B.C. Ferries rant number 3

Getting around the Islands? Fly!The newest member of B.C.‘s ferry fleet arrived Thursday and the people who didn’t get to build them have a kink or two in their bulkheads.

And so do I.

They’re now urging Ottawa to use the $82 million in import duties to support the province’s shipbuilding industry.

The Coastal Renaissance is the first of three ships to be built in Germany by the Flensburger Shipyard, for a paltry $524 million.

Peter Julian, the NDP-MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, said “about 5,000 direct and indirect local jobs were lost by the short-sighted provincial government investment in the German shipbuilding industry, rather than supporting B.C. jobs.”

At a ceremony for the ship’s arrival, B.C. Ferries president David Hahn said “I am more concerned about lowering ferry fares for British Columbians than subsidizing the shipbuilding industry.”

Say what?

The Flensburger yard was a bankrupt shipyard and the reason it’s able to compete in the manner it does today is simply because the government invested in it. Sound familiar?

Yes, the shipyards of British Columbia are very busy, thank you very much. It is just that the optics of this situation do not bear up under closer scrutiny. For instance, B.C. shipyards were shut out of the bidding process – and that includes the Washington Marine group – current owners of the former Fast-Cat Ferries

So Ottawa. Give us the import duties back… and maybe the Gordon Campbell Liberals can restore the funding to the Women’s Centers in the Province that have faced budget cutbacks this year.

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