The Chicago way in North Vancouver

The public relations war over B.C. Ferry Services Inc.'s decision to build two or three new super-C-class ferries in Europe is about to escalate, Public Eye has learned. Vancouver Shipyards, part of the Washington Marine Group, has invited Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and Premier Gordon Campbell to tour their facilities on Wednesday, according to a senior government insider.

Washington Marine Group had expressed interest in bidding on the $500 million project but the company didn't make it past the first qualification round of the bidding process. The ferry service said the firm was excluded from that process because it lacked the infrastructure needed to build the new ferries - a charge Washington Marine Group denies.

Premier Campbell and Minister Falcon haven't responded to the company's offer. North Vancouver Seymour MLA Dan Jarvis, the backbencher who spoke out against sending the construction work to Europe, has been invited to join the tour, as has West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan and North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Katherine Whittred.

Also rumoured to be on the invite list, say other sources: New Democrat leader Carole James, North Vancouver MP Don Bell, Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, Saanich-Gulf Island MP Gary Lunn, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Keith Martin and Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP John Reynolds.

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