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N.S. Premier questions delays in federal support of Chignecto Isthmus

By Evan Taylor May 16, 2024 | 1:50 PM

Image: Government of New Brunswick

Nova Scotia government officials are questioning why the federal government is spending $1 billion protecting a regional connection in Quebec but continues to drag its feet on similar support for the Chignecto Isthmus.

The federal government is spending $1 billion on repairs to the Quebec Bridge which crosses the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City, deeming it an important regional connector.

While speaking with reporters on Thursday, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said he liked that description of the bridge as the Chignecto Isthmus is no different.

“One hundred million in goods cross the Isthmus daily,” said Houston. “So if that’s the criteria that the federal government will use I’m happy and I wonder what the delay is.”

Houston’s comments come following a statement by his Public Works Minister Kim Masland criticizing what she sees as a double standard.

In her statement, Masland said, “Once again, the federal government is choosing to neglect us as it favours others,”.

During the Quebec Bridge funding announcement, the federal government cited its important historical significance to the area and its role as a regional transportation corridor as reasons they were supporting it.

Masland says the Ithmus has all those same qualities.

“Goods pass through it every single day, including food that feeds Canadians, vehicles, forestry products, critical supplies for manufacturing in other parts of the country and more,” Masland said.  “It also allows people to travel to the province for important medical appointments, education and to access other Atlantic provinces.”

The Isthmus repair work is estimated to cost around $650 million. Some of the preliminary work has already begun.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are awaiting the results of a legal challenge in which they argue the federal government has an obligation to help fund the repairs.

Trudeau responds

During a media scrum on Thursday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the Isthmus and echoed sentiments about its importance.

“We know how important it is,” said Trudeau. “Not just for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but for all of Canada.”

Trudeau described it as a key transport corridor and said it’s exactly the type of infrastructure the federal government “will always step up for,”.

However, Trudeau didn’t provide any specifics on what the federal government stepping up would entail.

As the primary threat to the Ithmus is climate change, Trudeau also called on the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to stop their opposition to the Canada Carbon Rebate.