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NEWS RELEASE December 6, 2006

BC Shipyard Workers' Federation says BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon dead wrong in asking federal government duty remission for BC Ferries purchase of Greek-built MV Sonia – program helps Canadian shipyard industry survive, needed when BC Ferries spending nearly $1 billion in foreign shipyards

VANCOUVER – BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is dead wrong in asking the federal government to waive a 25% duty BC Ferries will be charged on the purchase of the Greek-built MV Sonia, the replacement for the sunken Queen of the North, says the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation.

Federation President George MacPherson said today Falcon does not understand nor consult with the shipyard industry and his government's approval of BC Ferries spending nearly $1 billion to build ferries in foreign shipyards instead of in BC with the loss of 5,000 direct and indirect jobs proves it.

“Kevin Falcon, BC Ferries and the provincial government have been putting the entire BC shipyard industry at risk for years by sending nearly $1 billion in taxpayers' dollars to build ferries in foreign shipyards,” MacPherson said. “Now Falcon doesn't even want to respect Canadian rules that require a 25% duty to be paid for importing foreign-built ships – a measure that helps protect and create jobs in Canada – it's unbelievable.”

Falcon said today in media reports that he will lobby Ottawa to drop an estimated $17 million duty on the MV Sonia, the Greek-built ship purchased by BC Ferries to replace the Queen of the North, the north coast ferry that sank in March with the tragic loss of two lives.

But MacPherson said Falcon has never met with the industry in BC, never consulted on shipbuilding or BC Ferries issues and clearly doesn't understand the duty or Canada 's shipbuilding industrial strategy.

“We're astonished that Minister Falcon would be trying to end run a duty intended to protect jobs and investment in Canada ,” MacPherson said. “Falcon and BC Ferries have always known the duty existed and that getting an exemption is next to impossible, because it applies to the entire shipping and ferry industries.”

“BC Ferries is building three new Super-C Class ferries in Germany at a cost of $542 million and another two north coast ferries worth about $350 million at the same foreign shipyard and Kevin Falcon has let it all happen,” MacPherson said. “Kevin Falcon has waved good bye to 5,000 jobs and nearly a billion dollar investment in British Columbia and now he wants to get $17 million back from Ottawa ?”

MacPherson said the federal duty works to encourage ship building in Canada instead of foreign countries, which usually have government subsidies and low-cost labour and lax environmental standards. The duty paid by any company that imports ships helps offset the cost of national shipbuilding research and development and the Structured Financing Facility, a loan program that reduces costs for Canadian purchasers of ships built here.

The BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation represents about 1,600 workers in the shipbuilding, repair and maintenance industry.

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;


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