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LETTER: Questioning continuing travel disparity

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Dear editor,

It appears as though there is a disparity in the way we are all treated as Canadians by the Federal Government of Canada in regards to transportation links from one province to the next and on the surface it has something to do with where you reside.

At a town hall meeting in 2017, in response to a question regarding the increasing costs to travel on the Confederation Bridge linking P.E.I to the mainland, the prime minister said he would “look at what can be done to make sure that people are able to travel freely, travel efficiently, and openly across this country at modest costs.”

Much like the residents of P.E.I., the people of Newfoundland are enduring the same fate, only here it’s a double whammy by having to pay both ways to get on and off the island even when the terms of Union with Canada under section 32(1) of the Newfoundland Act states the following: Canada will maintain in accordance with the traffic offering a freight and passenger steamship service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, which, on completion of a motor highway between Corner Brook and Port aux Basques, will include suitable provision for the carriage of motor vehicles.

Since that town hall and well before, the tolls on Confederation Bridge have steadily risen, as have the costs to use the constitutionally mandated service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney. Meanwhile the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, also owned by the government of Canada, will have no tolls. Why?

Because Justin Trudeau committed to cancelling its toll. A toll which purpose in the words of the 2014 federal budget, to “recover the cost of construction and pay for operating and maintenance costs limiting the exposure of Canadian taxpayers to ongoing costs.”

I assume the tolls on the Confederation Bridge and the cost recovery scheme that the Crown corporation that manages the Gulf service are meant to do the same.

So why the disparity from our federal government?

I guess when you have a population of 8.4 million and 78 federal ridings it matters how the residents of each individual province is treated by the federal government. Newfoundland has seven seats and a population of a little over 500,000. P.E.I has four federal ridings and a population of a little over 150,000. So in the grand scheme of politics, 11 total seats and a population of 650,000 between the two provinces which do not matter.

We have a prime minister who speaks of fairness, equality for all and I quote one of his statements “A Canadian is Canadian is A Canadian.” Right now there are a lot of Canadians that would dispute that statement.

I’ve always said politics is a game and the people are the pawns. I love the quote from one of my favourite movies where a politician makes the statement, “When I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops.”

The other side to all of this is the Provincial Government of Newfoundland. Where are they when it comes to the politics of our link to the rest of Canada? I have yet to hear any provincial leader stand up and be heard regarding the matter of the increasing costs to operate and maintain the 96 miles of water or for lack of better words the extension of the Trans-Canada Highway.

I guess it’s not important to them as every time they want to leave the island it’s a flight out of St. John’s Airport.

So my point to all of this the next time someone comes knocking on your door looking for support for themselves and the party they represent, take the time to exercise your democratic right and ask them where they and their leader stand in regards to what’s important to you and your riding, and will they stand in any house federal or provincial and represent your needs, or will they bow to the needs of their party and respective leader?

If they don’t have an answer send them away because they only have self-serving interests and not yours.

Just one man’s point of view.

Allan Keeping

Doyles, N.L.

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