MLA booted from legislature during Yarmouth ferry debate

Greg Bennett gbennett@thecoastguard.ca
Published on October 21, 2014

Chris d'Entremont, Argyle-Barrington MLA was booted from the Legislature during Quesion Period on Tuesday.

HALIFAX- Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d’Entremont sounded unrepentant Oct. 21 after being ejected from the legislature.

The veteran Progressive Conservative MLA and former cabinet minister was ordered to leave during a heated question period exchange about the Yarmouth ferry.

PC leader Jamie Baillie had asked a question about the long-term viability of the Nova Star service and, as Premier Stephen McNeil was attempting to answer, d’Entremont chimed in that he didn’t trust the premier.

After several interruptions, d'Entremont was ordered to leave by Speaker Kevin Murphy.

“In 11 years in the legislature, it was the first time I’ve ever been ejected,” d’Entremont noted in an interview.

The MLA described the session as “chippy” as members bantered back and forth, but he said he didn’t believe it was out of the ordinary until he was told to leave.

He noted his ejection would highlight people’s growing concerns with the government’s deal with Nova Star cruises.

d’Entremont says he wants the service to work, but he and his party have serious reservations about the long-term viability of the ferry company.

Year one for the service hasn’t been smooth sailing. Last week, the provincial government announced it was providing another $5 million to help cover the costs associated with Nova Star’s first season. Oct. 14, hours after Nova Star docked in Yarmouth after its first season drew a close – Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson said the ferry service did not have the money needed to cover the outstanding costs of its expenses.

Nova Star ended its first season having carried 59,018 passengers. Numbers were low in May and June, picked up in July after several travel discounts to drive volume were introduced and were strong in August and September, in relation to how the season started out.

However, the figure is below the 100,000 passengers the company had said it was aiming for prior to the launch of the service.

Later in the season, the ferry company said into the season that for year one, that target was perhaps too ambitious. It also started the season two weeks later than originally planned and ended it three weeks early. There were six cancelled crossings during the season due to maintenance and a forecasted hurricane.

The provincial government has now provided $26 million to the service.