Highway repairs must wait: Collenette

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HALIFAX, N.S. — Canadians could have to wait for repairs to crumbling highways while the federal government picks up the ever-increasing tab resulting from the horrific terrorist attacks on the U.S.

In Halifax on Aug. 20, provincial and territorial transportation ministers gave their federal counterpart, David Collenette, a long wish list of improvements to ports, airports, railways and highways that would cost several billion dollars. But Collenette insists he can’t make any commitments until the federal government determines how much it will cost to implement tough security provisions and provide financial assistance to airlines after the attacks.

“The events of Sept. 11 place demands on the government,” he says. “This is something obviously my colleague [Finance Minister] Paul Martin and the Prime Minister will have to take into consideration. There is only a finite resource we have at the federal level and there are many calls on that resource.”

Collenette adds all of the demands on the federal purse have to be reconsidered as the country tries to deal with the terrorist threat.

“We’re into a different world — a more costly world for security and a more costly world for air travel,” he says.

While the provincial ministers accepted the need for enhanced airport-security precautions, they insist Ottawa must provide funding to improve highways as a way to boost the faltering economy.

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