About 40 Davie shipyard workers protested in Quebec City Saturday morning. The protest took place in front of the Centre des congrès de Québec, where the Liberal Party of Canada was holding its annual convention.
“We wanted to remind them that Davie is still there and employees don’t have work,” said Ann Gingras, the Conseil central de Quebec’s regional president in the Quebec-Chaudière-Appalaches region.
There are around 100 people left from the 1300 workers the shipyards had when the Trudeau government was elected.
Gingras says the shipyards need more work and believe they’re being treated unfairly by the government.
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According to Gingras, work is not being shared equally between the Seaspan shipyards in North Vancouver and Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding.
Trudeau says no second supply ship is needed
On Friday, during his stint in Quebec City, Trudeau was pressed by Pierre Drapeau, president of the association of suppliers to the shipyard, over the way his government has dealt with shipyard contracts.
The federal government awarded Davie Shipbuilding a $700-million contract to convert a civilian container ship into a temporary supply vessel and lease it to the navy for at least five years. Davie has offered to convert and lease another ship for $500 million, but the navy says that’s unnecessary.
Trudeau said he is looking at ways to provide more work for the shipyard, but a second supply ship is simply not needed right now.
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“We understand there are preoccupations and concerns regarding the Davie workers and we are trying to look for new contracts and new ways to support them and deliver equipment that Canada needs,” Trudeau said.
“But the (Defence Department) and the Coast Guard, everyone has been very, very clear that we don’t need Obelix and that’s why we aren’t advancing on the Obelix,” he added, referring to the second ship Davie had proposed to the government.
The prime minister put the blame on the previous Conservative government for contract distribution but said Canada cannot tear up previously signed contracts.
“That’s boloney,” Gingras reacted. “When a government is put into office it is to correct the mistakes of the previous office. If they can’t do that what’s the use of changing government?
“We are not asking for presents, we just want fair treatment, the same treatment they are giving to the other shipyards.”
–With files from the Canadian Press