PREMIER’S OFFICE–Premier Urges Support For N.S.-P.E.I. FerryService Premier John Hamm is calling on Prime Minister Paul Martin tostep in to prevent reductions in the vital ferry service betweenCaribou, Pictou Co., and Wood Islands, P.E.I. In a letter sent today, March 10, Premier Hamm told the primeminister any reduction would have “a serious, negative impact ontourism and commerce in eastern Nova Scotia.” Recent reports have suggested that Transport Canada may cuthundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support from theservice. In addition, annual drydock funding would be eliminatedfor one of the two vessels in 2008. The premier called on Ottawa to maintain its current annualsubsidy (about $4.8 million), commit to continued annual drydockfunding, and agree to a multi-year contract with NorthumberlandFerries to provide stability. “The result of these combined cuts will likely be the removal ofone ferry from the service and the shortening of the season ofoperation,” said Premier Hamm. “My fear, and that of many NovaScotians and Islanders, is that weakening the link, through alessening of funds and perhaps the loss of one of two ferries,will eventually lead to an uncompetitive schedule and then thecomplete abandonment of this historic ferry service by both usersand our federal government.” Premier Hamm said Caribou is the second busiest road-entry pointto the province and stressed that the Nova Scotia-P.E.I. ferryservice remains a popular alternative to the fixed link forbusinesses and tourists. He said the Confederation Bridge wasbuilt to replace the former service between Prince Edward Islandand New Brunswick, not the Nova Scotia to P.E.I. link. “This is an historic link,” Premier Hamm said in his letter.”Even the Northumberland Ferries website notes that it is anexperience whereby you can ‘sail across like the Fathers ofConfederation did in 1864.’ “As this is a vital transportation link from one of Canada’sprovinces to another, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, Iask for a commitment from your government to maintain the currentlevel of subsidies to support the ferry’s existing standard ofservice, as well as a multi-year contract to provide stability,”wrote the premier.