By all accounts, it was a politically watertight process that produced Wednesday’s award of a $25-billion combat-ship contract to Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding and an $8-billion contract to Seaspan Marine of Vancouver for non-combat ships: No politicians involved, only bureaucrats; oversight from an outside accounting firm; names of the bidders hidden from the deciders (though you’d have to be a dim decider not to figure out which firms “Company A,” “Company B” and “Company C” actually represented); the Prime Minister told the result only after the winning bidders were informed.
There was only one small problem: The bidding was limited to Canadian shipyards. Reporting on the process, CTV’s Craig Oliver got all gooey about how this country used to be big in shipbuilding, during the Second World War and before, in the days of wooden ships — he didn’t say whether he had childhood memories of Canadian square-riggers — and how this big new dump of money would restore the industry in Canada.
Well, it probably won’t. That was then. This is now. Get over it. Shipbuilding is now a mainly Asian business. The Chinese and South Koreans are slugging it out for world domination. Even Japan, which used to be world number one, is fading in importance. Europe and the United States are shadows of their former selves. We are barely a ping on the sonar screen, if that.