The recent Alaska Marine ferry terminal debacle — you know, the one where the federal government chose to protect jobs in Ontario over helping grow the economy of Prince Rupert under the guise of Canadian sovereignty — could not have come at a worse time.
While the talking heads in Ottawa were busy enacting legislation to protect the steel industry, a move that eventually led to the delay of a $15 million project, the Alaska State Department of Transportation was looking at ways to save millions of dollars per year. Their recommendations have now become public and key among them is reducing summer sailing to Prince Rupert from four per week down to two per week.
The two may not be related, and in fact any connection seems questionable at best, but by preventing the Alaskan government from moving ahead with this multi-million dollar project, the feds have given Alaskans all the ammo they need to make those cuts a reality. Realistically, if I were in Alaska right now, reducing service to Prince Rupert would be the number one priority when it comes to saving the state money: If Canadians want to protect their own at the expense of the Alaska Marine Highway, then the Alaskan government should be putting Canada at the bottom of their list.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality – we didn’t take their wishes into account, why should they take ours into account?
The unfortunate thing in this is I highly doubt that same federal government will be standing up for Prince Rupert businesses and tour operators. While Tourism Prince Rupert, the Chamber of Commerce and city council will undoubtedly be making their voices heard and fighting to maintain service levels, I’m not at all optimistic we will see any federal politicians getting involved to defend the economy of Prince Rupert. They’re undoubtedly too busy highlighting their “success” with the steel workers in Ontario.
If the government cares about Prince Rupert and the Highway 16 corridor, they will make the fight to save service as public as the fight to support steel.