Come clean on ferry deal

June 09, 2016 at 9:00 am

PC Leader says Premier must be accountable and transparent

Yarmouth Ferry

HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says Premier McNeil should follow Treasury Board policy rather than Bay Ferries lead.

When it comes to the ferry deal, Premier McNeil has shifted all accountability to Bay Ferries, but Baillie says Treasury Board Policy does not allow this.

“The government has obligations to report on contracts, to be accountable for explaining how contracts and the liability will be managed,” says Baillie. “With a $100 million dollar price tag, and all risk assumed by taxpayers, Premier McNeil should come clean about how this money is being spent, and how the ferry is doing as the season goes on.”

Today, Baillie sent nine questions to the Minister of Transportation requesting answers by the start of the sailing season. The questions speak to the contractual obligations as well as reporting, of any kind, to Nova Scotians on the ferry deal.

“This is a straight forward request to a government that claims it cares about transparency,” says Baillie. “It’s time to come clean about how the ferry money will be accounted for on the books.”

Baillie says the Liberals pick and choose when the transparency rules apply and when they don’t.

“This is a matter of principle,” says Baillie. “When taxpayers are paying the bill, they deserve to know the facts, including how the ferry is doing.”

In April 2014, Minister Samson said in a press release about Government economic development legislation that “Nova Scotians spoke loud and clear (sic) about wanting to have accountability and transparency when it came to investments being made by the government”.  He added: “Nova Scotians now have more access than ever before, so they can understand the reasons for, and the results of, investments made on their behalf.”

“Stephen McNeil has no problem on the spending side,” says Baillie. “But with the Bay Ferries deal, it appears as if the Liberals have retreated from that standard of transparency. I hope they answer the questions we have posed with the honesty Nova Scotians are due.”

The Progressive Conservative Caucus recently made a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, asking for details of the management fees that will be paid to Bay Ferries Ltd.  Schedule B, which details the operating subsidy and Management fee payment schedule, was entirely redacted.