June 15, 1993 (34th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Beryl Gaffney


Mrs. Beryl Gaffney (Nepean):

Mr. Speaker, I have both a comment and a question. I compliment my colleague from Dartmouth for his impassioned plea to move ahead with Bill C-110 on the Northumberland Strait crossing. I would suppose most people in the House would wonder why I, an Ontario member, would want to bother speaking on the Northumberland Strait crossing.
When P.E.I. joined Confederation my forefathers had landed on P.E.I. in Charlottetown in 1789, long before Prince Edward Island was named Prince Edward Island. It was called the tie St-Jean. I have a long history in

June 15, 1993
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P.E.I. and am well aware of the problems of growing up in that province. I grew up in a little country rural village called North Bedeque, P.E.I. In fact, the current premier of Prince Edward Island, Catherine Callbeck, and I grew up within four miles of each other. She grew up in Central Bedeque and I in North Bedeque.
I can remember the feeling of isolation on P.E.I. and those long winter months. I remember the great joy we felt when the first ice-breaker, the Abegweit, was built and ploughed through the ice floes of Northumberland Strait between Cape Tormentine and Borden, P.E.I.
I remember the importance of the railway on the island, and the railway is no longer there. I remember the importance of the rural postmen delivering the mail, and they have largely disappeared. It no longer has the same air links it had in previous years. There has been a tremendous transportation cutback on Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island is the cradle of Confederation and its population is small. It will never be anything but small. With the link it will probably increase.
Something is being missed in the debate this morning, and this is leading up to my question. The studies have been done, as the hon. member for Dartmouth has stated, but if we stop to look at the transfer payments from the federal government to the province of Prince Edward Island we would see that out of every dollar it spends at least 65 cents is coming from the federal coffers.
If the bridge is put through there has to be a tremendous pay-back to the Islanders in terms of a booming economy. The economy will certainly pick up. I am wondering, and the member for Dartmouth might know, whether there have been any studies done to show what increased revenue would be realized for the economy of P.E.I. when the link is completed. We know this link is going to cost slightly under a billion dollars over many years. How much will P.E.I. revenue be increased? There should actually be a drop in the cost to the federal government because of the improved economy which will result in increased revenue. Have any studies been done in that regard?

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