Build Ships for Canada in Canadian Shipyards, Tories Told

January 19, 2009, 3:31 PM EST

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Opposition politicians and shipyard workers joined together January 15 in Halifax to urge the federal government to act on promises to spend billions on new ships and ensure they are built in Canadian shipyards.

New Democrat MP and CAW member Peter Stoffer said the federal budget is coming down January 27 and the Conservative government must act to support Canadian shipbuilding.

"We have asked for quite some time that shipbuilding be an integral part of any economic stimulus package that happens in this country," said Stoffer, co-chairman of the shipbuilding caucus at a January 15 press conference in the Halifax shipyard.

"We have five major shipyards remaining in this country, plus a fair number of smaller ones, and we have over $22 billion worth of work to do replacing our military, coast guard, laker and ferry fleets across this country," Stoffer was quoted in the Halifax Chronicle Herald. Stoffer was joined at the press conference by a group of NDP, Liberal and Independent politicians calling for swift action from the federal Conservative government.

Karl Risser, President of CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1, said taxpayers dollars should be used to support Canadian shipyards and provide and maintain Canadian jobs. CAW/MWF Local 1 represents 300 workers at the Halifax shipyard. At its peak the Halifax yard employed 1,200 trades people.

The federal government outlined plans last year to build three joint supply vessels for the navy and a dozen coast guard patrol boats. It has postponed those projects.

CAW Atlantic director Les Holloway said every shipyard job supports up to four others in spinoff jobs within the local economy.

"We need these ships to be built in Canadian shipyards. The federal Conservative government must immediately push ahead with plans to build these ships and it must build them in Canada," Holloway said.

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