A NDP MPP wants to know why an Ontario shipbuilder’s bid to build a Pelee Island ferry was sunk before it even left shore.
“It seems like a massive missed opportunity on the part of the government to include domestic suppliers and manufacturers in this project,” NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said Friday. “And whether that is inherent in the bidding process or for other reasons is really unfortunate.”
Natyshak said he will raise the issue in the Ontario legislature when it resumes this fall.
Ellwood Shreve, of Postmedia Network’s Chatham Daily News, reported that the president of a shipbuilding company based in Wheatley, Ont., was unhappy when his firm was overlooked for the $40-million contract, eventually awarded to a Chilean outfit.
“For what it’s worth, I’m demanding that this thing be repealed by the Premier (Kathleen Wynne),” Andy Stanton said. “Here’s $40 million of our provincial tax money not just going out of the province, but out of the country.”
The bidding process “stinks,” he said.
Bob Nichols, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, said in an e-mail that the Request for Qualifications — a pre-bidding process for the contract — required that bidders have the financial capability and shipyard resources to carry out the project.
“Ontario is bound by trade agreements such as the Agreement on Internal Trade that may not allow favourable treatment of local proponents, regardless of the subsidy that may be offered in another jurisdiction,” Nichols’ said.
Natyshak said he understands that the Ontario company was competitive in terms of its bid.
The construction of a $40-million replacement ferry for the MV Pelee Islander would have been a great boost for Wheatley and the surrounding southwestern region which struggles economically, he said.
“We certainly could have used this work,” Natyshak said. “We want to be included and considered, at least.”