by the Leader and members of Caucus” to file the FOIPOP application, the employee “did not launch her own frolic” and that Houston can properly be the applicant in the lawsuit. The Court of Appeal called this “a product of practical common sense.”

The PC lawsuit will resume for the full trial on March 26, 2020.