Adrift at Sea...
The NDP and the shipbuilding industry in our province can’t make up their minds.
We all remember the NDP’s tenure with respect to their “stellar” performance with BC Ferries: little funding for upgrades, money poured into fast ferries that just didn’t…well…float.
In fact, five years later we are just starting to see the costs for taxpayers of ignoring the aging fleet for those ten, long years.
Duct tape aside, many ships in the fleet require massive retrofits or outright junking.
The shipbuilders unions are demanding that BC Ferries spend more than necessary on fleet upgrades because they feel it is their right to be able to build any type of ferry they want.
It also helps them justify soaking the taxpayers to prop up an industry that isn’t competitive, beyond a few profitable niches.
This whole mess was thrown into focus after the sinking of the Queen of the North.
Initially Gary Coons, the NDP MLA for the North Coast said that the government should spare no expense in getting a replacement boat in the water right away – that the livelihoods of countless northerners depended on a new vessel as soon as possible.
We all agreed with him on that point.
BC Ferries is subsidized on its North Coast service by the taxpayers. Those runs don’t make money, but provide a much-need service to isolated coastal communities.
After the tragic sinking of the Queen of the North, BC Ferries and the BC Government sprang into action in order to replace the boat quickly, just like Coons wanted.
Now, six months later, having remembered that unions provide the bread and butter for his campaign funds, he is singing another tune.
He’s using the same set of messages that the President of the Shipbuilders in using: that it is unfair that BC shipyards didn’t make the cut for the new northern boat because they couldn’t build it fast enough.
They would put the livelihood of Northern BC residents on the line in order to line their own pockets.
BC ship builders have not, frankly, had it so good in many, many years.
Over the last year alone, BC Ferries spent $180 million in BC’s shipyards. Workers are busy retrofitting boats and building some of the new, smaller ferries.
But because no BC shipyard was able to meet the requirements for building the new, bigger ferry that is being constructed in Germany, they are on a public relations tear.
One of the reasons they couldn’t meet the timelines? They are so busy booked with work from other countries.
No wonder they are struggling to keep their messages straight.
(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)