December 27, 2012

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Ships stay here
I rarely write letters to the editor, however the blog post “Will Halifax lose shipbuilding work” (Reality Bites by Tim Bousquet, December 20) got my attention this morning. I’ve written to you for two reasons: The politics behind it don’t seem realistic and Bousuqet has demonstrated a remarkable lack of understanding of his background material.

For the first point, I have my doubts that the US government would be pressuring us to re-role and arm our coast guard. Why would they be so specific? The details of exactly how we divide tasks between the navy and the coast guard are probably below their notice. They would be more concerned about whether we are meeting our obligations for the collective defense of North America in general, as opposed to the specifics of what government department gets what type of ship.

Also, due to the ongoing disputes between Canada and the US about the Northwest Passage and its status as internal waters or an international strait, they may actually prefer Canada to maintain a weaker coast guard as it would weaken our ability to exercise our sovereignty in the Arctic.

My second concern is my biggest---Bousquet and his sources demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of what ships Halifax Shipyards will be building for the government and who will be using them once they are built.

Halifax Shipyards was awarded the surface combatant portion of the contracts for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The ships they have been contracted to build are the Arctic offshore patrol vessels (AOPV) and the single surface combatant. None of these ships were ever destined to serve with the coast guard as Bousquet asserts.

As well the AOPV will be armed, which is also contrary to Bousquet’s source information. If you examine the design, which the navy has already purchased and provided to Irving, you will see that the AOPV was never small and fast---another claim by Bousquet. The AOPV is designed to be able to operate in ice, but not to act as an icebreaker.

Some other details the author got wrong: the US coast guard is no longer a branch of its armed forces, but is now a part of the department of homeland security. The harbour watcher’s worst-case scenario about out-of- country suppliers has already happened, to a small extent---the navy purchased the design from a foreign designer and paid a Canadian firm to customize it for the navy’s requirements.

With all of these mistakes how can we take Bousquet’s conclusions seriously?

The AOPV was never meant for the coast guard, it was never the small and fast ship he described, it has always been the Navy’s intent to arm it. This removes it from the question of changing the role of our coast guard. Therefore pressure from the US will not cause Irving to lose the contract.

On a positive note the government has awarded Halifax Shipyards a contract to turn the AOPV design into an actual construction plan and to finalize the other details required, such as machinery and electronics.

I would recommend that Bousquet spend more time familiarizing himself with the background material before speaking to his sources in order to ensure a complete understanding of the story. The only real threat to the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy would be a worsening fiscal situation for the Federal Government. —Scott Dyson, Halifax

In the weed
One hundred and twenty police (“Big pot bust,” Reality Bites by Tim Bousquet, December 20)! What a complete and utter waste of time and money. I’d like to see a report on how much overtime was put in and how many tax dollars were spent chasing around something that should be legalized, taxed and HELPING the economy. —posted by Brandon Wilcox at

Having always being assured that as Canadians we have “moral superiority” to the USA, I am sad to say that Americans will be overtaking us in social issues. Its interesting and depressing that 29 people can be busted for pot and will now be alienated. I wonder how many people who expressed outrage actually smoke themselves? —posted by longwalker

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