Paving the way to prosperity for P.E.I.

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 26, 2016

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday in Ottawa to ensure P.E.I. projects are included in the upcoming stimulus infrastructure program.

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P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan went to Ottawa hoping to ensure the prime minister is mindful of the Island’s financial needs, but he came away feeling bolstered that Justin Trudeau also understands where P.E.I. is prospering.

MacLauchlan spent a whirlwind day in Ottawa Wednesday meeting with Trudeau on Parliament Hill and with numerous other federal ministers and MPs.

The premier presented P.E.I.’s infrastructure priorities, including the need for $40 million to tie the new underwater electricity cables now under construction with the transmission systems of P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

P.E.I. is also requesting more leeway to apply for funding for collector roads under the Build Canada Fund.

MacLauchlan says he was pleased with the reception he received.

“There was a high level of awareness of P.E.I. context and issues and good personal relations and, I would say, sympathy,” MacLauchlan said.

But he also noted Trudeau was not only sympathetic to P.E.I.’s needs but also well versed in the province’s positive achievements over the last year.

Trudeau knew details, for example, of how many Syrian refugees P.E.I. has welcomed and he knew that the Island is leading all provinces and territories in export growth.

MacLauchlan says he is especially happy the prime minister appears to understand the unique ways the Atlantic region can contribute to the country as a whole.

“At the very end of our conversation, I said to him that I’m glad he is where he is because one of the challenges that Prince Edward Island has from time to time with the federal government is to really understand that it’s not one-size-fits-all and that small can be big and nimble.”

Trudeau responded by saying that grasping this concept includes “understanding what small is in the first place.”

“I was very pleased, it’s almost like he finished my sentence for me,” MacLauchlan said.

“He had a good account of where we have some achievements to our credit and where there’s continuing work to do.”

MacLauchlan met with six federal ministers during his visit to Ottawa, including Treasury Board resident Scott Brison, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr and Immigration Minister John McCallum. He also met with all four of P.E.I.’s members of Parliament.