Quebec premier joins protest in support of Davie shipyard workers
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, centre and Levis mayor Gille Lehouillier, right, walk with hundreds of people in a march of solidarity for the Davie Shipyard, in Levis, Que., Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
December 03, 2017 - 1:59 PM
QUEBEC - In a rare show of political unity, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was joined by his political opponents as he attended a protest in support of workers at the Davie shipyard near Quebec City on Sunday.
The protest was organized by union leaders and the shipyard's owner to call on the federal government to give more public contracts to the shipyard in Levis, Que.
In his speech, Couillard said most federal ship contracts have been given to British Columbia and the Maritimes, leaving little for Quebec.
"We're asking for equality. We are asking for justice. We're not asking for charity, we're just asking for our fair share," he said.
While it is rare to see a Quebec premier attending a protest, Couillard made it clear earlier this week that he was angered by Ottawa's decision.
On Sunday, he called once again on the federal government to find a more symmetrical way of awarding federal contracts.
"There aren't just two shipyards in Canada that make big boats," he said. "There are three and the best one, it's here."
Earlier in the day Couillard visited the Asterix, a former container ship converted into a supply ship at the Davie yard.
The workers were expecting an order for a second ship, but were told by the Canadian forces that it would not be needed.
As a result, 113 workers were recently told they would be let go and up to 800 could lose their jobs by Christmas.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he recognized the expertise of Davie workers but the federal government simply didn't need another supply ship.
"We cannot artificially create a need for something that doesn't exist," he told reporters in Montreal.
He said the federal government was currently analyzing the future shipbuilding needs of the navy, coast guard and ferry services, which may provide opportunities for Davie in the future.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017