Trudeau praises Island work ethic in wake of Dorian

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau arrived at the friendly confines of MP Lawrence MacAulay's farm in Midgell, P.E.I., on Tuesday and gushed to supporters about Island resiliency and work ethic, including in the days after post-tropical storm Dorian.

"I know that it's been a rough two weeks here in P.E.I. and across the east coast with Hurricane Dorian. But when the going gets tough, people in this province can always count on each other. Let's hear it for the cleanup crews, the first responders, soldiers, volunteers and everyone who has been helping out," he said.

"Friends, we're going to keep being there for you as you rebuild and recover."

Trudeau mingled briefly with the large crowd as he approached and exited the podium. He did not take questions from the media.

Kerry Campbell/CBC

But during a stop in St. John's earlier Tuesday, Trudeau was non-committal when asked by a reporter if his government would eliminate the toll for Islanders on the Confederation Bridge, given that there is no toll for the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.

Tolls 'part of the financing'

"The Samuel de Champlain Bridge was a replacement bridge. The Confederation Bridge was a new bridge that was built with the tolls as part of the financing," he said.

For most vehicles, the toll is $47.75 to cross the Confederation Bridge from P.E.I. to New Brunswick. There is no toll to cross from New Brunswick to P.E.I.

It is not the first time Trudeau has been asked about the tolls on the Confederation Bridge. For years, P.E.I. Sen. Percy Downe has advocated to eliminate or reduce the tolls, and P.E.I. Premier Dennis King addressed the concern with Trudeau during a meeting this summer.

I'll tell you about P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada. It's a culture of honest, hard work. — Justin Trudeau

During a town hall meeting in Peterborough, Ont., in 2017, Trudeau was asked about the high cost of crossing the Confederation Bridge. At that time, he said he would take those concerns to Island MPs. The Liberals currently hold all four seats on P.E.I.

Tuesday marked Trudeau's first campaign stop on P.E.I. since the election was called on Sept. 11, and he took the opportunity to tout his government's achievements, including the Canada Child Benefit, investment in P.E.I.'s aerospace industry and restoring the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement from 67 to 65.

CBC

He acknowledged P.E.I. as as the first province to ban plastic bags, and didn't leave without taking a shot at former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

"Let's not forget what Stephen Harper had to say about Atlantic Canada. A 'culture of defeat,'"  Trudeau said.

"I'll tell you about P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada. It's a culture of honest, hard work."

Conservatives weigh in

P.E.I. Conservative candidates, meanwhile, said in a news release Tuesday that Trudeau's policies have made life more expensive for Islanders.

"We keep hearing that people are just getting by, instead of getting ahead," said the release, attributed to Conservative candidates Robert Campbell, Logan McLellan and Stephen Stewart.

"Seniors are worried about having enough money left over at the end of the month to save for their retirement or to visit their grandkids, parents are worried about paying their bills and saving for college, and local entrepreneurs are worried about how they will be able to grow their businesses."

Trudeau left P.E.I. Tuesday evening for New Brunswick.

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