ACOA Minister should be an Atlantic Canadian MP
Charlottetown – An Atlantic Canadian MP should be serving as Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to help advance regional economic and community development projects on Prince Edward Island and throughout Atlantic Canada, says Opposition Leader Jamie Fox.
"ACOA plays a big role as a key funding partner for business expansion and community development projects. Having a dedicated ACOA Minister from the region brings a direct focus and local understanding to growing our economy. With all of the talk about Atlantic Growth Strategy I’m extremely disappointed that our Premier and four MP’s are content with ACOA being an add on portfolio for an MP from Mississauga already carrying a heavy load with extra Cabinet duties,” says Fox.
Fox added that he wrote the Prime Minister in September 19 to share his concern over the situation and has yet to receive a reply.
Cardigan MP and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has faced criticism for recent public comments that he sees no issue with having an MP from outside Atlantic Canada serve as the minister responsible for ACOA. Currently Mississauga–Malton MP Navdeep Bains is serving as ACOA Minister along with other duties as federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. This marks the first time in the 30 year history of ACOA that its Minister has come from outside Atlantic Canada.
Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie observed that the ministerial mandate letter to Bains from Prime Minister Trudeau contains no reference to Atlantic Canada or to ACOA. LaVie sees a double standard in the federal government’s approach to Atlantic Canada.
“If an Atlantic MP were named the regional economic development minister for Northern Ontario I doubt it would be well received. People would say an Atlantic Canadian MP wouldn’t have a proper understanding of local issues so why the double standard? Our economic development goals are no less important and Lawrence MacAulay of all people should know that. It’s long past time that Lawrence MacAulay, the rest our MP’s and Premier MacLauchlan start acting like it," says Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie.