Premier Wade MacLauchlan
©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan is heading to Ottawa today to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and make his pitch for P.E.I. projects he hopes will be included in the upcoming federal infrastructure stimulus program.
MacLauchlan requested the meeting with Trudeau, as the two governments are in the midst of preparing their respective budgets. The P.E.I. premier is doing his part to ensure some of the promised $65 billion infrastructure program is earmarked for P.E.I.
“We’ve got some priorities that have been in front of the federal government for some time, including the previous government,” MacLauchlan said Tuesday.
“The two main ones would be to put the final pieces together around the electricity transmission cables and the on-land (transmission) connections and to make the case, as we have in the past, that our collector road system in Prince Edward Island should be treated as critical infrastructure, especially given the nature of our economy and the fact we don’t have either a railroad or a container port.”
P.E.I. has been lobbying Ottawa for a more “friendly interpretation” of the Build Canada Fund, which is only available for road projects with traffic volumes of at least 10,000 vehicles a day.
Under these rules, no P.E.I. roads qualify for funding under the Build Canada Fund.
But MacLauchlan believes he can make the case that since P.E.I.’s economy is heavily reliant on primary industries with processing plants and ports located throughout the province, the roads to those facilities should be included in the national infrastructure program.
“I’m going in with an optimistic outlook, and there have been numerous discussions at the level of officials, so it’s really with the prime minister to be sure that the message is being received at the top of government.”
MacLauchlan has six other meetings scheduled in Ottawa today with federal officials, including Treasury Board president Scott Brison, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr and Agriculture Minister and P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay. He will also meet with Immigration Minister John McCallum to provide an update on the province’s ongoing settlement of Syrian refugees.
Although it is not on the premier’s agenda for discussion with the prime minister, the issue of the Confederation Bridge tolls will be discussed among officials as part of these meetings.