Delay in deadline for shipbuilding bids just what BC didn't want

Two-week delay will allow competition to get its act together in $35-billion contest.

With pretty much every politician on the West Coast stumping for B.C. to win one of two pricey shipbuilding contracts now up for grabs, Ottawa struck a slightly sour note Thursday with word that the deadline for bids would be extended.

Premier Christy Clark was one of those arguing against the extension, arguing that it would "send the wrong message".

Clark is still hoping that Seaspan, B.C.'s sole competitor, is in the running.

Here are the details on the extenstion from The Canadian Press:

OTTAWA -- The federal government is extending the deadline for bids on a lucrative shipbuilding contract by two weeks after two companies requested more time.

The secretariat overseeing the shipbuilding procurement strategy announced the extension late Thursday, posting the new date of July 21 on its website.

Ottawa announced last Friday that it received two requests from eligible bidders asking that the period during which companies can file their applications be extended by two months to Sept. 12.

But a procurement strategy committee said a two-month extension would be unacceptable, as it would "have significant and unacceptable impacts.''

It said the two-week allowance would increase competitiveness and not incur costs.

"This is the maximum flexibility available to Canada without incurring costs and/or causing unacceptable impact on the (shipbuilding) program,'' the online statement said.

Companies are bidding on a $35-billion contract Ottawa will award to two different sites to build new navy warships, coast guard cutters and other vessels as part of a 20-year shipbuilding plan.

The development is sure to upset the premiers of Nova Scotia and British Columbia who have both voiced their opposition to an extension.

After the bidders asked for more time last week, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said in a letter to Public Works that it would "create the impression that the process is being adjusted to favour some bids over others.''

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark added her voice to what is becoming a high-stakes battle for the plum contracts.

"All the companies have known the deadline and changing the rules now would send the wrong message,'' Clark said in a statement.

Dexter has been lobbying hard on behalf of Nova Scotia's bidder, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax.

Both Irving and Seaspan Marine Inc., a bidder from British Columbia, are opposed to extending the deadline.

Only two other shipyards -- Seaway Marine and Industrial of St. Catharines, Ont., and Quebec's Davie Yards -- are on the shortlist for the contract.

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