POLITICS

Irving Shipbuilding now says its OK with release of shipbuilding agreements

10/16/2012 01:46 EDT | Updated 12/16/2012 05:12 EST
OTTAWA - Irving Shipbuilding Inc. says it will withdraw its request to overturn Ottawa's decision to release portions of the umbrella agreements signed earlier this year as part of the national shipbuilding procurement project.

The private company filed an application with the Federal Court earlier this month arguing that the documents contain sensitive information that should not be made public.

But in a brief statement Tuesday, the company said it will no longer pursue its application.

"There was a very short window of time to review the government's decision to release certain commercially sensitive portions of the umbrella agreement, and in the interest of taking sufficient time to review that decision, a judicial review application was filed before the time expired," the company said.

"Having now had sufficient time to review the government's decision and the applicable text of the umbrella agreement to be released, Irving Shipbuilding has no issue with the release of the text and will be withdrawing its request for judicial review."

The Public Works Department received a request under access-to-information legislation earlier this year for the umbrella agreements that the federal government signed with the Irving shipyard in Halifax and Vancouver's Seaspan Marine Corp. shipyard. Public Works agreed to release parts of those agreements.

In addition to arguing that the agreements contained commercially sensitive information, Irving Shipbuilding had said in its application that the documents fall under the Defence Production Act and should therefore be exempt from the Access to Information Act.

The agreements were signed in February and are intended to govern the construction of Canada's next fleet of navy ships.

Ottawa announced a year ago that the Irving shipyard would receive the lion's share of its $35-billion federal shipbuilding procurement project.

Under its $25-billion deal, that shipyard will build 21 combat vessels.

Seaspan Marine will construct seven vessels under an $8-billion contract for non-combat ships.

A contract for another $2 billion for smaller vessels is yet to be awarded.