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NEWS RELEASE September 1, 2004

BC headed for bigger, uglier ferries fiasco?

The president of the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation says there's nothing to say the province isn't headed for a fiasco of an even bigger scale given the secrecy surrounding the “hands-off” Crown corporation's tendering process.

VANCOUVER – The president of the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation says the government and BC Ferries' lack of transparency surrounding the building of three new ferries may be a portent of problems that could eclipse the ‘Fast Ferries' fiasco in size and scope and leave British Columbians with no recourse thanks to the ferry company's new “hands off” independent status.

“The president of BC Ferries refuses to recognize BC industry in his tendering process despite the fact that his company receives in excess of $100 million each year from BC taxpayers,” says George MacPherson, Federation president. “Now that the government has removed all of our avenues of recourse, British Columbians should be prepared for an ugly outcome at the end of this deal.”

In media coverage following the Federation's release of a public opinion poll showing two out of three British Columbians oppose building ferries overseas, BC Ferries president David Hahn said the poll shouldn't have been aimed at British Columbians but at “ferry users.”

“David Hahn obviously doesn't know who his customers are if he's prepared to shrug off this very clear signal coming directly from British Columbians,” says MacPherson.

The BC Ferries president told another reporter the poll should have asked if British Columbians were prepared to have ferries built in BC even if it would mean fare increases of up to 15 per cent.

“This is totally libelous,” says MacPherson. “Until David Hahn has actually seen a binding bid from locally industry, he has no grounds to suggest the taxpayer would shoulder any burden. In fact, we believe local industry could easily beat its international competition through lower wage costs, a 25 per cent savings on duty and through an additional nonrepayable federal government contribution of 15%.”

BC Ferries will conduct a public meeting in Nanaimo on September 27 but the Federation points out this will be far too late given a tentative contract with a German shipbuilder is expected to be ratified by the BC Ferries board on September 17.

“We have until September 17 to turn this thing around and I would ask British Columbians who oppose building ferries overseas to make it known to their MLA and members of the BC Ferries board of directors, “ says MacPherson.

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For more information : Call George MacPherson at 604-254-8204 or cell 604-220-3291 or Nancy Black, West Star Communications, at 604-612-1212

 

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