Minister says he’s ready to face issues

Colin MacLean
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Clyde Jackman speaks with reporters during a media event Thursday. — Photo by Colin MacLean/The Telegram

Clyde Jackman is a man with a lot on his plate these days.

As minister of fisheries and aquaculture, Jackman’s portfolio encompasses a wide range of issues and challenges.

Jackman is also facing increased pressure after he squeaked out a win by about 40 votes in the recent provincial election.

But he says he remains upbeat about his position and told The Telegram Thursday he’s ready and willing to take on whatever challenges come his way.

First on the list is whether he’ll keep his portfolio if there’s a shakeup in cabinet.

When asked if he’d been informed of a possible job change Jackman said he hadn’t got a phone call from the premier’s office yet, but expects one within a few days.

“There’s all kinds of speculation going around,” he said.

“I’ve learned after being in this for a number of years is that the best thing is to just sit back and let it unfold.”

Jackman also didn’t say if he had a preference one way or the other.

“If that should happen that (Premier Kathy Dunderdale) should call me back into fisheries I would be more than honoured,” he said.

“But to get a call to go back in cabinet will be equally as well received and I don’t expect it will be too much longer before we will be getting a call,” he added.

 

Recount

In regards to a possible recount of votes from the Oct 11 election, Jackman said he’d heard a lot of rumors, but had no clear word on if his rival, NDP Julie Mitchell, will ask for another count.

“If they do, it’s a democracy. More power to them and we’ll see how that unfolds,” he said.

 

Marystown

Two of the most pressing issues facing Jackman originate in the heart of his own riding of Burin-Placentia West — the Ocean Choice International (OCI) fish plant and the Kiewit shipyard, both in Marystown.

The OCI fish plant has been closed for more than a year after it was heavily damaged by hurricane Igor. It’s future is still in question.

The provincial government appointed financial advisers Deloitte in September to assess the financial health and viability of the OCI plant.

Under the terms of Ocean Choice’s acquisition of the plant in 2007 from the former Fishery Products International, the company agreed it could only close the plant if it experienced significant financial losses with no chance of reversing those losses in the future, on the condition those losses weren’t because of deliberate decisions by Ocean Choice.

Jackman said Thursday Deloitte’s audit was nearly complete and he expected to have the results on his desk within the next two weeks.

“After that, we will be presented with the information, we will have to consider and see where the company is going to have to go,” said Jackman.

The second issue facing Marystown is the Kiewit shipyard, which is sitting idle.

Kiewit laid off the last remaining workers at the yard, about 40 people, earlier this year. There’s been no indication since of more work coming to the facility.

The yard had at one point been in the running for a $35-billion federal shipbuilding contract, but pulled out. That contract was awarded Wednesday to shipyards in Halifax and Vancouver.

Jackman expressed his disappointment Thursday of how events unfolded.

“My plan is to set up a meeting now with Kiewit to encourage them to look at the opportunity that’s here because of spinoff,” he said.

The minister added he’s also in the process of drafting a letter to Irving, which was awarded the bulk of the government contract, to encourage the company to consider Marystown if they need skilled labour or other resources.

The Telegram contacted Kiewit and asked if the company had considered the possibility of there being some spinoff work from the contract for the Marystown shipyard.

A company spokesman said it was too early to tell if such an opportunity might exist.

“Regarding the Halifax award, obviously we don’t want to speculate, but we would consider any work that we could do at the Marystown shipyard,” he said.

These  issues are only a handful of those facing Jackman and the fisheries portfolio.

It’s a tall order, but one Jackman says he will tackle confidently.

“People ask me throughout this thing, ‘So you hope to get back in fisheries?’” said Jackman.

“I say, ‘Yeah, I certainly wouldn’t mind that.’”

“They say, ‘OK, there’s something wrong with you.’”

“But no, absolutely not. This is a wonderful portfolio. It’s the essence of what made Newfoundland and Labrador in the first place and it’s going to be the essence of what carries Newfoundland and Labrador into the future,” he said.

 

 

cmaclean@thetelegram.com

twitter:TelegramMacLean

Organizations: OCI, Fishery Products International

Geographic location: Marystown, Halifax, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • JNG
    October 21, 2011 - 13:11

    Telegram should get all facts correct. The Marystown plant has had work in the past year (albeit not a lot) and was not damaged by Igor as Newfie already pointed out. It's also not corect that the last 40 workers were laid off at the shipyard; it is not currently idle. Work on a small contract is currently ongoing - not a lot but something. Yes, the yard needs more work. But these are important facts that should be correct.

  • JNG
    October 21, 2011 - 13:10

    Telegram should get all facts correct. The Marystown plant has had work in the past year (albeit not a lot) and was not damaged by Igor as Newfie already pointed out. It's also not corect that the last 40 workers were laid off at the shipyard; it is not currently idle. Work on a small contract is currently ongoing - not a lot but something. Yes, the yard needs more work. But these are important facts that should be correct.

  • Ranter
    October 21, 2011 - 12:17

    Who will trust Deloitte?

  • Pam Frampton
    October 21, 2011 - 09:28

    Paddy Joe: Here's your answer. The Telegram Thursday, June 23, 2011, p. A1 LABOUR Kiewit looking at options Premier surprised by Marystown layoffs Steve Bartlett The Telegram A spokesman for Kiewit Infrastructure says the company has no plans to pull out of the Marystown shipyard. "We're continuing to look at all the options to see if there's more work in Marystown, and that's all we can say as far as a comment on future projects," Bob Kula said Wednesday. Concerns about the shipyard's future surfaced Tuesday after the Canadian Auto Workers/Marine Workers Federation (CAW/MWF) said all unionized workers had been given layoff notices and there were no indications the company is pursuing future work. Kula said the layoffs were handed out because a project - the second provincial ferry built at the yard recently - was concluding. Between 35 and 40 workers are affected. Premier Kathy Dunderdale didn't see the dismissals coming. She told a Telegram editorial board the move was unexpected given the considerable work taking place in the province. "We have a lot of things going on here at the moment between Hebron, Long Harbour, we're gearing up for Muskrat Falls - I mean there's lots of opportunity in the province, plus our own ferries and so on, so it is surprising." Dunderdale also said the province has been negotiating with Kiewit on building a third ferry, and has worked closely with the company in recent years on addressing infrastructure needs for lucrative federal contracts. "Nowhere in those discussions did they ever indicate to us they had issues around capacity in terms of their bidding and so on." This is the second Kiewit announcement in recent months that's raised concerns. In April, the company took itself out of the running to become one of two shipbuilding centres of excellence, part of a $35-billion overhaul of Canadian maritime infrastructure. At the time, the company said it was too busy with other projects across the country, including jobs at Bull Arm and Long Harbour. In the wake of Tuesday's news, the province is trying to find out what's going on with Kiewit. The premier said they've asked the company some questions. "I have no idea what the answers are going to be, or how quickly they are going to be forthcoming with them," Dunderdale said. "Kiewit is a private company and certainly don't take instruction from us." Government's approach wasn't speedy enough for Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones, who suggested Dunderdale immediately ask Kiewit officials for a briefing. The Liberal leader also said the government ministers have a history of not being on top of their files. "When Kiewit withdrew from bidding on the $35-billion federal shipbuilding contract, Kathy Dunderdale and her ministers were the last to know," Jones said in a release, "even though Dunderdale herself is from the Burin Peninsula and her Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman represents the district where the yard is located. Now we have Kiewit laying-off all its staff at the yard and Dunderdale's government is in the dark again." Jones also said the premier should provide an update on negotiations with Kiewit about the third ferry. "The government has already allocated money for this ferry to be built," she said. "Why hasn't the deal been concluded and the work already started at the yard?" Meanwhile, CAW/MWF local president Wayne Butler said the membership will meet late Thursday afternoon. "I'm going to fill them in on the discussions were having with the company, and after that, I probably might have a few more comments for the media." The local represents some 350 workers. sbartlett@thetelegram.com Twitter: bartlett_steve

  • Not impressed
    October 21, 2011 - 09:06

    Minister ready to face issues.... by watching them unfold. How much does this clown get paid to watch things unfold?

  • Newfie
    October 21, 2011 - 07:59

    The Plant in Marystown was not damaged by Hurricane Igor.

  • Cabinet Shuffle Now Please
    October 21, 2011 - 07:26

    Premier Dunderdal does not need to open the House to have a needed Cabinet shuffle. A shuffle that will see Clyde Jackman displaced to the back benches.

    • paddyjoe
      October 21, 2011 - 09:18

      Why was the Marystown shipyard not in a position to bid on the $35 billion in work just awarded? ------What is the problem here?