Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Alaska Ferry renovations shift from trade issue to political irritant

The prospect of renovations for the Alaska Marine Highway System Terminal at Fairview,  probably at one time seemed like a positive thing.

A long overdue project to modernize the transportation link between Alaska and BC and proposal that finally had gained some traction with an allocation of funding from the Alaska Government.

However in the short months between the announcement of the go ahead and the actual lead up to possible work, politics has not only taken over the story, but could in the end, scuttle the entire project.

Things picked up steam when in a letter, Canada's Ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, outlined to Alaska Governor Bill Walker, that the Buy America restrictions to a project on Canadian soil is unacceptable.

Buy American restrictions on Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal Unacceptable

That correspondence and the high level of Canadian engagement on the topic would seem to have put the issue on the front burner heading towards the end of the year, gaining attention through the month as commentary and observations crossed back and forth over the borders.

Last week, there was a flurry of action related to the Buy America provisions of the US Government when it comes to materials to be used on the AMHS Terminal in Prince Rupert, a topic which first became a key aspect of the project in November.

Among some of the warning signs of the last seven days can be found in the articles below

Canadian Manufacturing -- Tension between U. S., Canadian officials could bury ferry terminal
Daily Commercial News-- Canadian Steel demands Federal Support
CFTK-- More Canadian Anger Over Buy America Policy at Alaska's Prince Rupert Ferry Dock
Alaska Dispatch News -- Canada and U. S. battle over steel for Alaska Ferry Terminal
ABC News-- Alaska Ferry Project Caught in Flap Over US Steel

Heading towards December 31st, the issue has seemingly gone past the point of a trade item and could end up the thing of a major political irritant between two nations to mark the end of the year reviews.

Such is the nature of the story now, that the issue made it to the editorial pages of the Globe and Mail, where the prospect of American protectionism on Canadian Soil was not appreciated.

U. S. protectionism inside Canada?  Sorry. That's not on.

The National Post's Kelly McParland, who normally keeps his eye on the larger national issues,  made that point on December 17th, with an article reviewing the President's less than cordial shout out to Canadian issues in recent days.

Canada has helped the U. S. in Cuba, Iraq and Ukraine, but gets little respect back from Obama

The key aside when it comes to Alaska Ferry Prince Rupert Terminal project is, the note that the the actual cost of the material that is making for the controversy was described as a pittance, with the triviality of that issue one that needlessly may impact on the cross border relationship between the two countries.

The bid process for the proposed renovation project has now been pushed back to January 6th, with the hope that there will be some form of a possible resolution to the growing controversy and that the issue doesn't in the end damage relations between British Columbia and Alaska, or Canada and the United States.

You can review the start of the entire tempest for our items of late November and Early December

November 28-- Alaska Marine Highway Terminal renovations find a bit of International Controversy
November 25-- AMHS Terminal project on the radar for Canadian Business Group

For more items related to transportation on the North Coast see our Archive page here.

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