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The C.D. Howe think tank based in Toronto released a report this week about the cost of food in this country. The convoluted study shows that Canadians are paying much higher prices than citizens next door in the U.S. and the institute says our government in Ottawa could make a big difference by dropping some of its tariffs and getting rid of this country’s supply management system that protects Canadian producers of eggs, dairy products and chicken.

That debate could last forever with no resolve, but a solution for the people of this province is clearer.

If the federal government wants to make things better for consumers in this province they simply have to rein in the forever-rising cost of getting goods across the Cabot Strait.

Politicians in Ottawa simply have to make the cost of using the Marine Atlantic ferry system the same as travelling the same distance on the Trans-Canada Highway.

It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it’s as accurate now as it has been since Confederation.

The cost of using the marine system that connects the island part of the province to the mainland keeps going up and up and up.

There are few, if any, constraints on Marine Atlantic. They simply have to decide they want — or make a case they need — more money and they issue a press release saying when rates will go up.

Every scrap of food that crosses the Gulf has the cost of riding on a ferry included in the final price to the consumer.

If the feds really want to eliminate the penalty we all pay for living where we do, they could even subsidize other shipping firms who deliver consumer goods to this province.

If the C.D. Howe researchers had their way, we would end up with no dairy farmers, no chicken or egg producers on this island because they couldn’t compete with giant industrial operations all over North America.

That would really add to the security of our food supply, wouldn’t it?

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Trans-Canada Highway.It

Geographic location: Ottawa, Toronto, U.S. North America.That

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