Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Finnish Company Raises Red Flags over Federal Negotiations for Davie Icebreakers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Finnish Company Raises Red Flags over Federal Negotiations for Davie Icebreakers

Article excerpt

Finnish company flags Davie icebreaker talks

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OTTAWA - A Finnish company has raised red flags over the Trudeau government's decision to launch negotiations with Quebec shipyard Davie for the lease of four icebreakers without conducting a competition.

Helsinki-based Arctia Ltd. says it had expected a formal bidding process after the federal government asked shipowners in late 2016 to provide information about the icebreakers that they have available for lease.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instead surprised many when he announced that the government would start talks Friday with Davie, which has proposed converting four icebreakers and leasing them to the Canadian Coast Guard.

The announcement followed growing concerns about the coast guard's aging icebreaker fleet, and an intense lobbying campaign by the Quebec government on Davie's behalf.

It also came despite an RCMP investigation that Vice-Admiral Mark Norman leaked cabinet secrets to Davie in November 2015 to keep the Liberals from cancelling another shipbuilding project.

Norman was suspended last year, but has not been charged with any crime. The allegations against him are contained in documents that have not been tested in court, and Norman's lawyer has denied her client did anything wrong.

Arctia president Tero Vauraste said in an interview Friday that his company followed the federal government's formal process and was taken aback after learning about the planned talks with Davie from media reports.

"We would like to speak up and remind that we are available and very much willing to provide the best available fleet at a reasonable price which would benefit Canadian taxpayers," Vauraste said.

Public Works and Procurement Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has welcomed the federal government's decision to enter into talks with Davie, which says a deal with Ottawa would let it hire back many of the 800 workers that were laid off last month after converting a civilian ship into an interim resupply vessel for the navy. …

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