Premier McNeil should require Bay Ferries to release passenger numbers

May 31, 2016 at 9:17 am

Baillie says taxpayers deserve a Premier that leads on openness and transparency

HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says Premier McNeil should require Bay Ferries to release monthly passenger updates.

Last week, Bay Ferries said it has no plans to release the numbers, saying it sends a terrible message of instability to key markets. Baillie worries that this signals the company’s lack of confidence that the run will be successful. From a taxpayer’s perspective hiding this information is unacceptable. McNeil must take action says Baillie.

“Premier McNeil is being led around by Bay Ferries and Portland, Maine,” says Baillie. “It’s time for him to stand up for Nova Scotia taxpayers and put their interests first.”

Today, Baillie also wrote directly to Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald asking that he agree to report monthly on passenger information, allowing government, media and the general public to examine, scrutinize and assess how public funds are being used. Nova Star was required to provide cash flow reports, weekly passenger booking reports, the number of vehicles per sailing and other regular reporting of financial statements.

In February 2013, Stephen McNeil took issue with the Dexter government giving a loan to Irving Shipbuilding and not releasing the details. At the time, he stated, “A Liberal government would disclose details of agreements made with tax dollars.” He called the Dexter government “obstructionist”, “unacceptable” and “unethical” for hiding the information.

“Why shouldn’t Nova Scotians have a right to know how their government is spending their money,” Stephen McNeil stated at the time.

To date, taxpayers alone bear all financial risk and the government refuses to release the additional management fees that Bay Ferries will receive.
Premier McNeil is being led around
Baillie says Premier McNeil broke his promise to be open and transparent.

“It’s another broken promise,” says Baillie. “It’s time to step up and lead. Premier McNeil should demand better accountability from Bay Ferries. Demand passenger counts. Taxpayers have the right to know.”

Stephen McNeil told voters right before the election, “I want to lead, and those who prefer to keep a follower in the premier’s chair don’t like it that much.”

Baillie calls on McNeil to stop following.

“We have to get this right. Our tourism industry is too important to our province, southwest nova and our rural towns,” said Baillie. “Hiding this information only benefits the company. We deserve to know exactly how this company is performing.”

The Progressive Conservatives support a sustainable ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine, but Nova Scotians need to know they can trust their government leaders to be good negotiators on their behalf.