Editor: We are writing in response to Dan Leger’s opinion piece “What the Maritimes need: a champion” that appeared in The Guardian on January 27, 2014.
Mr. Leger misses the mark on some important points. He refers to big East Coast projects such as the federal government’s $25-billion shipbuilding contract, won by shipyard workers in Halifax, as mere “fairy dust.” The Conference Board of Canada’s independent analysis however, notes that the National Shipbuilding Program will create and sustain up to 15,000 jobs in Nova Scotia alone. The benefits of our government’s investment in shipbuilding will extend across Atlantic Canada — we prefer to include Newfoundland and Labrador in our thinking, and encourage Mr. Leger to do the same.
Over the next three years, 75 per cent of all hires at J.D. Irving will come from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. And Holland College in Prince Edward Island has announced a surge in enrolment, with courses in welding, plumbing, steam fitting and pipe fitting all full, thanks to shipbuilding.
Our government has made unprecedented investments in Atlantic Canada, and we are working with entrepreneurs, business leaders and families to create jobs and opportunities throughout our region.
Mr. Leger does not mention our government’s most recent achievement, the Canada-EU trade agreement, nor does he mention the hundreds of millions of dollars we have invested in the Atlantic Gateway infrastructure to ensure our region is poised to capitalize on this new and greater access to the world’s largest economic zone.
Mr. Leger’s main point seems to be a vague desire for a “champion”. We are not prepared to simply wait and wish for a knight in shining armor to come to our rescue — pining for a kingpin is an antiquated notion. Since 2006, our region’s Conservative Members of Parliament have worked together to champion the continued growth and development of Atlantic and promoting its interests in Canada and internationally each and every day.
Our efforts and investments to date have generated important revenues and opportunities for the Atlantic Canadian economy. For example, each dollar that we invest in businesses through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) programs contributes more than $5 to the region’s GDP.
Mr. Leger can hold out for a hero as long as he wants. In the meantime, your Conservative Members of Parliament remain optimistic and will continue to work positively with business leaders and entrepreneurs, with opposition MPs, provincial governments of various political stripes, and municipalities, to promote our region and reach the enormous potential in our future. Atlantic Canadians have always persevered, risen above and contributed mightily to our country economically, culturally, militarily and yes . . . politically.
Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P.,
Regional Minister for Nova Scotia, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Rob Moore, P.C., M.P.
Regional Minister for New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)
Gail Shea, P.C., M.P.
Regional Minister for Prince Edward Island Minister of Fisheries and Oceans