11 February 2011
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I want to thank my introducer, Rob Merrifield for that kind introduction. Minister Merrifield has been the Minister responsible for this file, and I congratulate him on what we are announcing today.
I also give greetings to my colleagues Senator Fabian Manning, to Senator Ethyl Chochrane and to Minister Peter MacKay and Minister Keith Ashfield from New Brunswick.
Also, greetings to our hosts from Marine Atlantic, Chairman of the board, Rob Crosbie, President and CEO, Wayne Follett, as well as the crew of this fine vessel. My regards as well to Lieutenant-Colonel Alex Brennan, Commanding Officer of the First Battalion Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Thank you to members of the regiment for being with us today as well.
And special greetings to Premier Kathy Dunderdale. Although we met in Ottawa only a little while ago this is my first chance to congratulate you, here in Newfoundland and Labrador on your historic accession to the premiership,. Congratulations.
These are indeed auspicious circumstances, for today, we celebrate the strengthening of a crucial transportation link between Newfoundland and the mainland, or as it has been called, the nautical section of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Today is a historic event, the official welcome and renaming of the newest addition to the Marine Atlantic ferry fleet, the MV Blue Puttees.
We are both making and honouring history today. We’re making history with the major revitalization, announced in the last federal budget, of Marine Atlantic’s fleet and shore facilities at North Sydney, Port aux Basques and Argentia. We’re honouring history by naming this new ship after the renowned Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
These sons of Newfoundland and Labrador were well-known for the blue puttees they wore, and The Blue Puttees became their nickname. But, they will be famous forever, for their extraordinary courage, their steadfastness, and their matchless sacrifice on the battlefields of Europe, almost a century ago.
That is the reason that this fine vessel will carry their name, as a tribute to them, and as a tribute to the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador from which they hailed.
The MV Blue Puttees
is one of two modern, comprehensively upgraded ferries chartered for Marine Atlantic under our revitalization program. Her sister ship, the MV Highlanders,
is now refitting and will enter service later this spring.
She too honours our military history, being named for the Cape Breton Highlanders, tough citizen soldiers from communities like North Sydney who were particularly famous for their role in breaking the Nazi grip on Italy and in liberating Holland during the Second World War.
These two ships will significantly improve Marine Atlantic’s ability to provide reliable, on-time, ferry service.
To meet the increasing demand for ferry transport across the Cabot Strait, they will carry more people, vehicles and freight, than the two older ships that they’re replacing, and they will provide more comfort and amenities for travellers.
Our Government is investing in these ferries and Marine Atlantic’s shoreline infrastructure because we know how important the ferry connection to the mainland is to the people and the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.
This investment is consistent with our actions across Canada over the last two years during the global recession. As part of our Economic Action Plan to create jobs and stimulate economic activity, we accelerated our long-term plan to revitalize Canada’s transportation and economic infrastructure, including right here, working with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. As the recovery gathers steam, these investments will pay tremendous dividends in terms of economic growth and prosperity.
And, ladies and gentlemen, Canada is emerging and will emerge stronger than ever.
As long as we stay the course and keep moving our deficit coming down without raising taxes, Canada’s future economic prospects will remain extremely promising. But, staying the course means keeping a firm hand on the tiller.
Remember that old saying? "Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat."
We know that Canadians don’t want us to spend recklessly on expensive new programs. Canadians do expect us to invest in the things that will continue to help us create jobs and growth, and you can be sure that we will.
Building a sustained recovery remains our Government’s number one priority. We have a Plan and it’s working, but there is more to do, much more. So we will continue, and as we go forward, we will be guided, by the values of hard-working Canadians.
We will live within our means. We will cut waste, duplication and red tape, and we will keep taxes low.
That’s what our ministers and MPs and Senators have been hearing from Canadians over the last few weeks at pre-Budget consultations right across this country, and we believe that these messages are right.
It is the best way to provide economic stability. It is the key to the financial security all Canadians deserve and it is the recipe for clear sailing for the Canadian economy, just as we will get clear sailing from this investment in the MV Blue Puttees.
Thank you very much, and Bon Voyage.