[HALIFAX, NS] — With the start date for Canada’s next generation of warships appearing to be a moving target, there is cause for concern, according to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.
Speaking with reporters in Dartmouth Wednesday, Mulcair said he believes the federal government and Irving Shipbuilding Ltd. have yet to reach a contract on the ships due to budgetary challenges within the Department of National Defence.
“We’re quite concerned with what appears to be putting back the dates further and further,” he told reporters. “We do hope that that will carry through. For the region it’s extraordinarily important.”
The federal Conservatives are currently re-examining their 20-year, $490 billion Canada First Defence Strategy in the light of the controversy surrounding the F-35 fighter jet. The opposition repeatedly hammered the Conservatives on their handling of that file. The federal auditor general and the parliamentary budget officer have also raised serious concerns.
But Mulcair said he isn’t in favour of scaling back the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy — that other mutli-billion initiative — in any way.
“We understand first of all how important (the NSPS) is for our military and second of all how important it is for the region,” Mulcair said.
Mulcair was in town to talk about the issue of fleet separation in the fisheries. He, along with Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Robert Chisholm, met with a group of fisheries advocates concerned about rumoured changes planned for owner-operator and fleet separation policies.