Quebec’s shipyards now in ‘a more fragile condition’

Extrait de: Quebec’s shipyards now in ‘a more fragile condition’, NDP slams PM, By Robert Gibbens, THE GAZETTE, October 19, 2011

MONTREAL - Quebec’s landmark Davie Shipyard in Lévis, opposite Quebec City, will soon feel an icy chill from its exclusion in the three-legged race for $35 billion of long-term federal shipbuilding contracts.

Some said the chill will reach the political level and raise a storm as strong as the juicy fighter-maintenance contract awarded to Quebec over Manitoba by the Mulroney government in the ’80s.

Ottawa did not disclose the reasons why Davie’s last-minute submission last July for the non-combat ship contract was refused.

But Davie’s main hope to avoid “living from paycheque to paycheque,” as Université Laval economist Bernard Beaudreau puts it, will be to win a hunk of the $2 billion allotted for smaller specialized vessels.

The federal super-contracts require the winners to provide “industrial benefits,” meaning subcontracting to other yards and engineering shops across the country. Davie could get some of this work, though Denise Verreault, CEO of competitor Groupe Maritime Verreault in Les Méchins, doubts if it will be profitable.

Also under a contract signed last July with the new owners of Davie, led by Ontario’s Upper Lakes Group, Davie will complete three offshore oil industry supply vessels for a Norwegian group.

Originally, Davie was to win a new lease on life and build five ships worth $500 million, but the contract could not be financed.

The Bloc Québécois accused the Harper government, with the support from the New Democratic Party, of “completely abandoning Quebec shipyard workers” and robbing the Quebec yards of 1,500 long-term jobs.

The whole province, from employers to workers, expected Davie to win a “significant part” of the $35 billion of contracts for combat, non-combat and smaller vessels, the Bloc said.

“This would have preserved Quebec’s shipbuilding industry,
but now that hope is dashed.”

NDP leader Nycole Turmel said Quebec’s shipyards “are now in a more fragile condition and Prime Minister Harper should do more to preserve Quebec shipbuilding and long-term skilled jobs.”

The Quebec government put up more taxpayer funds in July
so Davie could compete for the super contracts.

The company was able to exit 18 months of creditor protection, followed by the Upper Lakes’s acquisition and a qualified bid.

The 186-year-old shipyard has Canada’s longest dry dock and modern automated equipment. It has built or refitted scores of naval and other vessels, but since 1976 it has had six different owners.

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