Why Ships Start Here

Jim Irving has always said the Halifax Shipyard would never have won the ship building bid without the leadership of Darrell Dexter, and Jamie Baillie and Stephen McNeil have always said the NDP had nothing at all to do with the victory.

Premier Darrell Dexter and Jim Irving.

Just over a week after Liberal Senator Colin Kenny asked the federal government to cut ship building in its budget, Jim Irving explained exactly what he meant by his praise of the Premier.

Nova Scotians who celebrated the good news that day will remember that Halifax won over Vancouver with a score of 82.8 to 74.9.

A category worth 20 out of 100 points had to do with financial risk to the federal government beyond the $25 billion to build the ships.  In short, there couldn’t be any additional costs passed on to the feds (e.g. for capital upgrades, training etc). And that’s where Dexter’s government stepped in with a plan to make sure the shipyard could win.

This is the point: the provincial investment of $304 million directly addressed the 20 point cost/security component of the bid. Without it, Irving would have received a score much closer to BC’s, possibly 8 points under instead of 8 points over.  And don’t forget, the BC government committed $40 million to help its bid. That’s what Jim Irving is saying. If Nova Scotia did not go all out, it would have lost to BC.

The Halifax Shipyard will receive $260 million in a forgivable loan for upgrades to handle the $25 billion contract. An additional $44 million is repayable. The return on investment for the Irving deal is 15 to 20 times the loan in tax revenue alone. Irving will also contribute $250,000 per year, over the next 30 years, to support the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence at the Nova Scotia Community College.

Again and again, the opposition said the Halifax shipyard won on its own merits and the NDP could take zero credit for the win. There were wrong.

Jim Irving: That’s what got us the job. Mr. Premier, your government, and your colleagues, you stepped up and you made it happen for us. Because without that, I can tell you, we wouldn’t be standing here today, no question about it.

As Premier Dexter put it:

We went up against provinces and economies much larger than our own. We won on the basis of the bid that we were able to put together jointly.  It’s about the future of our province… It’s the kind of game-changing opportunity Nova Scotians rightly expect their government to get behind.

That’s why Ships Start Here.