Ouch! He hit me with the A key!

"News that the Northern Adventure is heading back into refit is a major embarassment for B.C. Ferries and shows they didn't properly plan for the transition period for the vessel." This, according to a provincial New Democrat news release distributed late last month. Not surprisingly, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. chief executive officer David Hahn wasn't exactly enthralled with that assessment. But what is surprising is that Mr. Hahn responded by giving New Democrat critic Gary Coons a keyboard-lashing. In an email sent to Mr. Coons and regional stakeholders, Mr. Hahn writes, "This is the type of a (sic) negative publicity which undermines the efforts of everyone to rebuild tourism and travel since the sinking of the Qn of the North. It hurts BC Ferries and everyone who owns an operates businesses on the North Coast and beyond. Not helpful and not very smart." Indeed.

In an interview with Public Eye, the company's public affairs executive director Mark Stefanson explained it was "unprecedented” for Hahn to personally react to such news releases. But "it was a case where he was frustrated. A political statement was made that really didn't add a lot of value except to score some political points." The following is a complete copy of that email.

***

From: Hahn, David
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 5:03 PM
Cc: Coons.MLA, Gary
Subject: NDP Issued News Release
Importance: High

Hi Everyone

This is the type of a negative publicity which undermines the efforts of everyone to rebuild tourism and travel since the sinking of the Qn of the North .It hurts BC Ferries and everyone who owns and operates businesses on the North Coast and beyond

Not helpful and not very smart

David

PS I announced this ship would have refts going forward at the dedication so expect another refit in the fall.

***

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2007

FERRY'S RETURN TO REFIT RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT PLANNING, COONS SAYS

VICTORIA - News that the Northern Adventure is heading back into refit is a major embarrassment for B.C. Ferries, and shows they didn't properly plan for the transition period for the vessel, New Democrat MLA Gary Coons says.

In a vague media release, B.C. Ferries acknowledged the ship - the cost of which, including its renovations, was more than $100 million - was "experiencing some issues," but Coons, the NDP Critic for Ferries and Ports, said that statement does not reflect the seriousness of the problems aboard the vessel.

"The release makes it sound like the ship needs a new coat of paint, but it's more serious than that," said Coons, the MLA for North Coast. "The ship has apparently experienced problems with its electrical systems, its alarm systems aren't working properly, the public address system has experienced failures, and fire equipment and life raft systems still need work.

"There's also no working elevator or escalator.

"These aren't benign ‘issues,'" said Coons. "They're serious safety concerns."

There has also been the "issue" of the sewage system backing up, which is not just disgusting, but a legitimate health concern, Coons said.

Coons said communities up and down the coast and on the North Island already went through one summer tourist season with just one vessel on the route. As the 2007 summer season approaches, tour operators are now apprehensive about limited service again.

"This is a serious blunder that could have serious ramifications for coast residents who depend on their marine highway system."

9 Comments

Mr Hahn seems to have a problem understanding his job - that is the CEO of a crown agency.

The opposition have a duty to raise issues which deserve public attention - even though people like Hahn may not like the questions! And perhaps the BC Ferry media flacks need to understand that raising serious safety concerns like Mr Coons has, are valid and not a matter of scoring political points as the company would have us believe.

Perhaps the real question to be answered is why hasn't Hahn been more forthcoming with the public here in the first place?

M. Hahn got his shorts in a knot and did some babling. Then was foolish enough to send his angry email in such a way the opposition was bound to get it. Not smart at all Mr. Hahn. Like it or not the critic is an elected MLA not some hack he hired. People will watch that tub with great interest as it starts doing trips. Or maybe it will need another refit before fall. If refits happen after a couple of trips, one can only believe somebody bought a dog of a boat.
Some prize. By gosh , this might have been the year we would take the ride north on BC Ferries but I'd rather take our chances on a scow or barge. WAC was right when he bought out the companies that used to screw up all the time with poor performance companies.

BC Ferries is not a Crown agency.

Hahn is beginning to sound like our General Rick Hellier of the Canadian military, jumping into the fray every time an opposition member raises the question.

Like Hellier, Hahn seems not to know the difference between bureaucrats and politicians.

However, there are a great many who feel that both Hellier and Hahn are doing the dirty work for government politicians who just can't get their stories straight.

Once again I pine for those fast ferries, which if refitted at less cost than this current tug, could now be servicing much of BC's coast.

But no, they were sold off as scrap in a purely political show to embarass the NDP. We, the public, got to eat the entire cost of that little dagger, just as we are going to pay, pay and pay for this bargain we now call the Northern Venture.


Well this pretty much confirms the NDP’s hatred for the Tourism industry. They intentionally made no mention of Tourism in their 1995 election platform and even threatened to cut Tourism funding in that platform as well.

Does this idiot Coons not understand that his attack could have the affect of scaring potential tourists and their hard earned dollars away from business in his riding ? First the the boat sinks and now the NDP try to sink the replacement; with friends like the NDP….

I actually respect Hahn; he can actually recognize what a tool Coons is and doesn’t mind saying so. Clearly he actually gives a shit and it is obvious the NDP could care less. It seems to be part of their new strategy to attack everything regardless of who might get caught in the crossfire, even those in their own ridings.

"Once again I pine for those fast ferries, which if refitted at less cost than this current tug, could now be servicing much of BC's coast."

Good grief man, are you serious? They were found to be inadequate even for the 90 minute crossing to Nanaimo. They would never be able to cope with the open seas between Port Hardy and the southern end of the Central Coast their fuel range takes them out of the Central Coast service for sure.

There's not enough passenger/vehicle volume on most routes in order to justify operating costs.

"But no, they were sold off as scrap in a purely political show to embarass the NDP. We, the public, got to eat the entire cost of that little dagger, just as we are going to pay, pay and pay for this bargain we now call the Northern Venture."

We, the public were waiting for additional large ferries between 1991 and 1997 and never got them other than those tin cans which never worked properly. If the NDP continued on with steel hulled large ferry shipbuilding after the Spirit of Vancouver Island was completed, the Coast would have been much better off.

This is really interesting that the NDP rags on
the Northern Adventure, but fails to remember the
real problems with the Fastcats when they were put into service, i.e. the bow door didn't work,
one of the engines literally died, and the propulsion system kept trying to be a sawmill for snags and logs in the water rather than something to move a ship. Then there was the large wash generated by the Fastcats.

in fact there were problems with the original Queen of Surrey after the NDP bought her as she was found to be too big for the Nanaimo route.

Hahn despite his irritating stiffness has actually done quite a bit to improve BC Ferries, far more than the NDP did.

"Does this idiot Coons not understand that his attack could have the affect of scaring potential tourists and their hard earned dollars away from business in his riding?"

If paying through the nose to ride a ferry with a backed up sewer system doesn't scare away tourists, nothing will.

The North Coast would not be well served by an MLA who didn't raise questions about a ferry sailing through dangerous waters with malfunctioning safety systems.

It is not the fault of MLA Coons that Mr. Hahn and his company purchased an expensive and faulty ship. If Mr. Hahn was as concerned about tourism on the North Coast as he claims to be, his company would have purchased a ship worthy to sail in the first place. Or, at the very least, he would have ensured it was sea worthy before putting it on the route.

Obviously, it is not Gary Coons who is to blame for the ship's state of disrepair. The fault falls squarely on BC Ferries, and their oh so efficient corporate overseer, David Hahn.

Here's what I have in mind concerning those new Super-C class ships being built in Flensburg, Germany. Every Canadian taxpayer should be reminded of where their money went and who sent it there. So I am proposing they be named Otto Von Bismarck, Premier Campbell and President Hahn.


Indeed safety is a major issue most of the ships are unworthy in international waters and carelessly overlooked by Managers blaming their outsourcing. Is Bc ferries looking to cash in on all the insurance to rebuild the fleet? With the cost of public lives and employees facing lockout of sickpay and security if they speakout?

This is by far and I'm told by our neighbours we: Canada are the Sopranos of the Free world! Where's my baseball bat at the round table?

Certainly Star Trek had their problems but where are the heros to take us home? We are on a course for disaster so fire the Montoblan Hahn.

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