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NEWS RELEASE July 22, 2004

BC Liberal MLA calls BC Ferry Services' decision to build Super C Class ferries overseas “blatantly stupid” and breaks ranks with government; North Van-Seymour MLA Dan Jarvis says ferries should be built in BC and says many in Gordon Campbell cabinet agree with him

VANCOUVER – BC Liberal MLA Dan Jarvis has broken ranks with the BC government and BC Ferry Services, calling for new Super-C Class ferries to be built in British Columbia and saying that the decision to construct them in a foreign shipyard is “blatantly stupid” and “makes no sense.”

And in a letter to the North Shore Outlook newspaper published today Jarvis says that many of his BC Liberal colleagues in cabinet agree with him.

“I am concerned that BC Ferries is looking at building their two new ships offshore. To me, it doesn't make sense and would be blatantly stupid,” Jarvis wrote.

“There are no valid reasons to indicate that BC shipyards are not capable. The two biggest ferries that we have and for that matter the whole BC fleet were built by the private sector and organized labour,” Jarvis said.

“ I have contacted my colleagues in cabinet and many agree with me and will be bringing it forward today in cabinet,” Jarvis' letter concludes.

George MacPherson, president of Federation, says Jarvis' comments are very welcome and represent a common sense view that has been lacking from the government and BC Ferry Services.

“Mr. Jarvis is to be congratulated for taking a strong public position in favour of building BC ferries in BC,” MacPherson said. “Finally someone in government is listening to BC shipbuilders, shipyard workers and the public.”

MacPherson said that in fact, BC Ferry Services is looking at building three ferries in Europe, not the two Jarvis mentions in his letter, meaning 2000 jobs and a $500 million investment would go overseas.

The surprising development comes as the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation today as it launched a public campaign against the BC Ferry Services and the BC Liberal government decision.

Major ads are running today in the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province and Victoria Times-Colonist newspapers urging the public to send a message to Premier Gordon Campbell and their local MLA that the government must stop the decision to build the ferries in a European shipyard.

“We are confident that British Columbians do not want to see their hard-earned tax dollars being sent overseas to create jobs and investment in a foreign country when we can do the job right here at home,” MacPherson said. “If enough British Columbians say no, we believe the government will simply have to listen.”

The Shipyard General Workers' Federation says that its website – www.bcshipyardworkers.com – has already received hundreds of email responses to the newspaper ads shortly after their publication and that its office is receiving dozens of faxed coupons clipped from the papers.

“We know from polling that 90% of British Columbians believe it is either very important [58%] or important [32%] for the provincial government to buy local BC goods and services,” MacPherson said. “This decision is just an insult to BC shipyard companies and their workers and the people of the province don't support the government or BC Ferry Services on this.

BC Ferry Services was forced to admit it was negotiating with European shipyards after the Federation released a letter from the federal Finance Department showing that BC Ferry Services requested the federal government to remove a 25% customs duty on importing foreign-built ferries.

MacPherson said comments from Steve Frasher, CEO of Washington Marine Group, which owns Vancouver Shipyards, denying claims by BC Ferry Services that his firm could not build the ferries are an indication of how wrong the decision is.

“When the CEO of a major BC shipbuilding company has to correct both the government and BC Ferry Services, you know something is drastically wrong,” MacPherson said.

For more information : Call George MacPherson at 604-254-8204 or cell 604-220-3291 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, at 604-844-7827 or cell 778-896-0964. For background, go to www.bcshipyardworkers.com

 

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