The forecast for what lies ahead for the new Yarmouth-to-Maine ferry keeps getting more dismal.
Only a couple of weeks ago, Nova Scotians learned that the $21 million promised by the provincial government over seven years had already been forked over to STM Quest, the U.S. company that owns Nova Star. Now, as reported by CBC Friday, we find that the company had not invested anything toward the startup.
That could help explain burning through seven years’ allowance so quickly.
While confirming this detail, Economic Development Minister Michel Samson blamed negotiations by the previous NDP government for this arrangement allowing the company not to place money up-front.
However that may be, it’s frustrating to see a provincial government continuing to hand money to private enterprise – the Liberal government, despite its protestations of such largess, doesn’t appear to have escaped the trend.
It would be worthwhile for Nova Scotians to review this story, from beginning to present.
The NDP pulled the plug on the previous operation shortly after elected because it felt the subsidies were too costly compared to any benefit. That set off a storm of fury in southwest Nova Scotia, with claims it severely hurt tourism. Then, just before the last election was called, the NDP announced it had an agreement for a new operator.
But the damage had been done concerning public sentiment in southwest Nova. The timing made it appear the NDP were trying to appease people there. In political speak they might say the optics weren’t good.
But this continuation of money spent on the service by a new government – previous arrangements or not – doesn’t have a good feel. The Liberals before elected sharply criticized public money going to private enterprise. But this government – and the other parties would do the same thing – will spend the money as long as they feel the public mood isn’t soured and it could arguably stimulate the economy. And, yes, the optics matter too.