Thursday, September 12, 2019

As Alaska Representative Dan Ortiz visits Prince Rupert; MLA Rice, MP Cullen speak to pending end of Alaska Ferry service to Prince Rupert

The clock is ticking on the fate of the AMHS service between
Prince Rupert and Ketchikan, with a range of local politicians now
speaking out on the prospect of its end

While Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain prepares for his trip north to Alaska next week, he's finding a bit of moral support from the two senior political officials for the region.

With both MLA Jennifer Rice and MP Nathan Cullen recently taking to their social media feeds to speak out on the announcement from the Alaska Marine Highway System of the end of Alaska Ferry service to Prince Rupert.

As we outlined on September 4th, the State of Alaska announced that the Alaska Marine Highway would stop making a port call in Prince Rupert at the end of September, that as a result of the unresolved issue of Prince Rupert providing for an armed police presence during the operational hours for the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal at Fairview.

The announcement of the end of the Prince Rupert service came after a three month grace period had been granted by the US Customs and Border Protection Service which had issued its warning on the withdrawal of service in May.

Following the September announcement, Mayor Brain outlined how he would be travelling to Alaska in the week of the 16th to discuss the issue further with State and AMHS officials.

Yesterday NDP MP Nathan Cullen offered up his first public notes on the situation, since the AMHS announcement, posting a short observation on his Social media streams.

It's not really clear what Mr. Cullen can do with his short time remaining on the national scene, with the soon to be retired Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley about to fade from the Ottawa spotlight.

As well, with a federal election now underway and the campaign hitting full speed, the opportunity to see any forward momentum on the situation nationally most likely now will have to wait until after a new government is voted into office.

That of course means that the file will be handed over to whichever candidate in the current election campaign in Skeena-Bulkley Valley finds success on October 21st.

Also entering the discussion on the fate of the Alaska service this week, was NDP MLA Jennifer Rice.

She also took to her Facebook page yesterday, marking her first comments on the fate of the AMHS service since the September 4th announcement.

And while helpful to the discussion at this late stage, both the MP and MLA seem a little behind the curve when it comes to their engagement on the issue, with few observations on the issue as the latest threat to the service festered through much of the summer without much in the way of public comment.

As part of her update, Ms. Rice made note of discussions she had held on Wednesday with Alaska State Representative Dan Ortiz, who represents District 36, which includes the City of  Ketchikan and a number of communities on the southern panhandle region.

For his part, Representative Ortiz has been in Prince Rupert this week to meet with local officials to discuss the issue and seek solutions that could help to find a way to reverse the AMHS decision.

He noted through his social media feed, that so far while he's been in the city he has had held talks with MLA Rice, the city's Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben and the Inspector in Charge of the Prince Rupert RCMP detachment Blake Ward.

There was no indication from this notes as to whether he has had a chance during his visit to speak with Mayor Brain, or other members of Council on the shared goal of saving the ferry connection between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan

You can review some of the recent notes on the fate of the Alaska Marine Highway System from our archive page.

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