MacAulay fears dropping P.E.I. bridge toll would kill ferry service

Steve Sharratt
Published on January 23, 2016

Cardigan MP has devoted career to protecting Northumberland Ferries, which is in his riding

If the tolls came off the Confederation Bridge, it could sink the Wood Islands ferry to Caribou, N.S., warns Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay.

MacAulay, who has made a career out of protecting Northumberland Ferries, which is in his riding, was reacting to recent calls to ditch the tolls on the Confederation Bridge, which links the Island to New Brunswick.

“If the bridge was suddenly free, you wouldn’t see a car at the Wood Islands or Caribou ferry,” said MacAulay, who is P.E.I.’s representative in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

“Let’s be very clear, if you’re going to start making things free, you have to make other things free, and how far down the road do you go?”

P.E.I. Senator Percy Downe raised the idea of dropping the tolls on the bridge just before Christmas. The idea gained lots of support.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan even kicked the tires on the concept.

Downe said the Liberal government is not going to charge tolls on the new multi-billion dollar Champlain Bridge in Montreal, so he questioned why Islanders can’t get a similar deal for the Confederation Bridge.

“Islanders will have to rise up and put it on the national agenda,” said the P.E.I. senator.

The current toll on the Confederation Bridge is $46.

While it may be nice, MacAulay said crossing the Confederation Bridge absolutely free is a tough concept to wrap your head around.

He said it would be difficult to break the 35-year-old contract and just do away with the tolls.

“I would think someone would have to pay it out.”

But MacAulay said his No. 1 concern is the ferry service.

“My biggest concern would be the future of the Wood Islands ferry.”