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Minister Baird commits to look into ferry, regulatory concerns

Federal transportation and infrastructure minister John Baird said he would look into safety concerns raised about B.C. Ferry Services Inc.'s Northern Adventure and Transport Canada's certification process.

“I'm certainly prepared to take the specifics of any specific concerns that were raised and look into them,” Baird said during a visit to Victoria. “Obviously our mandate at Transport Canada, much as it is here in the province, is the safety of the public. And I'll take any particular concerns back to my officials in Ottawa.”

The Tyee reported yesterday that B.C. Ferries Captain David Badior wrote a previously unreleased report in April 2007 that listed numerous concerns about the condition of the Northern Adventure when it was put into service on the northern routes between Port Hardy, Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands.

In the report Badior was highly critical of Transport Canada's “substandard inspections” and allowing the vessel to sail before it was ready. "In my opinion there are people at Transport Canada who are negligent in the performance of their duties and should be sacked," he said. "Transport Canada is a joke, actually it isn't because people have died due to their incompetence."

He added, "So much for protecting the public interest."

B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon defended Transport Canada. “I would totally disagree with his characterization of Transport Canada,” he said. “Actually I think if anything Transport Canada finds themselves on the overly cautious side and maybe that's their role.”

Falcon said he has at times met with Badior, who has been promoted to a management position at B.C. Ferries since his report. “At the time he was part of the union and the union would periodically make allegations that the ferries were unsafe,” Falcon said. “I've found no evidence to back that up whatsoever.”

B.C. Ferries bought the Greek-built Northern Adventure after the Queen of the North sank in 2006. Two people, Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, were missing after the sinking, and are presumed drowned.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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