‘Give Is­lan­ders equal treat­ment’

Op­po­si­tion Leader Jamie Fox says he wants end to the bridge tolls

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - twright@the­guardian.pe.ca

Op­po­si­tion Leader Jamie Fox, says he is con­sid­er­ing bring­ing for­ward a res­o­lu­tion in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­tion call­ing for Ot­tawa to make the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge free for Is­lan­ders.

In his year-end in­ter­view with The Guardian, Fox says he has met with Lib­eral Se­na­tor Percy Downe, who has been cham­pi­oning this is­sue in an at­tempt to see Is­lan­ders re­ceive equal treat­ment with the cit­i­zens of Que­bec.

Ot­tawa has promised to make the Cham­plain Bridge in Mon­treal toll free. But, Fox says he wants to ap­proach the is­sue care­fully to en­sure any changes to the agree­ment for the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge do not neg­a­tively im­pact the Wood Is­lands ferry ser­vice.

“We need to be push­ing the gov­ern­ment for a long-term com­mit­ment and con­tract for the Wood Is­lands Ferry so when you take that back to the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge, I think Wood Is­lands plays a very im­por­tant part in that,” Fox said.

He says he has heard from many Is­lan­ders about how much of a bur­den the bridge toll has been for low-in­come peo­ple forced to travel out-of-prov­ince for med­i­cal pro­ce­dures.

That’s why Fox would like to see the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge tolls lifted, in ad­di­tion to a longterm stable con­tract for the ferry ser­vice in Wood Is­lands.

“If you’re go­ing to change some­thing for the prov­ince of Que­bec with the Cham­plain Bridge, then what about the prov­ince of Prince Ed­ward Is­land?”

Look­ing back over the past year, Fox noted it was a big year in pol­i­tics for his Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party — a year that be­gan with a three-way lead­er­ship race, an in­creased seat count af­ter the spring provin­cial elec­tion, but a ma­jor up­set with for­mer party leader Rob Lantz fail­ing to win a seat and even­tu­ally re­sign­ing in Septem­ber.

Fox took over as in­terim leader in mid-Oc­to­ber and is the third leader of the party in 2015.

De­spite the Tory’s lead­er­ship woes, Fox says he is not in­ter­ested in re­hash­ing the party’s past di­vi­sions and prob­lems. He is only in­ter­ested in look­ing for­ward.

“We’ve got a great cau­cus, we have a brand new ex­ec­u­tive, we have a mem­ber­ship that is on the in­crease and has risen, we are en­gag­ing the youth,” Fox said. “My chal­lenge is to keep all of th­ese dif­fer­ent groups mov­ing for­ward with the same goal within the party to be the best we can for the prov­ince of Prince Ed­ward Is­land.”

As for gov­ern­ment, Fox says he would like to see what Premier Wade MacLauch­lan’s plan is for the prov­ince.

“We have a premier who has stated he is go­ing to be open and trans­par­ent, he has a plan. Well what is the plan? Be­cause what I’m see­ing is a gov­ern­ment and a premier who is not open and trans­par­ent.”

Green leader Peter Be­van-Baker said 2015 has in­deed been a big year for P.E.I. pol­i­tics, par­tic­u­larly in elect­ing a green party can­di­date to the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture for the first time in history.

Be­van-Baker noted a num­ber of ma­jor ini­tia­tives that be­gan in 2015 will carry over into the com­ing year, in­clud­ing elec­toral re­form, en­ergy and ed­u­ca­tion.

But he did not share Fox’s con­cerns over MacLauch­lan’s ap­proach to th­ese is­sues.

“I think a lot of big changes have started and are com­ing, but I do think this is a more con­sul­ta­tive gov­ern­ment than Is­lan­ders have been used to,” he said.

“I think big changes are needed. Per­haps a lot is hap­pen­ing in a hurry, and that is a lit­tle daunt­ing … but I think the premier has a pretty clear vi­sion of what he wants in cer­tain ar­eas and I hope the changes that he has in mind are brought about in con­sul­ta­tion, and I think that’s really crit­i­cal — that there is true en­gage­ment with Is­lan­ders.”


Prince Ed­ward Is­land Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party Leader Jamie Fox, stand­ing on the steps of the Coles Build­ing in Char­lot­te­town, says mem­ber­ship in his party con­tin­ues to grow and he is look­ing for­ward to more good things for the Is­land in 2016.

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