NEWS: NDP CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR BC SHIPBUILDING INDUSTRY

BURNABY – Peter Julian, MP (Burnaby-New Westminster) and NDP International Trade Critic, called today for $82 million in 25% import duties on three Super-C class BC Ferries built in Germany to be entirely sent to support the shipbuilding industry in British Columbia. This call comes as the Coastal Renaissance, the first German-built ship, arrives in BC.

“About 5000 direct and indirect local jobs were lost by the short-sighted provincial government investment in the German shipbuilding industry, rather than supporting BC jobs” said Julian. “Every penny of the $82 million import duty that is fixed on this vessel must be put towards BC’s shipbuilding and repair industry. It is the only fair way to ensure that our shipbuilding industry is not completely gutted.”

The vessels are being built at a cost of $542 million including the duty. At the time, BC Ferries and the BC government refused to allow Vancouver Shipyards to participate in the final bidding process. BC Ferries included the import duty of about $82 million as a part of the cost of the foreign-built ferries.

Julian was joined by the BC Shipyard General Worker’s Federation president George MacPherson, representing 1,600 provincial shipyard workers.

“The federal government should support BC and Canada’s shipbuilding and repair industry by making sure the full duty on these German-built ferries is paid and dedicated to helping create more jobs and investment here at home,” MacPherson said. “There is no sense whatsoever in using taxpayer dollars to benefit the foreign shipyards and workers we compete with.”

BC Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair also supported calls to invest the duty in BC.

“BC Ferries and the BC government made an enormous mistake in sending jobs and investment overseas,” Sinclair said. “The federal government can help our BC shipbuilding industry recover from that mistake by dedicating the duty owed to improving the industry’s capacity here.”

The entire BC NDP caucus stands firmly behind the shipbuilding industry,” said Julian. “We lost BC jobs - good, family-sustaining jobs - and the short-sightedness of the policies of the Gordon Campbell BC Liberal government should not be duplicated in an equally destructive policy from a federal Conservative government that is blind to our public interest. Investing the duty in BC is critical.”

The performance of the BC shipbuilding industry is world renowned. It was responsible for the construction of Spirit of British Columbia and the Spirit of Vancouver Island, the two largest ferries in the BC Ferries fleet. Recently, Vancouver Shipyards reached a milestone in employing 100 apprentices at their facilities in BC, in addition to regularly employing over 1,000 tradesmen.