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NEWS RELEASE August 19, 2004

Shipbuilders challenge Plant's rationale for snubbing local industry

Attorney General and Richmond Steveston MLA Geoff Plant has responded to a disgruntled constituent by citing “passenger safety” as the latest rationale for excluding local shipbuilders from competing to build three new BC Ferries vessels

VANCOUVER – The BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation wants immediate answers from Attorney General Geoff Plant regarding his letter to a constituent which says “buying BC” increases costs and compromises passenger safety.

The letter was revealed to the federation on a confidential basis Tuesday.

“Every ship in the BC Ferries fleet but three has come from a BC shipyard,” says George MacPherson, federation President. “Our safety record is above reproach and Mr. Plant has added insult to injury by denigrating local industry in this way while his government endorses the wholesale export of half a billion dollars and over 2,000 jobs to shipyards on the other side of the world.”

Mr. Plant's letter also states that if BC could build ships like the proposed Super C-Class ferries, they would “have more business than they know what to do with.”

But MacPherson says BC shipbuilders have won two international contracts in the past eighteen months and the only thing hampering them is the irresponsible and damaging comments coming from Mr. Plant and others in the legislature and BC Ferry Services.

“When a high ranking government official says buying locally is bad business, we have a big governance problem,” says MacPherson.

MacPherson says this is but one in a series of falsehoods being circulated by the provincial government to cover up for a controversial bid process that British Columbians were never supposed to know about.

The first phase of the process led to expressions of interest from a variety of international shipbuilders including British Columbia-based Washington Marine Group, which operates Vancouver Shipyards and Victoria Shipyards.

But that bid did not make it past the initial phase and MacPherson wants answers as to why the process was designed to guarantee the failure of local bidders. The federation filed a Freedom of Information request on Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon earlier this month.

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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