OVER BUDGET AND BEHIND SCHEDULE Auditor general to review Bluenose II ‘boondoggle’ Restoration also hit by revelation of 43% materials markup PROVINCIAL REPORTER MICHAEL GORMAN mgor [email protected] The province is asking the auditor general to look into the Bluenose II restoration project now that it has become what Premier Steph¬en McNeil calls “a boondoggle. Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince said late last year he planned to order a review of the project upon its completion . On Thursday, he wrote to the auditor general. “Upon consideration of options for conducting a review, I am requesting that your office include the Bluenose II restoration project among the priority areas for an audit in your fiscal 2014-15 work plan, Ince writes, pledging full co-operation from his depart¬ment . The province is preparing to launch a website that will deal with questions from the public about the project. Besides being massively over budget and behind schedule, it was recently revealed that the contract between builders and the province allowed for a 43 per cent markup on materials for work-change orders. The referral to the auditor general comes on the heels of a Liberal majority blocking the Progressive Conservatives from bringing the matter before the province’s human resources com¬mittee. A day later, the Tories sent McNeil a list of 55 questions about the file. But McNeil said other issues must first be addressed before the file can be reviewed. “It is not helpful, quite frankly, for Nova Scotians and for taxpay¬ers to (allow) political theatre to potentially drag out or derail those kinds of conversations. Those issues includes a lawsuit from the family of Bluenose de¬signer William Rou e and cost discrepancies between the project manager and the people building the ship. McNeil said when his government inherited the file, there was “zero goodwill” on either of those fronts, and in the case of the lawsuit, the province is now needlessly on the hook for “a lot of money.” “There had been no leadership by the previous minister when it came to this file. We’ve directed staff to deal with the lawsuit , begin that conversation, and we now are in the process of allowing mediation to happen between the two partners.” He said he wants the Bluenose in the water this spring. A government spokesman said the ship is not considered a provincial asset until it is back in the water. Tory Leader Jamie Baillie welcomed the request for the auditor general to investigate. “I know we’re on the right track. We’re doing our job as Opposition. All Nova Scotians deserve to know why, after millions have been spent, we still don’t have a seaworthy vessel.” Baillie said he wants a “full accounting of every last dollar and every last screw” to see why, after $16.5 million, the ship still isn’t in the water.
Posted on: Fri, 31 Jan 2014 13:26:09 +0000
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