Jamie Fox wants Ottawa to treat Islanders equally

Considering resolution asking for end to Confederation Bridge tolls

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 3, 2016

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

©JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

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 as 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 P.E.I. residents about how much of a burden the bridge toll has been for low-income Islanders 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 long-term 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 Progressive Conservative 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.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa