Carol Hughes upset by government’s lackluster commitment to end Chi-Cheemaun crisis

This docking pier at South Baymouth awaits Transport Canada improvements to mitigate low water so the Chi-Cheemaun can dock.

OTTAWA–The government continues to pass up opportunities to signal that the tourist economy driven by the Chi-Cheemaun ferry is important and should be supported to the best of their abilities, says Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes.

“Instead of stating that they are interested in a speedy resolution, the Minister of Transport launched a partisan attack,” Ms. Hughes said after Question Period Monday. “All he had to do was indicate that he will instruct the bureaucracy to move quickly, but he chose to fight me instead.”

Ms. Hughes was asking about any permits and tendering process that Transport Canada will have to comply with before any actual work begins. She said the damage to the tourism economy on Manitoulin Island is already being felt and gave a specific example from last weekend to illustrate that point.

“The tourist season on Manitoulin Island should be building steam after what should have been the first weekend of service for the Chi-Cheemaun ferry,” the MP continued. “Now employees are waiting to be called in while challenges mount for small businesses like the Buckhorn Motel, which had two customers and forty-one cancellations.”

Ms. Hughes feels that with the funding argument settled, if only temporarily, her question gave the government an opportunity to make a strong statement of support for tourism businesses on Manitoulin, the North Shore, and the Bruce peninsula.

“It was an opportunity they chose to walk right past, which is a shame,” Ms Hughes said. “These tourism jobs are important for the region and the government has never once indicated that is an item of any importance to them.”

Ms. Hughes has been working hand in hand with Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha to ensure both levels of government understand the need to expedite the process and limit damage to the local economy.