Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shipbuilding action plan announced

Moncton Times and Transcript 02/14/2012, Page C02


Shipbuilding action plan announced

Plan aims to help contractors from Atlantic Canada bid for 'once-in-ageneration chance'



HALIFAX - An Atlantic Canadian company earned the lion's share of the federal government's shipbuilding largesse. And now Ottawa is hoping local contractors and suppliers will also pull in the bulk of subcontracts flowing from Irving's $25-billion shipbuilding workload.

Yesterday, the federal government announced the Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan.

The plan's aim: to help Atlantic Canadian companies tap into the millions of dollars of subcontracts that will emerge from Irving's successful bid.

'How can Atlantic businesses and workers seize this oncein-a-lifetime opportunity?' Bernard Valcourt, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), asked rhetorically yesterday.

The main objective of the Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan is to brief local businesses on the processes and requirements they must follow to enter the Irving supply chain.

ACOA will also help companies make the upgrades necessary to compete for Irving subcontracts.

Those improvements could include everything from employee training to new equipment.

As well, Irving Shipbuilding and ACOA will host a series of Supplier Development Sessions. The sessions will take place between Feb. 21 and March 12 in Bathurst, Moncton, Summerside, Truro, Shelburne, N.S., and St. John's.

According to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, the action plan will help Atlantic Canadian businesses 'harness' a 'historic opportunity.' 'The work to be undertaken at Irving's Halifax Shipyard will be sustained for decades and carries the real potential to transform the entire economy of Atlantic Canada,' MacKay said while speaking on the production floor of Canadian Maritime Engineering Limited, a shipbuilding supplier based in Dartmouth, N.S.

'This is a once-in-a-generation chance for Atlantic Canada.' Irving Shipbuilding currently has 1,000 suppliers, including 630 from Nova Scotia, 115 from New Brunswick, 90 from Prince Edward Island and 20 from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Halifax-based company recently launched an online registry for prospective suppliers and bidders. Close to 800 new companies have already signed up, said Irving Shipbuilding CEO Jim Irving.

'We've got to make sure that these Atlantic Canadian suppliers really participate,' Irving told the crowd gathered for yesterday morning's announcement. 'The temperatures (outside) are low, but the prospects are high for Atlantic Canada's suppliers of goods and services.' In all, Irving's Halifax Shipyard will produce 21 combat vessels over 30 years. Vancouver Shipyards Co.

Ltd., meanwhile, will build the noncombat vessels.

Irving Shipbuilding expects peak employment of about 2,500 workers in 2020. The Halifax yard now employs about 1,200. The company has been flooded with close to 9,000 resumes since the $25-billion combat vessel contract was awarded in October. The company currently has 20,000 resumes on file.

'We're 90 days into a 30-year program,' Irving said. 'But we're on the move. We're going at it every day.' In January, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the Halifax Shipyard, where he announced an agreement in principle between Irving and the federal government.

Yesterday, MacKay said an official signing of that 'umbrella agreement' would be held in the coming days.



Defence minister Peter MacKay, left, Irving Shipbuilding CEO Jim Irving and ACOA minister Bernard Valcourt chat following an announcement in Halifax on Monday.



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Tue, February 14, 2012 | link

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Miramichi mayor open to N.B. long-gun registry

Gerry Cormier concerned with looming job loss at city's Canadian Firearms Centre


The mayor of Miramichi says the province might want to follow the example of Quebec and at least take a look at the possibility of setting up its own long-gun registry.

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The Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi, colloquially known simply as the gun registry among local residents, is one of the largest employers in the city.

Gerry Cormier said he remains concerned about the looming loss of jobs at the Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi, especially now that federal Conservatives are promising legislation this fall to scrap the registry.

"As mayor of this city I am always against any job loss," he said in an interview yesterday.

"Whether it's one job, 12 or 20 - it's still a job loss ... When we lose a job here, especially in these tough economic times, it hurts. There's no two ways about it."

The Conservative government will introduce legislation in the fall to abolish the long-gun registry, this time using its parliamentary majority to back it up.

The news has caused some provinces to wonder whether they should set up their own registries, notably Quebec where support is strong for gun control.

Quebec's Public Security Department is reportedly considering a Plan B - a provincial registry to replace the 16-year-old federal program, if it's abolished.

Cormier said if a provincial registry means jobs, especially for the Miramichi, it may be an idea worth considering.

"It could be something to look at," he said.

Premier David Alward was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Ottawa is not encouraging the idea.

Mike Patton, a spokesman for federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said in a statement the Conservative government has "consistently opposed this wasteful and ineffective measure, which does nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

"Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end the long-gun registry once and for all, and that is exactly what we will do," he said.

"Provincial governments are free to proceed as they wish, but we will not assist them in setting up another registry."

Patton said that for reasons of privacy, records held by the Canadian Firearms Program would not be shared with provinces.

While Cormier is concerned about job losses at the firearms centre - probably in the area of 40 high-paying jobs - he said he is confident Ottawa will go ahead with its promise to consolidate federal payroll services in the city.

It's expected the first 150 or so people will be hired by the end of the year.

The rest of the federal commitment to Miramichi is expected to be in place by 2015, with about 550 people holding down stable federal jobs.

"It will change this whole city and region when we get that," Cormier said.

"We're still waiting for the location and something more concrete and positive."

The contentious long-gun registry has left organizations divided - supporters, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, led by Bill Blair, say it's essential to officers who use it thousands of times a day.

They argue the program prevents shootings, suicides and attacks on police.

Critics, on the other hand, say criminals do not register their stolen guns and that the registry does little to protect Canadians from gun crime.

Last September, the registry survived a close 153-151 vote in the House of Commons on a private member's bill seeking to kill the program.

Thu, July 21, 2011 | link

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn't Happen At Work

Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn't a good place to do it. At TEDxMidwest, he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work.

Wed, July 20, 2011 | link

How To Use Experts -- And When Not To Wed, July 20, 2011 | link

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Status of Miramichi Airport terminal up in air

All's quiet on major funding announcement made by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty a year ago


MIRAMICHI - It's not every day a high-ranking federal minister, especially the one who controls the country's purse strings, comes to a place like Miramichi and gives some of that money away.

But there was Finance Minister Jim Flaherty nearly a year ago, standing inside the tiny and outdated Miramichi Airport terminal alongside the local MP, the mayor, the airport commissioner, and dozens of curious locals.

The sum of the allocated funding was only $1.75 million, but Flaherty sounded convinced of the importance of what it was designed to do - help build a new, modern, and expanded terminal at Miramichi's fledgling airport and potentially spark some job creation in a region desperately needing, through a potential flight college being based out of the new building.

At the time, Miramichi Airport Commission president Thomas Linkletter sounded nearly as convinced that the provincial government would step up and help provide some of the rest of the funding needed to complete the $3.5-million, 24,000 square-foot facility.

"They're (the Liberal government) looking very favourably to that, so this is looking good," Linkletter said at the time.

But that was a year ago and clearly a lot has changed since.

A new Progressive Conservative government was elected in a landslide last fall, better relations between the twin Conservative governments of Fredericton and Ottawa seemed to be on the way, and $7 million for economic development initiatives in the Miramichi region was unveiled for this fiscal year.

There has been a lot of activity over at the little airport lately. Officials are trying to position the facility as a potential air cargo hub, a strategy that is pretty much contingent on the airport receiving funding to resurface its runway to the maximum 10,000 feet, and just last week a Boeing 737 touched down at the airport, carrying dozens of passengers to an unknown destination for the first time in over a decade. A newly launched and redesigned airport website is already promoting a new 10,000-foot runway, stating that "during the summer of 2011, our runway will be completed and available for your cargo," while a virtual map of the airport also highlights a "new terminal" in the future. So what of this new terminal? Well, as it turns out, nobody's really saying much about it these days.

A call made to Linkletter for comment on the status of the terminal funding request was declined.

Airport CEO Terrence Cooper, reached from Seattle, Washington, indicated that there may have been some delays with a Chinese group interested in launching a flight school at the Miramichi Airport.

"There were several stipulations coming on that money coming from the federal government and provincial government, but one of them was based on a flight school coming from China and being a domicile at the airport in Miramichi, and as we speak today that has not happened," Cooper said.

"We're still talking with the people that are promoting it in China and they were supposed to make a visit to Miramichi and hopefully that happens within the next month or two, and it would be great if that all happened, but right now it's not stopping me with the cargo end of the business."

On the runway upgrades, Cooper said that likely within the next week or two they'll know "what happens there and what we receive or don't receive."

Things get even more complicated when the provincial government was reached for comment on the status of any sort of funding request from airport personnel regarding the terminal project.

Complicated in the sense that apparently no such request by the Miramichi Airport was ever made.

"Last year, the only thing we ever entertained was the development officer for the airport file," said Regional Development Corporation spokesman Bruce MacFarlane.

"We never entertained anything on the terminal."

In August of last year RDC provided $450,000 for the hiring of Cooper, with the city pitching in $200,000, in an effort to bring in somebody with a deep list of industry connections to oversee development at the airport. And if one reads the fine print of Flaherty's official news release from last year, it appears as if no money was ever officially committed at all, just the intention to do so if a list of criteria was met. Wording such as that the federal government is "prepared to invest" and "intends to provide" indicate that the announcement was based on plenty of conditions.

The ACOA release went on to say that all funding was contingent on the airport meeting "all applicable eligibility and approval requirements outlined in the contract."

A request made to ACOA for clarification on what exactly those requirements were came up empty.

ACOA spokesman for New Brunswick Ted Parise revealed very little on the issue of this apparently tentative terminal funding.

"Due to client confidentiality, ACOA is unable to provide specific details on the stipulations, or the contract requirements with the client," Parise said. "These details may be available through the proponent (the Miramichi Airport Commission), if they choose to divulge this information."

Tue, July 12, 2011 | link


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